I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 NKJV)
Here, Paul is not talking about the contrast of human spirit and flesh, but is instead talking about what happens after a person becomes a believer in Jesus Christ led by the Holy Spirit, not merely living a spiritual life, but actually being guided by the Holy Spirit.
Reading the Bible, spending time in prayer with the Holy Spirit and talking to Jesus, all on a daily basis, gives a believer a different point of view than just attending church once or twice a week. Doing all of these makes us more receptive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We learn how to hear the voice of God as He communicates with us individually.
We are human, by no means will the desires of our flesh ever cease to exist as long as we are human, but, when a believer learns how to hear the guidance of the Holy Spirit and obeys what the Holy Spirit is saying, a believer will be able to overcome the lusts of the flesh.
Sure, you will mess up and you will sin, but, you will learn how to overcome and you will not totally give in to the carnal thoughts you once had before you were saved. The Holy Spirit will replace your once carnal thoughts with godly thoughts. You must start with reading the Bible. You will learn God’s point of view on life.
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Galatians 5:17 NKJV)
We, as believers, have an advocate, the Holy Spirit, who is constantly convicting us of sin and letting us know good from evil. A born again Christian with a renewed mind is inclined to do good. The Holy Spirit is in contrast to evil and, if a believer will listen to the Holy Spirit, that believer will not do what evil comes naturally through the flesh.
The flesh desires to overtake thought and commit sin. The Galatians were believers who, at the time Paul wrote this verse, were giving in to evil and walking according to the flesh. Sometimes believers begin to stray, but there is hope in Jesus. Repent of what evil you know you are doing and begin to do good. Those who are ignorant of the truth, like many believers once were, may not know what sin is, but, a person who has already been down that sinful road and has repented and become saved, knows what is sin.
You may wish to do good, but you may only be doing evil or only doing some good if you are letting flesh, or the sinful part of the world, dominate your spirit. On the other hand, you may wish to do evil, but you will be doing good if you let the Holy Spirit guide your spirit. In each case you do not do that you would, or wish to do, like you did before you knew the truth and did whatever comes naturally, like those mentioned in the book of Jude.
You are not a lost sheep as long as you realize the error of your ways, repent and turn to God. You are a lost sheep if you ignore the Holy Spirit and continue to practice what you know is sin. Nothing is impossible with God. He can fix anything you might think you have done that is beyond forgiveness. If you are not sorry, and enjoy what the Bible says is sin, you have made your choice. If you die right now, would you be with God? Would you walk with the Spirit?
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. (Romans 7:18-22 NKJV)
A person, before being saved, is full of sin, yet, a believer has the will, through the Holy Spirit, to do good, which, without the Holy Spirit, it is easier to do evil than to do good. Paul, being born again, may have just been being hard on himself, knowing the person he was before being saved and wishing to be completely righteous before God, was probably very perceptive to sin and may have had habits he knew he should not be doing, but was still sinning unwillingly. Paul was a Pharisee before Jesus chose Paul to preach, having even helped stone Stephen, the first martyr in the New Testament.
Paul is no different than any other born again Christian who wishes to do good. If Paul would have not worried so much about his soul but would have instead been holier than thou, then he would have still had that Pharisee mentality and would have not known salvation. Paul instead thanks God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, that he can repent and keep striving to do good.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18 NKJV)
Paul, being a Pharisee before knowing Jesus, knew the Mosaic Law well. The Mosaic Law is based on works and the Holy Spirit is based on relationship. Those who are led by the Holy Spirit are not under the law because the Holy Spirit puts on our hearts what the law attempts to make those under the law conform to, so they do not do evil. Not doing evil is not enough though. Those led by the Holy Spirit will also strive to do good. The longer one is led by the Holy Spirit, the less evil a person will do and the more good is manifest within the person.
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, (Galatians 5:19 NKJV)
The works of the flesh are those works which are present and dominant in an unsaved person, works that are battled against and conquered by those who are saved and are led by the Holy Spirit. The world will tell Christians many of these works of the flesh are normal and natural, a part of humanity, and, are therefore right to do, or are even a person’s right to practice, but God says, in more places than this verse, that these works are evil and those who practice these works without repentance will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Adultery was left out in the earliest of manuscripts. The reasoning might be that adultery can be grouped with fornication. Infidelity can lead to the dissolution of a family, robbing children of their right to be parented the way God intended children to be raised, by a mother and a father guiding their children spiritually.
Fornication was not regarded as sin by many Galatians, or was not regarded as a deep sin by them, much the same as the world today views fornication. Today, it is difficult to find media that does not include fornication as the norm, which is hooking up, one night stands and all types of sexual immorality. Living together with someone as partners, and not married, is fornication, and is entering into a non-binding agreement, one that could go any direction, when one, or both, of the partners sees fit to end it, or to cheat on the other partner, or to do as is seen fit in only one, or both, of the partner’s eyes.
Uncleanness is all types of sexual deviance, a general word for unchastity, not just physically, but mentally too. Paul is talking about unnatural acts too, of which many Galatians were addicted.
If you go to a church that is not led by the Holy Spirit, that church could tell you it is ok to be unclean. God recognizes godly and the world recognizes worldly. Just because the world says something is right does not mean God views it as good. If God says something is evil, it is evil. Though the world may change, God stays the same. If you are married and your marriage goes against how God said marriage is supposed to be, then you are not married in the eyes of God, but you are married in the eyes of the world. God does not recognize your marriage, you are a fornicator in the eyes of God and you practice uncleanness, without repentance.
Lewdness, or lasciviousness, is open and shameless acts of unclean indulgences. This is not giving a rip what anyone thinks as you do whatever your flesh desires. This includes the world making laws to protect all that is unclean, so the world can be shameless in the eyes of the world, yet, not blameless in the eyes of God.
In the time of Paul, Messianic Jews were beginning to realize that Jesus brought freedom from Mosaic Law and the Holy Spirit brings a new law, one that is freedom from the law, but, in today’s world, we are seeing new laws arise, laws that attempt to hinder the Holy Spirit and prosecute those who are led by the Holy Spirit and follow Jesus.
The world is attempting to silence the truth about Jesus, so it can interject its own version of Jesus into the word of God. Jesus is our salvation from the world and its carnal laws. Works will not get a person into heaven. A person can do good deeds until that person is blue in the face, but, if the inward person practices, in actions and/or thoughts, what God says is evil, without repentance, that person will not inherit the kingdom of God. Being a good person in the eyes of the world is not a key to salvation.
idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, (Galatians 5:20 NKJV)
Idolatry was geared specifically to worship of false idols made of worldly materials but also meant going to pagan feasts where meat was sacrificed to these false idols. Feasts were occasional and this meant living life led by the Holy Spirit, but occasionally hanging out at idolatrous feasts can hinder the inward person who is trying to do good.
Today, this can mean living life led by the Holy Spirit, but, on special occasions like Thanksgiving and New Years, going to places like bars and indulging in drunkenness, or even just being in that environment, can be the world’s foot in the door of a believer that opens the believer’s door to the world.
Sorcery meant witchcraft, but it also meant the drugs used in witchcraft that brought about open doors, giving evil spirits a chance to manifest in a person’s life. Today, there are many drugs that can send a person directly into the desires of the flesh. No matter how spiritual a person is, no one is immune from falling to the desires of the flesh while on certain drugs. I am talking from experience here.
A believer may think it is ok to occasionally let loose and party with people, but, there are certain substances available today that, when consumed, allow an evil spirit to enter the mind. I am not saying the believer will be possessed, but the believer will, without a doubt, feel a change. The Holy Spirit will not be felt and the believer will become like those who do not know God, only thinking of the desires of the flesh. The believer will create a needless battle between the believer’s spirit and flesh. The believer may overcome the flesh, but, then again, the believer may not.
If you are a believer who has fallen prey to this and have sinned and you think you are beyond redemption, there is no one God cannot save. Repent and turn back to God and be led by the Holy Spirit again. Ask and God will help you. He may place people in your life that will help you recover. He may isolate you while He is helping you. He may do anything He will to do to help you.
If you have never known God but are in this situation, ask God to forgive you and tell Him you are sorry and ask Him to help you. Tell Him you want to know Him. You may just be delivered on the spot.
Hatred causes conflicts. Nothing good usually comes out of one human hating another human. Internal hatred is enmity against God and is opposite what Jesus preached. Contentions, or variance, is fighting for little to no reason and is a direct result of hatred.
Jealousies, or emulations, are wanting something someone else has so bad that a person will do anything to get it. Whether spreading fake news, telling general lies or even murdering someone to attain something causes defilement from within. Ambition that knows no bounds is evil.
Outbursts of wrath are the end result of no internal peace. Where there is no internal peace there is no patience. Where there is a lack of internal peace there is strife within a person that can easily manifest itself for all to see.
Selfish ambitions are like jealousies when acted upon, like taking anyone or anything out that is in a person’s way of achieving goals to satisfy the flesh. Someone who will do anything to get what they want, including, but not limited to, lying and sleeping with people, is someone who is practicing evil.
Dissensions, or seditions, are the direct result of all the aforementioned works of the flesh. These are divisions, spoken of in the book of Jude, that cause things like different political parties based on worldly desires. These divisions are also present in the Church, separating those who are led by the Holy Spirit from those who are led by the world. Also, these divisions are present in families as a result of sin.
Heresies are false doctrines that arise because of dissensions. These false doctrines go against true Christianity and create lies that are not the truth about Jesus. Heresies are usually popular through worldly eyes because heresies allow compromises that seem to welcome everyone, but, Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV)
Jesus is the narrow gate that leads to life, eternal life, and, if God said something is evil, it is evil. Humanity cannot change the word of God to fit humanity’s worldly desires. Let the Holy Spirit, who inspired man to write God’s word, lead you, or, the world will lead you to hell.
envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:22 NKJV)
This is not an exhaustive list of the works of the flesh, but is a good list of the works of the flesh. All these works of the flesh, if any are practiced until death without repentance, ensure the person cannot be saved.
Those who practice these works of the flesh are of the mind of the world at the time of Noah. Just like in Noah’s time, God is giving those who live in the world time to repent, which means be sorry for what evil is done and change your ways. If you choose not to be led by the Holy Spirit, but instead choose to be led by the world, you will be consumed by the world and you will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The world will tell you practice makes perfect. Practicing evil makes evil and practicing good makes good all the promises of God you will inherit.
The works of the flesh are plural, which means there are many ways that lead to destruction. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is singular because the fruit is grown naturally, out of being led by the Holy Spirit, and out of the Holy Spirit alone come His fruit, present in all believers who are led by the Spirit.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22-26 NKJV)