Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
It is important to note the contrast in the verses we are looking at today and the ones that follow after. It is the contrast between the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit.”
Lost humanity has many tricks they try to pull to impress God. They have many “word salads” that have been invented and still are being invented to try to trick God. Lost humanity does not understand that God is not a fool. The saddest part is that too many professing Christians have bought into this lie as well.
The first of the works of the flesh listed here is “adultery.” We have witnessed such a glossing over of the sin of adultery in the past number of years. It used to be that divorce was seen as the disaster that it is. It was highly frowned upon. Remarriage was almost unheard of among churches. In the world there were remarriages but not like today. Today there is such a thrill in the minds of so many in the sin of adultery. Adultery is unfaithfulness to the marriage vows. There is also spiritual adultery, but God is talking here of the flesh. Those who divorce and remarry are committing adultery. The Bible is clear on this.
Jesus warned about this in Matthew’s Gospel account. Paul warned of this in Romans 7. It is shameful that so many pastors ignore the clear teaching of Scripture and choose to endorse the sinfulness of man instead.
The Pharisees came to Jesus with what they thought was a sure fire answer to divorce in Matthew 19. They lied and claimed that Moses commanded divorce under certain conditions. Jesus corrected them and stated that Moses “suffered” it due to the hard-heartedness of the people. Jesus also stated that in the beginning it was not so. Jesus did not allow the softness of Moses to erase the righteousness of God. Marriage is not a game. It is not something to enter into lightly.
Marriage is designed by God. It is designed to be a picture of God’s salvation. Ephesians 5 describes the picture that marriage is to paint. Without Christ as Saviour and Lord, marriage is an endurance game. When Jesus Christ is in charge, marriage can be a blessing.
We have been told this week that our P.M. and his wife have separated. We have known for a while that there was trouble in that marriage. The P.M. just chose this time to announce it to try to get away from his bad record as a leader of this nation. He needs as many distractions as he can find. He is looking for sympathy as well.
It is a shame when any couple separates. It is never God’s will. Far too many couples marry without understanding what they are doing. It is all for the physical and the emotional “benefits.” Some even have “prenuptial” agreements now just in case. Marriage is designed by God to be for the life of the pair. Marriage will work when the couple is saved and walking in the Spirit. It requires humility and a submission to God first of all for a marriage to work successfully.
It is important to understand that even though many churches now endorse divorce and remarriage, God does not. Adultery is still a work of the flesh.
Closely tied to adultery is fornication. Fornication is immorality between unmarried individuals. That sin is also running rampant in our time. There are many couples who never bother to marry. They just find someone they lust after and they get involved in immorality. Immorality starts in the mind before it is fully acted upon. Fornication is also a work of the flesh.
It is important to note that the works of the flesh are all sin and they can be forgiven. A lost person can be saved and forgiven. It is also important to note that when sin is forgiven it is something that must be forsaken. The Catholics have the revolving door of the confessional. The sinner goes to the priest and confesses a sin and the priest tells him or her what to do to find “forgiveness.” The person can then go out of the confessional and repeat the sin and go back and confess it again and again.
In Matthew 18:21-22 Jesus is not teaching Catholic dogma. He is talking of the weakness of man and how we will sin over and over again even when we have a hatred for sin. Jesus is not endorsing the wickedness that has permeated society and most churches today.
Uncleanness is another work of the flesh. It is also involving immorality as is lasciviousness. All four of these works are related to the moral breakdown.
In verse 20 God began with moral sins of another nature. Idolatry involves false gods. It is anything that man puts ahead of God. In Colossians 3:5, Paul warned that covetousness is idolatry. A person can be an idolater without having an image in their house or vehicle or wherever.
Witchcraft is replacing God with an evil spirit. Witchcraft has been around for many centuries. God told the nation of Israel that witches were not allowed to live in the land of Israel. At the time of king Saul they were living in Israel. Saul tried to appease God by driving the witches out of Israel. Near the end of his life, when he could not get an answer from God due to his wickedness, he asked for a witch to be found for him. What a sad event.
Hatred is a redefined word today. To tell someone the truth is hatred today. To endorse or condone sin is love. Hatred and variance go hand in hand. They involve hostility and quarrelling. Emulations is adding heat to the hatred and variance. It is a heightened emotional effect. Wrath and strife, seditions and heresies are all works that affect and flow from the emotions. They are also closely related and they express themselves in the unrest and the crimes that are often committed in our time. There are many heresies being promoted from pulpits today. Just as in Paul’s day, they are being swallowed up by gullible people.
In verse 21 we see further works of the flesh. Envyings can and do lead to murder. Someone that is jealous of what someone else has and cannot achieve may turn to murdering the one they envy. Cain envied his brother Abel. He could not find approval from God in his stubborn rebellion. He was not about to change his stubborn rebellion and thus he determined that the solution was to get rid of his brother. He made things worse.
Drunkenness will loosen the moral compass of the participant. We see that in the Bible and we see that in society. Those who want to defend this sin by suggesting that Jesus turned water into alcoholic wine are just being played by the devil.
Revellings flow out of drunkenness. Often the drunk will let loose. He will become loud and rude and vile. Notice that God ends this list with the phrase “and such like”. No one can look at this list and claim that their particular sin is ok because it is not listed here.
God reminds us here as well that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Rather than preachers trying to soften sin, preach the truth. Paul reminded the Galatians that these facts were not new to them. He had already told them this before. Paul preached the whole counsel of God. That is what is important. Pastors cannot play politics. Politicians are known to be deceivers and liars. You cannot trust what they say. Pastors cannot hold their finger to the wind and see where the tide of sin is flowing in their congregation. They need to be led by the Holy Spirit and preach the whole counsel of God.
Lost people need to know they are lost. Saved people need to understand sin is not acceptable. To align oneself with lost people is wickedness. Saved people cannot lose their salvation and thus they cannot remain in sin. They must confess it as sin and be forgiven and forsake it. That is God’s design.