What Our Desires Produce Within Us

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Galatians 5:19-23

Context:

Paul has severely chastised the Galatians for attempting to bind the Old Law upon Christians. As he wraps up his arguments as to why this is wrong, Paul points out that those who desire to bind the Old Law are worldly minded. They want things to be done their way, even if it means going against the teachings of God. This attitude has caused many arguments among the brethren (Galatians 5:15).

Paul then states that way a person thinks about God directs the development of the individual (Galatians 5:16-17). A spiritually minded person will battle against the desires of the flesh. A worldly minded person will resist the desires of God. You cannot be spiritually minded and participate in the works of the world.

The Passage:

"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:"

The flesh is that which come from this physical world. When the physical world is the focus of our desire, it appears in the things that a person does. The things Paul is about to list are easily seen as the deeds of a worldly minded person.

"Immorality"

Some translations use the word "fornication." It refers to having sex outside the bonds of marriage. Some Greek texts have both the words "adultery" and "fornication" in this passage, others omit the word "adultery."

"Impurity"

This refers to a general moral impurity in the person. When people left God and followed their impure thoughts, they lapsed into sexual sins (Romans 1:24). It describes a state of mind that is the opposite of holiness (Romans 6:19, I Thessalonians 4:7). The word is often connected with impure sexual thoughts, but it is not limited to just sex. In the United States we sometimes refer to such people as having a "dirty mind."

"Sensuality"

This is a person who shamelessly pursues sensual pleasure. He does not care what anyone else thinks about his pursuit. Most often it is connected with people who pursue sexual pleasure, though it is not limited to just sex.

"Idolatry"

This is the worship of other gods.

"Sorcery"

Literally, this word refers to someone who abuses drugs. It refers to a person who mixes potions. Drug usage has been tightly coupled with witchcraft. People who are high on a drug will believe just about anything and do almost anything for another high.

"Enmities"

People who hate each other.

"Strife"

People who argue or quarrel with each other.

"Jealousy"

This is the fanatic. A person who is so zealous for a cause that they cannot stand the thought of considering another position. They possess an ideal and they jealousy guard it from all detractors.

"Outbursts of anger"

This is the person who feels passionate about a cause and as a result cannot control his temper.

"Disputes"

This is the person who does not outwardly show his hatred, but involves himself in games of intrigue. He acts only for his own interests and backstabs his opponents. The word in the Greek was used to describe the actions of a politician.

"Dissensions"

A person who causes division between people.

"Factions"

The word literally means to chose. The idea is a person who chooses sides. For example, the Sadducees and the Pharisees were religious factions of the Old Law. Paul warned the Corinthians against dividing into factions (I Corinthians 1:10-13)

"Envying"

This word literally refers to the desire to harm someone else because you want what belongs to him. The envy can be over a physical possession or even another person's position in life.

"Drunkenness"

A person who is under the influence of alcohol.

"Carousing"

A riotous party. In the United States, we often connect this with fraternity parties at colleges.

"And things like these"

Paul does not intend for this to be a complete list, but one that gives us a general idea of the improper actions of those who are worldly minded.

"Of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you"

Paul has discussed these matters in the past, so no one can claim that they did not know that pursuing these things would be wrong.

"That those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God"

You cannot expect to reach heaven practicing such behaviors.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is:"

In contrast to a worldly minded person, the teachings of the Spirit produces a different result in the individual.

"Love"

This is the devoted love. A love that gives even when it is not returned. See I Corinthians 13:1-8.

"Joy"

Happiness or a calm delight.

"Peace"

A quietness that comes from harmony with God and man. It is the opposite of war.

"Patience"

Longsuffering. Willing to endure. It is the type of mind that God had towards us giving us many opportunities to turn from sin. It is also what we need to deal with the shortcomings of our fellow men.

"Kindness"

A gentle person who is kind and good.

"Goodness"

A generous person who is good. It is the opposite of evil.

"Faithfulness"

A person of conviction who has his faith, trust, and confidence in God. It also refers to someone who is reliable and trustworthy.

"Gentleness"

A gentle, humble person. He is the opposite of a hot-tempered man.

"Self-Control"

A person able to control his desires.

"Against such things there is no law"

Again, the phrase "such things" indicates that this is not a complete list, but enough to give the reader an idea of what happens to a Christian as he follows the teachings of the Spirit. The character that the Spirit produces in a person never goes out of fashion, even among the people of the world.