19Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: 
Paul had exhorted the Galatians to not misuse their freedom from the law as an excuse to indulge themselves in the works of the flesh (5:13).  He now identifies those works of the flesh.  This list serves as a tool by which we may examine ourselves to see if we are misusing our liberty in Christ.

the works of the flesh- Paul is not talking about people’s inclinations, weaknesses, temptations or thought life.  He goes beyond that. He is talking about the things that they do and practice. Yes, a sinful action starts with a sinful thought, but not every sinful thought leads to a sinful action.

The Christian may carry self-doubt about his salvation because he has an inclination towards sinful things on this list, or because he thinks about doing these things, or may do them on occasion.

This list is certainly a warning to those who believe freedom in Christ permits this kind of behavior.

Verse 19

  1. Adultery- not found in the NIV or NASB Bibles.  Sex outside of marriage.
  2. Fornication- illicit sexual intercourse. Includes adultery, incest, homosexuality, bestiality.
  3. Uncleanness- sensual impurity.
  4. Lewdness- unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, shamelessness, insolence.

Verse 20

  1. Idolatry- The worship of a false god. Some define it as any master passion other than God.
  2. Sorcery- pharmakeia the use or the administering of drugs, magical arts. Drugs were often used in witchcraft and magic.  This is not a prohibition against needed and helpful medication.  
  3. Hatred-Enmity and hostility.  The opposite of love.
  4. Contentions- fighting, discord, quarreling.
  5. Jealousies- resenting or desiring what another has, whether character, possession, or position.
  6. Outbursts of wrath- passionate outbursts of anger or hostile feeling. Boiling, explosive anger.
  7. Selfish ambitions- self-seeking, putting oneself forward in an unruly way. Strife filled ambition
  8. Dissensions- divisions.  Being a divisive person.
  9. Heresies- Theologies and practices that are considered contrary to the Christian faith.

Verse 21

  1. Envy-  discontentment or covetousness of another’s advantages, successes or possessions.
  2. Murders- unlawful killing. 
  3. Drunkenness- intoxication.
  4. Revelries- “a nocturnal and riotous procession of half-drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honor of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before the houses of their male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry” (Thayer)
  5. And the like- anything similar to these things.
  6. Of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Wuest- The word practice is from prassō which means “to do, to practice.” It is durative in action, thus speaking of the habitual practice of such things, which indicates the character of the individual. The Word of God bases its estimation of a person’s character, not upon his infrequent, out-of-the-ordinary actions, but upon his habitual ones, which latter form a true indication of character. Such people, the apostle says, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Turn to Romans 7:14-25 There we see the internal battle of the Apostle Paul.

Verse 22

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love-Not plural, but singular.  Not works which man produces through his involvement, but fruit which God produces in the man as the man stays connected to God as the vine does to the branch.  (Turn to John 15:1-11)

It has been suggested that love is described by what follows, and that all these character traits describe the love of God which is produced in the life of a yielded Christian.

  1. Love- agape- used of God’s love.  Self-sacrificing love. (Turn to Romans 5:6-10)
  2. Joy- A joy based upon eternal truths as opposed to monetary circumstances.

                1 Thessalonians 1:6  And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Peace- To bind together- Tranquility of mind based on a right relation to God. Harmony.

               Philippians 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

  1. Longsuffering- patient endurance under pressure or opposition without thoughts of revenge.
  2. Kindness- Benignity and kindness, a quality that should pervade and penetrate the whole nature, mellowing in it all that is harsh and austere.
  3. Benign- not cancerous, not invasive, not destructive; self-limiting.  Gracious, gentle.
  4. Goodness- The word refers to that quality in a man who is ruled by and aims at what is good, namely, the quality of moral worth.
  5. Faithfulness- fidelity, commitment to one’s commitments.

Verse 23

  1. Gentleness (meekness)- mildness when dealing with others.
  2. Self-control- the mastery of one’s own desires and impulses.  (1 Corinthians 9:24, 25a)
  3. Against such there is no law- This is Paul’s understatement.  If the legalists were worried about not breaking the law, then here was a list of things that they could lawfully do.

Verse 24-  Wuest- This initial act of faith in the Lord Jesus which resulted in the crucifixion (putting to death) of the affections and lusts of the totally depraved nature, is followed during the life of that Christian, by the free action of his liberated will in counting himself as having died to (having been separated from the power of) the evil nature with the result that he says NO to sin and stops yielding himself and his members to sin.

Verse 25- “If” = “since”.  It is a fulfilled condition.  “Since” we live in the Spirit…

  1. The Spirit is given to every Christian.  It was given to us, but we must choose to walk in it.

Verse 26- 

  1. Conceited- Vain glory.  Paul speaks to those who didn’t understand the Spirit led life.
  2. provoking one another- to call forth, to challenge, to provoke. 
  3. envying one another- desiring what another has.
  4. Those abusing liberty provoked others to cross the line; the “legalists” envied their freedom.