May 5, 2021 – Galatians 5: 16-21 – The Works of the Flesh

Click here to watch my video reflection on our text for today, or keep reading for my written reflections: 

Today’s reading is from Galatians 5: 16-21:

16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Two of the most interesting concepts in scripture are “works/wages” and “gifts.”  One implies something that is earned, one implies something that is given.  For instance, Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Wages are what is earned. What is earned?  Death, which is the natural result of sin and For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 3:23).  

But what is given is life. Life and salvation are a gift from God, which has been established all throughout this book. Wages = earned = sin/death. Gift = grace = salvation.  

So today, we see the “works of the flesh.”  In other words, these are actions that naturally produced when we live by our flesh and our sinful desires, and these will, most assuredly, give death. 

What are these works?  Lots of stuff that we’d love for God to go get “them” over – fornication!  Idolatry!  Sorcery!  

But wait, what about anger?  Jealousy?  quarrels?  Wait a minute? That’s the kind of thing that I do.  Hmmm.  I’m not sure about that.  I would love for God to go get them over the stuff that they are doing, but I’d love for Him to forgive me for the stuff I’m doing.  

This is what Paul does when it comes to sin.  He doesn’t just talk about the sins that “they” do.  He talks about the sin that we do too.  He wants us to understand that it is not just they who stand condemned, we all stand condemned.  That’s why it is grace. We are all guilty. And all need forgiveness and mercy. 

If we live via the flesh, these are the works that we will produce. They will come from our pride, desires, and sins, and they will destroy us. 

Today, look at your life. Do you see the works of the flesh there?  If so, give it over to Jesus.  Allow His grace to be at work in your life.  Tomorrow, we’ll look at the fruits that the Spirit produces.  

Monday we’ll look at Galatians 5: 22-26.  

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