The Kingdom of God is Within You Luke 17: 20-21CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
When you trust Jesus Christ to save you, you are born again. When you are born again, you enter the Kingdom of God [Jn 3:3-7]. This kingdom is within you [Lk 17:20-21]. Phil 2:12-13 God is working inside of you and he wants you to work “out,” with fear and trembling, what he is working “in.” Because the Kingdom of God is within you:
Concentrate on your inside rather than your outside – We pay far too much attention to our outward appearance. This is what the Pharisees did. God told Samuel that “man looketh on the outward appearance,” [1 Sam 16:7]. And since we know that, we tend to put more emphasis on our outward appearance than we do on our inward righteousness. We tend to be more concerned with what others think of us based upon what they can see. It is more about how we appear, and not who we are, that matters to us.
Jesus was never concerned about his appearance. Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but rather judge righteous judgment,” [Jn 7:24]. He never did things to make himself acceptable to other people. He was never motivated to do things to gain their approval or to impress them. He never did anything to appear to be something other than what he really is.
If you judge yourself differently than God judges you [you use different measures] then you are going to see yourself in a way that is vastly different from the way that God sees you. When you are hiding an inside that is far from God and that is motivated by thoughts and intentions that are contrary to God, you are just putting on a good show, but you are going no where with God like that because there is no work of the kingdom of God taking place on the inside of you. If you want to be approved of men, and acceptable to God at the same time… then look at and do Rom 14:17-18.
Look beyond the outside to the inside of others – Likewise, others that we know, like our children, or our parents, or our church friends, or our siblings will put on a front to appear better than they are or to appear to be something other than what they really are.
If you judge only by what you see, you are going to judge incorrectly. Peter looked like he could have never made it as the apostle of the circumcision. He fell asleep in the garden, he tried to kill a servant of the high priest, he denied the Lord and he cursed. Yet, Jesus saw something on the inside of him that made him the right man for the job. David looked like he was done after his affair with Bathsheba and the subsequent order to arrange the death of her husband. But God could see on the inside what we couldn’t see on the outside. He said that David was a man after his own heart.
On the other hand, all of Israel was impressed by Absalom and had no idea what kind of man they were really dealing with. He looked like the perfect man to judge Israel and to succeed David on the throne. He was, in reality, a perfect type of the antichrist. Saul was the same way. He had the outward appearance [head and shoulders above the others] but he was very wicked.
When you judge a person by what you see, you are not judging what he is. It’s what he wants you to think he is. Or it’s what you want to believe that he is. There are things going on inside that he doesn’t want you to see.
We must pray for wisdom and discernment to see what God sees so we don’t mistake a seemingly good outward appearance for an ungodly, bad, wicked, or deceived heart. If we can’t see through their hypocrisy and lies then we will go on believing that God is doing something in their heart, when in fact he’s not. We can’t let ourselves be impressed when what we see is only what they’re doing to impress us. We can be pleased, however, when what we are seeing is the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of the word and the fruit of righteousness. And we can’t be discouraged by a rough appearance when God’s getting something done on the inside.
The same is true of the way we evaluate our children. Prov 20:11 says, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” Parents can often see the signs of problems inside the child beginning to manifest themselves long before their child strays. The child’s expectations, motives, desires, and so forth inside compete with the wisdom of God that you are trying to impart to him/her through Prov 1:1-7 in his/her heart. The preaching, teaching, training, and instructing of the word of God will either get in there or it will not get in there. If it gets in there, it may lay dormant for many years before it begins to affect their lives. These things from God will not grow them or change them as long as weeds are dominating their heart.
We must expose the hypocrisy when we see it – David presented himself to the Lord in Ps 139:23-24 and asked the Lord to search his heart and try his thoughts to see if there was any wicked way in him. He wanted the Lord to lead him in the way everlasting. So, when you can see that someone is trying to “pull the wool over your eyes,” call them on it. Jesus did. When you see this hypocrisy in your children, let them know that you have discerned it and correct it. Stripes are to cleanse away the inward parts [Prov 20:30].
We must continue to sow, cultivate, instruct, impart, and teach to the inside. The word of God may lay dormant for a long time. But we take confidence in teaching and instructing our children at home and in Sunday school and in church because the word of God doesn’t return void [Is 55:10-11]. If it’s getting in there, it can eventually bear fruit.
We must continue to trust God and to hope in God. Faith is the substance of the things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN [Heb 11:1]. Our faith is in God and in God’s word, not in the circumstances and situations around us and our families. Paul said, “Hope that is seen is not hope,” [Rom 8:23-24]. Our hope is in God and not in what we can see. Therefore, we can wait patiently for God to work in our lives and in our family’s lives.
Conclusion: the kingdom of God is within you and the work of God is within you. This is where we need to concentrate our efforts. If the inside is clean, the outside will be clean also.