The Powerlessness of Man versus the Power of God (1 Cor 15:50-51)

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (1 Corinthians 15:50, KJV)

I knew a man once who was declared dead in a hospital. His heart had stopped. In that state, with his heart not beating, he was powerless to help himself. Yet, he came back to life. How did this happen? The hospital staff went to work trying to get the man’s heart going again. The point is this. There are certain things that man cannot do for himself. Man cannot do open heart surgery on himself. He cannot resuscitate himself. No, on these types of things he needs the work of another.

Here, Paul in speaking of the resurrection, makes two interesting statements. First, he stated, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” Then he wrote, “neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” His point ties into the previous verses, which indicated that there was a significant difference between the natural body and the spiritual body. The spiritual body is connected to heaven. Here, he indicated that the natural body, “flesh and blood,” could not inherit the kingdom. The word, “cannot” in the verse is translated from ou dunati, not able or not possible (Strong G3756, G1410). The natural body is powerless to “inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul further stated that “corruption” could not “inherit incorruption.” The word, “corruption,” phthora, can also be translated as perish (Strong G5356). The natural human body is one that is perishing. It is subjected to decay. Moreover, the natural body incapable of changing this path to decay. I have often used the expression, “Broken cannot fix broken.” To explain that man is broken because of sin and man has never been able to fix his own brokenness. Yet, it is also very true regarding the natural body. It cannot fix itself to become an uncorrupted or imperishable body suited for heaven.

Something must happen, something miraculous, if we are ever to enter the eternal kingdom of God and we cannot perform miracles like this upon ourselves. It is a truth that we cannot do a thing to change ourselves into a creature fit for heaven. Only God can do this. The Corinthian’s were likely wondering how this could be. Paul described it as a mystery. “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51, KJV).

I have spoken to people who try to understand how this transformation will occur. Some of them cannot believe it. They contend that for a body that has been dead, lying in a grave, or one that has been devoured by animals, or one that was consumed in a lava flow, could never be raised up in a glorified body, imperishable. They state that it would take a miracle for something like that to happen. Yet, I respond to them, “Exactly. That is something only one who created all things could do. God has the power to do the miraculous, the things that man can never do.” And this He will. There is a day coming when He will do this miracle and transform every believer from a natural being into a supernatural one, a spiritual being, imperishable, and fit for heaven.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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