Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, witchcraft…
Before we begin to look at the individual adjectives describing the flesh, I want to point out a couple concepts. First, consider the word works of the flesh. Ultimately, what is being contrasted in the rest of this chapter is the Spirit and the flesh, more specifically, the products from those two entities.
Think about the concept of these two words: fruit and works. Works denote the idea of toil and sweat and human effort, earning a right, a right to attain something as a reward, or payment for services rendered. Fruit, on the other hand, cannot be manufactured with human hands. Instead, it is a product that naturally occurs. It is manifested outwardly because it is contained inwardly. In other words, an apple tree produces apples because it is an apple tree internally. Similarly, the fruit of the Spirit is manifested in people’s lives through a natural or shall I say a supernatural process. The point I am trying to make is that the fruit of the Spirit is not produced through self-effort. Instead, it is a supernatural process that takes place in the believer’s life when he allows the Holy Spirit to rule and reign. In the words of the mighty John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease!” (John 3:30) The essence of the Gospel teaches us that in order for resurrection power to be present, a crucifixion death must occur. What area of your life needs the cross applied to it so that the resurrection power (fruit of the Spirit) can be manifested in that area?
The word works is ergon in the Greek. From this Greek word, we have the English word ergonomics. The definition of ergonomics is human engineering.
Works in Christianity are not bad in themselves. Christians do produce good works. As we have discussed on multiple occasions, works become a problem when we begin to view our righteousness or grade how well we are doing with God based on human engineering (what I do and present before God- “Cain’s vegetables”[Genesis 4]). If the Christian were going to be honest with himself, he would admit that he has done this in his heart on numerous occasions: “Obviously, I am doing better than that Christian- look at what I do compared to them; I pray; I fast; I don’t cuss; I don’t drink, I raise two hands in church, they only raise one; I am in charge of two ministries, my husband fishes…” True righteousness is a person named Jesus. His righteousness is given to Christians based upon faith; an exchange took place; we received His righteousness; and He took our guilt, when He died in our place.
Unfortunately, Christians and sinners alike engineer products out of their sinful flesh. The unbeliever engineers these products because this is all he knows. The believer unknowingly engineers them because he attempts to clean himself through self- help, motivation, Christian disciplines, which all focus on self- performance. The cross should be an ever present reminder that humanity had nothing to offer God; instead, God offers Jesus to man. To the religious of heart this is offensive because he wants to be seen for his human engineering. Like a little toddler in diapers, he slings his “ba-ba” across the room and screams, “Look at me! Look at what I do for God!”
A while back I taught: Galatians 4:30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
God’s promises were not manifesting the way Abraham and Sarah expected, through their slave Hagar, a child was produced, a child of the flesh, brought forth in their own strength and wisdom. In this Galatians passage, Paul explains that these two women, Sarah and Hagar, represent the two covenants, the old and the new, law and grace.
God told Abraham to cast both the woman and the lad (boy) out; Hagar and Ishmael had to go! So the woman is the Law and the son is the product of the Law. The presence of both intolerable to God's plan of future promise, the New Covenant, faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And so it is for the Christian. God will not allow His children to function under the old system of legalism and self-performance. The Law that affects the New Testament believer is legalistic Christianity, synonymous with the (works) of the flesh, and the offspring of this union between Christian and law are the lusts of the flesh, which we will soon review.
If you go back to the beginning part of the passage, it states that these works of the flesh are manifest. The idea is that they are apparent or visible. This is important- so pay attention! The lust of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit can serve as a mirror in the lives of believers. A person can gauge whether they are walking in the Spirit versus the flesh by observing which fruit is being produced in their lives.
(1) Adultery- The obvious idea of adultery is when a man or woman has intercourse with someone else's spouse. In addition, there was an old Hebrew idiom (thought) that described a man being lured by a woman into idolatry. In other words, he was seduced to commit spiritual adultery on God (Proverbs 7). Sadly, this was the downfall of Solomon, the wisest man ever known, his insatiable appetite for women, resulting in his worship of their gods. If you review Revelation 17:3-6, you will see the spirit of false religion, a woman drunk with blood, drunk with the blood of the saints; for thousands of years, she has seduced men to commit spiritual adultery on God through false religion. Sadly, this includes much of the garbage we call Christianity on television today.
I would like to bring out one more point about adultery. Jesus said that when you look upon a woman with lustful intent you have committed adultery. In other words, it is not alright to have sex with people in your mind even though you’re not doing it physically. I am here to tell you that Jesus will give you victory in your thought life also if you will submit your thought life to Him, and apply the theology of the cross to that area of your life. How does this happen? Through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, you can’t do it, you can’t quote it away, pray it away, or fast it away, the cross has to kill it. How does that happen? The believer realizes that he is helpless in himself, Jesus died to set him free, at the cross the victory was already won, faith in His work gives him access to grace, and fruit appears on the tree.
(2) Fornication-We get the English word fornication from the Greek word porneia. This word describes illicit sex of any kind: lesbianism, homosexuality, bestiality, incest. I am sure that people at this point are saying, "Dude I'm not that bad. I have sex, but I mean come on man everybody has sex. And I only have sex with one person. We're not married, but we're engaged." People that know anything about God, but aren't living for him say that a lot now, "This is my fiancee." That means we do it (sex) but we are going to make it right one day. But that is the world's perception of what is acceptable- not God's! God says that the marriage bed is undefiled (Hebrews 13:4). God instituted the covenant of marriage in the garden. One man...one woman. When it is done God's way it is a covenant that has Him as the glue that holds it all together.
(3) Uncleanness- This word describes sensual impurity. The NIV uses the word sexual immorality. This word includes the concept of people who live constantly with impure thoughts. Guys you know what I'm talking about. If you ever worked in the oilfield everything was always hyper-sexual. I remember, after I was a Christian I had a friend in Nursing school that I spent some time with. Invariably, if we would see a pretty girl he would say, "Boy I would like to see her naked.” This was all the time everywhere we went. And I'm not going to lie I was struggling with lust as a Christian because I did not know how to properly access grace. So he would say it...then I would say, "Shut up! Boy your crazy!" But the whole time my mind is struggling with the thought of it. The adultery of the mind Jesus spoke of could have been placed here also.
(4) Lasciviousness- other words that have been used in its place are debauchery, or wantonness. This word describes lawless behavior. In this sense, there is no regard for societal ethics. You could get the picture of a couple rednecks riding in the back of a truck “hooting and hollering”, drinking and littering, dipping and spitting...you get the picture. Also, a young man that doesn't care that a young lady's father has spoken to her about preserving herself for the right man that she will marry. I am not worried about that- I want some sex, he thinks in his heart.
The word has also been used to describe impertinence. The definition of Impertinence = intrusive, rude, presumptuous in one’s actions. This could cover all levels of the spectrum from snubbing one’s nose at the cops and telling them off, to just being plain rude and crossing boundaries that are not yours to cross. In other words, telling people things about themselves that are hurtful and rude and ultimately are not going to help anything because it was done with the wrong spirit to begin with.
(5) Idolatry- idolatry can take multiple forms. We often envision graven images. But when you get to the bottom of what idols are and do, they take the place of and serve as God in a person's life. Instead of God being the focal point, these things become the focus.
(6) Witchcraft- The last word I want to cover is witchcraft. The Greek word is pharmakeia. Obviously, this is where we get the word pharmacy from. As a health care professional, I am certainly not saying that all medicines are bad and anyone who takes medicine is engaging in witchcraft. If that is the case my Nexium makes me a sorcerer. The idea here is the use of mind altering substances in the craft of magical spells or sorcery. This has been a practice sense ancient times. Drugs, alcohol, and mind altering substances used in conjunction with sexual acts have played a huge role in the world of the occult. Aleister Crowley the black magic occultist who was known for his own brand of magic called Thelema or Sex Magick heavily employed the use of mind altering drugs and all manners of fornication. Most people are saying, “Oooohhh gross, I wouldn’t do that.” Well, of course not. But do not think that there are not demon spirits associated with the misuse and abuse of drugs. You can lie to yourself all day long, but if you are in bondage this may be why. If you don’t believe me ask someone you know that has used cocaine whether or not they think a spirit of lust or sexuality is connected to that drug. And it is not only cocaine many drugs and even alcohol are this way.
We live in the midst of a medicated society and for many people their pills have become their gods. People want relief from the trauma of their past and the pain of their present. Unfortunately, many use drugs: narcotics, anxiolytics (Xanax/ Valium), and Anti- depressants to desensitize the hurt they feel. But Jesus wants to fulfill that role in the life of the Christian. Furthermore, when these drugs are misused and abused, they also desensitize the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In the words of MIck Jagger, “They go running to the shelter of their mother’s little helper…. A little blue pill.” Help us Lord to run to you as our shelter (Psalm 61:3). Give your people a revelation of being protected under the shadow of your wings
(Psalms 17:8; 36:7; 63:7; 91:1).