Galatians 5:20

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

…idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, Galatians 5:20

Paul continues his list of the evident “works of the flesh.” Nine are given in this verse beginning with idolatry. This is the worship or service of an image. It is obvious if one is worshipping or serving an image that they are not giving faithful reverence to God. They are robbing Him of what belongs to Him alone. Idolatry can be something of the heart, or it can be manifested in outward displays. It is the final warning of John in his first epistle. He closes it with the words, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen” (1 John 5:21).

Sorcery is next. In Greek it is pharmakeia. The word gives a clue as to what the sin is linked to. It means properly “drug-related sorcery,” as in the practice of magical-arts, and so on. It involves using medicine, drugs, and spells together. Anytime someone uses drugs in order to focus on the supposed divine, they are participating in this sin.

Hatred is defined as enmity, or hostility. It is the act of thriving on this attitude of the heart. Anti-semitism is a good example of this particular work of the flesh. It is an unbalanced thought process which demonstrates hatred for no particular reason.

Contentions are reflected in the attitude of quarreling, or strife. It is “a readiness to quarrel (having a contentious spirit), affection for dispute” (HELPS Word Studies). This is the person who argues for the sake of argument. There is nothing to be gained from such an attitude except further strife and enmity.

Jealousies are defined as those internal emotions where someone burns with inappropriate fervency. They lust what they do not have and they often express their burning desires in physical or emotional outbursts.

Outbursts of wrath is a single word in the Greek, thumos. This indicates rage or a personal venting of anger. This is displayed by violent people who refuse to control their emotions, instead using them in tirades towards any or all around them.

Selfish ambitions are self-seeking, carnal ambitions. They are displayed by those who lust for themselves, satisfying every personal desire without care for those around them.

Dissensions are pointless, groundless factions. They are brought in by those who simply desire to divide and conquer. There is no harmony in them, but rather a desire to take over everything regardless of how they get it done. Democrats in the United States perfectly display this type of behavior. They are led by chief dividers who want anything but peace and harmony in the nation.

Heresies deal with religious aspects of life. People who hold to or espouse heresies are those who divide faith into self-chosen opinions or beliefs. There is normally no basis for their teachings except what they have made up out of their own heads. A classic example of this would be King James Onlyism. There is no rational reason for it, but it is espoused to destructive levels by those who hold to it. A more relevant example to Paul’s day is what brought in the need for his epistle; that of the teaching of the Judaizers.

Life application: Stay away from the list of things in this verse.

Lord God, help each of us to be sound in our thoughts concerning our faith, doctrine, and relationship with You. Grant us the good sense to stay away from nutty teachings that only distract us from what is right and proper. Help us above all to fix our eyes on Jesus. Surely with this You will be pleased. Help us in this, O God. Amen.


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