By Raymond E. Harris
The foregoing statement by the Apostle Paul is found in Galatians 5:17. It is a reminder that all of us live under law, in various realms, all the days of our lives.
(1) As children we must abide by the laws of our parents.
(2) As students we must abide by the laws of the school.
(3) As citizens we must abide by the laws of the land.
(4) As human-beings we must abide by the laws of God.
To be law-abiding is to live a peaceful and quiet life. To disobey law is to bring punishment upon ourselves that can range in severity from a paddling, to physical execution, to eternity in Hell!
In the strictest sense all disobedience is disobedience against God. The Scriptures tell us that it is God’s will that children obey their parents (Eph. 6:1) and that citizens are to obey the laws of the land (Rom. 13:1-2). Furthermore, God demands that all mankind live according to His commandments.
We need to understand that God is a loving God and that His commandments are for our own good. That in fact is the purpose of all law. Laws are enacted to promote the common good. Parents lay down the law for our own good. Schools must have rules and regulations to prevent accidents and chaos. Government at all levels must have laws to regulate society for the just benefit of all citizens. And, finally we need to realize that God knows man better than man knows himself. God’s laws are the laws of a loving Father who wishes only good for His creation. If you will consider the laws of God as found in the Bible, you will find that they are all there to promote love and respect toward God and our fellow man.
Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Also, when we consider the consequences of violating God’s laws, His commandments are “not grievous.”
No one can escape the restraints of law. From the cradle to the grave we find ourselves subject to the laws of parents, teachers, governments and Almighty God. At the same time the self-willed nature of man cries out to be totally unrestrained. However, when mankind is unrestrained, grief and disaster will follow. Jeremiah wrote, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his steps” (10:23). Hence, man left to his own desires, passions and lust cannot survive.
In Galatians 5:19-21, the Apostle Paul specifies actions and attitudes that will bring the downfall of all who engage in such. Verse 19 begins, “Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed . . . .” Then the list of evil, soul condemning practices unfolds. First on the list is adultery! Unfaithfulness in marriage has always stirred the wrath of God.
In Genesis 2:24, it is written, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife – and they shall be one flesh.” When God gave the Ten Commandments to the Jews they were instructed, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife” (Ex. 20:14,17).
And then when Jesus appeared upon the scene He said, “. . whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication (unfaithfulness, unlawful sex, REH), causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt. 5:32). Then in Matthew 19:3-12, the Lord dealt with the subject again. On that occasion He warned, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (v. 6). And in v. 9 He continued, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Note that the term “fornication” as used in Matthew 5 and 9 refers to all unlawful sex by either married or unmarried persons and would include homosexuality.
In Hebrews 13:4, it is written, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Truly man cannot do just anything and everything he might want to do! Adulterers will be condemned in the judgment. Paul wrote, “. . . they which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21).
Fornication and Homosexuality
In Galatians 5:19-21, “works of the flesh” which can cause one to be denied the inheritance from God are listed. The list is headed by acts of immorality such as adultery, fornication and homosexuality. America would do well to take heed! Suddenly we find our country has become a world leader in divorce which is a vain attempt to legalize adultery and fornication. We have an ever growing “Gay” community which is popularizing homosexuality to a degree that makes our country a powder-keg, potentially as doomed as Sodom and Gomorrah.
Idolatry and Witchcraft
But then in Galatians 5:20, Paul moves on to warn of yet another grievous evil. He lists two more works of the flesh as “Idolatry” and “Witchcraft.” Throughout the Old and New Testaments God denounced the folly of supposing that a man-made god could in any way bless or enlighten any one. Romans 1:21-25, 1 Corinthians 10:7, 14-,8:4, are but three of many New Testament passages forbidding the use of idols. Also we need to understand that turning to anyone or anything, other than Jehovah, for spiritual enlightenment or guidance is a form of idolatry. That would include, witchcraft, astrology, spiritualism and fortune tellers of every stripe. Anyone who becomes serious about horoscopes, palm readers, seances or Ouija boards, is practicing idolatry and cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Paul’s warnings are clear and unmistakable. To dabble in the Occult or Mysticism will bring the wrath of God.
In Galatins 5:19-21 we notice a variety of evils that have to do with ugly and unacceptable attitudes and dispositions. God reveals that evil attitudes can be just as soul-corrupting as wicked acts. In Galatians 5:20 (NASV) Paul explains that enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions and envyings are attitudes that would bar one from inheriting the Kingdom of God.
These sins of attitude are often relegated to the realm of “Little Sins.” Often these attitudes are excused with a casual, “I’m only human.” Or, “you will have to excuse me and understand that, that’s just the way I am.”
Such self-righteousness and self-justification is unacceptable. The whole point of Christianity is self-control and selfdenial. Just as we are commanded to be moral and to worship the one true God, the Almighty expects us to develop a kind and loving nature. All of the aforementioned evil attitudes can be overcome if we will develop the “Divine Nature,” “walk after the spirit” and have “the mind of Christ.”
In Ephesians 4:31-32, Paul wrote; “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
It is interesting that everyone insists that they want to be happy. Yet, it seems that most people never stop to realize that they can neither please God nor be happy so long as they are filled with anger, jealousy, envy and contentiousness. How awful to die and spend eternity in a Devil’s Hell just because we could not forgive, forget and live in peace with our fellow man.
Drunkenness and Revelry
In Galatians 5:21 Paul concludes his list of soul damning practices with, “drunkenness” and “revelings.” It is natural that these two words are used together. In Romans 13:13 we find the same. The KJV of the New Testament reads: “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness.” The NASV renders the verse: “Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness.
It is obvious from reading both secular history and the Old and New Testaments that throughout the centuries, the ancient world had nothing but contempt for a drunk. The ancients knew nothing of modern brewing techniques that greatly increase the alcohol content of wine, etc. Therefore, for a person to be drunk in Bible days, fie would have to consume considerable quantities of strong drink. The British scholar Barclay notes that the common practice was to dilute the wine with three parts water to two parts wine. Therefore, drunkenness, which produced temporary insanity, portrayed one who was to be held in contempt because he was gluttonous and totally without restraint. And, to this day, the results of drunkenness are the same. Acts of robbery, brutality and immorality are coupled with loss of employment, divorce, ill health, loss of self-respect and death. Woe be to those who indulge in strong drink!
Above we noted the Greek word komos is variously translated: “Revelings, riotous, and carousing.” Such activity would greatly contribute to the gluttonous drinking that produced drunkenness. Komos is defined as unrestrained and uncontrolled partying, dancing, brawling, drinking – debauchery!
Again we conclude with Paul’s warning, “They which do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.” It is truly amazing that so many trade their very souls for a drink that “biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Prov. 23:32).
Guardian of Truth XXX: 24, pp. 744-745
December 18, 1986