18/10/20 – Galatians 5:16-21


This week we’ll look at the unholy works of the flesh, with the holy works of the Spirit the following week.


Galatians 5:16[This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.


shall …. fulfilteleo (bring to an end or close; perform; execute; complete; finished; fulfil such as an order, command, or requirement; accomplish) It is translated “It is finished” in John 19:30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.


the lustepithymia (lust; desire; craving; longing; desire for that which is forbidden)

Here Paul contrasts the 2 ways of life: according to the Spirit (the new spiritual nature), and according to the flesh (the old sinful nature). We must choose between the two. What we choose will therefore demonstrate of what nature we are, either spiritual or physical.


James teaches that our behaviour demonstrates our true nature.

James 3:10-1210Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet [water] and bitter? 12Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so [can] no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.


walkperipateo (to walk; make one’s way; progress; make due use of opportunities; to live; regulate one’s life; conduct one’s self; one’s way of life) It can mean simply to physically walk, but here it denotes a person’s way of life, or manner of living. Most instances in the NT refer to our manner or way of life, not physically walking.

2 Corinthians 5:7(For we walk (peripateo) by faith, not by sight:)

In this sense peripateo may be termed a religion, a life which is governed by what one believes.


Most religions not only teach what one should believe, but also seek to apply those beliefs to their daily living. In this sense, Christianity is a religion; it likewise seeks to impose certain moral and ethical behaviours on Christians. Thus a Christian is not just a believer on Sunday mornings, but his behaviour should be moderated by his Christian beliefs all the time, 24/7.


This is a huge problem for the church today, for we all too often see nice “Christian” people turn up at church, only to become far less than Christian for much of the week. But, says Paul, what you believe must be applied to the whole of your life. Your beliefs must be so much a part of your life that people should be able to “see’ your beliefs in the way you live your life.


The early Christians were called followers of The Way (their manner or way of all life).

The earliest disciples were called followers of The Way, which is important because Christianity was never meant to be just another religion, but a Way. It’s both a journey and the path you walk on. It’s not static but in constant motion; it’s not just one choice but a lifetime of choices.” (bible.com)


There are approved behaviours and non-approved behaviours in Christianity (as in most religions). Paul is saying that we must walk the whole of our lives 24/7 according to the requirements of the Holy Spirit in order to avoid falling by walking according to the lusts of our flesh nature. The following passages from Romans are worth looking at.

Romans 8:5-115For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness. 11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

Romans 6:4beven so we also should walk (peripateo) in newness of life.


It is worth noting that all religions in some way or other demand certain lifestyles from their followers. Many assess their followers according to their overall behaviour. It brings to mind a number of martial arts that end in “-do”. “do” means a pathway, a route, the way of life, and thus applies the martial art to the whole of life living. It defines such arts as religions according to which one must fully live one’s life.

For example, “karate” means “the empty hand”, and therefore “karate-do” (its full name) is “the way of living according to the (empty) hand”.

Thus karatedō is more than just empty hand techniques. It is "The Way of the Empty Hand".” (Wikipedia) This marks karate (along with other martial arts, particularly those that can end in “-do”) as a way of life or a religion.


Karate is traditionally taught by a dojo master in a hall termed a dojo (which is the name given to a Buddhist meditation room). Those learning traditional martial arts are the disciples who must give reverence to their master.

A dōjō is a hall or place for immersive learning or meditation. This is traditionally in the field of martial arts, but has been seen increasingly in other fields, such as meditation. The term literally means "place of the Way" in Japanese. ….. The word dōjō originates from Buddhism. Initially, dōjō were adjunct to temples and were formal training places for any of the Japanese arts ending in "-", from the Chinese Tao (or Dao), meaning "way" or "path". Sometimes meditation halls where Zen Buddhists practice zazen meditation were called dōjō.” (Wikipedia)


Note Tao-Buddhism (or Dao-Buddhism) which means the way of life according to Buddhist beliefs.

Tao (or Dao) is a Chinese word signifying the "way", "path", "route", "road" or sometimes more loosely "doctrine", "principle" or "holistic beliefs".

Tao is the natural order of the universe whose character one's human intuition must discern in order to realize the potential for individual wisdom. This intuitive knowing of "life" cannot be grasped as a concept; it is known through actual living experience of one's everyday being.” (Wikipedia)


So, getting back to Galatians 5:16, Paul is saying that if we claim to be Christians, then “even so we also should walk (peripateo) in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4) Walking according to the Spirit is our best defence against fulfilling the lust (the desire for that which is forbidden) of the flesh (the old man sinful nature). And such walking means 24/7, all the time, a total way of life and not just an occasional show of piety.


Galatians 5:17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.


are contraryantikeimai (be set against; opposite to; oppose; be adverse to; withstand)

Translated “the adversary” in 1 Timothy 5:14I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary (antikeimai) to speak reproachfully.

and “opposeth” in 2 Thessalonians 2:4Who opposeth (antikeimai) and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.


The Spirit and the flesh constantly war against each other; one denies the other. Because of this constant tugging from both sides on our lives, our wills are not free to do what we want, but must endure this ongoing battle until that which wins takes charge of our wills. That is, we will do what our wills desire, but only after our wills have decided on either the Spirit or the flesh.


Paul acknowledged his constant battle to walk according to the Spirit.

Romans 7:15-2515For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that [it is] good. 17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. 19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.


Paul wanted so much to walk in the Spirit but at times he failed because the sin that dwelt in him (the old man sin nature) overruled and made its desire his desire. He delights in God’s law but another law renders him a captive to sin.  24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”.  However, even so, he was not under condemnation of the law for doing so.

Romans 8:1-21[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.


Galatians 5:18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.


It is the law which condemns our sinful nature, but if you are led by the Spirit, you are no longer under that law which condemns. (See Romans 8:1-2)

That, of course, is not an excuse to sin because you are no longer condemned by the law. Christians have an obligation to avoid sin because they are of the Spirit and should no longer be of the flesh.

Romans 6:12-1612Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. 14For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?


Galatians 5:19-2119Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, 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.


the worksergon (business; employment; occupation; that with which any one is occupied; undertaking; work; deed; labour) Those actions and activities which we do.

This doesn’t just include actual physical actions but, as Jesus taught, included even our intention or desire to carry them out.

Matthew 5:27-2827Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.


are manifestphaneros (apparent; manifest – to be plainly recognised or known; evident; known; revealed)

That is, the works of the flesh may be clearly seen for what they are. They are easily identifiable and cannot be hidden easily. There can be no ignorance over these works and therefore no excuse for doing them other than your own flesh-nature choice.


Now we get onto the actual sinful works of the flesh. These 17 are not necessarily in order of evilness, nor are they a complete list of works of the flesh. Descriptions may be brief in order to deal with them all here.


adultery – Sexual relations by a married person with someone outside that marriage; that is, extramarital. It can be seen as a breaking of marriage vows binding them to just one person. The OT often refers to the spiritual adultery of Israel who played the harlot with false gods and deserting her spiritual husband (God) (Jeremiah 3:8; Malachi 2:11)

Exodus 20:14Thou shalt not commit adultery.


fornicationAll kinds of sexual relations between persons not married to each other. (2 Chronicles 21:11) It includes adultery but has a wider range of variance than does adultery. It can include sexual relations between a person and an animal. It also includes spiritual fornication (Revelation 17:2).

Fornication is generally consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. When one or more of the partners having consensual sexual intercourse is a married person, it is called adultery.” (Wikipedia)

It also includes the fairly common trend today of “sleeping around”, multiple sexual partners, sex with close relatives, and same-sex relationships.


fornication (Greek porneia) = illicit sexual intercourse; adultery; fornication; homosexuality; intercourse with animals; worship of false gods and idols.

porneia derives from a Greek word (porne – used for women prostitutes) which in turn derives from another Greek word (pornos – used for male prostitutes). Prostitutes were commonly associated with the temple worship of false gods.

We get our word “pornography” from this Greek term.


uncleannessakatharsia (uncleanness, either physical or moral; in a moral sense: the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living; of impure motives) (Leviticus 7:20-21)


akatharsia derives from akathartos (unclean; in a ceremonial sense: that which must be abstained from according to the levitical law; in a moral sense: unclean in thought and life) In the NT it was usually associated with the term “unclean spirit” (akatharsia & pneuma) as in Mark 1:23And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,


akatharsia in turn derives from the negative of kathairo (purge; prune unfruitful shoots and branches) kathairo is translated “purgeth” in John 15:2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Note that “taketh away” in John 15:2 is also a related word. “taketh away” is airo (to take up; to bear; to remove) Thus in John 15:2 we have the removal of spiritually unproductive branches and the selective pruning of spiritually productive branches.


So uncleanness in Galatians 5:19 is a spiritual problem that interferes with our service for God. It has to be purged from our life if we are to be effective Christians.

Another related word (ekkathairo) is translated “purge” in 2 Timothy 2:20-2120But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21If a man therefore purge (ekkathairo) himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, [and] prepared unto every good work.

Here it has the idea of thorough purging or to be cleansed thoroughly in order to be converted from a dishonourable vessel to a “vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use”.


Uncleanness often begins with our thoughts, which is why we must strive to make every thought subject to “the obedience of Christ”.

2 Corinthians 10:5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;


Instead, exercise your minds to think on pure things; in this way you may avoid the temptation to think impure thoughts.

Philippians 4:8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.


lasciviousnessunbridled lust; excess; licentiousness; lasciviousness; wantonness; outrageousness; shamelessness. Flagrant breaches of public decency. Immodesty.

Ephesians 4:19Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.


idolatry (eidololatreia) – Service rendered to idols. An idol may be anything that takes importance in your life. The most important thing in your life is what you worship, and if it isn’t God, then it is idolatry. Any idolatry in your life may take precedence over service to God. It diverts your attention from God to the worship of false gods, and a false god is anything in your life that you worship as much if not more than God.

Matthew 10:37-3837He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

(1 Samuel 15:23; Colossians 3:5)


witchcraft (pharmakeia) sorcery; magical arts; often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it; the deceptions and seductions of idolatry. This includes anything to do with New Age worship of today (with all its “mother earth” worship as well; this includes Gaia, known as the ancestral mother of all life). It includes all groups and organisations that worship satan or follow satanic ideals. This includes freemasonry (and its associated organisations). New Age worship also includes most “green” conservation organisations, many of which have more to do with a licentious life-style agenda than actually being concerned for the environment. It may include such as vegans. (Veganism in Australia is so religious in its beliefs that it openly, actively and physically opposes – often through violence and/or deliberate law-breaking – any who may choose to differ with their beliefs. I can understand people who choose to be vegetarian – this is a lifestyle choice – but it should never become a religion with an agenda which determines that all others who disagree must be totally wrong and therefore to be violently opposed.)

(1 Samuel 15:23; 2 Chronicles 33:6)


hatred – enmity; deliberately antagonistic; an in-your-face attitude toward others; a desire (driven by lack of love) to stir up trouble. (Numbers 35:20-21; Proverbs 10:18)


variance – deliberate contention with others. Very similar to “hatred”. A desire to be at variance (different from others around you. An attitude that says that if you want to do something, they’ll do something else just to be different. A desire to disagree with others. A trouble-maker. (Note Matthew 10:35 where “variance” is the consequence of divided allegiances within families.)


emulations – “To strive to equal or excel, especially through imitation” (thefreedictionary.com) Unhealthy rivalry which cannot accept that someone else might also be good at something, perhaps even better than you.

Instead, Romans 12:10[Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; That is, the opposite of emulations.


wrath (thymos) – passion; anger; sudden bursts of rage; it relates to the wine of passion, inflaming wine (which either drives the drinker mad or kills him with its strength. thymos derives from thyo (sacrifice; immolate; slay; kill; of the paschal lamb; slaughter)

In Galatians 5:20 it refers to uncontrolled anger like a tantrum. It is not to be associated with God’s wrath which is always righteous, being aimed at sin.

Note that anger isn’t always wrong.

Ephesians 4:26-2726Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27Neither give place to the devil.


strifeeritheia (electioneering or intriguing for office; a desire to put one’s self forward; a partisan and fractious spirit which will stoop low to gain favour) It is said that this word is found before NT times only in Aristotle where it denotes a self-seeking pursuit of political office by unfair means.

See Romans 2:7-8 where eritheia is translated “contentious”.


seditions – divisive; division; dissension. Conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of a state. (thefreedictionary.com) Rebelliousness. This is its only use in the NT.


heresies – causing dissension through divisive teachings. Forming divisive sects. It is translated “the sect” in Acts 15:5But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses.

Translated “heresies” in 2 Peter 2:1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.


envyings – jealousies (which lead to strife) which oppose the prosperity and success of others. That is, if I can’t have it, then neither should they!

Exodus 20:17Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour’s.


murders – slayings; killings. Exodus 20:13Thou shalt not kill.


drunkennessmethe (intoxication; drunkenness) We get “methylated” from the Greek word methy (wine; alcohol). Note that “methyphobia” is a fear of alcohol.

Ephesians 5:18And be not drunk (methysko) with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;


revellingsa revel; carousal; a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry.

Cambridge says “In Classical Greek it is used of those nightly revellings in which the wealthier young men indulged, when after an evening spent in debauchery they disturbed the quiet of the streets by ribald songs and noisy violence.


Paul in his letter to the Romans associated many works of the flesh with an unwillingness to “retain God in their knowledge”.

Romans 1:28-3228And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.


Note that Paul is not saying that Christians will not do these works, for if they couldn’t do them, then there would be no place for a warning. Instead, Christians should avoid doing these works of the flesh because they belong to those who walk according to the law and are under the bondage of the law due to the condemnation of the law against these works. If you are saved, then you should no longer live as one who is unsaved!


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