Which Way Are You Walking (Part 2)
Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery,, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forwarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Mark Twain reportedly once said that it was not the parts of the Bible that he misunderstood that he had a problem with, rather it was the parts of the Bible that he understood that he had a problem with. Today’s passage might have been one of those passages because it makes it very clear who the residents of the kingdom of God will be who they will not be.
Yesterday we learned in verse 16-18 that anyone who is genuinely saved has the Spirit of God indwelling in them which means that they now have a new life in Christ. They are no longer the person they were before God saved them and they no longer do the same things they used to do. The life of a redeemed person just looks different than the life of the unredeemed. What causes confusion in our day is so many claim to be redeemed but live much of their life just like they always have. There is no evidence of the new life in Christ.
Beginning here in verse 19 and continuing through verse 21, Paul lays out for us the sins that characterize those who are not saved. Paul begins by telling us that all of this is not rocket science, it’s not some hidden mystery of God. We might act like it is our world today, but Scripture is very clear. Paul says in verse 19 that the “deeds of the flesh are evident.” The sinful desires of unredeemed man, or “flesh” manifests itself in very obvious and clear-cut ways.
What are those ways? Fortunately, Paul is very specific: First of all “immorality” which is translated from the Greek word porneia from which we get our English word pornography. This refers to any illicit sexual activity; things like adultery, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, and prostitution. The next sin listed is that of “impurity” which refers to uncleanness and, in this context has to do with sins of a sexual nature that are outside of God’s design for sexual relationships, which is between one man and one woman in marriage. The next word is “sensuality” which originally referred to any excessive behavior or lack of restraint but came to be associated with sexual excess and indulgence. We live in a highly sexualized culture in which nearly everything seems to revolve around sex. We are now even to the point where we are identifying ourselves by our sexual deviance.
The next sin that Paul lists has to do with what we worship, “idolatry.” We live in a culture today of rampant idolatry. Both in the secular world and tragically in the church as well. We have lost our first love and worship in large part a god of our own creation. We worship the idols of materialism, family, success, and political activism; just to name a few. Then Paul moves on to “sorcery” and again this falls under the category to some extent of how and what we worship. The word “sorcery” is translated from the Greek word pharmakeia from which we get our English word pharmacy. The word originally referred to medicines in general but grew to specifically mean mood altering and mind altering drugs, as well as the occult, witchcraft and magic. Many of the pagan religions of Paul’s day used drugs to aid in their worship. Today we live in a culture that can’t seem to legitimize illicit drug use fast enough.
Paul then moves to sins that have to do with how we relate with other people, “strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes ,dissensions, factions.” Many of these sins are manifested in how we treat other people and are all some form of anger; hatred results in “strife.” “Jealousy” (hateful resentment) results in “outbursts of anger.” Unfortunately, in the church this is all too common as people reject the word of God which leads to “disputes, dissensions, factions,” and “envying.” I am convinced there is so much strife in the church because the pews are filled with people who are not genuinely saved. They believe with all their heart that they believe, but they are lost and headed to eternal damnation.
Paul ends this list of iniquity with “drunkenness, carousing.” This was most likely a specific reference to the orgies that were characteristic of the pagan, idolatrous worship of Paul’s day. This generally refers to all rowdy, boisterous, and crude behavior. Paul then follows that up with the most important word in this entire passage, “practice.” The sense of this Greek verb describes continual, habitual action. Without a doubt believers commit these same sins, but those people whose basic character is marked by an uninterrupted and unrepentant practice of sin cannot possibly belong to God.
Because they cannot possibly belong to God Paul says at the end of verse 21 that they “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” In other words, they are not saved and because they are not saved, they will not spend eternity with God but instead will spend eternity in the unrelenting fires of hell. They are unregenerate and as such they are barred from entering the spiritual kingdom of redeemed people over whom Christ rules, and further they will be excluded from His millennial kingdom and the eternal condition of blessing that will follow it.
If you are a person who claims Christ, as many do, but you are making a “practice” of unrepentant, unbroken sin then you are not saved. Instead you are headed for eternal separation from God and you must repent and place your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Romans 10:13 gives you a wonderful promise, “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”