Works of the Flesh Part 2: Teaching Notes

A few weeks ago…

…we discussed the powerful idea of “walking in the Spirit”…

…And not fulfilling the desires of the flesh.

This is the idea of allowing God, the Holy Spirit…

… day by day, decision by decision, to direct our steps.

Paul said the Spirit and the flesh are contrary to each other…

…When you are following the Spirit…

…you won’t be fulfilling the desires of your flesh.


The flesh is the part of your heart not submitted to God.

It is the natural life all mankind is born with.

The key for discernment between flesh and Spirit is motive.

Motive is what matters. 

Here is the big idea:

The Spirit wants to please and glorify God who loves people, and the flesh wants to please and glorify itself and loves itself.

It is important to notice that these are “works”.

They are choices in which WE do the work or the action, not God.

BUT there is usually a hope for something beneficial!

The flesh is like…

…hammering a nail in the wall to hang a picture for a great view.

It is work, it’s a grind, it is shallow and damaging.

…As opposed to the Spirit which is just like opening a window.

The idea of these lists is to give understanding of what pleases and displeases God.

—And typically, what pleases God is what is good for you and others.

—And what displeases Him is what is not good for you or others.

Our vision is to pursue real and right relationship with God and others in life…

…And this list will help us know what it looks like and doesn’t.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 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.

Last week we covered: sexuality, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, discord.

We will pick it up with…

Jealousy or “zelos” 

It is translated “zeal” when it has a positive thrust…

But in lists like this it refers to “a self-centered passion that stems from wanting what others have and feeling more deserving of it than they are.”

I want what they have because I am better than they are. 

A promotion, a house, a spouse, a car, a career, a game, a toy…

…literally anything.

And when we find our heart and head going in this direction, we are walking in the flesh and not the Spirit. 

It is not an issue of emulation or respect: I want what they have because they have a great car or great life, so I will work hard for it.

It is really an issue of pride and unhealthy desire because I believe I should have what they have because I deserve it more.

I am more worthy, I am more deserving, I am a better person than.

6. The Spirit leads us in love to rejoice in the blessing of others, to give thanks for their joy, and trust God for His will.

Outbursts of wrath, fits of anger: this looks like a temper tantrum. 

Have you ever seen a child not get his or her way…

…and they just lose their mind? Ya, that’s it.

Or an older person just lashes out verbally or physically.

Usually as adults we are a little more civilized. 

But we have all seen someone or been someone in a car, in store, in a break up, playing a sport or whatever…

And when we react in an outburst, a flash of anger…

…no matter the circumstances, we are walking in the flesh.

…Often it comes down to something about me.

Anger is often a secondary emotion…

…I feel powerless, afraid, hurt, offended or frustrated.

So we get angry and blow up on someone.

Anger is not healthy to live with…stress, depression, blood pressure.

I might be angry with a circumstance or situation…

… but when I take it out on a person, group or is just out of control…

…is when problems really develop.

Constructive anger involves pausing, calming down, processing, and coming up with a plan.

7. The Holy Spirit gives me self control, strengthens my faith, comforts my pain, calms my fear, and gives me direction.

Selfish ambition, rivalries It is a self-centeredness that is willing to divide the group in order to gain praise and power for oneself.

I don’t really care what the consequence are to others…

… I want to shine brightest, I want to be seen, heard, and known.

This is the ball hog, the glory hound, the bragger, the corporate ladder climber…

Stepping on others, damaging the team, or dividing a family doesn’t matter as long as I get what I want.

They want the victory, the raise, the office, or the attention. 

It is not bad to want to win, or excel or be your best…

…but it is fleshly to want to win or excel without caring for others because of your own ego, pride, and self serving attitude.

8. The Holy Spirit guides us to do whatever we do heartily as unto the Lord and the benefit of others.

dissensions and heresies/divisions is next on the list.

These are unique to the book of Galatians.

Remember this is not a comprehensive list…

Dissensions actions that cause infighting and bring discord. 

We can’t always agree about everything, but we can be agreeable in our disagreements. 

And it probably comes down to our own self being glorified. 

If we are pursuing truth or the correct way forward or best practices and we disagree, that is fine. 

But if we disagree, fight and stir up trouble because:

  • we just like to tweak people
  • it makes us feel important
  • we like to be heard
  • we think we are better than others 
    • …we are again walking in the flesh not the Spirit.

And dissensions will often lead to division. 

Divisions or heresies: refers to divisiveness that causes warring parties to form groups.

Greek word (hairesis) which originally simply meant “to choose.”

They had a specific problem with this in regard to these “groups” of Judaizers that were bringing about arguments and dividing the church.

They created the dissension with their arguments…

… and then division as they chose sides…

…and the issue was they thought…

… they were right and better and others were wrong and bad.

“There is all the difference in the world between believing that we are right and believing that everyone is wrong. Unshakable conviction is a Christian virtue; unyielding intolerance is a sin.” Barclay

There can be disagreements where people are searching for…

… the truth and disagree…

…The split between Paul and Barnabas could have been like that.

They both wanted what was best for the ministry, and they disagreed.

They argued and split.

But they didn’t vilify or condemn or cancel the other person…

…they just went their own way and continued to glorify God.

It might include hurt feelings, but that is not bad, it is just hard.

9. The Holy Spirit will lead us in love, truth, and overall unity even within our differences.

Envy is the bitter, selfish feeling of wanting what others have

Jealousy is connected with me being more deserving…

…while envy is just bitter at what others have. 

Stoics said it was “grief at someone else’s good”

Definition: “a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.”

Envy is a refusal to accept with joy and satisfaction what God has given or provided. 

10. The Holy Spirit directs us to be thankful and to trust our Father.

Murder is the next on the list.

This seems sort of like an obvious one.

Murder is unlawful killing…

There are many instances of killing in the Bible. 

Killing out of hate like Haman, out of anger or revenge like Absalom, or for someone’s own benefit like Herod’s wife…is murder.

Under the law was permitted and directed in the Bible…

…this would be in war, self defense, as punishment.

Jesus said, if you ar angry or hate someone, you’re a murderer.

11. The Holy Spirit leads us to value, protect, and defend life.

Drunkenness and revelries/orgies often go together in these lists.

Drunkenness is a loss of control from alcohol. 

Revelries/Orgies not just sexual, more like party w/o restraint

We might say this person likes to party hard.

…Drinking, drugs, and a free for all of whatever you want. 

These are pleasure creating substances and practices that are outside of God’s design and our own good.

God loves us and created pleasure for us to enjoy.

…But to live with “if it feels good, do it” is to live in the flesh.

12. The Holy Spirit instructs us to be filled with the Spirit.

This is how God can be glorified.

This is how I can have real joy and enjoyment.

This is how I care for myself and others.

Then Paul adds, “and the like” or “and anything else like it”…

Can you think of any other fleshly, sinful nature attitudes, or actions?

  • Maybe speeding?
  • Maybe haggling a price and ripping someone off?
  • Lying, cheating?
  • Hypocrisy?
  • Serving so you benefit from your service to others?
  • Manipulating people
  • Using someone else’s login for free content


A baby or child lives constantly in the flesh.

They typically think only of themselves.

They want food, they cry til they get it.

They are scared or hurt or angry, they throw a tantrum.

They think they deserve to have the attention or be on camera or be listened to regardless of what else is happening with anyone or anything else

This is how the flesh works and it is all about us.

We want the attention, the stuff, the good feelings, the last word and the glory.

We do try to train children out of this.

…Society teaches us to limit these things…

…but it is usually through external forces.

Some of these things will leave us without friends.

Cause problems on our team or challenges at work.

So we learn how to disguise them or dress them up.

Or we have external limits on ourselves.

Or society exerts pressure on us.

But our fleshly, sinful nature starts in the heart…and we need to examine our heart and have a heart change!

The question could be one of the heart:

“If no one would know and I would never get caught…

…what would you think, try or do?”

More specifically…

…is your ultimate motive to please and glorify God or yourself?

The works of the flesh never bring about spiritual fruit.

God’s way, His Spirit and following your new nature will lead to:

  • Good fruit.
  • Good fruit brings about healthy relationships with God and others.

THEN… Paul gives us a very stern warning that we will examine last.

NKJV: 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.”

ESV: I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

NLT: Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

This is definitely a sobering warning.

What is Paul saying…

…what does God mean since this is God’s word?


This is not a warning that will change over time or as culture changes.

…These are timeless truths.


He is saying these are not practiced by citizens of heaven.

  • To continually do these things is the old life
  • To practice these things is the fleshly way
  • To live like this is a godless way to live.

And the people who continually live like this, will not inherit the Kingdom…they are not part of the kingdom.

It is a dangerous road to say you have a relationship with God, but continually walk in the works of the flesh.

Don’t be fooled, the proof is in the pudding…

…if the pudding is bad, don’t trust it.

If you don’t know God, you can’t help but to live a godless way.

…But when you know God, when you have trusted God…

…you want to live in a way that others would see Him not you.

You have a sinful nature, but if you have a new nature…

…they will fight.

If you practice sin, like practice to get better… that is a problem!

  • If there is a struggle…
  • If you hate it when you do it and repent…
  • If you are convicted and come to Christ…
  • Then you are probably a citizen of heaven and part of His kingdom.

The Spirit will sooner or later rise up and convict you.

In Closing…

The first time we are driven by self and the works of the flesh doesn’t usually bring destruction…

…but when we choose over and over, any of these works…

…it can become extremely damaging given time and repetition.

Your job, your friendships, your testimony, your marriage, your future, your kids, your future kids will be effected.

Works of the flesh is like storm surf in Laguna…

And day after day, the jealous comments or angry words or sexual sins crash and crash and crash and sand is being removed.

There is so much sand in our life at first you can’t even tell…

….but given enough time and repetition…

One day you look around and realize, all the sand is gone and you are just left with a rocky, hard life and, you don’t know what to do.

Just because you apologize and ask for God’s help doesn’t mean everything is going to be miraculously, immediately better.

God is merciful and gracious. He loves and forgives…

…but results remain. We reap what we sow.

BUT…I have good news…

…the same way storm surf can remove sand…

… sand can be returned.

Given enough time and repetition…

…that sand may be able to be returned once again…

… and rebuilding can happen.

If you have not trusted Christ and are without this new life…

…It is a simple step of faith to turn from your old way and come to Him for forgiveness and a new life.

The 2 best times to plant a tree are the same as coming to Christ:

  • The best time is a long time ago…
  • The second best time is today!


As I said at the beginning our vision is to pursue real and right relationships with God and others in life…

These things keep us from having real and right relationships.

These works of the flesh SEEM right because they often FEEL right, but will birth sin and ultimately bring damage and death.

Our best life is to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh

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