Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 6, 1958
NUMBER 39, PAGE 4-5b

"The Works Of The Flesh"


This entire issue is devoted to a study of the above subject. We are using the listing given by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:19-21 (Revised Version). Here I shall transcribe the entire passage. Read it carefully.

"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, heresies, envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which 1 forewarn you that they which practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God"

Here is a catalog of terrible sins. There are fifteen specific "works of the flesh" mention here; and the phrase "and such like" shows that he had not enumerated them all. There are many others and with a close look at the New Testament one can discover those not here listed. It would be of great value if every child of God could be made fully aware of the significance of the apostle's remark that they who do such "shall not inherit the kingdom of God." This is a plain, positive declaration. The letter was written to the churches (Christians) in Galatia and they were being warned AGAIN about the consequences of doing these things. This proves beyond doubt that a child of God may commit any one or all of these sins and IF he does, and dies without being forgiven, he cannot enter the everlasting kingdom — heaven itself. So beyond question a child of God may so sin as to be finally lost in hell. How much plainer would this fact need to be stated? Let it be emphasized that one would not have to be guilty of ALL these sins to be condemned — only one is necessary.

There are two levels of life or two planes upon which children of God may live — a lower and a higher, a carnal and a spiritual. The one who pleases God MUST live upon the higher, the spiritual level. Only by giving in this way can the child of God finally be saved in heaven.

This means living "in the spirit," by the direction and leading of God's Spirit, which is accomplished when one lives according to the Word of God.

Those who live upon the lower plane live as the world does. They are those who live after the flesh. For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after, the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be: and they that are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom. 8:5-8) It is sad to find so many among God's people today who are living upon this low level. Within the church today there can be found many who are guilty of practicing these things. In many places where several congregations are found, it would not be too difficult to find an example of every sin in this catalog in the lives of various members of the church — all of these in full fellowship! Even among the leaders of the church these sins can be found. What a shameful condition! Such conduct, if allowed to go without correction, will condemn to eternal torment those who are guilty, and it will destroy the church. Bro. H. Leo Boles wrote: "It is a sad fact that membership in a local church bearing the name of Christ is not what it should be, a guarantee of regeneration 'born of water and the Spirit.' Many who claim membership are still in the world and doing the works of the flesh. Some who have been 'born anew' do not bear the fruit of the Spirit because they live on the lower level of a church member life."

The higher, spiritual level is where every Christian should live, and that is where the fruit of the Spirit is manifested. The lower level of life is the fleshly, the carnal level, the level of the world. A congregation composed of those living upon this level is a blot upon the Cause of Christ and certainly can not be truthfully called "a church of Christ."

Paul says, "the works of the flesh are MANIFEST." This means that they are PLAIN and EASILY RECOGNIZED. But are they? Seemingly not too many in the church. How many members of the church could give a satisfactory definition of each of these fifteen sins? If we do not know what they mean, how can we know that we are not guilty of practicing them? The percentage who could adequately define these sins would likely be very small. One colored man when asked about lasciviousness, said: "I don't knows what it means, but I knows I ain't guilty 'cause it sounds so bad." Likely this represents the real sentiment of most members of the church. Can it be that for the most part we are so ignorant of God's word that, like the Hebrews (Heb. 5:14), we are not able to "discern good and evil?" We should KNOW what this catalog of sins mean. Also, we should have a clear understanding of what would be included in the "such like," and the dire consequences of engaging in such things.

If someone were to offer us $100,000 if we would not commit any of these "works of the flesh," we would diligently search out what these terms mean and refrain from the doing of such in order to obtain the money. There is something involved in this matter which is of far greater value than $100,000. It is the destiny of our soul! Should we not be much more concerned about this than about obtaining money? Then let us learn well the meaning of "the works of the flesh" and see that we do not practice such things.

This catalog of shameful sins may be grouped into four classes: First, sins of impurity or immorality — fornication, uncleanness and lasciviousness.

Second, sins of irreligion — idolatry and sorcery.

Third, sins of the disposition — enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties and envyings.

Fourth, sins of intemperance — drunkenness, revelings and such like.

There is an old adage which says, "Birds of a feather flock together." Here is a case of where "birds of a feather" are put together and all are listed under the heading — THE WORKS OF THE FLESH. This would not be the way that we would do it nor prefer to think of it. Can it be that the sins of the disposition stand on a par with the sins of immorality? In this listing they do. None is said to be either worse or better than the others. EACH ONE IS SIN and ANY ONE will keep us out of heaven! We are prone to make a difference where the Spirit of God made none. Let us be careful about doing this.

Another thing: If we should make up a list of what we consider to be sins, would we name ALL the ones Paul did? Certainly we would put down the wicked things which others may do and which may not be our practice; but would we list those which strike home? Our definition of what is sinful is often decided upon a basis of personal factors — what we like and dislike. With our limitations we should never be willing to try to simply avoid ONLY that which WE have decided within ourselves is wrong. We should let God's word tell us. Truly as McGarvey says, "Verily all professing Christians would do well to take heed to what the Bible designates as sins, and not trust too much their own fallible sentiment and judgment in such matters."

In this issue an attempt is made to give a clear and positive meaning to the sins and to partially apply such to our day. We hope and pray that this effort shall in a measure be successful and will have some influence in helping purge these sins from the lives of all of God's children. If to any degree such is accomplished, then this venture shall be truly worthwhile.