1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? 4 We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. 10 The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
The Lord’s Prayer has been called a blueprint for prayer. As we’ve seen during the past few weeks, this prayer has value not only as a prayer itself, meaning that it is a good thing to pray it just as Jesus taught us, but it can also be used as a model or example around which we’re able to build our own prayer life. Everything we need to grow our life of prayer is found in the Lord’s prayer. There is praise and adoration of God for who He is, we ask Him for protection and provision, there is confession, and many other aspects of prayer in the Lord’s Prayer. Of course there are times we simply need to cry out to God in times or situations of need and urgency. He hears all prayers, which means that a so-called “panic prayer” is just as valid as praying the Lord’s Prayer, but this prayer that Jesus taught us is a wonderful model of how we are able to approach God in prayer as He deepens our relationship with Him through prayer.
Today we are looking at one of the most remarkable statements in the entire Bible. “Thy Kingdom come.” I say remarkable, because to even ask God to do this contradicts our sinful nature. Because of the way sin has warped the image of God within us, we naturally want things done our way. Frank Sinatra hit the nail perfectly on the head when he sang, “I stood tall and did it my way.” He made a fortune singing about doing things his way, and while we may not be as wealthy as he was, as sinners we all sing and dance to exactly the same tune. And it has been that way for sinful human beings ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden. So when we pray “Thy Kingdom come” we are in fact asking the Lord to change everything. “Thy Kingdom come” is a profound request which goes against our very natures.
So what do we actually mean when we pray “Thy Kingdom come?”
The word kingdom in Greek means rule, reign, or kingship, and the word for come in the original text is an imperative verb. This means that we’re asking God for the kingdom to happen urgently. And of course, the prayer is very specific in asking that God’s Kingdom would reign, rather than any other.
Secondly, we need to look at the teachings of Jesus. He consistently proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven. It was the central theme that He shared during His public ministry. It’s a theme which is repeated over and over again in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus talked about this kingdom almost every day, and He did this right up until He ascended to Heaven.
The Kingdom of God was a central topic of Jesus’ ministry.
Thirdly, and this where we sometimes struggle, the kingdom of God has already come. The Bible teaches us that God is ultimately in control, yet when we look around us it is hard sometimes to believe that truth, but the Bible is clear that nothing happens unless the Lord wills or allows it. Lamentations 3:37, “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?” And there are many more. Yes, it takes faith to trust and believe that God is in control when it seems that He isn’t, but He is sovereign. He rules and He reigns. So His Kingdom has already come, but we could say that it has yet to be firmly and completely established. When Jesus first came into this world, He opened the doors of His Kingdom. He also established it when He defeated satan on the cross by saying, “It is finished.” However, His Kingdom has not been completely fulfilled yet because of the power of sin in our daily lives. Martin Luther explained this concept perfectly when he said, “The dragon has been slain but his tail still swishes.”
Why do we not see the absolute rule of God in the world and in our own lives? Because of the two different natures that are at war within us. As Christians we have the Spirit of God, directing and teaching us as He reveals God’s will for our lives, but at the same time our sinful nature opposes the Spirit of God.
As a Christian I desperately want to follow, love and obey God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind, but as Paul put it so well in Romans 7:21-23, “I have discovered this principle of life - that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.”
Someone once described the doctrine of the Kingdom of God in the world today as the “now but not yet” principle.
The Kingdom of God has been founded and established by Jesus but it will really only be completed by the second coming of Jesus when sin is destroyed once and for all and satan and his demons will be condemned to hell for all of eternity.
So in a sense, when we pray “Thy Kingdom come,” we’re not asking for the “now” part, because that has already come. Rather we are praying for and looking forward to the ultimate victory of Jesus over evil - the “not yet” part.
God has revealed Himself to us in Jesus and He continues to do so by His Spirit. He gives us enough hope and encouragement to persevere. Every day we catch glimpses of “Kingdom moments”, and it is these things that keep us faithful to Him as we seek to do our part for the Kingdom of God.
Human empires and kingdoms have come and gone, and they will continue to fall. History has proven that. Everything in this world is shakeable, but the Kingdom of God is unshakeable, and the ultimate, final victory is His.
When the Kingdom of God finally rules for all eternity, these words of Revelation 21 will be fulfilled: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
But until that day finally arrives, we must continue to pray “Thy Kingdom come.”
The last message Jesus spoke to His disciples before the ascension was the Kingdom of God. He commanded them, and ultimately us, to be witnesses of His Kingdom to all of the people in Jerusalem, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. We know this command as the Great Commission.
Someone said that “Thy Kingdom come” is an evangelistic or missionary prayer, and it certainly makes sense when we put the Lord’s Prayer alongside the Great Commission. This prayer is a call for us to convert the hearts of unbelievers, and the words “Thy Kingdom come” is a call to evangelism.
But it means so much more too, and this is the really important part for us as individuals. Remember, there are two kingdoms in this world. Paul says in Colossians 1:13, “He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” There is the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness, and these two kingdoms have been at war with one another since the fall in the Garden of Eden. Not only that, but everyone is involved in this war and lives in one kingdom or the other. There is no neutrality in this war. Matthew 12:30 and Luke 11:23 both quote these words of Jesus: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” There are many people who kind of shrug their shoulders with a “whatever” attitude to Jesus Christ and His offer of forgiveness. They say things like, “Well Jesus might be what you need in your life, and if that makes you feel better, then that’s good for you, but I can manage without Him, thank you.” That’s the story of many non-believers. I mentioned this a few weeks ago. Yes, there are some who hate Jesus and all He stands for, but the vast majority of non-Christians are neutral – they’re not particularly bothered either way. The reality is that if you have not accepted salvation through Christ, you are not a neutral – you remain His enemy, and you remain under a sentence of death. You are still living in the kingdom of darkness that you were born into. As David said in Psalm 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
What this means is that our good works and our attempts at pleasing or appeasing God in our own strength are worth nothing. It is only the blood of Christ that can save us and make us acceptable to God. I know this offends many people and I’m fully aware that it offends some of you sitting here today, but I make no apology for proclaiming this Biblical truth: Followers of other man-made religions are wrong. Dead wrong. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” It is only His blood that makes it possible for sinners to move from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God. Romans 8:5-8 says, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
We are either the children of God in His Kingdom or the children of the devil in his kingdom. We either serve “Our Father who art in Heaven” or we serve satan. There is no neutrality. There is no middle ground between the two. Our final and eternal destination is going to depend on which kingdom we belong to and on what citizenship we have. That is why the message of the Kingdom of God was so central to Jesus’ teachings. 1 Timothy 2:4 says that God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” And Jesus didn’t just bring truth, but He is truth. As He said to Pontius Pilate, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
God’s greatest desire for us is that each of us would hear and believe that truth - that we would repent, turn from our sin, accept His offer of forgiveness and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
This is what it really means when we pray “Thy Kingdom come.”
But it goes beyond that. When we move into God’s Kingdom, unfortunately we bring our baggage from the kingdom of darkness with us, so as Christians we continue to pray “Thy Kingdom come.” We’re inviting God to expand His Kingship and His rule over every aspect of our lives, and to help us get rid of the baggage from our past lives.
But we so easily fall into the trap of praying “my kingdom come” instead. We may not actually verbalise the words, but when we take an honest, hard look at ourselves we might be shocked and saddened at how far we really are from truly submitting to Jesus.
If we really want to see God’s kingdom come, we must understand that it begins with us. We need to live according to the Bible’s teaching. As Paul put it in our reading from Romans 6 today, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
It’s a daily discipline to commit ourselves to following God’s desires for our lives rather than our own. When we first believed in Jesus, we became children of God. But our inner beings and our hearts have to be sanctified continuously, because sin still has a powerful grip on us. It’s a choice we have to make for ourselves. Romans 6 again, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.”
When David was confronted with his sins of adultery and murder he cried out to God in Psalm 51, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
In other words, “Thy Kingdom come.”
Through this prayer, we make a decision to live for God rather than ourselves. When we pray “Thy Kingdom come” we’re asking God to help to use our God given talents and gifts for His Kingdom instead of our own.
The important question is whether we live for the values of the Kingdom of God or for the values of the world.
What do we really pray when we pray the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer? Do we pray “Thy Kingdom come” or “my kingdom come”? Those are the only two possibilities, and we each need to do some serious soul searching in order to answer that question honestly.
It’s hard to answer that question truthfully because of the war that wages within each of us, but I don’t want to end on a negative note. The best news of all is that God’s grace is sufficient for you. Yes, we do let God down. Every day. But we live under His grace. Don’t ever forget that. Remember that each time you pray “Thy Kingdom come” He hears that prayer, and He will give you the grace, the strength and the ability to live for His Kingdom, rather than your own. The history of the Church is full of stories of how God has transformed lives in the most remarkable ways, He continues to do that today, and He will do the same for you if you ask Him to.
Last week we looked at what it meant to pray “hallowed be Thy Name,” and in many ways, the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer seeks the same thing: God’s glory in the world and in our lives.
Homegroup Study Notes
The Bible consistently teaches that God is ultimately in control, yet when we see all the sin and turmoil around us, it is hard to believe that truth.
What are your struggles in this area?
What about the struggles you face in your own life?
Discuss the 3 principles we looked at on Sunday as we pray “Thy Kingdom come.”
- As an evangelistic prayer
- The “now but not yet” principle
- Thy Kingdom come in our own lives.
Read Romans 6:1-14
See also Romans 7:14-25
The apostle Paul certainly understood the inner struggle he faced to be faithful to God.
Why do you think that God has chosen not to remove our sinful nature when we turn to Him through Jesus?
The Bible teaches that there are only two kingdoms in this world: The Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness.
It also teaches that anyone not in His Kingdom is His enemy and remains condemned.
Do you agree with this? Why, or why not?
How has the Kingdom come to us, how is it coming now, and how will it come in the future?
Next week: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”