Most of the time when Jesus spoke of the people who would follow Him he described them as a kingdom. He told us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In giving the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount he started and finished them with reference to the kingdom. “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of God” and Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of God.” When Pilate asked him about his being king, He answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were then my servants would fight, but my kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36) Notice the distinction he made on the nature of the kingdom. Kingdoms of the world fight for what they believe. The kingdom of Christ isn’t of this world so those in it don’t fight to spread the kingdom. The cause of Christ is spread by means of the gospel of peace being preached in the world. Kingdoms of this world will always fight to spread their propaganda but the hearts of people isn’t changed by brutality.
In Ephesians 5:3-5 Paul described some aspects of kingdom living that are important for all to see. Somethings just don’t fit the kingdom lifestyle that God wants. “But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. And coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. For know and recognize this; no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” We often think that the sexual looseness of our society is a new thing and that earlier generations knew nothing of how it is in our time. What parent hasn’t been told “You just don’t understand. Things are different now than when you were in school.” But the sexual problems in the Roman world during the first century was far worse than what we see today. But the sexual attitudes of the people didn’t change the teachings of God’s servants on what had to be the case for one to live in the kingdom of Christ.
Sexual immorality and impurity or greed shouldn’t even be brought up among them. They were to live differently from the world. Far too often we are told that the faith of the person doesn’t affect their moral purity. It is certainly true that being a Christian doesn’t lessen the temptations that we face in the world. But when the kingdom tries to operate with the standards of the world it ceases to be the kingdom of Christ. Some things are so foreign to the way of God they shouldn’t even be brought up as part of the life of the Christ follower.
Notice how Paul tied together sexual immorality, impurity and greed. Paul goes on to say that a greedy person is an idolator. The words “Greed” and “Lust” are extremely similar. Both have to do with passionate desire. Both have to do with “Illegal strong desire.” With covetousness or greed it is an illegal strong desire for things, for stuff, for money or material. Lust has to do with an illegal strong for another person. Jesus declared that when a man looked on a woman with lust he commits adultery in his heart. It is impossible to lust for something that one has a right to have. A man can’t lust after his wife since he has covenant right to her sexually.
Think of the fact we live in a time when there is a huge industry working constantly to get people to commit the adultery in their heart by getting them to participate in pornography. Some want to think that getting involved in pornography is an innocent pastime but it is far from innocent in the affects it has on those who participate. It destroy’s marriages and causes a person to not be satisfied the natural sexual relations with their mate but to want the unnatural pictured on the internet.
Kingdom living demands purity of heart. When Paul wrote Titus he said, “Unto the pure all things are pure. But to the wicked and defiled nothing is pure but even their minds and conscience is defiled.” Have you been around people that saw something ugly, impure and immoral in everything and everyone they met? Our minds can become so infected by immoral thoughts that the mere sight of a godly, fully clothed woman still brings on all kinds of filthy thoughts and words.
Notice also Paul said coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving of thanks. While filthy speech may not produce immoral behavior it does lessen our resistance and it leads one to think that the immoral and impure is normal.
When Christ is king of our life, we are to be different from that way of life and fill our minds with that which is pure. Think about it, are there books, or magazines or websites that you go to that you would never want your daughter or wife to know that you go to them? If I’m having to hide my actions from the very people I love then something is dreadfully wrong with what I’m doing. Live each day as one who will inherit the kingdom of Christ and God.