Works and Fruit: Galatians 19
The principle is firmly established already. Paul is building up to the point that false religion is the foundation of all false living. Just as believing lives are built upon the truth of God, so false lives are built on the lies of righteousness-mongers.
18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another (Gal. 5: 18-26).
Those who are lead by the Spirit are not under the law, which is where the Judaizers are in effect trying to get them (v. 18). But the Judaizers want them to go to circumcision, and not into a frenzy of wicked behavior. But Paul says this is where they will in fact go, because religiosity does not deal with the flesh, but rather caters to it. The works of the flesh, Paul says, are obvious (v. 19). He then gives a detailed catalog of such offenses (vv. 19-21). In contrast, the way of the Spirit is equally obvious (vv. 22-23). Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh, along with everything it wants (v. 24). But remember that at the head of the list of things the flesh wants, we must include religious respectability. If we are alive in the Spirit, then why not walk as though this were so (v. 25). And Paul returns to the engine that is driving all this—vain glory—and he urges them to avoid provocation and envy (v. 26).
WORKS & FRUIT
It is not just that the content of these two lists is different. They are qualitatively two lists of different kinds of things. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life (Rom. 6:23). Here the same point is made with the contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.
THE WORKS OF THE FLESH
Paul tells us that these works are manifest. Out of the abundance of the heart a man speaks (Matt. 12:34). Out of the abundance of the heart a man lives (Matt. 12:35).
Adultery: a narrow term, meaning violation of a marriage covenant.
Fornication: a broad term, meaning sexual uncleanness generally.
Uncleannes: dirty living, whether physical or spiritual.
Lasciviousness: wantonness, unbridled lust.
Idolatry: worship of false gods, including the god of Money.
Witchcraft: magical arts, as well as the use of drugs.
Hatred: enmity, hatred, bitterness, malice.
Variance: wrangling, strife, quarreling.
Emulations: envying, indignation, jealousy.
Wrath: anger, passion, heat
Strife: partisanship, politicking, fractiousness
Seditions: division, schism
Heresies: sectarianism, schism, gathering around an error, leprosy of the mind.
Envyings: envying, biting.
Murders: slaughter, murder.
Drunkenness: to be intoxicated.
Revellings: carousal, revelling late at night, raucous parties.
And such like: the list is not intended to be exhaustive.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT:
The fruit of the Spirt stands in stark contrast to the works of the flesh.
Love: glad and sacrificial giving of one’s self.
Joy: gladness and joy.
Peace: calm, content, tranqulity, serenity.
Longsuffering: patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance, forbearance, slowness in avenging wrongs.
Gentleness: goodness, kindness, integrity.
Goodness: uprightness of heart and life.
Faith: assurance, belief, fidelity.
Meekness: gentleness, mildness.
Temperance: self-control, balance.
SPIRIT OR FLESH?
Now your baptism obligates you covenantally to be characterized by the second list, not the first. But unbelief makes disobedience possible. Baptism puts you in the covenant; it does not substitute for a life of obedience grounded on faith alone.
And this is why the false doctrine of the Judaizers must be rejected. It caters to the flesh, and cannot mortify the deeds of the flesh, even if it wanted to, which it does not. Religiosity kills. Traditional values inflame the lusts of the heart. Common decency is a whitewashed tomb.