Adam was created in the image of God. His physical human nature was fashioned in a way that would glorify God by its very existence. Once he sinned, all that changed. What was once a pure reflection of the heart and mind of God, at best became a muddied and defective reflection. Fast forward thousands of years and we find God’s plan in place to clean up this muddied mess. This cleanup comes through Jesus and his true disciples. As Jesus’ disciples, we are tasked with living above our muddied world. In Part I of this series, we opened up the Apostle Paul’s reasoning regarding walking in the spirit and not fulfilling the desires of the flesh. We began examining Paul’s long list of the works of the flesh in contrast with the fruit of the spirit. Today we continue this journey toward walking in the spirit!
The "bad" list and the "good" list
Anytime we read the Bible and come upon a long list of human characteristics, we should always pause and consider. Such lists are either there for a sober warning about what to avoid, or as an invitation to embrace what’s listed for spiritual growth. Interestingly, the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5 gave us both kinds. He first gave us a long list of the "works of the flesh." He then contrasted these with the "fruit of the spirit."
In Part I of this series, we closely examined the first two categories of these works of the flesh:
Category 1 - Intimate Human Desire: immorality, impurity, sensuality
Category 2 - Spiritual Control: idolatry, sorcery
In this episode, we break down the last three categories of the works of the flesh with ten natural human characteristics:
Category 3 - Personal Relationships: hostility, strife, jealousy, anger
Category 4 - Group Relationships: disputes, dissensions, factions, envy
Category 5 - Reckless Behavior: drunkenness, carousing
Hostility, for example, is very much an internal characteristic that lodges and grows in our hearts and minds. Hostility can be present and powerful within us without anyone knowing it’s there.
Paul lists strife right after hostility. To be engaged in strife is to be engaged in contention and quarreling. Guess what feeds such tension-filled relationships? Hostility, of course. Looking deeper, we realize there is a cause and effect relationship between them. In addition, many of these deeds of the flesh were listed in a specific order. Paul has a lot to teach us with these difficult characteristics!
Check out our November 14, 2022 podcast, “Do I Walk in the Spirit or the Lusts of My Human Nature? (Part II)” for more. We dive into how our Personal and Goup Relationships can be ruined by simply acting the way human beings naturally act. We then address Reckless Behavior. The Apostle Paul is teaching us as Christians how avoid these common and painful traps. Join us! To be forewarned is to be forearmed!