Works of the Flesh Part 1: Teaching Notes

Title: Works of the Flesh Pt 1

August 9th, 2022 | Pastor Jason Huffma

A couple of weeks ago, the last time we were in Galatians…

…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.

It is also referred to as the Old Man by Christians…

…because when you are born again…

…Christ comes into your life and gives you His life…

…which is a new life.

…So— you are a new creation with a new nature.

These natures are contrary….they fight and oppose each other.

It can be difficult to discern if it is my flesh or my Spirit…

The key for discernment between flesh and Spirit is motive.

Motive is what matters.

Here is the first big idea:

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

Paul will look at the actions and attitudes of these 2 natures.

First—the fleshly desires, or sinful nature, or works of the flesh.

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

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

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.

God isn’t a quirky heavenly being bugged by your random behavior

The Bible illuminates the dark corners of truth and shows us the proper path.

When we are born again, there are things that we suddenly know because of the Holy Spirit…

…but there are also times where we need clear written direction to counter Satan’s lies, our own confusion or outside social pressures.

There are also other lists in other letters with different items.

 I Cor 6, Ephesians 4, Romans 1 and Colosians 3

These in Galatians can be grouped into three.

The first section are dealing with sexual sins.

The next 2 are more spiritual sins.

The next 10 deal with relational or social sins.

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

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

The point is not to make us feel bad, but it is to help us see the way of life God desires.

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions…

Galatians 5:19-20 NKJV

Paul begins by addressing sexual sins as they were common in Roman culture and obviously remain common today.

1 Thessalonians 4:1, 3: “We instructed you how to live in order to please God.… It is God’s will that you should be sanctified [and] … avoid sexual immorality.”

Sexual purity today is seen as something that is strange, unnatural or even unhealthy.

But sex is part of the original design from God.

1. It is normal, good, and healthy to enjoy sex within the proper purpose and place designed by God.

The purpose and place for sex is clear in the Bible.

The purpose is for intimacy, procreation and enjoyment.

The place is between a man and wife as a married couple.

Sex has a purpose and a place and should be enjoyed there…

Just like a fire has a purpose and place and should be enjoyed there

A candle stick for light or fire place for ambiance or fire pit for smores

  • But when the fire from the candle gets into your hair or
  • the fire from the fire place gets into the couch or
  • The fire in fire pit gets into the countryside…
  • There is painful, costly and lasting damage.

-Sex brings people close but without a marriage covenant it cheapens the vulnerability and intimacy.

-Sex creates fragile human life with all sorts of needs for love and support from a mother and father.

-Sex feels good and through pleasure binds people together, but when they separate it tears them apart over and over again.

I Cor 6:16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”

When two things are bound together but do not stay together there is a painful separation.

Even if the couple is going to get married, it can create trust issues and a pattern of selfishness….

…Building a relationship on selfish desires for pleasure is not a foundation of loving care for each other.

I say all this to encourage you in something that has great benefit and blessing for you, for your marriage, and your relationship with the Lord…and is counter culture today.

A quick look at the state of marriages and relationships in the world makes clear the failure of the fleshly model for sex.

So let’s start with the first part of this list:

Adultery: moicheia This would include all forms of premarital and extramarital sex.

Having sex and not your spouse? Not God’s way. This is it.

Sexual Immorality: Porneia 

This is an all encompassing word for sexual practices outside of God’s design in marriage.

Fornication, Impurity:(akatharsia) meaning something that is specifically unclean and impure. What would be impure to a Jew.

Lewdness, Lustful pleasures or sensuality: (aselgeia) complete absence of restraint and decency. unbridled lust, excess, shameless

2. When your desires are sexual but not for your spouse, you are walking in the fleshly nature.

The Holy Spirit’s direction would be…

-Enjoy sex in marriage with your spouse

-Live with purity in behavior and thought no matter who you are.

-Practice restraint and self control for proper purpose and place of sex.

The next two items are religious or spiritual works of the flesh: Idolatry and sorcery.

Idolatry is the worship of something outside of the true & living God.

Paul referred to the worship of physical, actual idols.

…But it’s relevant for us as we worship all sorts of idols today.

Everything from cars to our looks to our body to our house, our job, our kids, our boat, our surfboard, our video game console, or our athletic sports can be idols.

3. When we put anything above God, His will, or His glory we are living an idolatrous, fleshly life.

You may sacrifice or devout yourself to something and not be in idolatry…

…But the question is: 

Is God the ultimate, greatest, and ONLY object of your worship?

He doesn’t want to just be just first, He wants to be your one and only

I may enjoy other things, I may work at other things…

…but I only truly yield to and worship the Lord.

I have found idolatry can be tested through sacrifice.

Do this test…

If God called you to sacrifice your car or career, your dreams or goals – could you do it?

If God called you to let go of your golf clubs or your surfboard or shoe collection — Could you do it?

Or…When you find something else is keeping you from living in a way that you know pleases Him, that could be an idol to sacrifice

  • I don’t love my spouse as I should, I have to sacrifice for _____ .
  • I don’t care for my kids as I should because I am devoted to my ___ recreation or friend group or dreams for their future.
  • I can’t serve the Lord or people the way I think I am called to because I am more devoted to my (_______?)

This is idolatry, and it has to do with what we worship in our heart and our lives.

An idol drives our decisions and guides our lives.

Sorcery is next and it comes from the root word for pharmacy.

It involves the use of drugs to attain a different consciousness.

It was described as “manipulating natural forces through supernatural means for selfish ends.”

4. The Lord designed and desires us to be in control so that we can glorify Him.

When I am not in control in such a way that I can give Him control… I can’t glorify Him.

This could involve the use of drugs or other mind altering substances for selfish means… to escape reality, to hide, or manage life.

The Holy Spirit would call us to worship the Lord and serve Him only

And then seek His will and His way without the manipulation of drugs to live in connection with our true consciousness.

—-Next are social/relational related works of the flesh.

Enmity, hostility, or hatred these are actions that display opposition or malice toward others.

This is not just an attitude of displeasure but of dislike and malice. 

The context is that every person is created in the image of God and loved by God.

No one should be hated or held in malice.

This is a personal judgment contrary to the judgment of God.

God will judge people’s sins…

but He still loves each one of us while we were yet sinners.

It is also plural in form and probably refers to those actions that bring discord and stir up trouble against the focus of this hostility.

Next is quarreling, discord, or strife, this can be the result of enmity and is strife or arguing between people or groups.

When we are inflamed in our enmity against a person or group, the action that comes from that attitude is often this strife and arguing.

These are enormous problems in our culture both in person and online.

5. God loves and values every person, and His desire is unity for us all in Him.

People regularly devalue and disrespect others and are hostile…

…That hostility breaks out into quarreling and strife.

We think someone is dumb or different or wrong…

…We dehumanize and vilify them making them less human.

They’re seen as a political, social, Covid, spiritual, or sexual identity…

…instead of a person created in the image of God…

… meant for a relationship with God.

And people say things or write things or post things that bring about divisions and destroy relationship, friendship and basic community.

The church is as guilty as anyone else.

Countless splits and divisions occur over all sorts of enmity and strife.


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