The Mortification of Sin: The Works of the Flesh, Part 4.

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,When you are faced with temptation, when lusts rise up within to attack you, consider yourself dead to sin (Romans 6:11). When you grieve over your lack of love for God and growth in grace, remind yourself, I am alive in Christ; I can grow in holiness. Practice the power of spiritual thinking. Second, practice the duty of spiritual enlistment. Paul uses a military concept in Romans 6:12–13. Since sin is no longer our master, we must not let it reign in our bodies to obey its lusts. He uses the term body, since the perversions of sin in the soul often manifests themselves in the bodily appetites and the body becomes an instrument of sin — our eyes, our speech, our hands, and our feet.”

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

 Dissensions (διχοστασίαι; dichostasia) means to have division and discord. The word literally means to cut in two what was once one. The word for dissension is found in one other Pauline passage. Romans 16:17 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”

Divisions (αἱρέσεις; haireseis), like dissensions, means to separate or divide people into two opposing groups. Our English word “heresy” comes from this word for division. 2 Peter 2:1 says, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

Envy (φθόνοι; phthonoi) means to have ill will toward someone because of some real or presumed advantage you believe they possess. It literally means to have a heart which is hot or a stomach which burns.

Drunkenness (μέθαι; methai) means to be inebriated on alcoholic beverages. Ephesians 5:18 says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,”

Orgies (κῶμοι; komoi) means to carouse and to revel in drunkenness. The word refers to drinking parties in which immoral behavior occurs.

The Apostle Paul initially concludes with the phrase “and things like these” to refer to similar types of behavior and works of the flesh. These are the works of which believers must seek to mortify.

The apostle then issues a stern and serious warning to his readers: “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Does this mean that a believer, who may engage in any of these sins,  previously listed and examined today, are in danger to losing their salvation? Some Christians believe this to be true. However, the issue Paul raises does not refers to an occasional lapse into sin but rather an ongoing lifestyle.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “The apostle then solemnly warned the Galatians, as he had done when he was in their midst, that those who live like this, who habitually indulge in these fleshly sins will not inherit the future kingdom of God. This does not say that a Christian loses his salvation if he lapses into a sin of the flesh, but that a person who lives continually on such a level of moral corruption gives evidence of not being a child of God.”

We should never have the perspective that we can willfully sin and get away with it. Sin causes real damage to our fellowship with God and with other believers (2 Samuel 11-12). However, the true believer may rest assured that God has given them eternal life based upon the person and work of Jesus Christ, He alone is our advocate (I John 2:1-2; I Timothy 2:5).

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

Soli deo Gloria!


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