THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2017
WORKS OF THE FLESH
Today’s reading: Galatians 5:18-25
We as the people of God live by the Spirit and not by the
flesh. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified
their flesh with its passions and desires.” (v.24).
We are to avoid the works of the flesh. “Now the works
of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness,
idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of
fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions
of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.” (v.19-21a).
works of the flesh may be obvious, but still the people of
God fall into them. There are some really serious sins. There
are immorality, impurity and licentiousness in the area of
human sexuality. There are idolatry and sorcery in the area
of rejecting the one true God. There are drinking bouts and
orgies which drive people to wild pleasure-seeking revelry.
Many of these the Christian who has turned his life over to
Christ would readily avoid.
there is also another set of works of the flesh which many
Christians fall into, especially in Christian communities.
These are hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts
of selfishness, dissensions, factions and occasions of envy.
Many times these are triggered by situations where Christians
are serving God together. They disagree and they fight.
is the one common denominator in the second set above? They
all lead to disunity. Unity in the body is so important that
Paul lists these sins together with the really terrible first
set of sins. The first set of sins is personal and basically
affects one’s own relationship with God, while the second
affects not only the person but also the body. And even when
some Christians in a body commit any of the first set of sins,
God can still work powerfully through the body, as others
follow the Spirit and not the flesh. But if some Christians
commit the second set of sins, it can divide the body into
factions or even cause outright splits or schism. Then the
body is unable to function in full empowerment as one.
that of Paul’s list of 15 works of the flesh, 8 or a
majority have to do with the second set. And this second set
of sins, in Paul’s listing, is firmly wedged within
the first set (between the first 5 and the last 2). Paul is
in effect saying, you may think sexual impurity and idolatry
are truly terrible sins (and they are), but equally terrible
are those sins that break up the unity of the body. These
works of the flesh prevent the body from living its life and
accomplishing its mission in the unity of the Spirit.
is why Paul’s condemnation is severe. “I warn
you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things
will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (v.21b). We know
that we will not get to heaven if we live impure or idolatrous
lives, so we avoid such works of the flesh. But how many Christians,
including those actively serving in Christian communities,
including those who are servant leaders, cause disruption
and disunity in the body by their acts of rivalry, envy and
jealousy, unrighteous anger, selfishness, causing dissension,
unity in the body, we not only avoid the works of the flesh,
but we live the virtues of the Kingdom. “In contrast,
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
(v.22a). If we strive to live these virtues out, we will be
greatly guided in avoiding those actions that cause disunity.
we the people of God? “If we live in the Spirit, let
us also follow the Spirit.” (v.25). One Spirit, one
body of Christ.