The Mortification of Sin: The Works of the Flesh, Part 3.

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, president and professor of systematic and historical theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Greenville, South Carolina, writes, “Central to the practice of mortification is the believer’s union with Christ Jesus. In Romans 6:1–13, Paul shows the relationship of union with Christ to mortification. In Romans 6, the apostle is answering the objection that justification promotes sin. He teaches that the work of Christ on the cross, which is the basis for justification, is also the basis of sanctification. Paul bases his argument on the believer’s union with Christ in His death and resurrection. He says, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:5 nasb).”

We continue our study of the works of the flesh from Galatians 5:19-21. These are various personal sins which the Christian must seek to continually mortify or kill. The Apostle Paul divides these mentioned works into three categories. The first category regards sexual immorality. The second category deals with false worship. The third category concerns human relationships. These include, “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” Let’s examine the first five listed separately.

Enmity (ἔχθραι; echthra) means to be an enemy of someone. This includes having feelings of hostility and antagonism. This word not only describes sinful relationships with other humans but also our enmity with God prior to our salvation.

Romans 5:10 says, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” James 4:4 says, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Mortification of sin is important because God has not only saved us from the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin. If we are not mortifying the power of sin in our lives than it stands to reason that God has yet to deliver us from the penalty of sin. In other words, we may think and believe we are Christians but we in reality are not. This was Jesus’ point in Matthew 7:21-23.

Strife (ἔρις; eris) is defined as discord, contentiousness and quarreling. It is possessing an argumentative spirit. Strife is the natural result of possessing hate of a spirit of enmity.

Jealousy (ζῆλος; zelos) refers to resentment. In this context, it is self-centeredness which resents what you do not have and also resents those who have what you do not have. See Romans 13:13.

Fits of anger (θυμοί; thymoi) is fury, wrath and rage. It is an outburst of temper as a result of jealousy and resentment.

Rivalries (ἐριθεῖαι; eritheiai) involves resentment and hostility brought about by selfish ambition. As one author explains, “It (eritheiai) is a self-aggrandizing attitude which shows itself in working to get ahead at other’s expense (cf. Phil. 2:3).”

All of these five works of the flesh are evident in everyday life and living. This is unfortunate but all too characteristic of living in a fallen world. 

Which of these works of the flesh can you identify as being a part of your own life? Are all of them evident? If so, whether some or all, repent of them today and resolve to mortify them from your mind, emotions and will.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!





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