This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
For 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.
But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Envyings, 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. Galatians 5:16-21
Paul tells us that only by walking in the Spirit can we keep from fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. What does it mean to walk in the Spirit? The word walk suggests an ongoing
action, rather than a one-time event. The Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit, which dwells within us from the moment we first accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
He used the term "flesh" here, as it was used hundreds of times in the Scriptures, to refer to our carnal selves --- the center of SELF: self-pride, self-will, self-seeking,
self-indulgence, and self-satisfaction. The Bible says that in the flesh, we cannot please God --- it goes against our very sinful human nature! The Bible tells us:
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God,
neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.( Romans 8:7-8)
To walk in the Spirit means to be fully attuned to the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit within us will work to check our fleshly desire to sin.
The Holy Spirit is given to us to lead and guide us, to remind us of God's word, to teach us and lead us in the paths of righteousness, and to develop in us the fruits of the Spirit.
However, we still have free will. Even as Christians, we can choose to ignore, briefly, the promptings of the Holy Spirit. God never removes our freedom of choice --- the Spirit
will not over-ride our decisions, even if we choose to be disobedient. However, there is one other thing the Spirit does, and that is convict us of sin. Anytime we deliberately choose
to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will face conviction. Thus, in our carnal flesh, we may briefly choose disobedience, but that sin will not be the unbridled indulgence
of those who are not under the convicting power of the Spirit. Such deliberate acts of sin by born again believers are not committed without reluctance and regret, and are followed with
shame and sorrow.
17) For 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.
There is a constant battle between the Spirit and the flesh. They are exact opposites, and cannot co-exist peacefully. When we are born again, we do not immediately lose all our
ungodly desires. The old habits, the old patterns of behavior, the old desires still exist, and they continually war against the new Spirit within us. We are torn between two opposite
desires: the spiritual desire to please God, and the carnal desire to please ourselves. as long as we remain in this fleshly body, we will never be free of this spiritual conflict.
Paul knew the struggle would always exist between the flesh and the Spirit. That is why he wrote: For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
(Romans 7:19) That is why Jesus said, Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the
flesh is weak. (Matt. 26:41) That is why we must daily crucify the flesh, (see verse 24)
18) But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Before we are saved, we are under the bondage of the law --- always trying to reconcile ourselves to God through the law. The Bible clearly tells us, however, that the law cannot
save us (see Romans 3:32 and 8:3) God wants us to live by the power of the Holy Spirit that He gave us, rather than try to live by the law, which we cannot begin to do. When we walk
in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit develops Godly attitudes within us that lead to right decisions and right actions.
Not under the law does not mean that the moral law of God has been revoked or invalidated. Never! It means simply that believers are empowered by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the true
intent of the law. Paul later wrote in Romans 6:15: What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. A Godly Christian life is
not achieved by trying to keep the law ourselves, but by deliberately surrendering control of our life to the power of the Holy Spirit. Every decision, every action, every thought,
word, and deed must be led by the Spirit.
19-21) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness,
lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, 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.
Sinful human nature, or the flesh, always manifests itself in obvious and unmistakable ways. I Corinthians 6:9-10 tells us quite clearly: Know ye not that the unrighteous
shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor
covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul names: (1) three sins of sensuality; (2) two spiritual sins of false religion;
(3) nine sins against our fellow men: (4) two sins of intemperance, or over-indulgence. These fleshly behaviors are divided into four categories: Idolatry, immorality, contempt of
others, and intemperance. In other words, there are sins against God alone; sins against one's self, and sins against others.
Witchcraft, or any other form of sorcery, or magic is obviously a sin against God, and there are many injunctions against these things throughout the Bible. These things are
derived from Satan, not from God, and are in themselves a form of idolatry. They are Satan's attempts to deceive mankind by by imitating the power and omnipotence that rightly belong
to God alone. These ancient things are flourishing right here in our society. Psychics, astrologers, palm readers, spiritual advisors, witchcraft, new age spiritualism, black
magic, white magic, tarot cards, scientology.... you name it, we have it. And it is every bit as wrong today as it was then!
Idolatry is the worship of anything other than the one true, living God. Idol worship is still practiced today in many places in the world. They worship false gods; gods made by
human hands, carved of wood or stone. But idolatry is practiced right here in America, as well. It just takes on forms that are not quite so easily recognizable. Our idolatry may
take the form of obsession with success, fame, wealth, or power. Anything that is more important to us than God is our idol. A man's boat could become his idol, if he worships
(adores, reveres, esteems) it more than God. My computer could become an idol to me if I give it more importance than God. That may seem a little extreme, but it is of critical
importance that we realize this: ANYTHING that we worship more than God is an idol to us, and God hates idolatry!
Immorality consists primarily of all the sexual sins, which are sins against God, first and foremost, and may be against others, as well, but also against our own bodies.
(see I Cor. 6:18) We pollute our own bodies in the commission of sexual sins. We often hear the argument "I'm not hurting anyone but myself" used in an attempt to
justify immoral behavior. That isn't true; our sins are never against ourselves alone. Ultimately, all sin is against the pure and holy Almighty God.
These sins are often listed first, before idolatry, for two reaons: First, sexual sins are the most common and prolific of all sins. In human beings, the sex drive is one of the
most powerful forces of our physical bodies. This is necessary for the survival of the species. Only physical hunger and the need for oxygen are more powerful needs. Also,
many forms of sexual immorality (such as prostitution) were practiced in various forms of idolatry. Many sexual sins were sanctioned by the heathen religion in the worship of Venus,
and sanctioned by the purest heathen moralists.
The next works of the flesh that Paul mentions are those that show contempt for and
destroy our relationships with others. Hatred (hostility), variance, (quarrelling and arguing), emulations, ( jealousies, or coveting that which belongs to others) wrath,
(outbursts of rage), and strife, (self-seeking ambition) are all listed here as sins against our fellowman. So are envyings, and murders. Envy is not merely wanting what
others have, but seeking to gain at their expense.
Murder is, of course, the most comtemptuous sin a person can commit against both God and
man. It is saying that life is of so little importance that it can be willfully and wantonly taken away. In our society today, we allow the murder of helpless, innocent
babes before they ever leave the womb, completely oblivious to God's supremacy as the Creator of life. This is comtempt to the utmost degree.
Paul also lists seditions and heresies as things that destroy our relationships with others; "seditions" refers to dissensions regarding secular matters, while "heresies"
refer to dissensions regarding sacred teachings. A heresy is a false doctrine or teaching. These exist every bit as much today as they did in Paul's day.
The final works of the flesh are sins of excessiveness: drunkenness and revelings, or "carousing", which refers to unrestrained behaviors. Anything that we do to excess,
whether drunkenness or gluttony, is sinful; it demonstrates our self-indulgence. Paul concluded the list with the words "and the like", indicating that this is not an all-encompassing list,
but a general example of the many facets of works of the flesh.
FRIENDS, DO NOT BE DECEIVED! The Scriptures are quite clear: People whose lives are
dominated by these works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God.