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Schedule Of Services:

Sunday Morning:
Bible Study   9:00
Worship      10:00

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Worship       5:00

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Bible Study   7:00



Jackson Drive's Address:

1110 Jackson Drive Athens, Alabama 35611



Scott Richardson



Owen Griggs

Tim Hamilton

Jackson Drive


                                                                                                        January 10, 2016

Vice versus Virtue (2) The Battle with Illicit Conduct

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:19-25)

We have previously noted the conflict of which Paul writes to the Galatian Christians. This is the conflict between the vice and virtue, sin and righteousness, flesh and Spirit. Paul lists for us works or actions that result from fleshly attitudes. This is not the first or only tie that Paul reminds us that if our minds are fleshly, so will be our actions. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:6-8). “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

The only way to combat the thinking and actions of the flesh is by walking after the Spirit, that is, thinking and acting as God’s word instructs—evidence of having the fruit of the Spirit present in your heart with the resulting actions. Having His fruit bears fruit. It is recognizable. In preparing the way for the Christ, John also tried to get the Jews of his day to understand that having a right heart would lead to right actions. “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Luke 3:8-9).

In our text, Paul lists some of the multiple works of the flesh. The heart of fleshliness that brings about these actions is implied. However, notice that he writes of what the “fruit” of the Spirit “is,” not what the “fruits” of the Spirit “are.” The Spirit doesn’t have various kinds of fruits from which to pick and choose to suit our individual tastes. Paul describes what the fruit of the Spirit looks like—the characteristics of attitude that will not allow the works of the flesh to take place. Those who are Spirit-led will have all of these characteristics of heart. The message of God will become the very fabric of which the Christian is made.

Paul, in making a list of fleshly works, groups them into loose categories. The first few works are related to illicit behavior beginning with a generally sexual nature of sin. Immorality, impurity, and sensuality compose this part of the list. Some versions of the Bible also list a fourth work, in which two different words are used—adultery and fornication—for the single word most often found—immorality [fornication]. These works are progressive in nature.

Immorality is translated from the Greek word porneia. It is easy to see the use of this word in our English language. It has the same root as pornography. Originally, this word meant “to act the harlot” and “to indulge unlawful lust.” Used in the New Testament, it has at least four usages: 1) premarital sex (1Corinthians 7:1-2), 2) a synonym for adultery (Matthew 19:9), 3) a generic sense referring to all forms of unchastity (1Corinthians 6:13,18), and 4) a specific sense referring to harlotry and prostitution (Revelation 2:20-21). Summing up, we see it includes any sort of sexual intercourse between partners who are not married to each other (premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, or incest for example). In every case, it is directly contrary to God’s will and direction, yet, somehow, it became the very definition of life in the first century. It doesn’t take someone very observant to see that it has become the definition of life today, as well. Adultery is considered normal. Divorce is now “no-fault.” Families are riddled by incest and homosexuality has become an “alternative lifestyle” which is accepted by society and by law.

The next step in progression is one from a strictly sexual behavior to a more widespread impurity that pervades all activities of life. The Greek word, arkatharsia, initially had to do with physical uncleanness—dirty. It is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in regard to impurities which made it impossible to approach God (Leviticus 22:3-9) and thus it came to be widely used to indicate repulsive and disgusting moral behavior.

The final level of progression is a level of public fondness for sin that looses complete sight not only of God’s will, but of even the well-being of fellow men. The Greek word, aselgeia, most often translated “sensuality,” indicates a complete wantonness—a badly trained and rebellious behavior. William Barclay gives a description of the word: wanton and undisciplined action; no respect for the persons or rights of anyone else; completely indifferent to public opinion and to public decency. Just look at the negatives presented in Scripture (Romans 13:11-14; Ephesians 4:17-19; 1Peter 4:1-4).

How do you avoid this type of behavior? By thinking in a way that is diametrically opposed to the thinking that leads to it. Look at the description of the fruit of the Spirit once more: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Can you imagine ANY scenario in which a way of thinking with these characteristics can lead to behavior that is immoral in a sexual way? Can you imagine ANY scenario in which a way of thinking with these characteristics can lead to behavior that is impure so as to repulse those around you? Can you imagine ANY scenario in which a way of thinking with these characteristics can lead to behavior that is sensual with no thought for man or God?

Many of the world of the first century had been in involved in this type of thinking and behavior. God presented a solution. “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1Corinthians 6:11). It works today, too. “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25).

—S. Scott Richardson Sr.



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