“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21)
I don’t feel obliged to speak about this list individually because we are familiar with the works listed. It isn’t complete anyway. Paul gives enough to make his point. Works of the flesh will not procure a place in the kingdom. The dichotomy he has been presenting all letter long as opposed the flesh to the Spirit. Works of the law or works of the flesh, they are anti-Spirit and because they are, they are anti-kingdom. The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but rather a spiritual family involved in spiritual works.
The law and the flesh produce non-spiritual things. This list of fleshly works is simply an example of what the law exposed. By the law, sins became apparent but they were not justified by that same law. The law could not justify the sins of the flesh. The man of flesh had to be destroyed, killed if you will. Jesus destroyed the law which manifested the sins and through His blood provided justification for those sins. In doing so, He offered a newness of life that would be guided by the Spirit rather than the flesh.
Paul spends a lot of time on this in his letter to the Romans. The end of chapter five, all of chapter six and chapter seven bring this point to bear. In chapter seven he talks about the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Let’s look at 7:4-6: “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.”
If we live by the flesh we produce the fruit of the flesh and that fruit ultimately leads to death. If we live by the Spirit we produce the fruit of the Spirit and that fruit is the fruit of life. If we have died to sin (flesh), then we should live in righteousness (Spirit). If we died to sin then we cannot live in sin (Rom. 6:2). We have been raised to walk in newness of life. That newness of life is life in the Spirit and that life produces the fruit of the Spirit not the fruit of the flesh.
The warning here is clear, life in the flesh cannot receive the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is Spiritual and cannot be inhabited by the flesh. Those who choose to live lives of flesh will miss out on the kingdom and its spiritual blessings.
Task for Today: It is imperative that you be born again. This is the process of dying to the flesh, burying that flesh in the watery grave of baptism and rising as a new person in Christ. A spiritual resurrection that ultimately brings life to your mortal body. This is accomplished, according to Paul in Romans 8, through the indwelling Spirit. If you have not obeyed that form of doctrine why remain in sins of the flesh? Die to the flesh and live according to the Spirit. Read Romans six through eight.