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The Works of the Flesh vs. The Fruit of the Spirit (Part 1)

Galatians is such an interesting book. I especially love chapter five. Before we consider what it means to bear the fruit of "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). However, prior to that text, in Galatians 5:19-21, he says, "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revelries" are things that are practiced by those who WILL NOT inherit the kingdom of God. These works of the flesh could be divided into three biblical categories… “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (I John 2:16).

Jesus warned in Matthew 7:20 that we will be known by our fruit. Solomon also reminded people that as we think in our heart, we will become those things (Proverbs 23:7). So, what do you think about? What kind of fruit do you want to bear in your life? Our daily living is an expression of our inner person. These evil works of the flesh, which are mentioned by Paul, are things that we need to avoid. What are they? What does the Bible say about them? How can we avoid them? Let's consider a few of them…

Adultery = This spiritual attack is on the marriage covenant. This includes the lust of another’s spouse, indulging in illicit lust while married, participating in illicit sex or voyeurism (pornography), gratifying yourself with illicit sex (homosexual or heterosexual), which is evidence of one being unfaithful to God (Matthew 5:28,32, John 4:16-18, I Corinthians 6:16, II Peter 2:14). Dating back to the Ten Commandments we can learn that God hates this sin.

Fornication = This spiritual attack is self-control. This includes the unmarried or married who indulge in unlawful lust, illicit sexual practices for payment, illicit sexual practices of either sex, and lust in the heart (John 4:16-18, Romans 1:21-32, I Corinthians 6:9-10, 16, 18, Jude 7). Like adultery, fornication violates the first commands spoken in the garden to promote covenant living.

Uncleanness = This spiritual attack is against our purity. This is the opposite of pure thoughts, spoken words (dirty, physically or morally reprehensible) and includes filthy behavior (I Corinthians 6:15-18, Ephesians 4:19, 31, 5:5, Colossians 3:5, 8, James 1:21). Since the Old Covenant God has commanded cleanliness.

Lasciviousness = This spiritual attack is due to lust and overindulgence. This includes promiscuous living, expressing lust, excess of sexual behavior, and unrestrained passion (Mark 7:21-23, Romans 1:22-29, 7:8, Ephesians 4:19, I Peter 4:3). This may be one of the most misunderstood terms among the works of the flesh. It seeks to pervert oneself and others for the purpose of abuse or self-fulfillment.

Next week we will consider some additional “works of the flesh.” We need to prepare for spiritual warfare. Keep studying and have a great week!

You are loved.

Dr. Ray Reynolds

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