Galatians 5:21

Sunday Evening Bible Study

May 26, 1996


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

But after having taught them why it's important not to be living under the Law, trying to please God on their own, they are now faced with another situation, the danger that happens when you take the Law away from people:

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.

We've now been 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.

We've looked at adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness; idolatry, witchcraft; hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, and heresies.

:19-21 Deeds of the flesh

:21 envyings

phthonos - envy; feelings of ill-will

Gill: Uneasy distressing tortures of the mind, grieving at the good of others, that any should be in an equal, or in a better condition than themselves.

Barclary: "This word is a mean word. Euripides called it the greatest of all diseases among men." The essence of it is that it does not describe the spirit which desires, nobly or ignobly, to have what someone else has; it describes the spirit which grudges the fact that the other person has these things at all. It does not so much want the things for itself; it merely wants to take them from the other person. The Stoics defined it as "gried at someone else's good." Basil called it "grief at your neighbour's good fortune." It is the quality, not so much of the jealous, but rather of the embittered mind."


Jesus and the chief priests

This same Greek word is used to describe the chief priests when they delivered Jesus to Pilate for execution. Pilate saw it:

Mt 27:18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. (AV)

The chief priests didn't want Jesus' popularity for themselves, they just wanted Jesus destroyed.

Joseph and his brothers

Genesis 37

(Gen 37:11 KJV) And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.

His brothers didn't want the coat or the attention, they wanted just to keep Joseph from having anything.

The opposite of envy is found in:

Ro 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (AV)

When others are blessed in some way, am I glad for them, or am I bothered by the fact that I'm not blessed at the same time?


I find that sometimes it's just plain hard to be happy for someone who is blessed and you don't think they deserve it.

But if you do it anyway, and praise the Lord, you find that

1. You have to die to your "self" a little

Your old flesh doesn't like it when other people get attention instead of you.

But dying to self isn't such a bad thing! It's actually quite healthy!

2. You learn a little better what love is all about.

If I really love someone, then I'll do what love does:

1Co 13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; (AV)

:21 murders

phonos - murder, slaughter

(not in modern translations, textual variance)

Gill: Murders - destroying of men's lives, which is often the consequence of the above evils.

Just as with Cain and Abel.

One thing leads to another.

Note: Murder is just another natural result of a sin nature that's fed and left to itself.

It falls in the same category as "immorality", "hatred" and "wrath"


These next two kind of go together ...

:21 drunkenness

methe - intoxication; drunkenness

I think it could apply both to alcohol as well as today's modern drugs.

From a longtime member of A.A., as reprinted in Dear Abby, 4-22-93

I drank for happiness and became unhappy.

I drank for joy and became miserable.

I drank for sociability and became argumentative.

I drank for sophistication and became obnoxious.

I drank for sleep and woke up tired.

I drank for strength and felt weak.

I drank for relaxation and got the shakes.

I drank for courage and became afraid.

I drank for confidence and became doubtful.

I drank to make conversation easier and slurred my speech.

I drank to feel heavenly, and ended up feeling like hell.

Some say drunkenness, or, alcoholism, is a disease.

If alcoholism is a disease,

* It is the only disease that is bottled and sold;

* It is the only disease that is contracted by the will of man;

* It is the only disease that requires a license to propagate it;

* It is the only disease that requires outlets to spread it.

If alcoholism is a disease,

* It is the only disease that produces revenue for the government;

* It is the only disease that provokes crime;

* It is the only disease that is habit forming;

* It is the only disease that brings violent death on the highways;

* It is the only disease that is spread by advertising;

* It is the only disease without a germ or virus cause.

It just might be that it's not a disease at all.

-- Author unknown

Actually, drunkenness isn't a disease, it's another symptom of the flesh, and should be treated as such.

:21 revellings

komos - a revel, carousal; a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry


Peter says that our time in the world, before knowing Christ, was more than enough time to play with this kind of destructive sin:

1Peter 4:1-11 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: 4 Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: 5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. 7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. 8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging. 10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

vs.1 - Remedy for the flesh - suffer, crucify it.

vs.3 - We've had plenty of time to do this junk, it's time to move on.

vs.5 - God will judge someday.

vs.7 - the end is near, BE SOBER, pray

vs.8-11 - just get involved in serving the LORD!

:21 and such like

In other words, this isn't a conclusive list.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg as far as works of the flesh are concerned.

:21 of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past

Paul had warned them of this before.

:21 that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

they which do such things -

prasso - to exercise, practise, to be busy with, carry on

The verb is a "present, active, participle", implying a continuous kind of action.

Paul isn't saying that if you do one of these things once that you loose your eternal life!

But if, on the other hand, these kinds of things are a way of life for you, and there's no progress at all, then you better start worrying about whether or not you have come to know Jesus at all.


Final Summary:

These are "works of the flesh".

All these things we've looked at are things that come from the fertile soil of our flesh.

We need to fight the disease with the proper medicine.

We need to fight fleshliness with the weapons designed for the flesh.

1) Confession.

You are dealing with sin, and you've offended God.

You need God's forgiveness.

Confession to God:

1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (AV)

Maybe even confession to another brother or sister:

Jas 5:16 Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (AV)

2) Crucify the flesh.

We don't pretend that it's a disease, it's sin.

We have to learn to die to sin.

And dying isn't an easy thing to do.

Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

3) 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)

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

It's not just being filled with the Holy Spirit tonight as we pray, but learning to daily take a hold of the Holy Spirit, and walk with and in Him.

That means you'll be feeding that part of you that responds to the Holy Spirit by doing things like:

Bible Study



4) 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.