by Wayne Barber
Paul shows us in Galatians 5:19-21 what the garment of flesh looks like, if we, as believers, allow the flesh to dominate our lives. Paul shows that all the flesh offers us is a counterfeit way of living: “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.” We need to see this! When we choose to live after our flesh, all the flesh can offer is fake!
First of all, the flesh can only offer a counterfeit love life: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality….” Paul describes a counterfeit love life—one that brings only physical gratification. It’s amazing how the flesh makes us think that lust is the same thing as the wonderful purity of loving someone in the Spirit of God!
The first word to describe this fake love is “immorality.” It is the word porneía, which comprehends all sexual sin, including incest, homosexuality, promiscuous sex, adultery, etc. In fact, some translations add the word adultery.
The next word is “impurity,” akatharsía, unclean. This has to do with unclean minds. It is what is hidden within. A man once told me that the best way to find someone to sleep with was at church. He said he would go to the singles department and in conversation with those of the opposite sex he would say something off-color and then watch for a response which told him that they had unclean minds like his. Man, that was so sad to me!
The next word is “sensuality”—asélgeia, licentiousness. It means to think one has a license to do what he wants. One could reason he is under grace, so he is free to live as he chooses. But grace is never the right to do as we please but the power to do as we should.
Asélgeia is really where it all starts. It is this attitude that breeds impurity and ends up in immorality. The flesh can never produce what we need! Only what we want! All that it offers is counterfeit. So, a counterfeit love life is what many a believer has bought into!
But next is a counterfeit worship. It is incredible how many believers don’t have a clue as to what real worship is. Worship is never for us, but for Christ! Paul adds two words in Galatians 5:20 to our list of behavioral characteristics of those who walk after the flesh: “idolatry” and “sorcery.” Now, this may surprise you! The word for idolatry is eido\lolatre\ía. It comes from two Greek words: eido\lon, which means an idol, and latreía, which means to serve—hence, to serve an idol. Latreía is frequently translated “worship.”
Now, we must begin with a fundamental understanding of what an “idol” is. An idol is nothing more than what man makes it. A believer can be caught up in idolatry and not realize it. An idol can be anything! For a preacher it can be his style of preaching! It can be one’s style of music! An idol can be a ministry one is attached to. Even one’s family can become an idol. It is anything that usurps the place Christ must hold in our lives.
The Law was what the deceived Galatians had attached themselves to! They substituted the Law for Christ. And when we get off track—when we foolishly choose to obey the desires of the flesh—our agendas become identified by what we are attached to! What we are worshiping is not Christ.
Now Paul adds another word that clearly describes this. He adds “sorcery,” pharmakeía. We get “pharmacy” from it. It was the word for drugs. Whatever we attach ourselves to, becomes like a drug that we have to have.
“They are not using my style of music! I’m never coming back! I can’t worship without my music”! Ever heard that one? We must have our agenda that we worship and if we don’t get it, it literally affects our behavior! When we talk more about our pastor, or our church, or our choir, than we do about Jesus, look out! It is amazing how many people have adapted themselves to a form of religion and think that they are worshiping God—while they have completely denied His power in them.
The Galatians were acting like they were drugged! Paul had to say to them, “Oh foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” “Who or what has put you under a spell? What is it that you are so addicted to?”
Your behavior is controlled by what you have attached yourself to. This is what religion did to the Galatians. Again, what garment are you wearing? Next time we will proceed in our list that Paul gives to help us identify what the garment of flesh looks like.
Wayne Barber is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>