Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness.
— Galatians 5:19
We live in a day when moral standards have deteriorated. Things that were considered sinful and shameful one generation ago are now practiced in a widespread manner throughout the Church. Rather than acknowledge their sin and repent, believers try to justify their actions as they can continue in their deeds. But no matter how painstakingly Christians may try to dress up sin, God still sees it as sin and hates it.
If I just gave you my personal commentary about the current status of the Church, I might make you angry at me. So instead, let me explain to you the meaning of the following Greek words from Galatians 5:19. Then you’ll be able to see the works of the flesh as God sees them.
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I will talk about these words purely from the viewpoint of their linguistic meaning. I believe the Greek definitions of these words in themselves will speak loudly enough for you to get the point. After reading these definitions, please take a few minutes to examine your own view of such actions. Determine if you see them as God sees them, or if you have been affected by a generation that has grown numb to the consequences of sin.
Adultery and Fornication:
When Paul begins his list of the works of the flesh, he begins with the sexual sins of adultery, fornication, and uncleanness. The word “adultery” and “fornication” both come from the same Greek word — the word porneia. This word includes all sexual activity outside of marriage — including both adultery and homosexuality.
When referring to a woman who has committed adultery, the New Testament used the word pornos. This is the word for a prostitute, and it very vividly informs us that a woman who has committed adultery has prostituted herself. She may not have sold herself for money; perhaps she traded her heart, her body, or her emotions for romance, for emotional support, or for a variety of other things. But regardless of why she did it, God says she has sold herself and entered into the sin of prostitution.
Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that this term refers only to a professional prostitute who walks the streets at night or who works in an escort service. This word pornos describes any woman who has committed adultery. It leaves no room for doubt that in God’s view, a woman who commits adultery has fallen into the sin of prostitution. She is a prostitute. One may try to give a myriad of reasons or excuses to explain why the illicit relationship occurred, but the fact is, God views such a relationship as an act of prostitution.
When referring to a man who has committed adultery, the word porneia depicts a man who has had sexual intercourse with a prostitute. Although his emotions may try to tell him that he has found the sweetheart of his dreams, the Greek word porneia means he has slept with a prostitute. A person may try as hard as he can to put a different light on this subject, but this is how God sees it. Whenever a man has sexual relations with a woman who is not his wife, God says his action is equivalent to seeking a prostitute for a cheap and dirty thrill.
I must point out that the word pornography comes from this same Greek word. In fact, pornography is from the Greek word pornos (the same word used above for an adulteress or a prostitute) and from the word grapho, which means to write. Thus, pornography refers to the writings or reflections about prostitution. This means that when an individual meditates on the writings or the photography contained in pornography, it is the equivalent of committing mental prostitution. Such a definition sheds new light on what Jesus said in Matthew 5:28: “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
What I have shared with you thus far today is not my opinion; it is the actual meaning of the Greek word “adultery” that is used throughout the New Testament. So how does this affect your view of someone who has committed adultery? If you have committed adultery, how does this affect your view of what you have done? And how does this affect your view of pornography?
If you are reading the King James Version of the New Testament, the next word in the works of the flesh is “fornication.” However, this word does not appear in this text in the original Greek; it speaks only of porneia, the word discussed above, which includes all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage. In Greek, the next point that Paul lists is “uncleanness.”
The word “uncleanness” is the Greek word akatharsia, which is the word kathairo with the prefix a added. The word kathairo means cleansed or pure, but when the a is added to it the condition is reversed, making the object dirty or unclean. In the New Testament, this word refers to lewd or unclean thoughts that eventually produce lewd or unclean actions. As it is used in the Gospels and Paul’s epistles, it strongly suggests that these actions begin in the mind as unclean thoughts before they manifest as unclean deeds.
Mark 1:23 says, “And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit.…” The Greek actually says that this man was “gripped by the control of an unclean spirit.” It seems this man had pondered on lewd thoughts for so long that he had thrown open the door for these thoughts to seize and control him, so that eventually he found himself “in the clutch” of an unclean spirit. Although the text doesn’t explicitly say it, the usage of the word akatharsia makes one wonder whether or not this demon found entrance into this man’s life because he allowed his mind to dwell on things that were forbidden. Had he committed mental prostitution to such an extent that it opened the door for him to be completely controlled by spirits of uncleanness? The Bible doesn’t say exactly so, but the usage of the word akatharsia definitely makes this a possibility.
In Mark 5:2, we find another example of a man with an unclean spirit. It says, “And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit.” The word “unclean” is also the word akatharsia. Just as Mark 1:23 depicted the man in the synagogue as being “gripped by the control of an unclean spirit,” this word could be translated exactly the same way in this verse. In the first five chapters of Mark, we thus have two very demonized individuals whose demon-possessed condition seems to have begun with impure, lewd, dirty thoughts, since this is exactly what the Greek word akatharsia means that is used in both texts. Did Satan lure them into the pornography of unclean ideas or into adultery, and then build a stronghold of uncleanness so robust in their minds that he was able to eventually cause unclean actions to be manifested in their lives and thus completely control them?
Never forget that Paul told us, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey…” (Romans 6:16). Whatever you give your mind to will eventually be your master. Was this the case with these two demon-possessed men in Mark 1:23 and Mark 5:2? I am not stating it emphatically, but the Greek suggests this very strongly. However, it should certainly make us want to take charge of our thought life and not allow uncleanness to have any place in our minds!
As Paul continues listing the works of the flesh, he next mentions “lasciviousness.” This strange word comes from the Greek word aselgeia. This Greek word describes excess, but it primarily refers to the excessive consumption of food or wild, undisciplined living that is especially marked by unbridled sex. The word aselgeia is listed as the principal sin of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (see 2 Peter 2:6) and the reason that God overthrew them.
It must be noted again that the word aselgeia also refers to the excessive consumption of food. This means that in God’s mind, it is just as perverted to overindulge in food as it is to engage in sinful sexual activities! So how does this make you feel about overeating?
All of the works of the flesh can be forgiven — but before forgiveness comes, sin must be acknowledged. This is why we must understand exactly what these words mean. Once sin is comprehended, it can then be repented of and confessed. This is God’s requirement.
If you have fallen into any of these works of the flesh, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see these sins as He sees them. Once you get a revelation of His perspective, you won’t want to be the same! You’ll understand the grossness of sin in God’s sight, and you will want to be changed!
Once you confess your sin, God will forgive you and you can move on with your life. If your actions have violated your spouse or anyone else, pray for God’s mighty grace to be upon them to forgive you. Then begin to take whatever steps are necessary to make that relationship healthier than ever before.
Dear friend, God is with you, and He wants to change your life. Open your heart and let the Holy Spirit be your Helper. He wants to help you get clean, get free, and become morally strong and stable. With His help, you can do it!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I thank You for opening my eyes to the truth about how You see these works of the flesh. Forgive me for being too tolerant of these areas in my life. Help me to see these fleshly works the way You see them and to detest them as much as You detest them. Teach me to hate sin! Show me how to say no to ungodliness and to yield my mind and my body as instruments of righteousness. After what You have shown me today, I never want to be the same!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I think clean thoughts and that I don’t allow the devil to mess with my mind. My mind belongs to Jesus. It is filled with the Word of God. That Word renews my mind to think God’s thoughts; therefore, Satan has no entrance into my mind or emotions to deceive me with thoughts of sin. I crucify my flesh, and I bring my body under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I am no longer the servant of sin — I am the servant of righteousness!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. How do you feel after reading today’s Sparkling Gem? Has this discussion challenged any actions or secret thoughts in your life?
2. Has overeating become a part of your life? If so, how do you view overeating and gluttony now that you know it is listed in the works of the flesh? Do you view it as merely a hang-up in your life, or do you see that overeating is not only hurtful to yourself but offensive to God?
3. What steps do you need to take now that you know how God views these things?