the devil made me do it

December 21, 2014

sugar coating

Galatians 5:17-21J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

The way to live in freedom is by the Spirit

16-18 Here is my advice. Live your whole life in the Spirit and you will not satisfy the desires of your lower nature. For the whole energy of the lower nature is set against the Spirit, while the whole power of the Spirit is contrary to the lower nature. Here is the conflict, and that is why you are not free to do what you want to do. But if you follow the leading of the Spirit, you stand clear of the Law.

19-21 The activities of the lower nature are obvious. Here is a list: sexual immorality, impurity of mind, sensuality, worship of false gods, witchcraft, hatred, quarrelling, jealousy, bad temper, rivalry, factions, party-spirit, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like that. I solemnly assure you, as I did before, that those who indulge in such things will never inherit God’s kingdom.


The apostle Paul describes the warfare existing between the Spirit and the flesh. To help us evaluate which is in control, Paul lists fifteen characteristics of the works of the flesh. No matter how good, moral, religious, or spiritual an activity might appear, if it is produced by the flesh, then these are some of the results that it will always produce.


These fifteen deeds of the flesh can be divided into four groups. The first group focuses on sensual sin. Immorality is based on the Greek word porneia, from which we get the English word pornography. It refers to any and all sexual activity outside the bounds of marriage, including homosexuality, premarital sex, and marital unfaithfulness. Any sexual activity between two people who are not of opposite sex and married to each other falls into this category.


Impurity can refer to sexual sin, but it generally includes more than immorality. Sensuality, too, is broader than immorality and would include any sexual activity nThe second category focuses on two activities typical of non-Christian religions—idolatry and sorcery. Idolatry is the worship of anything in the place of God. In ancient times (and in primitive cultures even today) people made idols as physical representatives of their gods.

In America, our gods are usually more sophisticated idols of the mind, but even in ancient times idolatry started as a thought in the mind before it was formed into a physical image. Because we modern Americans do not usually fashion physical images, we often think that we are not idolatrous. Nothing is further from the truth! Modern man still thinks the same kinds of idolatrous thoughts as did the ancients, we just express them differently. We worship the abstract idols of success, money, career, sex, family, children, comforts, and the “good life.” Any one of these can take the place of God in our lives and become a god unto itself. In one sense, we may be more deceived than the ancients because at least they were usually aware of what they worshiped.


The second activity in this group is sometimes translated “sorcery” but actually translates the Greek word pharmakia (from which we get pharmacy).

This word encompasses all of the drug use and abuse so common today.


The third group of works of the flesh contains eight deeds that show up in personal relationships: enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, and envying. Whenever people operate in the flesh, disruption and fragmentation results, first in the soul then in relationships. As we examine this list of deeds, we cannot help but think about the large number of marriage problems and the high divorce rate among Christians today.

Neither can we ignore the increase in child and spouse abuse that has become so widely recognized in the last decade. These are manifestation of sinful attitudes and living rather than living together to serve God and glorify Him.


The fourth group; The final group of products of the flesh focuses on two acts that must be taken together: drunkenness and carousing. Drunkenness is clearly described here as a work of the flesh. Too often today, drunkenness and alcoholism are treated as a sickness. Yet, the works of the sin nature are clearly the results of our own choices.

The second word, carousings, (King James Version)is one not often used today. A more fitting word in today’s vocabulary would be partying—having a celebration where liquor and drugs are freely used and abused, immoral activity is freely enjoyed, and fun and pleasure are indulged in at the expense of God’s glory and holiness.


It is clear from this passage that these actions are not produced by demons, Satan, or the world but are the specific outworkings of a mindset and lifestyle that are controlled by the flesh and produced by the volition of the individual.


I often tell people I don’t need the devil, I’m more than capable of screwing things up myself. Today’s Christian must strive to not let these works of the flesh rule their lives. This is a list of behavior that we must take personal responsibility over, it is not the work of demons or Satan, and it’s just you being your nasty old self.


Take control of your own life and you will have much peace and joy and begin to experience more of the good things of God. Start by owning up to bad behavior, don’t blame it on anyone else and then confess your sins to God.


1 John 1:9English Standard Version (ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


God bless from

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