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Works of the Flesh Explained:
Bible Study of Galatians 5:19-21

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Galatians 5:19-21: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 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.”

Works of the flesh are sin. Let’s define each work of the flesh and get to know them in better detail because this is the left side of your Gauge to Godliness. Depending on how many of these manifest and at what level of activity or intensity will show you how far away from God a person is.

19) Adultery [one person married but having sex with someone else] lust of others spouse; indulge illicit lust; giving yourself to illicit sex without payment; gratify illicit sex of the homosexual or the heterosexual; provoking incest; unfaithfulness to God.

Fornication [having sex and not being married to each other], between the unmarried or married; indulge unlawful lust; illicit sexual practice with payment as in prostitution; illicit sexual practice of either sex; lust in the heart.

Uncleanness [morally impure, evil, vile, unlikable], whatever is opposite of purity; having evil thoughts and/or actions. God says that homosexuality, bestiality, and all other forms of sexual perversion render a person unclean.

Lasciviousness [indicating sexual interest or expressive of lust or lewdness], promiscuous, not the act of fornication but everything leading up to it. Like a guy who is a skirt chaser or a woman being a tease. Being improper in your actions and your communications or going around scantly clad in order to induce impure or lustful thoughts and feeling toward you from another person.

20) Idolatry [the worship of idols, excessive or blind adoration, reverence or devotion to anything other than God], anything dethroning God. This includes praying to saints and statues hoping that god will hear you through them.

Witchcraft [practicing magic using demonic powers], Greek: pharmakeia, (This word gives us our English word: Pharmacy) sorcery, practice of dealing with evil spirits; magical incantations and casting spells and charms upon someone using “magic potions” and drugs of various kinds. Enchantments were used to inflict evil, pains, hatred, sufferings, and death.  Or even “white witchcraft” used with good intentions to bring goodness, health, love, joy and other blessings. If the power is not coming from God, then it is technically witchcraft and only bad things will come of it.

Hatred [intense dislike or hostility], lack of regard for another. Bitter dislike and ill-will against anyone; tendency to hold grudges against or be angry at someone; wanting to hurt them.

Variance [conflict, arguing, fighting] not agreeing when you should; a quarrel, being difficult to deal with.

Emulations [resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage], to copy another to equal or surpass; jealousy as with malice [intent to harm]. Striving to excel at the expense of another; seeking to surpass and outdo others; unbridled rivalry in religion, business, society, and other fields of endeavor. Ice skater Nancy Kerrigan getting hurt by Tonya Harding's crew back in 1994 is a good example. That event led to the eventual ruin of Tonya Harding's career. She reaped what she sowed.

Wrath [vengeance or punishment as the consequence of great anger], fierceness; Determined and lasting anger as in getting back at someone for a perceived wrong doing.

Strife [struggling in opposition], Contest for superiority or advantage for selfish gain; not as in playing a game or in a healthy sporting competition. The sport of wrestling is a good example of healthy strife. Strife is not always physical, it can be metal using words like in a religious or political debate. Where it becomes a work of the flesh is when the intention is to hurt the other either physically or mentally or emotionally. Like I tell my kids, “It’s all fun and games till someone starts crying.” That’s when hatred and wrath usually kick in!

Seditions [rebellious disorder]; causing trouble. Stirring up strife in religion, government, at work, home or any other place.

Heresies [divisions in religious communities], The word itself has no evil meaning. It simply refers to a doctrinal view or belief conflicting with the recognized and accepted tenets of a system, church, or party. It becomes a work of the flesh when the heart behind the division is to cause trouble, hurt people or raise ones self up in importance over another. Heresies become evil when sound bible doctrine is rejected and a false doctrine is taught in place of the truth.

21) Envyings [close to jealousy, a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions], ill-will, spite, jealousy; thinking a person is not worthy of having what they have, because you feel you are more deserving.

Murders [the intentional killing of another human being], or organized slaughter. This includes being involved in a murder even if you are not directly responsible for the death.

Drunkenness [intoxication, in this case alcohol but can include any mind altering drug], Excessive drinking or drug use to the point that you diminish or even lose good judgment and self control. Excessive drug use is widely known as the fast track to self destruction and it deeply hurts others who are involved.

Revellings [partying hard, indulging in loud boisterous festivities for no apparent reason], the letting loose of inhibitions and good judgement, getting roudy or going on a drunken rampage; also involves rioting.

Our Acts are Expressions of Our Inner Selves

Note that Paul's list in Gal 5:19-21 was just a partial list because he concludes it by saying "and such like" in verse 21. The works of the flesh are many and varied, and they that do such things will not inhereit the kingdom of God. This is serious stuff.

Jesus says in John 3:6, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit”. As Isaiah tells us in 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away”  The works of the flesh bring nothing good.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:20 “Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.”

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About the Author:

Daniel Sweet, President of God's Word First Christian Ministry

Daniel Sweet is the founder and President of God's Word First and is a leading expert on the Gift of Holy Spirit. As an ordained minister, biblical scholar, humble follower and faithful teacher, he and his wife Debbra Sweet have been instrumental in helping many people come to the knowledge and truth of God’s Word. Affectionately known as the "Rock and Roll Pastor" due to his previous vocation as a pro musician, he is widely known for his lively sense of humor, his fun loving attitude and openly candid opinions. Daniel Sweet is also a published author on the subject of Leadership, an investor and an entrepreneur owning several small businesses.

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