The Keys to the Kingdom of God
Exploring Our Inheritance: Lesson 3
In the first two lessons we noted the powerful connection between our negative emotions and many diseases and the uncomfortable fact that such emotions of the carnal nature are actually sinful states. How are we to get free? As it happens Jesus has foreseen our need and promised us keys—keys to the Kingdom of God! In this lesson we will look at what the Kingdom of God means in terms of our daily experience, what the keys are and what it is that the keys unlock.
Jesus has given keys of access to His disciples. The keys are the power to bind and loose. We are to bind the enemy and carry his works captive to Christ and we are to loose people from their sins and release them to God, ourselves included. The keys enable us to access the powers of heaven.
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:19 ESV
What Is This Kingdom?
By the above text of scripture we see that these keys are meant to be used “on earth” and they are given to all who receive the same revelation that Peter received—the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Church’s great foundation. This Kingdom is a present reality to all believers, but entering into it and accessing its power is evidently not automatic, which is why we need the keys.
Consider that every born again Christian receives the “starter kit”: forgiveness of sins, the indwelling Spirit, hope of heaven, union with the Body of Christ, knowledge that the Bible is God’s Word, and the revelation that Jesus is a very personal Savior and Lord. That’s a lot! One would think that would be enough to set us forever free. Yet many experience defeated, miserable lives.
Perhaps, this explains why Jesus wants to give us keys. However, if we are to use the keys we will need to know what they are and what they are for. It will also help us to know some things about the Kingdom of God to which they give us access. A kingdom is the realm where a king reigns—the king’s domain. Paul gives us a clear description of what the Lord’s reign is like:
For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17 WEB
Righteousness in the sense of saving grace is “right standing with God”—given to us through the new birth and faith in what Jesus has done for us at the cross. Through justification God has forever separated us from our sins and given us a new righteous status in Christ, one we don’t deserve because our actual “living” is not righteous in all our ways.
Yet this accurate definition of the righteousness that comes by faith may keep us from seeing the vast righteousness of the Kingdom because what is fully meant by righteousness includes everything that is right (good, beautiful and true) which flows from God: Lunch with a friend is righteous; doing a job well is righteous; playing with puppies and babies is righteous; enjoying a sunset or a good book is righteous. It certainly isn’t unrighteous!
In this wider sense righteousness is anything the Holy Spirit would lead you into doing or appreciating. Such righteousness is the very life of heaven on earth. This kind of righteousness by itself isn’t sufficient to get anyone into heaven or the cross of Christ would not have been necessary, but this kind of righteous living is made possible to us through living in the Spirit. This is “Kingdom living” in very practical terms.
Like God’s righteousness, the peace and joy of God’s Kingdom are also vast. His peace is different from the peace this world offers, which is so easily lost. The peace of His Kingdom is deep and everlasting—nothing on earth can shake it; nothing on earth can take it from you.
Likewise, the world’s pleasures are fleeting, but the joy of this Kingdom is available to everyone at any moment for it proceeds from the glad-hearted God who wants to share His joy with us. Unlike mere happiness which depends upon “things going our way,” joy can come to us in any moment in which we realize by a living faith who we truly are in Christ and who our God really is.
And who can say enough about the Holy Spirit? He is the very Presence and power of Jesus on earth today. This is what the Kingdom is “made” of! Now if we were suddenly told that all the right ways of living, all the peace, all the joy that we have ever wanted and the Presence and power of God were on the other side of town just waiting for us, we would be catching the next bus or taking off on foot.
Where Is This Kingdom?
Just where is this Kingdom to be found? Jesus told Nicodemus that unless he was converted (born again) he would neither be able to see this Kingdom nor enter into it.
Jesus answered him, "Most assuredly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can't see the Kingdom of God”… Jesus answered, "Most assuredly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can't enter into the Kingdom of God!” John 3:3, 5 WEB
Perhaps that has already happened for you. You can now “see” the Kingdom because you have eyes of faith to see the King. And you have been “translated” by the Father out of darkness into the Kingdom of His Beloved Son.
Conversion certainly gets us into a portion of the Kingdom, but are we still searching for entry to that place where all the righteousness, peace and joy can be found? Imagine how it would feel if you were conveyed to the airport of a foreign country, but never left the airport to explore the land or enjoy life with its citizens. So too we may be in the Kingdom of God, but still not be fully sharing in its life. And this life is all around us!
Jesus tells us that it is literally as close as the air that we breathe—for it both surrounds and fills us. Amazingly, this Kingdom is always within reach of and always “hiding” inside every believer. We are in it like fish in the sea: The fish is in the ocean and the ocean is in the fish. As Jesus said, we need to repent—change our way of thinking—and believe this good news!
The Master Key
Consider this: If all of these highly desirable things are already within us and are all around us, what is keeping us locked out? According to Jesus, conversion in the form of the new birth gets us into heaven; becoming as little children gets us into the Kingdom. It is a realm that apparently requires childlike trust and cleanness of spirit in order to enter it. In the following scripture note how stringent the warning is: Unless we “repent” (are converted) and become as little children we will never enter into His Kingdom. The “big key” is becoming like a little child!
And He called a little child to Himself and put him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all].” Matthew 18:2-3 AMP
Entering heaven is a pure gift of grace given to those who have saving faith in Jesus--we cannot earn it or deserve it. However, Jesus is not speaking about entry into heaven here. In Matthew’s gospel the Kingdom of God on earth is usually referred to as the Kingdom of heaven.
To this day little children enter the Kingdom on earth and show forth its fruit far better than most believers. And this is true of little children no matter the religion of their parents. In fact most little children haven’t even been converted (know and believe in the King) and yet they still live in His Kingdom. What is it about little children?
We can safely assume that Jesus wasn’t holding up as an example a little child “in the flesh” but one that was in the right spirit. All such children exemplify the life of the Kingdom. They are humble, unself-conscious, willingly dependent for all provision upon their parents and freely love the people they meet. They are also teachable, fearless explorers of their world and live with openness and transparency in the present moment. If anything troubles or hurts them they run to their parents, are quickly set right and easily let go.
Sadly, when hurts begin to accumulate and they start carrying yesterday and its pains with them, children become self-protective, leave childhood behind and become like us—so untrusting that we now need faith in Christ to restore our lost access to God’s Kingdom. Jesus says that self-protectiveness—trying to control our life and that of the ones we love—is guaranteed to rob us of life.
His Kingdom doors only open to trusting hearts! We need to take His warning to heart and seriously start learning how to “let go” so that we can reenter the life of grace and freedom we left behind.
Four Essential Keys
We lock ourselves up in a dungeon of pain and bondage without ever realizing what we are doing. Due to an accumulation of life’s hurts that we did not release, we left childlikeness behind by binding the pains and injustices of the past to ourselves.
Un-forgiveness is the number one block to healing and to the Kingdom’s peace and power. It leads to unanswered prayer, un-received mercy, hardness of heart, spiritual bondage and painful inner torment. Walls that were erected to keep us safe now imprison us and shut the Kingdom out.
And in wrath his master turned him over to the torturers (the jailers), till he should pay all that he owed. So also My heavenly Father will deal with every one of you if you do not freely forgive your brother from your heart his offenses. Matthew 18:34-35 AMP
Hidden and unrecognized unbelief can also bar our entry into the Kingdom because it “hardens” the heart before God as powerfully as un-forgiveness does. Unbelief kept the Israelites out of the land promised to them; it keeps us out of the life that has been promised to us.
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God… So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:12, 19 ESV
Without doubt there are many keys to the Kingdom: Some keys are for accessing the supernatural realm to gain power for miracles and healing; other keys are for advancing His governance over the spheres of power and influence that shape nations. Our focus, however, is upon establishing His Kingdom as a superior principle over our inner state, so that both recovery and mastery of the emotional life can be achieved.
Towards that goal there are four keys that we will need to learn how to use—frequently!
Key #1) Receive: Confess and repent of recognized sin and receive full forgiveness (consider these as “halleluiah moments”—see below). Receive the grace offered to you.
Key #2) Release: Confess and repent of un-forgiveness and release full forgiveness (towards God, self or others—until no pain is left in the memories). Give grace freely to others.
Key #3) Believe: Confess, repent of unbelief and believe His truth with a full heart of faith. No matter what, believe in God and His grace until you are fully liberated by believing truth. This is our real work.
Key #4) Discern: Use the key of knowledge: discerning the spirits; discerning truth. This enables you to recognize which of the first three keys needs to be used.
Because God gives us sovereignty over our hearts, it is not what happened to us that is the real issue. It is how we have reacted to hurt and injustice that determines our life, our peace and our emotional freedom. Use the keys to forgive others and to fully accept yourself.
At first it may seem like this teaching is making the problem worse because you are being shown the connection between physical, mental and emotional health and what the Bible clearly describes as sin issues: bitterness towards others, unbelief, envy, not accepting oneself, living full of stress, etc. However, through repentance, grace and faith there really is a pathway of cleansing and freedom.
Learn to say “Halleluiah!” when the Holy Spirit reveals sin in you that you had not seen before—it means He is getting ready to cleanse you and give you greater entry.
So, set your heart “on pilgrimage” and get really, really good at using these four keys.
Father, thank You for translating me out of darkness and into the glorious Kingdom of Your Beloved Son! I repent of and renounce all false ideas about where the joy and peace are to be found. You have placed it all around me and within me! Thank You for giving me the keys to Your Kingdom. Help me to get really good at using them to unlock my heart from un-forgiveness towards myself and others and from all the ways in which I have not been believing in who You are and what You have promised. Thank You that it is Your desire to lead me into this Kingdom!
Take It to Heart!Don't just give these truths a "head bob"! For further study and for help working these truths into your heart and life, see Keys to the Kingdom part 2 (Head to Heart Guide 3) and "work out" with exercises, discussion questions, review of main points, digging deeper, more scriptures, model prayers, renunciations/affirmations and practical steps of life application.
Scriptures and Foot Notes
 Colossians 1:13
 See Romans 3-8 and Galatians for more on justification and righteousness by faith.
 Colossians 1:13
 Mark 1:15; Luke 17:21
 John 3:16
 John 3:16; Romans 10:9
 Matthew 19:14
 Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16
 Matthew 16:24-27; Mark 8:34-37; Luke 9:23-25
 Mark 11:25
 Romans 15:13
 John 8:32
 John 6:28-29
 Luke 11:52; Hebrews 5:14
 Psalm 84:5