Thursday, 2 June 2016
…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 5:21
In this verse, Paul completes his list of the “works of the flesh.” After this, he will give a summary thought concerning people who pursue such works. This verse begins with envy. This is identified as strong feelings or desires which sour due to the influence of sin. It is the jealousy of a bitter mind which shows displeasure at the success or blessing of another. HELPS Word Studies goes on to say that figuratively, it is “the miserable trait of being glad when someone experiences misfortune or pain.”
Following this are murders. This item is not in many manuscripts, but assuming it belongs, it is the unjust taking of life from another human being. It does not include capital sentences of death that are rightly handed down. Nor does it include the taking of animal life.
The next item is drunkenness. This is immoderate drinking. The Bible does not forbid the consumption of alcohol during any dispensation. Only two times is it forbidden in Scripture. The first is when the priests performed their functions at the tabernacle/temple, and the second is when a person was under the vow of a Nazirite. Other than those two, drinking is not considered sinful unless it leads to drunkenness.
Revelries are the next category. This comes from the “village-merrymaking that took place at the gathering of the grapes.” Eventually the word became associated with riotous parties and drunken feasts. These often “hosted unbridled sexual immorality.”
Next, to show that this list is not all-inclusive, he adds in the comment “and the like.” All such works of the flesh, and any others like them, are contrary to living a holy life, dedicated to the Lord. Because of this, Paul warns them precisely of the consequences of such acts with the words, “…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.”
He was warning them now, before the Day of Judgment, just as he had previously warned them in person, that those who fail to come to Christ and who participate in such works of the flesh will not be saved. They will not participate in the messianic blessings which God offers through the giving of His Son. This brings in the obvious question as to whether our continued salvation is dependent on our works.
If this is true, then that means that our initial salvation must be as well. Logically, if one has to do something in order to keep being saved, then the initial salvation is also dependent on what we do, or salvation is not a “guarantee.” But it is called exactly that by Paul in Ephesians 1. The answer is that all sin is under the blood of Christ when one comes to Him by faith.
Hence, there are two distinct judgments noted in Scripture. The first is that for believers, and which results in rewards and loss of rewards. The second is for non believers and it will result in condemnation. Paul speaks of these things in detail in his other letters. For the believer who has been cleansed by Christ, Paul will next explain what is expected of us while in this continued earthly walk.
Life application: If we are to live out our lives after coming to Christ pursuing any of the vile deeds of the flesh that Paul has described, then those around us will see and will never learn what it means to call out to Christ. We may not lose our own salvation when we stumble and fall, but we may become a stumblingblock to those who might otherwise come to Him. Let us pursue holiness and righteous living all of our days.
Lord Jesus, You have set the example for us in right living and holy conduct. But we are fallen and prone to make really bad choices. Grant us the sense to hold close to Your word, to keep far away from those who practice wickedness, and to stand firmly on the sound moral base which Your word portrays. Keep us from waffling in our convictions as we see the immense depravity of the world ever-increasing around us. Amen.