Galatians 5:20a

Sunday Evening Bible Study

May 5, 1996


Paul is writing to a group of churches which have been infected with a doctrine of legalism.

Being Gentiles themselves, the Galatians were being taught trusting in Jesus wasn't enough, but they must follow the Law of Moses as well.

After a lengthy discussion showing how our relationship with God is based on trusting what God has done for us, and not what we do for God, Paul switched in verse 13 with a warning:

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

And so Paul has begun teaching on the issue of how to handle the the flesh, with the main key being:

Ga 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

On our last study, we began looking at the "works of the flesh", identifying when that sinful nature of ours it at work by looking at the things it produces in our lives.

Last time we looked at the first couple of terms, the ones that dealt with sexuality: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.

:16-26 The Spirit versus the Flesh

:19 the works of the flesh are manifest

By this time, some of the Galatian folks are saying, "Okay, enough with all this talk about the flesh, just what is the flesh?"

Paul responds with saying that the works of the flesh are obvious, or, you'll know the flesh is active by the things that are being done in a person's life.

:20 Idolatry, witchcraft

Next, Paul lists two sins involving religion.

:20 Idolatry

eidololatreia - the worship of false gods, idolatry

Now the good thing is that in our modern society, we don't have to worry about idolatry, because there are no more idols, right?

Actually this isn't so in a couple of ways.

1) People do indeed worship little statues.

A few weeks ago in the Register there was an article about the Hindu temple in Placentia.

It's the largest Hindu temple in Orange County.

Among other things, the people come to worship "Vishnu", and lay flowers and all sorts of stuff in front of this statue that they pray to.

How about some of the things in the Catholic church?

Not all Catholics believe these kinds of things, but there are places where people dress up their statues of Mary and the other "saints", and do indeed pray to these statues.

An idol is anything other than God.

2) There are all sorts of other modern "gods" that people worship.

The idea of worshipping is the idea of praising, adoring, and serving.


Would it be possible that sports could be one of today's modern "gods"?

What's the big deal about "Super Bowl Sunday"?

Do the words "praising, adoring, and serving" sound appropriate?

Don't get me wrong, it's not that sports in themselves are wrong, but people can take them too far.

Movie and TV stars

When you see people outside the Academy Awards ceremonies doing silly things for their "stars", it sure makes me wonder sometimes.

Money and success

One of the "gods" mentioned in the New Testament was named "Mammon".

A Chaldee or Syriac word meaning "wealth" or "riches" also, by personification, the god of riches.

When you get to know people who are into investing money, the stock market, etc., I think he's still served today.

Warning about idolatry:

Psalm 115:1-8 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake. 2 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? 3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. 8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

Our God is in the heavens.

Their gods are just little statue made of silver or gold.

Though they have body parts, they don't function.

The people that make these gods become like their gods.


You become like the one you worship.

If you worship an idol, then you become like that idol.

Idols have hands and feet, but can't do anything.

The worshippers aren't going to be doing anything useful either.

Idols have mouths, but don't speak.

The worshippers don't really have much to say either.

If you worship the Lord, then you grow to become like Him!

Look at some of the qualities of our God, things that grow in us as we worship Him:

Psalm 103:1-14 <<A Psalm of David.>> Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. 6 The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.


Worship God, and nothing else!

Exodus 20:1-6 And God spake all these words, saying, 2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

:20 witchcraft

(NAS - "sorcery")

When we see this word, we think of the little old ladies in black dresses, standing in front of a big black cauldon, stirring the pot and chanting some strange incantation about frogs and eyes of a newt.

That's a little bit of what this word means, but it's really not the main sense of it.

pharmakeia -

1) the use or the administering of drugs

2) poisoning

3) sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it

4) metaph. the deceptions and seductions of idolatry

Is there witchcraft today?

1) In the sense of "witchcraft", there's plenty of it going around.

I read a movie review in Friday's paper about a new movie coming out about a group of high school girls in a private Catholic school, who form a witches "coven" and have fun casting spells on boys they want to date, and great stuff like that.

LOS ANGELES, May 5 (Reuter) - "The Craft" opened at the top of the weekend box office, one of four debuts featuring in the Top-10, according to studio estimates released Sunday.

The movie, which stars Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell and Rachel True as high school witches, grossed an estimated $7.0 million in the Friday to Sunday period. It is released by Sony Corp's Columbia Pictures.

But it's not just in the movies, but real life too.

Popular games like "Dungeons and Dragons", and the new card game "Magic", are nothing more than doorways into the world of witchcraft and the occult.

And both are record-breaking best selling games.

Some Scriptures about witchcraft:

Le 19:31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I [am] the LORD your God. (AV)

Le 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood [shall be] upon them. (AV)

Isa 8:19 When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? (NIVUS)

2) Drug use

How about these statistics:

* Over 60% of the world's illegal drugs are consumed in the United States.

* There are over 5,000 new cocaine users every single day in the United States.

* An estimated 10% to 23% of workers use drugs on the job.

* Federal agencies estimate that substance abuse costs nearly $100 billion in lost productivity each year.

Or these:

More than twice as many people as previously estimated -- 2.2 million -- are addicted to cocaine in the USA, says a congressional survey. The new survey, which finds one addict for every 100 people, is considered more accurate than previous federal surveys conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "We're facing an epidemic that's out of control," says Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., who is releasing the Senate Judiciary Committee Survey.

The new study shows:

* New York State has 434,000 cocaine addicts, the USA's highest. Experts say the true figure is probably higher.

* Washington, D.C. is the per capita leader: 32.0 addicts per 1,000. Experts say that figure should also be higher.

* South Dakota has the fewest hard-core cocaine addicts, 800, and the lowest per capita total, 1.1 per 1,000 residents.

* 1 out of every 5 people arrested for any crime is a hard-core cocaine addict.

* Homeless people are five times more likely than average to be cocaine addicts.

-- Jack Kelley, USA Today, 5-10-90

Another related article:

BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- Mexican police Tuesday discovered 12 male bodies in graves just south of the U.S. border, including the remains of a University of Texas student missing four weeks. U.S. and Mexican authorities said the men were the victims of human sacrifice by a satanic cult of drug smugglers.

The cult prayed to the devil "so the police would not arrest them, so bullets would not kill them and so they could make more money," Cameron County sheriff's Lt. George Gavito said in Brownsville, Texas.

Among the dead was student Mark Kilroy, 21, who vanished during spring break in the Mexican city of Matamoros.

The grave site "was like a human slaughterhouse," said Sheriff Alex Perez.

Mexican federal police arrested four people, Gavito said. He said the suspects were U.S. and Mexican citizens.

Authorities would not comment on the other victims, and would not say whether any were U.S. citizens.

The bodies were in a field about 20 miles west of Matamoros, along with evidence of voodoo or magic, Gavito said.

Kilroy, a pre-med student, vanished from a crowded street shortly after 2 a.m. on March 14 while on a drinking foray with friends in Matamoros, a city of 180,000 across the Rio Grande from Brownsville.

Just like all the other deeds of the flesh, drugs start of in a simple, harmless kind of way.

Maybe it's to experience a high.

Maybe it's to escape reality for awhile.

Maybe it's to keep yourself going with a tough work schedule.

But it doesn't end there.

Paul says:

1Co 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (AV)

Final Summary:

These are "works of the flesh".

If you are having a problem with idolatry or witchcraft, the solutions are the same as with all the other works of the flesh:

1) Crucify the flesh.

We are to learn to "reckon" our sin nature as being dead, as being crucified with Christ on the cross.

Romans 6:10-11 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When you reckon something dead, you know longer respond to it.

When the flesh whispers "lust!", we should respond with ..... nothing

I believe that everytime you choose to say "no" to the flesh, you are killing it a little more.

And believe me, it's not always a fun thing to be dying all the time.

After all, the flesh isn't some entity that lives twenty miles down the road, it's YOU!


It's like the movie in which some shipwrecked men are left drifting aimlessly on the ocean in a lifeboat. As the days pass under the scorching sun, their rations of food and fresh water give out. The men grow deliriously thirsty. One night, while the others are asleep, one man ignores all previous warnings and gulps down some salt water. He quickly dies.

Ocean water contains seven times more salt than the human body can safely ingest. Drinking it, a person dehydrates because the kidneys demand extra water to flush the overload of salt. The more salt water someone drinks, the thirstier he gets. He actually dies of thirst.

-- Craig Brian Larson

The very thing we seem to be thirsty for, makes our thirst greater and greater, and will in the end kill us.

The first step is not to drink the salt water.

2) Walk in the Spirit.

Ga 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (AV)

Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (AV)

Stop putting your focus on the flesh, and start focusing on the things of the Spirit.

Feed that Spirit-influenced part of you.



Bible Study



3) Stay in Fellowship

That means having other brothers and sisters who know you and can encourage you.

And when times come that you start slipping away from the Lord, they can reach out and help bring you back.

Heb 3:12-13 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Don't let your own heart deceive you with sin, but allow yourself to get close enough to other Christians so you can be exhorted if you need it.

I can't do it all.

Sometimes that means that you need to get a little uncomfortable and meet some new Christian brothers and sisters.

With some areas of struggle, I have found that the very thing that breaks the enemy's hold is to confess to someone that you're struggling, and you need help.

Then they can pray for you, and hold you a little accountable to your situation.

Caution: Be careful who you share it with.


Then Paul lists eight sins involving interpersonal relationships.

hatred -

variance -

emulations -

wrath -

strife -

seditions -

heresies -

envyings -

murders -

drunkenness -

revellings -


:21 and such like

This isn't an all inclusive list.

There are still plenty of things that Paul could list individually.