< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Galatians 5:16-21

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Galatians 5:16-21

Galatians 5:16-21 “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Paul gives us a catalog of evil things here. Let’s look at the list.

Sexual immorality – Christianity came into a world where this was not only condoned, it was regarded as normal! It was Christianity that brought chastity into the world.
Impurity – This is what makes man unfit to come into the presence of God. It separates us from Him.
Debauchery – This word (in some translations it’s wantonness) has been defined as “readiness for any pleasure”. The people who practiced it knew no restraint. They rarely thought about what other people thought. Jezebel was described as wanton.
Idolatry – The worship of gods, which the hands of man made, or material things, which have taken the place of God.
Witchcraft –This literally means the use of drugs! And that’s because the sorcery and witchcraft so prevalent back then used poisonous drugs.
Hatred – Men who are characteristically hostile to other men. The exact opposite of the Christian virtue of love for everyone.
Strife or Discord – Rivalry, which comes from quarrelling and competing.
Jealousy – This word was originally a good one. It meant emulation: the fine desire to share nobility, to attain it when we see it. But, it degenerated to mean the desire for something someone else has.
Fits of rage – This is self-explanatory.
Self-ambition – They used to use this term for a man who sought public office, not to serve, but for what he could get out of it.
Dissension – Literally, this word means, “standing apart”. People who aren’t in harmony or agreement.
Envy – Euripides called this “the greatest of all diseases among men.” It goes beyond jealousy. It’s not that you just want what another person has, you actually begrudge the fact the other person has these things at all. He doesn’t even so much want them for himself; he just doesn’t want the other person to have them.
Drunkenness – In the ancient world this wasn’t a common vice. It was degrading to become drunk. The Greeks drank wine all the time. Children drank wine! But, they drank their wine in the proportion of three parts water to two parts wine. The Greeks, Jews and Christians would have looked down on anyone who was drunk.

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