Tuesday: The Works of the Flesh
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Having introduced the conflict that exists between the flesh and the Spirit, Paul in Galatians 5:18-26 elaborates on the nature of this contrast by means of a list of ethical vices and virtues. The catalog of vices or virtues was a well-established literary feature present in both Jewish and Greco-Roman literature. These lists identified behavior to be avoided and virtues to be emulated.

Temptation

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Carefully examine the vice and virtue lists in the passages below. In what ways are Paul’s lists in Galatians 5:19-24 similar to yet different from these lists? Jer. 7:9Hos. 4:2Mark 7:21-221 Tim. 3:2-31 Pet. 4:3Rev. 21:8.

Although Paul was well aware of vice and virtue lists, there are significant differences in the way he uses the two lists in Galatians. First, even though Paul contrasts the two lists, he does not refer to them in the same manner. He labels the vice list as the “works of the flesh” but the virtue list as the “fruit of the Spirit.” This is an important distinction. As James D. G. Dunn writes, “The flesh demands, but the Spirit produces. Where the one list breathes an air of anxious self-assertiveness and frenetic self-indulgence, the other speaks more of concern for others, serenity, resilience, reliability. The one features human manipulation, the other divine enabling or engracing, reinforcing the point that inner transformation is the source of responsible conduct.” — The Epistle to the Galatians, p. 308.

The second intriguing difference between Paul’s two lists is that the vice list is deliberately labeled as plural in number: “works of the flesh.” “Fruit of the Spirit,” however, is singular. This difference may suggest that the life lived in the flesh can promote nothing more than division, turmoil, divisiveness, and disunity. In contrast, the life lived in the realm of the Spirit produces one fruit of the Spirit, which manifests itself in nine qualities that foster unity.

In this context, some people claim that what a person believes about God does not really matter as long as he or she is sincere. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Paul’s list of vices suggests the opposite: corrupt views about God lead to distorted ideas about sexual behavior and religion, and ethics, resulting in the breakdown of human relationships. Furthermore, they can lead to the loss of eternal life, as well (Gal. 5:21).

Look through the list of “works of the flesh.” In what ways can you see each as a violation of one or more of the Ten Commandments?
Amen!(29)

Comments

Tuesday: The Works of the Flesh — 11 Comments

  1. As Christians we need to be against the world (flesh). When we hold on to the works of the flesh. Our true human nature identifies our identity, actions, body language. It shows it all that we are truly of the WORLD (flesh). We violate all GOD'S Character. But when we have the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruits of the Spirit is love,joy, peace, long suffering,gentleness, goodness,faith.
    22 meekness,temperance: Against such there is no law. It also shows our Christian walk, so we must clothed GOD'S Character at all times so the Devil don't attack us. When we fail ouselves we need to pick us up again and never looked back. And remember always to seek God daily and having our own relationships and with the help of our own Personal prayers at all times,because he is our only salvation and hope.

    Amen!(26)
  2. When entering into discussions around the ‘dos’ [values] and ‘don’ts’ [vices] as described in the lesson, I like to start of with the simple definition than that Christ offers, all His commandments summed up into one- LOVE. To Love God with all your heart, mind and soul and love others as yourself. Easier for me to explain when talking to children and some adults who are still yet to fully grasp the need to fully accept and obey all Gods laws and precepts when you enter into a loving relationship with Him, as a child would with a loving parent. It is a reciprocating experience.
    When we truly experience that everlasting, ever faithful, self-sacrificing, Agape love of God in our lives, some of the emotions we feel are, gratitude, joy, hope and naturally we feel like we want to love back. Truly Love begets Love.
    So does love ‘cover a multitude of sins’? [1 Peter 4:8 - Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins]. I believe so. Try cross-referencing 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 & Galatians 5:19-24 and overlay with the 10 Commandments. Would you say that it covers most if not all the ‘works of the flesh’?
    1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NIV) (1) If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (2) If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (3) If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, [b] but do not have love, I gain nothing. (4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (5) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (8) Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away…….(13) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
    So then could we also say that the Fruit of the Spirit is ‘Love?’ After all it is the first listed amongst the others.
    Galatians 5: 22 – 24: (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (24) And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

    Amen!(12)
    • Wow, Stephanie. A lot of stuff packed into your post and it's all wonderful, especially "Love begets Love."

      Ellen G. White wrote: "The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God's government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened." (The Desire of Ages, p. 22).

      Praise God and thank you!

      Amen!(3)
  3. Sometimes when I hear Christians talk about this passage I hear a lot about the vices and much less about the virtues. It is a question of focus. If we are filling our minds with the virtues, against which there is no law, then we will have little time for the vices.

    Amen!(32)
    • [Moderator note: Pete, please avoid the use of capitals for emphasis.]

      I would say that WE WOULD HAVE ABSOLUTELY "NO TIME" FOR THE VICES AT ALL if we focus on the virtues of THE SPIRIT. And there are MORE THAN NINE virtues of the Spirit than the NINE on Paul's list in Galatians 5:22,23. LOYALTY, HONESTY, PURITY, DEPENDABILITY, are four that are not in Paul's list and there are probably MORE.

      Amen!(4)
  4. How is idolatry and witchcraft "works of the sinful nature?" What is the sinful nature, is it not fear and selfishness? Then what is the basis of idolatry and witchcraft? Fear and selfishness, about protecting self, getting for self.

    Pagan practices always have works, appeasement, attempts of the worshipper to influence, control, pay, bribe, or otherwise direct outcomes. Focus on self does not die in such practices, but the misdeeds may be accounted for by one or all of the above methods.

    Look for this in Christianity—because there are versions of Christianity which focus on accounting for the bad deeds, presenting offerings to God in order to assuage or propitiate His wrath? Such practices are paganism disguised as Christianity.

    Amen!(6)
    • In general, you are right. But where Christianity differ from all other pagan or isms, is Love. You should read Stephanie Andoga's posted today, second from the top, and you will see what I mean. Love is the driving force of Christianity. Christianity is not about appeasing God, it's all about Loving God, as He first Loved us. From the beginning of time, God's command was always "to Love the Lord thy God, and to love thy neighbors", short version of Matthew 22:37-40. God Bless!

      Amen!(10)
  5. Our Sabbath School author hit the head of the nail in his last paragraph of today's lesson: "some people claim that what a person believes about God does not really matter as long as he or she is sincere. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Paul’s list of vices suggests the opposite: corrupt views about God lead to distorted ideas about sexual behavior and religion, and ethics, resulting in the breakdown of human relationships." Sadly, so many of God's lost sheep have been caught up in movements that have the lead to "distorted ideas about sexual behavior and religion and ethics, resulting in the breakdown of human relationships." Such movements like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Warren Jeffs, and many other popular cults today, have develop into something else that does not have the "Fruit of the Spirit" in their religions at all, and resulted in breaking many families apart.

    This kind of spiritual deceptions happened for two reasons, 1) the converts of these religions are not encouraged to study the Word of God for themselves, and 2) they did not see anyone in their previous community to emulate the "Fruit of the Spirit", us. There was a time when the community would say, "Oh, here comes those people with their Bibles, and handing out Bible Studies". We use to hand out religious tracts and magazines in the community. We use to do Ingathering. The people did talked about us, and they did support us by giving us money for the missionary work around the world; these encounter give the community an opportunity to "see" us, to emulate us.

    I'm not sure how we all got away from doing the "work of the Spirit", but we need to start thinking of how to get back to that point. There's a popular quote that says, "what we neglect to do in times of peace, we will have to do in the time of trouble". It's a lot easier to do God's work now, while we are still in the "time of peace". God's blessings to you all!

    Amen!(10)
    • How does "ingathering," emulate the "fruit of the Spirit?" I used to do ingathering until my "Catholic" Mother told me, after going by her house to collect some "ingathering funds," from her. She said to me, " We Catholics have to help Your Church with funds therefore whatever success Your Church has needs to be credited to Our Catholic Church." After that experience I decided to study for myself "From Scripture" and EGW about the "Validity," and "Honorableness," of this so called "Ministry," of ours as SDA'S.

      The closest thing in scripture was Nehemiah's request to King Artaxerxes for permission to go rebuild Jerusalem. Here I saw some interesting things that are very different than going to "Total Strangers" and also "From House To House" for funds. Nehemiah was The King's Cup Bearer. 1.He had somewhat of an "Employee-employer," relationship with The King. 2. The King wanted to know why Nehemiah was so downcast etc.

      There is absolutely no way that Total Strangers even know why some SDA'S come to their doors with "Soliciting Cans," other than to collect money from them. And now I can understand why my Catholic Mother came to the conclusion she came to about her money to us and the possiblity of others to see us as being just plain "Beggars."

      Amen!(0)
  6. We need to understand the kind of love that God exhibited to us through Jesus. it was not just "doing good things for us." but risking everything for us. God becoming man to save us, is a bit like risking my life to save my pet canary. (I know, its a poor analogy but bear with me) Not many of us would risk our lives for an bird or an animal that we could replace by going down to the pet shop and buying another one. Yet, although God could have easily replaced us with a creative act, he didn't but rather expressed how valuable we are to him by dying to save us. I do not believe in the notion that this was some sort of play acting just to impress us, but was an act of deep seated unselfish love.

    We talk a lot about love in the context of salvation. We talk about loving both God and our fellow man. But some of us seldom move away from quoting the Bible texts into expressing that love in meaningful ways in the way we live and interact with others.

    I have expressed this thought previously, but it is worth thinking that a lot of our religious thinking is selfish. How often have I hear the idea that salvation means that we are "safe in heaven"? We think firstly about the reward of heavenly life. If we have faith in Jesus we are saved in heaven. If we accept God's grace we are saved in heaven.

    We need to think of being saved as living a life of love now. And that is risky business. If all of this salvation talk is simply to get to heaven then I suggest that all our expressions of love and grace and faith etc are just as selfish as those who say we have to do good works in order to get to heaven.

    If salvation does not mean something now, then salvation by heaven becomes meaningless. Living in the Spirit is not some theoretical state of mind but a way of life, a guide on how to interact with one another with altruistic love. Salvation is not about, what is in it for me, but what is in it for others.

    Amen!(8)
  7. Recently I have been traveling and witnessed rubbish lining streets and country roads. When I read today’s first reading in Galatians 5:18-26 the word in verse 19 of ‘uncleanness’ jumped out at me.
    When I see TV shots of refugee camps I am disheartened by the conditions they are forced to live in and often 'no toilets' is mentioned by reporters. And how often have we witnessed folk who throw things as bottles, and food wrappings out of the car or worse seen baby disposable nappies wrapped around fences picked up by the wind? We agree these things too are an ‘ethical vice’ against our senses, or could be called ‘works of the flesh’.
    So I was really interested to see this month an Australian TV program on ABC ‘Landline’ which featured a truck skip that starts decomposing animals (such as dead birds from chook farms) and vegetation matter, to be taken to the tip for careful composting to be later returned to the soil. And utilizing waste oil sludge use in food stores that fry foods, to make bio-fuel to run their trucks instead of petrol. Surely this could be regarded as a ‘virtue’ to be as good stewards in caring for the earth? The invention of these commodities I also see as ‘Fruit of the (Holy) Spirit’.
    Godbless today. Mrs A Stolz.

    Amen!(0)

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