Monday, September 12, 2011

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, which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Today’s passage seems rather short, I know, but whenever I come across one of these infamous “Bible lists,” it strikes me how easy it is to speed through it without really meditating on each item.  So, I wanted to slow things down today and look at each one individually.  I’m going to provide a lot of references today that explain each of these sins (without typing the entire verses out), so I encourage you to get out your Bible and look each one up yourself.  Or, open a new tab for - they're sure to have your favorite translation.

Also, please note – I obtained all of the information on the Greek words from my study Bible and other Greek resources, and have only very recently become a student of the Greek language. :-)

Immorality – this is the Greek word porneia, which means harlotry, incest, fornication, and  sexual immorality in general.  See 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and Ephesians 5:3.  Such as: sleeping with a person you’re not married to.
Impurity – this is the Greek word akatharsia, which means moral uncleanness, dirt and filth in a physical sense, and lewdness or pollution (of the mind) as opposed to chastity.  See Matthew 5:28 and 2 Corinthians 12:21.  Such as: lusting after someone you’re not married to.
Sensuality – Greek word aselgeia, meaning filthiness, lasciviousness, wantonness, debauchery, perversion, excess, and immoderation.  See Romans 13:13 and 1 Peter 4:3.  Such as: telling dirty jokes and acting in a seductive manner.
Idolatry – Greek word eidololatreia, meaning image-worship, both literally and figuratively.  See Colossians 3:5.  Such as: valuing anything above God, be it money, popularity, etc.
Sorcery – Greek word pharmakeus, meaning sorcery, witchcraft, magic, and the casting of spells.  See 2 Chronicles 33:6.  Such as: Wicca, Ouija boards.
Enmities – hatred.  See 1 John 2:9, 11, 3:15, 4:20.  Such as: hating anyone – classmates, coworkers, exes, politicians, etc.
Strife – Greek word eris, meaning quarrelling and contention.  See 1 Corinthians 3:3, 1 Timothy 6:4.  Such as: not getting along with someone, arguing with someone.
Jealousy – Greek word zelos, meaning jealousy and envy.  See Acts 13:45, James 3:16.  Such as: envying another’s position, popularity, possessions, etc.
Outbursts of Anger – Greek word thumos, meaning fierceness, indignation, and wrath.  See Ephesians 4:31, 2 Corinthians 12:20.  Such as: rage expressed outwardly or internal seething at anyone (when it is not called for – note: there is such a thing as righteous anger).
Disputes – See “Strife.” (From the same root; Paul mentions this twice – it must be an important issue).
Dissensions – Greek word dichostasia, meaning disunion, division.  See 1 Corinthians 1:11-14, Romans 16:17.  Such as: arguing (not friendly debate, but rather in a divisive manner) about minor doctrinal issues, in a way that is off-putting to non-believers who may witness this division.
Factions – Greek word hairesis, meaning disunion resulting in breaking into sects.  See 1 Corinthians 11:19, 2 Peter 2:1.  Such as: (see “dissensions”), splitting of churches over minor doctrinal issues
Envying – Greek word phthonos.  Same meaning as “Jealousy.” 
Drunkenness – Greek word methe, meaning intoxication and drunkenness.  See Luke 21:34, Romans 13:13.  Such as: Using alcohol (to the point of getting drunk) or drugs that alter the ability of your mind to function.
Carousing – Greek word komos, meaning carousing, reveling, rioting.  See Romans 13:13 and 1 Peter 4:3.  Such as: parties or outings with friends that turn loud and disruptive, possibly involving heavy drinking and inappropriate behavior.
And Things Like These – This means that just because something doesn’t fall on this list, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t wrong.  If you feel convicted by the Holy Spirit for something, regardless of whether it fits on the above list, it is still sin.

“Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  I wish to remind you that this does not mean that falling into these sins keep us out of heaven – we have seen throughout the book of Galatians that our works do not make us holy.  Rather, this refers to people who habitually, purposefully commit these sins without caring to put a stop to them (see previous Bible study post).  But if we are walking with God, asking Him for forgiveness and truly repenting, we need not worry – He sees us as having the righteousness of His Son!  Hebrews 10:17 “AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.”  Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”  Isaiah 38:17b “It is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For You have cast all my sins behind your back.”  Romans 4:5 “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”  Romans 4:13 “For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.”  1 Corinthians 1:30 “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”

Therefore, let us look at this list as a reminder of sins to abstain from.

Next post, we’ll look at the flip-side of the “bad” list – the fruits of the Spirit.  But first, today’s discussion starter:
1 – Some of the items on this list (such as sensuality, impurity, and immorality) seem to be different levels of the same base sin.  I believe that Satan tricks us into thinking that the “lowest” level is “really not that bad.”  It may just be a little white lie, or one night of drunkenness on New Year’s Eve, or one instance of hitting on a married coworker at a Valentine’s Day office party…but it’s still serious sin to God.  What other examples can you think of that we mistakenly consider to be “minor” sins?

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