“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
During my many years in student ministry, I was known to say on more than one occasion that I would be writing a book about my experiences entitled, “Things You Shouldn’t Have to Tell People.” Nine times out of ten it was after a middle school boy did something incredibly stu….noteworthy. I would shake my head, take a breath and explain how people should act in public, on a church vehicle, in a restaurant, or pretty much anywhere outside of a zoo exhibit.
In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul presents this rogues gallery as his list of things you shouldn’t have to tell people not to do. What’s interesting is that in this lineup we find those “works of the flesh” that we tend to wink at or excuse in ourselves (anger, dissensions, divisions, envy) right alongside those sins we would consider most vile.
Paul doesn’t seem to distinguish a hierarchy in this list as we might. “Oh, you know me. Sometimes I get a little riled up and blow my top, but then it’s ok. No big deal.” However, it would turn a few heads at a church fellowship if we were to say the same thing, only substituting one of the other less palatable items. “Oh, you know me. Always messing up my witchcraft when I’m drunk.”
When we try to navigate life on our own power, following our own whims and desires, it shouldn’t be a surprise when we end up lost and in a place that we would have never dreamed for ourselves. The good news is, we don’t have to travel down this path. We don’t have to do it on our own. God has shown us a better way and given us the grace and power to live in beautiful freedom. Tomorrow we will look at a completely different type of life, and a different type of fruit. We all bear fruit from the decisions we make and the life that we choose. What will be your choice?
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:
- Think of a time when you’ve ended up on a path that you were embarrassed to find yourself on (possibly one of the characteristics mentioned above). What got your attention and turned you around?
- Is there something you’re dealing with right now due to “works of the flesh?” Are you willing to take some time in prayer to confess your wrong choices to God and ask for the strength and guidance to follow Him into the abundant life?
- Paul ends his list with the phrase, “and things like these,” signifying that this isn’t an exhaustive list. What else might be included in Paul’s list as the result of living by the works of the flesh?