Works of the Flesh

“The Works of the Flesh are Manifest…”

I would like our readers to consider  a serious study of the “ works of the flesh .” Please  take the time to examine carefully this ugly series of  sinful things. We need to realize the imminent danger of  these in our lives today, because the apostle Paul closes  Galatians 5:19-21 by saying that those who do such  things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. It cannot  be simpler to understand!

In the context, Paul has encouraged the churches  of Galatia to allow the gospel to influence their hearts  and minds so that they may control the fleshly part of life  (Gal. 5:16-18). He has warned them about the danger of  fulfilling the lust of the flesh and how that there was the  battle that is ongoing between the lust and our inward  man that has as its purpose and its intention to serve the  Lord. When we think about the pagan society that was  in existence in the first century, these were sins that were  prominent among them. Some of them were prevalent  even in relationship to idolatrous worship, which Paul  indicates within these “ works of the flesh .” Yet, when we  look at our society today in view of these things, then  we can see that society has not changed much. There is  not a great deal of difference in our world and the pagan  society in which Paul lived, which tells us that as these  things increase more and more, there is less and less  influence of the Bible in the hearts and the lives of the  people. Therefore, these things are very prominent today.

Thus, beginning in Galatians 5:19, Paul will begin  a list of the works of the flesh: “ Now the works of the  flesh are manifest, which are these ….” Notice carefully  some thoughts as we begin to consider these sins.

First, let us notice the term “ works .” Paul is  referencing certain things that come out of a fleshly life  by the way that he utilizes this word. We contrast “ works  of the flesh ” (Gal. 5:19-21) with “ the fruit of the Spirit ”  (Gal. 5:22-23), and while Paul engages two distinct  terms, he is still contrasting products in both scenarios.  For example, Jesus said, “ Beware of false prophets,  which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they  are ravening wolves ” (Matt. 7:15). In other words, these  men were teaching certain things, and out of that false  teaching, certain things would follow:

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather  grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every  good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree  bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring  forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth  good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good  fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore  by their fruits ye shall know them.  (Matt. 7:16-20)

Therefore, certain things are products of a fleshly  lifestyle, which Paul details, but please note that he has  not listed all of them, because he notes, “… and such  like .” These are only some of the works of the flesh that  Paul provides to give us an idea or portrait of what a  fleshly lifestyle indicates.

Second, as we examine the term “ flesh ” in view of  the greater context, we ought to see that the following list  of things is revolting to the child of God! There ought  not to be anything about any single one of these sins that  ought to appeal to us! In opposition to these horrific sins,  Paul will contrast with the beauty of spiritual things— “ the fruit of the Spirit ” (Gal. 5:22-23). It truly is “ flesh ”  versus “ spirit .” As we consider these various products of  a fleshly lifestyle, we can see how Paul will group these,  and we often see how these dovetail together. Avoiding  these fleshly works will not come automatically—we  must diligently work to avoid/remove these from our  lives, and as we remove these, we are to replace them  with the necessary attributes that describe “ the fruit of  the Spirit ,” which we will examine next month.

Third, Paul says that the works of the flesh “ are  manifest .” In other words, they show themselves. They  come out. The literal Greek word is  phaneros , which  really means that they are shining. Thus, we can see the  consequences, the outcome and the product of a fleshly  life. If these works are in our lives, then we can tell that  these are products and the harvest of the flesh.

Therefore, it is imperative that we need to get  these things out of our lives, and to prevent them from  developing in our lives. Please study carefully these  “ works of the flesh .”

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