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The Flesh (5) Galatians

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Paul uses similar language in Galatians 5, where he writes about the struggle between the flesh and the spirit. He begins by warning that believers who give a higher place to their ethnic status will fail Jesus’ command to love one another if there are Jews and Gentiles in their church.

Do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love (Gal 5:13).

Loving one another, no matter who belongs to the body of Jesus, is more important than ethnic heritage, even Jewish heritage. Paul challenged the Galatians to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. The life of the Spirit is opposite to the life of the flesh.

Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposing each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want (Gal 5:16-17).

The flesh opposes the Spirit. If we do what is contrary to the Spirit’s leading, we are doing what we want, which is the same as gratifying the flesh. Paul gives some examples of the works of the flesh.

The works of the flesh are obvious: adultery, 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 (Gal 5:19-21).

A few of these examples are sexual, but most of them are attitudinal, like jealousy, ambition, envy, factions, etc. The works of the flesh are the natural outworking in people of what they choose, without regard to the Holy Spirit. The antidote to the works of the flesh is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).

Paul concludes his discussion about this topic by declaring that the flesh is dead (our situation at birth no logner applies).

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24).

If we have died with Jesus, we have put our flesh to death. The state in which we were born has no hold over us. Our old spiritual legacy is dead, so it has lost its hold over us. If we have died and risen with Jesus, the power of the spiritual powers of evil over lives is broken. We are no longer in their captivity, so they cannot manipulate and control us. Our spiritual legacy of slavery to sin has been cancelled. We are children of God, inheriting the life that he has chosen for us.

This full series can be read at The Flesh.


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