Summary: Christian freedom means walking in the Spirit. Christian freedom is not liberty to indulge in one’s fallen nature or the flesh. To help us recognize when we are walking in the flesh a partial listing of some of the expressions of our fallen nature are giv
FLESH CONTROLLED LIFE / LIFE IN THE FLESH
(Mt. 15:19; Mark 7:21-23; Col. 3:5-9)
Christian freedom means walking in the Spirit. Christian freedom is not liberty to indulge in one’s fallen nature, or flesh. In order for believers to recognize when they are walking in the flesh Paul gives a partial list of some of the expressions of man’s unregenerated nature.
Man’s flesh has definite ways it tempts and wars against the spiritual man. The flesh is a deadly enemy which is capable of completely defeating a believer and keeping him from pleasing God with a holy life.
The various ways which the desires of the flesh manifest themselves can be set forth in four areas. [Lightfoot, Zondervan Com. Galatians, 210]
I. SEXUAL TEMPTATIONS, 19.
II. WORSHIP TEMPTATIONS, 20a.
III. RELATIONSHIP TEMPTATIONS, 20b-21a.
IV. DISCIPLINE TEMPTATIONS, 21b.
The list of the works of the flesh can be readily compiled because, as verse 19 begins, they are obvious or observed publically. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident.
So begins the cataloging of the first of two lists. There is a clearly defined and observable standard by which we can determine if we are walking in the flesh or in the Spirit. Each can be detected by their distinctive behavioral characteristics.
If a person does not yield to the Spirit, the flesh will dominate his or her life. Again, the flesh is man as he has become in contrast with man as God wants him to be. The flesh represents human nature as it has become through sin. The flesh is what gives sin it’s opportunity within our lives.
"No army can invade a country from the sea unless it can obtain a bridgehead. Temptation would be powerless to affect men, unless there was something already in man to respond to temptation. Sin could gain no foothold in a man’s mind and heart and soul and life unless there was an enemy within the gates who was willing to open the door to sin. The flesh is exactly the bridgehead through which sin invades the human personality. The flesh is like the enemy within the gates who opens the way to the enemy who is pressing the gates." (Barclay, Flesh & Spirit, 24)
How we need to crucify the flesh and live in the Spirit so we do not allow the flesh to open up our life to the deeds of the flesh.
The first three vices listed in this representative catalog of fifteen deeds of the flesh are in the realm of sex. They are immorality, impurity, sensuality.
Sexual immorality (porneia) is often translated "fornication". From this word our word pornography is derived. It refers to all forms of illicit sexual relationships such as premarital and extramarital sex. As it is today sexual impurity was common in the ancient world so it initiates this list of vices.
Impurity (a-kathorsia) is a broad term referring to moral uncleanliness in word, thought, desire or deed (Eph 5:3-4). In a medical sense it was used for the pus or impurities of an unclean wound. It is an infection of moral consciousness and purity. An unclean person sees dirt in everything (Titus 1:15).
Sensuality, wantonness or debauchery (aselgeia) emphasizes the lack of self-control that characterizes a person who gives free run to the impulses of his sinful nature. It is a readiness for sensual pleasure. If it feels good, do it. The wanton person no longer cares what people think or say about his actions.
We live in a world in which sex is over emphasized in thousands of ways. Many people are making sex their idol, giving themselves to it in complete disregard for its holy and rightful place in life. Though Paul’s words were written to an ancient pagan world they apply like the morning news to our promiscuous culture today. Sex devotees want to be free to do as they wish but are really locked into dreadful bondage.
II. WORSHIP TEMPTATIONS (20a)
Paul next cites temptations in the realm of worship. They are idolatry and sorcery.
Idolatry (eíd lon) is the temptation to rebel against worshiping the only true God. This idolatry takes place when we place anything be it pleasure, money, things, toys, work or even people or families before God. When we place anything before God we have created a god of our own making. God must be in the place and priority of God, if not something else is being given His priority and place. What ever a person is devoted to instead of or more than God is his god.
Witchcraft or sorcery springs from the desire to be in control of others through contact with the mysterious spirit world. It indicates various kinds of magic or enchantments intended to put spiritual powers under one’s control. (The opposite is actually what occurs). Ouija boards, tarot cords, seances, spiritualism, levitation, astrology, New Age meditation are some of the doors of this temptation.