Exposing The Flesh: Galatians 5:19-21
“19) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20) idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21) envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians‬ ‭5:19-21‬ ‭
Paul moves very fast through this list, but let’s slow down and try to grasp the bigger picture from all of Scripture. There is a lot behind these three verses.
Paul is basically saying that the human flesh is bent toward sin. These sins include 1) passion sins rooted in sexual immorality; 2) spiritual sins rooted in idolatry, sorcery and the occult; 3) interpersonal conflict sins rooted in jealousy, strife, anger and disputes; and finally, 4) self centered sins rooted in pride, greed, materialism and chemical addictions. We all struggle to various degrees with these sins. They all aim at human condemnation and bondage.
Since Paul has been talking so much about the Law in the book of Galatians, let me simply point out that these sins are a direct assault on the Ten Commandments. We have all missed the mark of Gods holiness. One function of the Law is to expose the sinfulness of human flesh.
The words of Romans 8:5–8 about the flesh now take on significant meaning. Let’s review. Those who are according to the flesh set their minds on fleshly things. The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God and refuses to subject itself to the law of God. It has no capacity to do so. The flesh is bent toward sin and death. And, It cannot please God. Wow! Those are very blunt statements.
Apart from the work of redemption through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the inner sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, there is no freedom from the inner destructive force of sin. Some people may attain a degree of self-righteousness apart from Christ, but many will pull their moral anchor and drift into the sea of human depravity. Human flesh has a magnet toward sin.
According to Romans 1:18-32, as human society slides down the slippery slope into a moral abyss, the flesh becomes even more dark and empowered. Entire populations can become aggressively bent against God and decidedly evil. What was formerly considered “bad” or “wrong” by society becomes openly defended, embraced, promoted and accepted.
But even at point when the morals of a society breakdown, there is an inner longing for religion and some form of “god.” Historically, this is where Satan showed up with false religions anchored in idolatry, the occult, sexual immorality and even human sacrifice. From the pre-flood world through the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans, fleshly human religions became dark, sinful, vile, exploitive, deceiving and anti-truth.
The New Testament and the book of Revelation predicts a return to dark Babylonian religious rites in the end times. (Read Revelation 12-18) This will be accompanied by great deception in secular society and the hatred and persecution of Israel and genuine Christians. Biblical morality will be aggressively attacked.
Make no mistake, fallen human nature is an easy target for the craftiness or “craft” of the serpent of old. Sin and Satan aims at human captivity and eternal destruction. Apart from the true gospel of Jesus Christ there is no pathway for human redemption.
Notice that Paul moves from a description of the deeds of the flesh to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-24. Let me make a brief observation; only the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the inner working of the Holy Spirit can produce these qualities. They are opposite of what secular humanism and all false human religions produce and promote. Everything else from human philosophy, psychology and false religions excuse and empower the flesh to various degrees. Do you think this is mere coincidence?
Make no mistake, human flesh is locked in rebellion against God. It is God in His love and mercy that has always been reaching out to lost humanity. Humanity has been twisting, distorting and running from the truth about God throughout human history.
Whether you realize it or not, you and I are part of a much greater battle. God has a strategy to reach and liberate one soul at a time through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He then wants to move us to freedom and empower us to spread His Kingdom through the gospel.
The war between the flesh and the Spirit is part of an age old battle. It is part of the battle between evil and good, deception and truth, hate and love, darkness and light, false religions and the true gospel, hell and heaven, and ultimately Satan and Creator God. This is the backdrop behind reality. This is where your struggles with the flesh are rooted.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global