Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Works of the flesh

With so many claiming to belong to Christ in this present day, what distinguishes a true child of God from a 'wannabe'? Can we say 'look at the way someone lives' without being labeled a legalist? Probably not, only because most do not even know the definition of legalism; the Bible tells us what the deeds/works of the flesh are, which we will examine. Walking according to the flesh is a telltale sign whether or not one is 'in Christ' or just pretending {which is a widespread dilemma in our society}. So what does the works of the flesh look like?

Galatians 5:19 - 21 addresses this question, 'Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.' - NASB
Going down the list, we will examine the works of the flesh, starting with immorality, which is defined as -
1) illicit sexual intercourse
1a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
1c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman
Also, idolatry, in a figurative sense. - Thayer's Greek Definitions

The KJV renders this 'adultery, fornication', which are both sexual sins in nature. Commentary on the word adultery from Gill addresses adultery; 'this is left out in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, and in the Alexandrian copy; it is a defilement of the marriage bed, and is the sin of uncleanness committed by two persons, one of which at least is in a married state, is condemned by the law of God and light of nature'. It seems the NASB has combined adultery and fornication and translated both as 'immorality'.

The definition of adultery is self-explanatory; however, the Lord gives a more in-depth detailed analysis of this sin in Matthew 5:27-28, "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." This verse exposes a more common and widespread form of adultery; while many may say they have been faithful to their spouse because they have not had physical sexual contact with another, how many can say they never had an adulterous thought? The pornography industry is a 'billions of dollars' business because lustful desires can be fed and satisfied through pornography; yet this is adultery, which is sin. Even if you are single, you do not know the marital status of those you lust after in magazines, movies, and internet porn. It is still sexual sin if all are single, sex is made for the marriage bed only {Hebrews 13:4}. To look at a woman with lustful intent is sin, which is exactly what the Lord teaches in Matthew 5:27-28.

Next on the list is impurity, which ties in with adultery and immoralty; from Thayer's Greek Definitions -
1) uncleanness
1a) physical
1b) in a moral sense: the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living
1b1) of impure motives - again, this is self-explanatory.

Sensuality is also tied in with sexual sin and is defined as 'unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence'. Those who live a life patterned after sexual sin have no shame, they desire only to satisfy their insatiable appetite for fullfillment of their sexual lustful desires and passions. Such behavior is likened to animalistic and robotic in nature with no concern for who or how they fulfill their sinful desires, just as long as they get what they want.

Next on the list... idolatry- defined as -
1) the worship of false gods, idolatry
1a) of the formal sacrificial feats held in honour of false gods
1b) of avarice, as a worship of Mammon
2) in the plural, the vices springing from idolatry and peculiar to it - once more, we get commentary from John Gill, 'Which some understand of covetousness, which is so called; but rather it means the worshipping of other gods, or of graven images'. This is common and widespread throughout the world, and even in those who name the name of Christ.

Next up is another widespread sinful practice that has multiple meanings...sorcery, which is defined as -
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) metaphorically the deceptions and seductions of idolatry

There is a connection between witchcraft/sorcery and idolatry, this is Satanic in nature and origin. The other form of sorcery that is a huge problem is 'the use or the administering of drugs'. Our culture is presently overrun with a bondage to various drugs, whether legal or illegal. This is a sinful bondage that has reached epidemic proportions, lives are being lost daily because of drug overdoses, careless usage and dangerous mixing of drugs and/or alcohol that ends tragically {the death of Whitney Houston is the latest example}. Sadly, many profess to be a follower or a child of Christ, yet they are in bondage to some form of 'sorcery' and cannot break free because they have not been born from above, and because they love their sins. I have heard it said that sin will take you farther than you want to go, sadly most get in so deep they will never walk away unscathed from their sinful choices.

Strong's definition of enmity is 'hostility; by implication a reason for opposition: - enmity, hatred'. We are to have no hate for any man, even our enemies. We are to pray for those who persecute us, forgive those who sin against us, who hate us. Never should we return evil for evil; instead, we lift those who oppose us to God in prayer, crying out for His mercy for their souls. This does not mean we do not expose the error of false teachings, we attack the teaching, not the person.

Strife is closely tied in with enmity, being defined as 'a quarrel, that is, (by implication) wrangling: - contention, debate, strife, variance.'

Jealousy means ' properly heat, that is, (figuratively) “zeal” (in a favorable sense, ardor; in an unfavorable one, jealousy, as of a husband [figuratively of God], or an enemy, malice): - emulation, envy (-ing), fervent mind, indignation, jealousy, zeal.' There should be no jealousy in the hearts of God's children, if there is, we must go before the Lord and repent of this greivous sin. Jealousy is not entirely wrong, even God is jealous, as He states in Exodus 34:14, "for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God". Gill commentary says of this verse 'his name and nature answer to one another; he admits of no rival or competitor in worship; he will not give his glory to another god, or one so called, nor his praise to graven images; and in this he is distinguished from all nominal and fictitious gods, who have many joined with them, and are rivals of them, which gives them no concern, because insensible; but it is otherwise with the Lord, who knows the dishonour done him, and resents it, and is as jealous of any worship being given to another, as the husband is of the honour of his marriage bed; for idolatry is spiritual adultery, as is suggested in the following verse.' The jealousy of God is not based on wrong motives, as ours is, nor does it stem from a heart that is sinful; God is holy and pure, undefiled. He is worthy of praise, worship, glory and honor. His mighty works are to be praised, His attributes should cause us to be in continual reverence and awe of who He is and what He has done.

Outbursts of anger are forbidden as well, this means fits of rage, passion, angry, heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again. Uncontrollable fits of rage are not the marks of a follower if Christ.

Disputes are not marks of a follower of Christ either; meaning 'rivalry, hence ambition: - disputes (2), selfish ambition (3), selfishly ambitious (1), selfishness'. Most disputes arise from selfish, self-centered motives.

Dissensions cause division, making one 'stand apart' from those they are opposing. God calls us to be united, to love one another, to be humble. This does not mean we do not oppose what is false, we do not purposely cause division because of haughtiness.

Factions are the result of dissension arising from diversity of opinions and aims. These are unfounded opinions that are not grounded in God's word, but are formed by man's opinion, which are birthed from a corrupt and carnal mind.

To envy is to be jealous and spiteful of others, Gill commentary states envy as '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'. This too is widespread in our culture, especially in America.

Drunkenness is rampant as well; to be drunk is to be intoxicated, to dull the senses with either drink or drug, to cloud the thinking and reasoning with a mind-altering substance. A drunkard will not enter God's kingdom, as 1st Corinthians 6:9-10 states.
Carousing is tied to drunkenness and defined as -
1) a revel, carousal
1a) 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.
Modern day carousing would be late night drinking and erratic behavior {such as Mardi Gras or sporting events} from intoxication.

These are all works of the flesh, they are evidence that those who indulge in them are not children of God, nor can they please God because of their fleshly works. As Paul warns at the end of verse 21, ' those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.'

Today we have folks everywhere claiming to belong to Jesus Christ, and yet they fit into the aforementioned category of practicing some/all of the works of the flesh. They are only fooling themselves; Christ says 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.' If you make a profession of faith and make a practice of sin, these will be the final words you hear right before you are cast into the lake of fire. Repent, forsake your sins, and throw yourself on the mercy of Almighty God. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.


Garth said...

Exccellent explanation of this often avoided topic. I was/am intending to write an entry of my own dealing with this topic (the flesh) and I just want to write and commend you for such a thorough treatment of it. Thankyou and may God bless you as you continue to stand on His truth.

lyn said...

Hello Garth,

May God get all the glory for this post.
This is a huge problem within 'Christianity', everyone professing to be believers, but are they followers? I suspect there is a direct link between these superficial Christians and the accursed gospel that has and is sweeping the globe, 'invite Jesus into your heart', 'make your decision for Him', or 'repeat this prayer', 'fill out this card' etc.

May our great and awesome God bless you as well dear brother.