Works of the Flesh

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21, KJV)

Paul tells us Jesus did not give us freedom from sin just to go out and commit more sin (Galatians 5:13, 16-17, 24-25; Romans 6:1-2). In our text, Paul says, “The works of the flesh are manifest.” This means “open to sight, visible.” It is the opposite of hidden. Paul’s conclusion in this passage: those who continue in the works of the flesh will not go to Heaven!

Sins of Impurity

1. Adultery and Fornication. These two terms cover all unlawful sexual relations. Jesus tells us this is the only Scriptural reason for divorce and remarriage (Matthew 19:9).

2. Uncleanness. Other definitions are: “immoral, lustful, impure, indecent” (Ephesians 4:19; Romans 1:24; 2 Corinthians 12:21).

3. Lasciviousness. This sins includes the lack of self-control, sexual excess, no shame. This is something we stop doing when we become Christians (Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:3-4).

Sins Against True Worship

1. Idolatry. Idolatry is placing anyone or anything before our devotion to God. It is also the worship of any image that represents false gods (Matthew 4:10; Revelation 19:10; Colossians 3:5).

2. Witchcraft. The Bible condemns this practice (Deuteronomy 18:9-12; Exodus 22:18; Acts 8:9-24; Acts 19:19).

Sins Against Love

1. Hatred. This includes private hatred, family feuds, and deep-seated ill-will. Hatred is a poison that will destroy the hater.

2. Variance (contentions). This is hate at work (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

3. Emulations (jealousies). It is a “work of the flesh” to feel resentful toward another for something they have.

4. Wrath. Cain was angry and killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4:5-8). Moses was angry and struck the rock (Numbers 20:10-11). The Christian life does not include this attitude (Colossians 3:8; Ephesians 4:31; James 1:19-20).

5. Strife (selfish ambition). This causes division among brethren (Philippians 2:3; Galatians 5:15; James 3:16).

6. Seditions and heresies. Strife and seditions war against unity ( John 17:20-22; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Ephesians 4:3).

7. Envyings and Murders. “Love envieth not” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Cain’s envy led to murder. Joseph’s brother’s envy caused them to sell him into slavery (Genesis 37:4-5, 20-27). The envy of the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day caused them to crucify Him.

Sins Against Self-Control

1. Drunkenness. The Bible condemns any use of alcoholic beverages (Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:29-35).

2. Revellings. This includes drinking parties, orgies, and dancing which causes lust (1 Peter 4:3-4).

3. And such like. Anything Paul misses in his list is covered in this phrase. “[T]hey which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”


God wants us to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). We can resist temptations through God’s Word (Matthew 4:1-11). Let’s determine to put aside the “works of the flesh” and produce the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23).