The Works Of The Flesh

Posted by on Jan 7, 2007

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

January 7, 2007

Sunday Morning

“The Works Of The Flesh”

Scripture Text: Galatians 5:19-21



A.   In our last study of Galatians, we focused our attention on the two natures that exist within every child of God, as well as the constant struggle that results because of these two natures.

1. First of all, we all have a fleshly nature.

2. This is the nature with which we were all born.

3. This is the nature that we all inherited from our great great grandfather, Adam.

4. This is the nature that can be accurately described with words such as sinful, depraved, and fallen.

5. However, if we are saved, we also have a spiritual nature.

6. This is the nature that we were given when we were born the second time (born again).

7. This is the nature that came about as a result of God’s Holy Spirit coming into our hearts (indwelling us).

8. This is the nature that can accurately described with words such as holy, righteous, and divine.


B.   This is why there is a constant struggle between these two natures.

1. One is sinful and the other is holy.

2. One is depraved and the other is righteous.

3. One is fallen and the other is divine.

4. Paul described this struggle in Gal. 5:16-17, let’s read those verses again, “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.”


C.   This morning, we want to focus our attention on our fleshly nature.

1. Notice again the first six words of Vrs. 19 of our text, “Now the works of the flesh are…”

2. There are three things that I would like for us to notice, this morning, about “the works of the flesh.”

3. First of all, I would like for us to notice…


I.       The Meaning Of The Works Of The Flesh.


A.   You may have noticed that Paul listed seventeen different “works of the flesh” in this passage.

1. The first four sins that Paul mentions in Vrs. 19 are clearly “sexual sins.”

2. For example, mentions “adultery.”

3. Adultery can be defined as “breaking one’s marriage vows,” or “being unfaithful (in the physical or sexual sense) to one’s spouse.”

4. By the way, “adultery” doesn’t have to be physical in nature.

5. Do you remember what Jesus said in Mat. 5:27-28, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:…But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

6. Paul also mentions “fornication.”

7. The word “fornication” is a much broader term, and can be defined as “any illicit sexual activity, everything from adultery to homosexuality to beastiality.”

8. The Greek word that is translated “fornication” is the same word from which we get our English word “pornography.”

9. Paul also mentions “uncleanness.”

10.   The word “uncleanness” can be defined as “impurity.”

11.   It means the opposite of someone who is sexually clean and pure.

12.   Finally, Paul mentions “lasciviousness.”

13.   The word “lasciviousness” means “lack of self restraint,” or “an inability to control one’s sexual cravings.”


B.   By the way, sex, in and of itself, is not a bad thing.

1. God created us sexual beings, giving us sexual desires.

2. As long as it is kept within the boundary of the marriage relationship, sex is a beautiful thing.

3. However, when it is practiced outside of the marriage relationship, sex becomes something ugly, and vile, and even repugnant.

4. The Bible says in Heb. 13:4, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

5. And so, the first four “works of the flesh” that Paul mentions here are sexual sins.


C.   As we move on to Vrs. 20 of our text, we notice that the next two “works of the flesh” that Paul mentions are what some have referred to as “religious sins.”

1. For example, Paul mentions “idolatry.”

2. “Idolatry” means much more than just bowing down to some graven image.

3. “Idolatry” can be defined as “worshiping anything in the place of God,” or “putting anything above God as far as our devotions are concerned.”

4. I don’t personally know anyone who bows down to a graven image, but I do know people who worship their car, or their hobby, or their career.

5. Paul also mentions “witchcraft.”

6. “Witchcraft” can be defined as “magic” or “sorcery.”

7. It’s interesting to note that the Greek word translated “witchcraft” here is the same word from which we get our English word “pharmacy.”


8. I’m told that it was used to refer to mood altering drugs that were associated with many forms of pagan worship.


D.   The final eleven “works of the flesh” that Paul mentions in Vrs. 20-21 can all be referred to as “societal sins” or “sins against humanity.”

1. First of all, Paul mentions “hatred.”

2. “Hatred” can be defined as “prejudiced hostility or an attitude of animosity.”

3. Next, Paul mentions “variance.”

4. “Variance” can be defined as “dissension or discord.”

5. Next, Paul mentions “emulations.”

6. “Emulations” can be defined as “rivalry that is based on jealousy.”

7. It’s what we would refer to today as “keeping up with the Jones.”

8. Next, Paul mentions “wrath.”

9. “Wrath” can be defined as “intense anger or indig-nation.”

10.   Next, Paul mentions “strife.”

11.   “Strife” can be defined as “conflict or contention, sometimes physical and sometimes violent.”

12.   Next, Paul mentions “seditions.”

13.   “Seditions” can be defined as “rebellions or insur-rections against lawful authority.”

14.   Next, Paul mentions “heresies.”

15.   “Heresies,” as it is used here, refers to “divisions into various factions or sects.”

16.   We hear every day on the news about the “sectarian” violence in Iraq.

17.   Next, Paul mentions “envyings.”

18.   “Envyings” can be defined as “jealousies that can cause one to be resentful of someone else.”

19.   Next, Paul mentions “murders.”

20.   “Murders” can be defined as “the taking of human life without a just cause.”

21.   When you consider the number of legal abortions that are performed daily in our country, one must conclude that we currently live in the most murderous society that this world has ever known.

22.   Next, Paul mentions something that often leads to “murders,” and that is “drunkenness.”

23.   “Drunkenness” can be defined as “intoxication by some drug, such as alcohol.”

24.   This reminds us what Paul wrote in Eph. 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”

25.   The last sin that Paul mentions by name in this passage is “revellings.”

26.   “Revellings” can be defined as “wild parties.”


E.   All of these sins, as we have defined them, represent “the works of the flesh.”

1. The sins of adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, and revellings.

2. And so, this is the meaning of “the works of the flesh.”

3. Now I want us to notice…


II.      The Manifestation Of The Works Of The Flesh.


A.   Notice again the first part of Vrs. 19 of our text, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest.”


B.   Now this raises at least two questions.

1. First of all, when will they be manifest?

2. In other words, when will the works of the flesh be evident in our lives, as believers?

3. When you consider this passage as a whole, the answer is obvious.

4. The “works of the flesh” will be evident in our lives whenever we are not walking “in the Spirit.”

5. Go back to Gal. 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

6. Whenever we are not walking “in the Spirit,” whenever we are not…

-following His guidance,

-submitting our lives to His leading,

-allowing ourselves to be under His influence and control, then we can expect the “works of the flesh” to be manifest (become evident) in our lives.

7. Do you know why this is true?

8. It’s true because there is no “middle ground.”

9. There is no such thing as kicking our lives into “spiritual neutral.”

10.   We are either walking “in the spirit” or we are walking in “the flesh,” one or the other.


C.   A second question that is raised is, “Why will the works of the flesh be manifest?”

1. In other words, what exactly causes the “works of the flesh” to be manifest our lives as believers?

2. The answer is, the “works of the flesh” will be manifest whenever we give more attention to our fleshly nature than we do our spiritual nature.

3. Paul put it like this in Rom. 13:14, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

4. What does it mean to “make…provision for the flesh”?

5. It simply means to feed the flesh, to nourish the flesh, to satisfy the appetites of the flesh, and we all know we do that.

6. We feed the flesh by watching ungodly television.

7. We feed the flesh by listening to ungodly music.

8. We feed the flesh, by reading ungodly literature.

9. We feed the flesh, by visiting ungodly Internet web sites.

10.   The more we feed our fleshly natures, the stronger they will become, the more they will control our actions, and the more “works of the flesh” will be manifest in our lives!

11.   That’s how it works.

12.   (Illus.- Have you ever heard the computer phrase “garbage in, garbage out”? What it means is, you can only get out of a computer what you put into it. If you put garbage in, you will get garbage out. The same thing is true of our spiritual lives. If we are constantly putting garbage into our minds, we shouldn’t expect anything less to come out in our lives. Garbage in, garbage out.)


D.   Thus far this morning, we have noticed two things.

1. First of all, we noticed the meaning of the works of the flesh.

2. Secondly, we noticed the manifestation of the works of the flesh.

3. Finally, this morning, I want us to notice…


III.    The Message Of The Works Of The Flesh.


A.   There is a very sobering message in the latter part of Vrs. 21 of our text, it says, “…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.”

1. Paul lists seventeen different works of the flesh, everything from adultery to hatred to strife to envyings, and then he says, “…they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

2. Now what does this mean?

3. Let me tell you, first of all, what it does not mean.

4. It does not mean that true believers in Christ will never manifest the “works of the flesh” in their lives.

5. To take the position that a true believer in Christ will never…

-have a lustful thought, or

-harbor ill will in his heart, or

-fall out with another believer, or

-be envious of those who have more,

to take that position would be utterly absurd.


6. The believers in Corinth are a perfect example.

7. Do you remember how Paul began his first letter to them?

8. He wrote in 1 Cor. 1:1-2, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,…Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints,”   (They were definitely saved!)

9. Yet, just two chapters later, he wrote these words, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ….For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Cor. 3:1,3)

10.   By the way, the word “carnal” means “fleshly.”

11.   And so, Gal. 5:21 does not mean that true believers in Christ will never manifest the works of the flesh in their lives.

12.   Nor does it mean that a believer who occasionally manifests the “works of the flesh” in his life will lose his salvation.


B.   What then does it mean?

1. It simply means that those who’s lives are nothing but a manifestation of the “works of the flesh” have surely never been born again.

2. They may profess to be saved, but the outward evidence says otherwise.

3. (Illus.- I have known a few professing believers down through the years whom I believe were not really saved. Of course, I could not see into their hearts, but I could watch the way they lived their lives, and I saw absolutely no evidence that the Holy Spirit of God lived within them. Their lives were nothing but a manifestation of the “works of the flesh.”)


C.   I said earlier that this is a very sobering message.

1. Why did I use the word “sobering”?

2. Rev. 21:8 answers this question, listen to what it says, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

3. Not only will the unsaved not inherit eternal life, they will instead inherit eternal death.



A.   This morning, we’ve learned several things about the “works of the flesh.”

1. First of all, we’ve learned the meaning of the “works of the flesh.”

2. Secondly, we’ve learned about the manifestation of the “works of the flesh.”

3. Finally, we’ve learned about the message of the “works of the flesh.”


B.   As I close this morning, let me ask you a very serious question.

1. How prominent are the “works of the flesh” in your life?

2. If they manifest themselves occasionally, then you are what I would call a typical Christian.

3. If they manifest themselves quite often, then you are definitely a “carnal” Christian, and you are guilty of feeding your flesh.

4. If your life is nothing but a manifestation of the “works of the flesh,” then you most likely are not saved.

5. Perhaps you need to come to this alter this morning and take care of some business with God?