In Galatians 5:21 Paul gave a list of sins and said, “…they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Aren’t such people unsaved forever?
NO, in fact this passage has nothing to do with salvation. The key word in this passage is the word “inherit.” In Ephesians 1:21 Paul talks of different positions believers can inherit in the heavenly places (v.14 - references the idea of our inheritance and the fact that the Holy Ghost will ensure it).
“Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21).
Notice how each position is lesser than the one before it. Not everyone in the Body of Christ inherits a principality, only very few do. The reason for this is given to us in Second Timothy.
“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us: If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself” (II Timothy 2:12, 13).
The issue in II Timothy2:12, 13 is reigning or ruling with Christ. If a believer allows Christ to work in his life we shall reign with Christ, but if we refuse to allow Him to work in our lives He will deny us the ability to reign with Him, yet the individual is still saved because Christ cannot deny Himself.
In Galatians 5, the individual is not suffering (i.e. he is still allowing himself to do the works of the flesh). Hence God will not allow him to reign with Him. Yet the individual is still part of the every name that is named.
Let me give an example. In the U.K. there are many citizens. Collectively these citizens comprise the United Kingdom. However, when Queen Elizabeth dies, only one individual will inherit the United Kingdom. Each member of the Body of Christ will receive an inheritance if they have prepared themselves in this life for that inheritance. If I own a business and I have five children, but only one of the five took the time to learn the business, I leave the business to the one.
This idea of inheritance and rewards runs all through Paul’s Epistles. This is the idea in I Corinthians 3:
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (I Corinthians 3:11-15).
Very clearly these verses are talking about rewards (i.e. the believer’s inheritance). Some will receive, others will receive nothing, yet the verse clearly states this involves every man. In context there are only two types of men.
First, those who will receive a reward (i.e. inherit a position in the Kingdom of God).
Second, those who will not receive reward (i.e. not inherit any of the government positions), yet they are saved “so as by fire.”