5:16-21–Are You Sanctified or Not?

Are You Sanctified or Not?
(vv. 16-21).

Just as salvation is not possible through the efforts of self,  neither can sanctification be achieved through one’s own efforts.  Both come solely from the provision and power of God.  The word that we translate as “sanctify” is the Greek word hagiazo, which means, “to set apart.”  Sanctification is a three part process:  there is…

  1.      Positional Sanctification–Also known as Present Salvation–“I am saved.”

Saved from the penalty of sin. This takes place at the moment of conversion when the believing sinner is eternally set apart unto God as His possession (I Cor. 6:11; He. 10:14).  This turns all sinners into saints (I Cor. 1:2).

  1.      Progressive Sanctification–“I am being saved.”

Saved from the power of sin.During the lifetime of the believer as he grows in the grace of the Lord and his yieldedness to the Holy Spirit and his obedience to the Scriptures.

  1. Potential (Progressive) Sanctification–“I will be saved.”

Saved from the presence of sin.  This will take place either when the believer dies, or when Christ returns, resulting in the total separation from the old sin nature and its effects.


{This} I say then, ‘Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.’” 

Paul is now inserting a statement that he intends to counteract the error that the Judaizers have given to the Galatians.  That is, the idea that without the restraining influence of the Mosaic Law they would fall into sin. Instead of them having the idea that obedience to the Law (and their terror of the Law) and in their own strength, Paul is attempting to simply matters to them by telling them that what they need to do is to govern their lives by the inward leading of the Holy Spirit.


 “Walk in the Spirit,”
  Literally:  “Walk in {the} Spirit.”

            Spirituality is a progressive, lifelong activity.  Since this command of Paul’s is in the imperative presence case, it could be better rendered as, “Keep on walking in the Spirit.” Get back that Spirit of God which you have grieved and lost. To become truly spiritual one must obey the command; unfortunately, some (or most) have refused.
            When Paul said, “I say then” he is saying, as we would put in in our vernacular, “This is what I mean,” referring to what he said in v. 13.  Walk under the Spirit’s guidance, as He directs. We have the directions in the words of Christ and the apostles.

                        IN THE SPIRIT: 
                        This means living under the influences of the Holy Spirit and admitting those influences fully into your hearts. Do not resist Him, but yield to all His suggestions.


            “and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
            Literally:  “and you will not fulfill {the} lust of {the} flesh”

 If a man would yield his heart to those influences of the Holy Spirit, he would be able to overcome all his evil desires and lusts, but it is because he often resists the Spirit that he is constantly being overcome by these corrupt passions of his old sin nature. Never has a better, safer, or a more easy rule been given to overcome our corrupt and sensual desires than what Paul has given here.

WALK:  The Greek word (peripateo) here rendered as “walk” literally means, “to walk about” but when it is used in this connection, it refers to the act of conducting one’s self, or ordering one’s manner of life or behavior.

LUST:  The Greek word (epithumia) here rendered as “lust” which refers to a strong desire, impulse or passion.  However, the context does not indicate whether these are  good or evil desires.

FLESH:  The Greek word (sarx) here rendered as “flesh” here refers to the totally depraved nature of a person; but the power of it is broken when a person is saved.

        Therefore the “lust of the flesh” refers to the evil desires, impulses, and passions that are constantly arising from that corrupted nature, the same as smoke will arise from a chimney.  This sin nature will NEVER be eradicated as long as the believer lives.  However, its power over the believer has been broken and the believer has no need to give heed to it; but it is still there, constantly trying to gain back the control of the believer as it had before salvation.
        Keep in mind that there are some things of the flesh that are not of themselves evil or immoral, but they can get in the way of spiritual matters.  That is, they can become idols in our lives.
        There is the true story of the old Lakota American Indian chief Gal (who had led a faction of Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux against Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  Years later Gal became a Christian convert and even became a deacon in his local church at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota. After becoming a Christian, he took the additional name Abraham, and even served as a judge on the reservation's Court of Indian Affairs.  One day he was describing to his minister a story that went something like this:  “I seem to have two dogs inside me that are constantly fighting–a white dog and a black dog”
        The minister asked, “And what color dog wins the fight?”
        Chief Gal replied:  “The one I feed.”  This describes the inner struggle of all believers about as plainly and clearly as anyone can put it.

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh:  and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

“These words are brought in as a special reason why Christians should walk in the Spirit; that is, after the motions and guidance of God's Holy Spirit: because otherwise the flesh will quickly prevail over them; for the flesh is continually lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; that is, the evil inclinations of corrupt nature are continually struggling with, and striving against, the good motions which the Holy Spirit of God stirs up in us. And in like manner the Spirit, or renewed nature, opposes the motions of corrupt nature: for these two principles are contrary the one to the other; so that ye who are led by the Spirit, cannot act (with deliberation and consent) according to the flesh; nor can they that are led by the flesh, do the things which delight the Spirit.”William Burkitt’s Notes on the N.T.

            “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit,”
            Literally:  “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit”



To put it another way: the flesh strongly desires what the Holy Spirit forbids.  Every believer has two natures:  the “old man” (the “black dog” of Chief Gal)–the “natural man,” that is led by the desires of the flesh, and the “new man” (the “white dog” of the Chief), or the “saved (or new) man” that is led by the Holy Spirit. 


and these are contrary the one to the other;”
 Literally:  “and these are contrary to one another”

          The two natures are constantly at war with each other:  each contending for the attention and leading of the believer.   The “natural man–old man” (the old sinful, unregenerated nature) is so absolutely corrupt that not even God Himself will attempt to improve it or change it.  Instead, when a person is saved (“washing of regeneration”–Titus 3:5) God gives the believer a new nature–the “new man,” or the regenerated nature.  At death, the Christian will get rid of this old sin nature, but he will always remain a human being and a child of God; and at his resurrection, he will receive a new immortal and incorruptible body that is freed from the old sinful nature.
          Paul here is saying that the desires of the flesh and the Spirit are always in conflict. They are constantly warring against each other within us, with the flesh leading in one direction, and the Spirit leading in another direction.  Or to put it this way: God still continues to strive with you, in spite of your falling away from His truth.  His Spirit is still showing you from whence you have fallen, and calling you to return to Him–but because of your own obstinacy and through the influence of these heretical teaching to whom you are listening–this calling of God seems to have no effect upon you. You are kept in such a state of self-opposition and self-distraction, so that you cannot do the things that you should be doing. 


            “so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
            Literally:  “that not whatever you may will, these things you do.”

This inner struggle within the believer causes him great spiritual frustrations, and sad to say, even spiritual defeat for man.  The connecting “so that” shows the result of this inner con-flict; it means that the believer cannot do what he naturally would like to do. the phrase, “so that ye cannot do” would be better rendered as, “That you may not keep on doing” (present active subjunctive case). Simply put, it shows that the conflict is between willing and doing.  The “willing” comes out of the human or old nature but the doing runs into the influence of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  The believer may will to do the lusts of the flesh, but the Spirit will prevent him from doing it, from consistently sinning (I John 3:6, 8-9).  This is the cause of the believer’s confusion, perplexity, and often times frustration.

“But if ye be led by the Spirit ye are not under the Law.”

            “But if ye be led by the Spirit”
            Literally:  “But if you are led by {the} Spirit”

That is, if you will again receive the Gospel and the grace of Christ that you have rejected, and permit yourselves to be influenced by the Holy Spirit whom you are now grieving.  Here it seems that Paul is comparing the Holy Spirit to being a guide; a guide to whom the believer is to yield himself.  This analogy makes the Spirit more personal to the believer.  Paul is saying that if we make the choice of following the prompting and guiding of the Holy Spirit then we will auto-matically oppose the desires of the flesh.  Consequently, the believer who obeys the Spirit will not find himself under the condemnation of the Law.

            “ye are not under the Law.”
            Literally:  “you are not under law”

           It is only then that you will not feel those evil tendencies and desires which now disgrace and torment you; but they must win in you if you are not under the influence of grace and the Holy Spirit.  If you be led by the Spirit, neither the moral law shall condemn you, nor the cermonial law obligate and bind you.  No one is delivered from the condemning power of the Law, or overcomes the corruptions of his heart, except under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
           The truth of the matter is that the Holy Spirit cannot perform His sanctifying work if the person is constantly attempting to become spiritual through conformity to a bunch of legalistic rules.  The only time that the Spirit can work in a believer is when the person sees himself set apart from the Law and totally under Grace.  It is a sad fact that in many churches that legalistic conformity to rules and spirituality have been equated; however, this smacks more of phariseeism than it does of Bible Christianity.


“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are {these}, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.”

After giving instructions as to how to resist the works of the flesh (by being yielded to the Holy Spirit) Paul now begins to describe particularly the flesh and the Spirit, by their various and different works. He now gives us a catalogue of no fewer than seventeen works of the flesh, all which, or any one of which, if continued in and remain unrepented of, are damnable.   After enumerating these, he then enumerates nine special and gracious fruits of the Spirit, which qualify us for, and entitle us to, the Kingdom of Heaven.

            “Now the works of the flesh are manifest”
            Literally:  “Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed”

Remember that by flesh we are to mean the evil and fallen state of the soul, no longer under the guidance of God's Spirit, but instead is under the animal passions.  Paul says these sins are “manifest;”  that is, they are publicly shown.  They are the kind of sins which are well known to everyone.  Libertinism cannot long be done in secret.  Understand this one point:  sin is man’s doing while holiness the working of the Holy Spirit. 

            “which are {these}, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.”
            Literally:  “which are:  adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness”

Paul now lists four sins of sensuality, or sexual sins.

ADULTERY:  (moicheia)– This word is omitted from most Greek texts.  Adultery is the illicit sex of married people.

FORNICATION:  (porneia)–This is the general Greek word used for any sexual sin.  It is the same word used of prostitute or harlot (James 2:25; Rev. 17:1, 5).  When this word is connected with adultery, it normally  includes the sexual sin of the unmarried.  Our English word, “pornography” is based on this Greek word.                                                                                           

UNCLEANNESS:  (akatharsia)–In Eph. 5:3, “uncleanness” and covetousness” are closely associated.  In Eph. 4:19 Paul speaks of working uncleanness in a spirit of selfish desire which is the spirit of “covetousness.”

To put it simply, uncleanness moral impurity.  It is marked by a filthy mind, a mind that is full of sensually suggestive thoughts and human.  It speaks of a mind that is so depraved that it reads illicit sex even in the most wholesome situations, a mind that is marked by perverted fantasies; a mind that is expressed through pornographic literature and movies. 

    LASCIVIOUSNESS:  (aselgeia)– This is simply moral wantonness that even offends public decency.  It includes lewdness, and in many situations it could include both homosexuality and lesbianism.

         Lasciviousness contains lewdness (Rom. 13:13; II Cor. 12:21). It denotes an abandoning of all restraints; a total throwing away of moral decency and behavior.  This shows how corrupt man can become when liberty becomes license and the flesh rules supreme.
          Here Paul is using lasciviousness (uncleanness) as a broader term to include not only sexual irregularities, but all that leads to them.  It is unfortunate that in these modern times the increase in sensual sins and their disastrous effects upon society really needs no illustration.  The diabolical movement known as the “New Moralitiy” (really, NO MORALITY at all), comes perilously close to sanctioning these very sins which Paul so uncompromisingly classes as being opposed to life in the Spirit,

“Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations,wrath, strife, seditions, heresies.


         “Idolatry, witchcraft”
         Literally:  “idolatry; sorcery”

IDOLATRY:    (eidōlolatria)

         Idolatry was widespread in Paul’s day, and involved the worship of pagan “deities” through images, or idols.    What the people did not know is that they were really worshiping demons (I Cor. 10:19-20)–“…the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils (literally:  demons), and not to God, and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils (demons)”–I Cor. 10:20.
 Simply stated, idolatry is the open recognition and worship of false gods, and Paul may be using it here because of the close connection between sexual immorality and heathen worship. 

         Sexual reproduction was the basis of all pagan worship; and both male and female prostitution was an integral part of pagan worship.  This idolatry was a constant threat to the Gentile believers in Galatia because of their previous background of worshiping such false gods. But do not think that idolatry is to be confined to ancient times, for idolatry is alive and doing well in our time, even here in America.
Idolatry is the substitution of anything in place of the worship of God.  It is the sin of allowing material things to take the place of God in a person’s life.  Again I emphasize that an idol is basically anything that a person deems more important than God or spiritual matters.  Below is a list of things of the flesh in our lives than can become idols to us.

  1.     Self can become an idol.
  2.     Money can become an idol.
  3.     Automobiles can  become an idol.
  4.     Business can become an idol.
  5.     Television can become an idol.
        And usually is. 
        a.    Nothing keeps people away from Bible study, or worship, than the hell-ivision set.
        b.    Nothing does more to fill the minds of Christians with the “lust of the flesh” than does the hell-ivision.  J
               Just look at the filth that people watch on that screen and the filthy lust laden trash that Christians carry out of the dvd stores.
  6.     Family can become an idol
        Even a new baby in the home can become as an excuse not to go to church.
  7.     Pleasure can become an idol.
        And usually is. 
  8.     Possessions can become an idol.
        Far too many Christians are possessed—POSSESSED BY THEIR POSSESSIONS.
  9.     Even a local church can become an idol.
        If you want to get a fight started in a local church, then start building your new church building in a new area. 
  10.     Things can become idols.
        There is no such thing as a holy “thing.”  Holiness is only wrapped up in a Person
         a.    “Cloth of Turin,”
    b.    “Holy” images, relics, etc.
  11.     Men can become idols
        We are NOT to worship men (Acts 10:25-26).
         God says: “I am the LORD, that is My name:  and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8.
          a.   This worship of men is nothing but the deeds Bthe Nicolaitanes.”
          b.   Nicolaitanes is something which Christ says He HATES (Rev. 2:6), but which unfortunately became a doctrine of the Church (Rev. 2:15). 

WITCHCRAFT:  (pharmakeia)Literally:  “sorcery.”  This is referring to the occult, or more specifically, the use of drugs in connection with the occult. ALL tampering with the occult is idolatrous and evil. 

        One of the most dangerous (and most common) instruments that introduces people to witchcraft is the Ouija BoardThere is absolutely NOTHING innocent or harmless about this thing. It is an instrument right out of the abyss of HELL itself.  I have known people who have used this instrument and have had some horrible experiences with it. As a pastor, I have been called into the homes of people who have had horrible experiences with this thing.  If you have one of these in your closet, DO NOT simply throw it away; because then someone else can get hold of it.  Take it out and burn it; but when you do so, do not be surprised or shocked at the sounds that you will hear emanating from it.
        Notice that the Greek word here for witchcraft is pharmakeia, the word for “drugs” and the root word from which we get our English word, “pharmacy.”  In Isa. 47:9 pharmakeia is a synonym for the Hebrew word epaiode, which means “enchantment.”  The LXX (Septuagint) uses pharmakeia in place of epaiode in its translation of this verse.  Also, the LXX always uses pharmakeia in a bad sense, such as the witchcraft of the Egyptians (Ex. 7:11, 22), and the Babylonians (Isa. 47:9, 12).  In Rev. 9:21 it is used to refer to sorceries.  Sorcery (pharmakeia) will be used by the antichrist to fool people and to exercise power over them during the Great Tribulation.
        Witchcraft (the occult) and the use of drugs just naturally go together.  Where ever you see a person deep into the occult, you will also see a person who uses drugs;  most often some form of opiates or hallucinogenic drugs.  The use of drugs dulls the mind and makes the user open to demonic possession and demonic activities. 

(vv. 20-21a)

         “hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies.”
         Literally:  “enmities, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings”

Paul now begins to list sins of attitude or temperament.  These are sins which proceed out of the sinful heart of men. 

    HATRED:  (echthrai)–This is the opposite of the love that Christians should have for one another, and really for all people.  “Hatred” (or enmities) displays a type of anger that wishes its object to be dead.

In that sense it is comparable to “mental murder” (Matt. 5:21-22).  The Greek word used here is in the plural; and it speaks of personal enmities and hostilities in whatever form is displayed. This word refers to the enmities or feuds which erupt in a local church. Such activity in a local church will produce the strife and other forms of contention listed.

    FIGHTINGS:  (ereis)-This is marked by rivalry and discord. In Greek mythology,  Ereis was the goddess of discord or strife.  This is more than just a difference of opinionbut is denoted by quarrels or wranglings that are fed by selfish feuding.  In Rom. 1:29 this same word is rendered as “debate.”  To put it simply, this means contentions, where the principle of hatred proceeds to open acts; hence it can mean contests, altercations, lawsuits, and disputes in general.

     JEALOUSIES:  (zēloi)-Envies or emulations; that is strife to excel at the expense of another; lowering others to set up one's self; unholy zeal, fervently adopting a bad cause, or even supporting a good one by cruel means.

These are heart-burning inordinate ambitions. The sense is, ardor or zeal in a bad cause, leading to strife, etcThese jealousies may be private thoughts or feelings, but in the long run they are just as destructive to personal relationships as open displays, and may even erupt into such open displays.    

WRATH:  (thumoi)-Again we have a word in the plural case, denoting several instances, or types, of wrath; even bursts of passionate and uncontrollable anger.  We might even define this as “white-hot” anger; or explosive anger.  It is really uncontrolled rage expressed through outbursts of uncontrolled temper.


RIVALRIES:  (eritheiai)–This Greek word literally means, “selfishness, selfish rivalry, selfish ambition.” This spirit arises in a church when that church has broken up into parties.  This results in “confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16), and manifests itself in a wisdom that is “earthly sensual, devilish.” 

This happens when those involved are attempting to get ahead at the expense of other —“Let nothing {be done} through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3).  What usually causes this to take place in a local church is when individuals (supposed “leaders” in the church) clash then their supporters (or “clicks”) begin to support the two sides.  Then this factionalism leads to the next problem listed–divisions.

DIVISIONS:  (dichostasiai)–Another plural word used only here and in Rom. 16:17–“…mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”  This is a word that signifies conduct or language that is used to incite rebellion against authority, usually against the pastor of a local church.

Factions leads to divisions, or “seditions,” and groups of people “stand apart,” which is the literal meaning of the word. It is an unfortunately fact that these temporary divisions may become permanent, which only serves to destroy a local church.

HERESIES:  (haireseis)–There can be both moral and doctrinal heresies.  These are opinions that differ from established beliefs and often cause controversial conflicts.  A local church must always be on the guard against heresy.  Any and all forms of heresy must be dealt with as soon as it shows up because it can tear a local church apart if it is not dealt with and allowed to grow.  The word heresy means “that which is chosen”  and hence is one’s chosen opinion, and according to the context of this passage, it denotes an opinion that varies from the true exposition of the Word of God.  It also refers to a body of men separating themselves from others and following their own ideas.  In this sense, it would definitely refer to such people as these Judaizers.

ENVYINGS:  (phthonoi)–This is even stronger than just jealousies.  It means the desire to “get even” with another person.  These are usually feelings that express some form of ill will that is caused by wrongly desiring to have something that belongs to another.  It is jealous carried to its ultimate conclusion.

The Greek dramatist Euripides called envying, “the greatest of all diseases.”  It is jealousy that does not necessarily want what someone else has, but really begrudges the fact that another person has these things at all. It does not so much want the things for itself; it just wants to take them from someone else who has them.  This feeling often expresses itself in the “have” and “have not” situation, where someone sees something that someone else has earned, but still thinks, “Why should so-and-so have such fine things and I can’t have them.  He’s no better than I am.”  Basically, it is a feeling not so much a feeling of jealousy as it is the feeling of an embittered mind.

“…murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like:  of the which I tell you before, as I have also told {you} in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

            “…murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like:”
            Literally:  “murders, drunkenness, revelings, and things like these.

Paul now concludes his checklist of sins by talking about social sins:  murder, drunkenness, and revellings. 

MURDERS: (phonoi)–Although this word does not appear in the oldest manuscripts it is important to leave it here for it climaxes the list of the antagonisms that Paul has listed.  Murder is the premediated killing of another person, and it is a direct violation of the Sixth Commandment (Ex. 21:12-13).  It could even be the result of the other sins that Paul has listed if they are left to fester in a depraved mind.

DRUNKEDNNESS:   (methai)–This includes both private and public intoxication from alcoholic drink (Luke 21:34; Rom. 13:13). 

People today have a false mental image of the ancient Greeks being all drunk on wine all the time, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  Remember:  wine was the common drink of the day, but drunkenness was not a common view.  Do not forget that Jesus even turned water into wine.  Of course it is true that the Greeks drank wine; in fact, they drank more wine than they did  milk. Even their children drank wine; they were probably weaned on wine.  However, the wine that the Greeks drank was so coarse, and so full of “junk” that what they drank was first strained and then watered down to about three parts of water to one of wine.  Even the pagan Greeks would have condemned drunkenness as a thing that turned people into base animals.

          REVELINGS:  (kōmoi) —More correctly translated as “carousing.”  

In ancient Greek, the kōmoi were a group of friends who accompanied a victor of the games after his victory.  They would dance and celebrate his praises.  This word also described the devotees of Bacchus, the god of wine.  Basically, it means unrestrained revelry and enjoyment that has degenerated and is out of control. This is a description of the infamous Roman orgies. Both drunkenness and reveling speak of an unregenerate life-style and uncontrollable immoral practices.  


“of the which I tell you before,”
Literally:  “of which things I tell you beforehand”

Evidently, when Paul had first preached there in Galatia he had warned them against practicing these afore named sins.  This is a refuting of the claim of the Judaizers that Paul’s teaching of grace encouraged the license to sin.  Here he is reminding them of these previous teachings and warnings, and is now warning them against permitting such sins to be exercised in their midst. Gentile churches were peculiarly subject to these sins. But who is not in danger from them?

            “that they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
            Literally:  “that the ones practicing such things will not inherit  {the} Kingdom of God.”

           Paul is simply saying that those who profess to be saved but yet continually practice these sins prove by their actions that they have never really received Christ as their Savior; therefore, there is no way they can be part of the Kingdom of God.   In other words, those who live in the flesh give evidence that they really are not in the Spirit; giving evidence they do not have the Spirit of God and so cannot be part of the Kingdom of God.  The Holy Spirit produced His own fruit in the life of one who has truly been converted; and whose life gives evidence of such taken place.
           The Greek verb (prassontes), which is here rendered as “do,” really denotes habitual practice.  Such a lifestyle that habitually takes part in the sins heretofore mentioned clearly demonstrates that such people have never been saved (Eph. 5:4-5; I John 3:6, 8, 10).  The may have had some religious experience, but they have never had the Spiritual experience; i.e., religious, but lost. While it is true that Christians can commit such sins if they are not walking in the Spirit, they can never adopt them as their pattern of behavior (Rom. 13:13; II Cor. 12:21).

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