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Jackson Drive's Address:

1110 Jackson Drive Athens, Alabama 35611



Scott Richardson



Owen Griggs

Tim Hamilton

Jackson Drive


                                                                                                        January 24, 2016


Vice versus Virtue (4) Battling Improper Personal Behavior and Attitude


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)

As noted in previous studies, Paul, in listing some of the works of the flesh, has given us behaviors and attitudes which fit into natural groups. We have studied two of the groups, and now turn our attention to the largest collection of behaviors and attitudes. Perhaps it is the largest because it contains works that almost all men will face difficulty with at some point. These works deal very specifically with personal attitudes and personal actions that are intertwined in such a way as to take away from the kingdom of God. Because of the many overlapping English words that have been used through the years to describe these works, it will be helpful if we examine each of the words Paul used. This is useful, not only to see how they were used in the first century, but also to understand what they mean to us. We will take them slightly out of order, so as to relate jealousy and envy in our study. Also, at the cost of being a bit tedious, we will look into several dictionaries, lexicons, and word studies.

Enmities — from the adjective echthros (Luke 23:12; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:15,16; James 4:4; Galatians 5:20). It is generally considered the opposite of agape, “love.” It was used to describe the hostility between social classes and the races (as seen between Greeks and Barbarians, Jews and Gentiles) and to describe hostility between man and man where there is hostility for one reason or another. It describes an attitude which results in negative action toward other people.

Strife — from the word eris (Romans 1:29, 13:13; 1Corinthians 1:11, 3:3; 2Corinthians 12:20; Galatians 5:20; Philippians 1:15; 1Timothy 6:4; Titus 3:9) meaning contention, quarrels, wrangling. Barclay writes that strife “is the contention which is born of envy, ambition, the desire for prestige, and place and prominence. It comes from the heart in which there is jealousy. Eris is the spirit that is born of unbridled and unholy competition. It comes from the desire for place and power and prestige and the hatred of being surpassed. It is essentially the sin which places self in the foreground and is the entire negation of Christian love … (eris) is a word of battles. It denotes rivalry and competition, discord about place and prestige. It is the characteristic of the man who has forgotten that only he who humbles himself can be exalted.”

Outbursts of anger — from the word thumos; in turn from a root meaning “a whirlwind.” It is most often used to mean passion, angry, heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again (Luke 4:28; Acts 19:28; Romans 2:8; Galatians 5:20; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; Hebrews 11:27; Revelation 12:12; 14:8,10,19; 15:1,7; 16:1,19; 18:3;19:15; 2Corinthians 12:20). “Many a person is well aware that he has a violent temper; and many a person claims that he cannot help it, and expects others to accept and to forgive his bursts of passion … It may well be that such a person is never fully aware of the way in which he wounds others and produces a situation in which fellowship becomes very difficult. Because he blazes and forgets the things that others should equally be able to forget the pain he has inflicted. Let such a person remember that such displays of temper are sin, and that the way to overcome them is through the power of the Spirit in his heart” (Barclay).

Disputes — from the word eritheia. It denotes “ambition, self-seeking, rivalry, self-will being an underlying idea in the word; hence it denotes party-making. It is derived, not from eris, but from erithos, ‘a hireling,’ hence the meaning of ‘seeking to win followers,’ ‘factions,’ so rendered in 2Corinthians 12:20. Not improbably the meaning here is rivalries, or base ambitions (Galatians 5:20; Philippians 1:17; 2:3; James 3:14,16). In Romans 2:8 it is translated as an adjective, ‘factious’ … Faction is the fruit of jealousy, as is the synonymous adjective hairetikos, Titus 3:10—causing division” (W.E. Vine).

Dissensions — from dichostateo, meaning “‘a standing apart’ (diche, ‘asunder, apart,’ stasis, ‘a standing;’ the root di- indicating ‘division,’ is found in many words in various languages), is used in Romans 16:17, where believers are enjoined to mark those who cause division and to turn away from them” (W.E. Vine). “A state in which all community,, all fellowship, and all togetherness are gone” (Barclay).

Factions — from hairesis which “denotes (a) ‘a choosing, choice’ (from haireomai, ‘to choose’); then, ‘that which is chosen,’ and hence, ‘an opinion,’ especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects (Galatians 5:20); such erroneous opinions are frequently the outcome of personal preference or the prospect of advantage; see 2Peter 2:1, where ‘destructive’ signifies leading to ruin” (W.E. Vine).

Jealousy — from zelos (containing a root meaning “to boil”). It is the Greek word from which we get our English words, zeal and zealous. It can have a positive or a negative sense. As used by Paul to describe a work of the flesh, the meaning is one of envious rivalry. Vine says, “Jealousy desires to have the same or the same sort of thing for itself.” Barclay says, “Zelos could denote a great thing which degenerated into a sin.” This word, along with the word following, are largely words describing personal attitudes which are closely ties to the above listed personal behaviors.

Envying — from phthonos. It “is the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing or hearing of the advantage or prosperity of others; this evil sense always attaches to this word” (W.E. Vine). It is used in Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10; Romans 1:29; Galatians 5:21; Philippians 1:15; 1Timothy 6:4; Titus 3:3; James 4:5; 1Peter 2:1. “The essence of it is that it does not describe the spirit which desires, nobly or ignobly, to have what someone else has; it describes the spirit which grudges the fact that the other person has these things at all. It does not so much want the things for itself; it merely wants to take them from the other person” (Barclay). This is the terrible work of the flesh that Pilate recognized in some of the Jewish leaders as they brought Jesus before him: “For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over” (Matthew 27:18).

Notice that each of these works of the flesh that have to do with our personal attitudes and behavior are in direct contradiction to what Jesus Himself prayed regarding His followers: “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:22-23). How can anyone who engages in these works of the of the flesh and bearing these fleshly attitudes, expect to inherit the kingdom? They cannot. We must be led by the Spirit exhibiting that characteristic fruit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. We must crucify those passions and desires to live by the Spirit. We must avoid these works and avoid friendships with others engaging in them. Instead, continue to develop a friendship with Christ!

—S. Scott Richardson Sr.


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