…THE WORKS OF THE FLESH!
Paul the Apostle, in our New Testament record, wrote the Galatian Fellowship about several things.
They, the Galatians, needed a lot of help.
They weren’t like a lot of the other fellowships that Paul had initiated.
Most of the New Testament churches, or fellowships that Paul founded, were the outgrowth of the acceptance of Paul’s Gospel message to a mixed group of some Gentiles and mostly Jews, in Jewish synagogues located in cities, and metropolises, throughout the then known Roman Empire.
Most of these churches, were originally Jewish synagogues, which most of the adherents were Jewish. They had a Gentile constituency in these synagogues, particularly at that time.
This was a curious development.
A lot of people don’t know much about the times in the first century before Christ (B.C.E., or B.C.,), or the first century (C.E., or A.D.) in which Christ was contemporary with.
There was an underlying mass collective consciousness searching for a reality of God at that time. The Pagan gods of the former Greeks, and now Romans, weren’t very compelling to believe any more. There were several and competing emerging philosophies at the time, such as Epicureanism, Stoicism, neo-Platonists, and Cynics among the Romans and Greeks.
The Jews in Palestine also had similar developments: not only did they have religious parties such as the well known Pharisees and Sadducees, but they had other offshoots such as the Essenes, the Qumran Community, Philo’s Therapeutae, and the Quietists.
This did not include very small sects that were developing or in development in Palestine, such as a small Nazarean group which included certain prophets and prophetesses such as Simeon and Anna, who ministered unto God by prayer and waiting, around the environs of the Temple. Later, John the Baptist started his own belief group, which might have been an extension of what Simeon and Anna belonged to, which particular group later became predominantly absorbed into a larger part of Christ’s following.
SIMEON AND ANNA IN THE TEMPLE. They each had a ministry of “waiting on God,” or “ministering unto God.” I have never heard any preacher talk or preach about these facets of such a ministry toward God. It is no small wonder, however. You usually can’t talk or preach about something when you have no understanding of the spiritual commitment involved. “Waiting on God” is a ministry that seeks no limelight. There is no glory nor recognition in it. There is certainly no money involved…You will never hear of someone, involved in such a ministry work, talk about it in such a way which they will promote themselves. It is a calling unlike most others.
These disciples of Christ, did become known officially by the Romans and Jewish ecclesiastical hierarchy as the, sect of the Nazarenes, much later on.
However before this development became a certain reality, there had been a considerable interest by spiritual seeking Gentiles which was significant enough to become a movement of sorts. What gave this impetus to Gentile seekers, was that the Jews had a “Holy Book.” It reached into antiquity. It showed a consistency of a God dealing directly with humankind. This was not some romantic notion; this was a revelation to the searching Gentile mind filled with new spiritual hunger and hope, in contrast in the past, wherein previously, they had had no hope. Gentiles were ready for some kind of reality direct from a benevolent Creator and Provider. The Jews of the Dispersion, in their respective synagogues throughout the Empire, started to gauge this trend and gave these Gentiles even a name: “the god-fearers.”
The Jews of the Dispersion permitted the Gentiles to worship with them. However, the Gentiles were not accepted as full-fledged Jews, as such acceptance was based completely by racial distinction for the most part. Hence, there were certain observances for the Gentiles who wished to follow the God of the Jews, or YHWH, such as: observing the moral code of the Ten Commandments and most feast days or celebrations, but exemptions were made for them in regard to the ceremonial laws; some dietary laws; and usually exemption from circumcision, which was mandatory for any Jewish man or male truly wishing to worship YHWH.
You see, God was working long before Christ came on the scene, to prepare a people for some dramatic changes… and a singular paradigm shift!
And, Paul was a benefactor of all this preparation and activity in the mass collective consciousness, in preaching the Gospel entrusted to him.
The Galatians were a very interesting people.
They were not Greeks.
They were Europeans. They had migrated from what was known as Gaul then.
Indeed, some countries had their “little” Galatia, as a result of this migration. Spain, for example, still has a district known as “Galicia,” which is the same root word, and root people. About three centuries before, some tribes of Gauls immigrated into the central highlands of Turkey. These “Gauls,” or “Galatians,” were eventually “Hellenized,” or assimilated to a degree into the Greek language and culture, but still retained many of their own traditions, and of course, their ethnic identities. These ethnic identities were traits, habits, character features, mannerisms, peculiarities, attributes, quirks and qualities of a Celtic people.
One identifying trait of Celts, or these Galatians, is that they like a “good story.” This is the stuff that is the legend of “bards,” which is a feature of Celtic peoples. Hence, they either like to tell a story, like a Shakespearean tale, or hear one.
To give you an example, when I went to Disney World in Orlando FL years ago, I visited the World Showcase at the Epcot Center. I was fascinated by the different nations represented. I thought that since my surname is German, that I would be most interested in the German world showcase.
I was not.
I went to the USA pavilion, but was, well, bored. It was too familiar.
It was not until I arrived at the United Kingdom nation showcase,…. that I felt RIGHT AT HOME!
And, what do you know, but when I arrived on the scene at the United Kingdom showcase, that they were doing a street drama play… with props, stages, costumes, and of course, a great dramatic story.
…I was hooked.
My mother’s blood took precedence in my psyche… she was Welsh. Her grandfather was from Wales.
I am too… in my innermost person, apparently.
Needless to say, I spent the rest of the afternoon in “England,” and enjoyed it immensely.
I guess then, I am a “Galatian.”
You can tell this, by me weaving this little story somewhat. I like to tell stories, as well as hear them.
Then again, many Americans who live in the United States, are “Galatians.” They like a good story. They like to read. There are more books, papers, and periodicals sold per capita, or viewed online than any other country practically. They like to be entertained by a good story… witness the phenomenon of the Hollywood film and movie industry which is a predominant influence throughout the world.
Yep, it is amazing that such ethnic features are yet manifest in our world…in a very large way… in our somewhat mixed populations.
These Galatians that heard Paul, were taken by him, and fascinated by his preaching. They became fervent converts. But no more than a bit of time passed by, that another outfit had another story… They were “Judaizing ministers” from Palestine.
They were telling these Galatians that they had to follow all the tenets of the Laws, precepts, commandments, and ordinances of Moses. The emphasis was particularly on circumcision.
This was much more burden than what the Jewish rabbis and leaders in the Jewish synagogues in the Dispersion had laid on their respective Gentile followings.
Paul was well acquainted with these nuances, in his experience in ministering in Jewish synagogues with mixed Gentile audiences, in his missionary journeys. He himself did not have a big difference in his thinking what the Hellenized Jews, or Jews of the Dispersion, were teaching their Gentile constituencies. Paul certainly never wrote about it.
But Paul was adamantly opposed, and very incensed, over what the Palestinian Jews were trying to impose upon the hapless Galatians, who had little sophistication or knowledge to withstand such an influence.
Paul quickly declared to the Galatians that what the Palestinian Jews, or Judaizers, as Paul called them, were teaching, was NO Gospel at all… but an attempt to enslave a people who needed more truth to deliver them from this additional spiritual bondage. Paul even went so far as to curse them… for trying to shipwreck the faith of the Galatians.
Yeah, Paul was upset.
You see, Paul was correct. These Judaizing ministers did not care for the spiritual welfare of the Galatians as the Hellenized Jews did; these Judaizers just wanted to make a name for themselves! These Judaizing ministers loved to twist things around, and practice a sick “control” over people so that they could work further influence and/or “sorceries.”
I am using curious language: I just wrote… “sorceries.”
Yet Paul was stating just that. He told the Galatians: …“who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth…” The Greek word for “bewitched” here is… baskaino…, it has a variety of meanings, of one which is to mislead, fascinate, charm,…by use of an evil eye.” (W.E. Vine’s New Testament Word Pictures: Romans to Revelations, p. 399).
The use of the evil eye, or the use of evil thoughts, spells, hexes, or ” focused, directed negative energy toward a person, thing, or object” is part and parcel of the power to bewitch, or the power of witchcraft.
Paul helped the Galatians withstand the assault on their faith. Paul kept the Judaizers at bay. Paul had to get the Church of Jerusalem involved, in which they came out in support of Paul. The Gentile Church never had this issue come up again, after Paul laid the plumb line, of what became known as the Gospel of Paul to the Gentiles. Indeed, this issue of bringing in Jewish elements, as part of Gospel teaching such as Sabbath Keeping, observance of Feast Days and New Moons, and dietary laws did not appear in Gentile Gospel sects and movements until the sects of the Advent Movements first came about around the middle of the 19th century.
I will write more about this Advent Movement phenomenon a bit later. However, the sects that make up this movement are …but a modern phenomenon of neo-Judaizers! They all try to incorporate the Law of Moses, most all or part, as a partial substitute or an addition, to the Gospel to the Gentiles presented by Paul.
Hence, Paul would repeat his curse upon them today. These are not “certified Gospels” as Paul stated (Galatians 1:11, King James Version). A “certified” Gospel will have the witness of the Holy Spirit.
This is why you see no movement of the Holy Spirit around such peoples. These sects have never had the Holy Spirit and its moving…, and NEVER WILL. The Galatians had a movement of the Holy Spirit among them. Paul said that they had… and that they had received the Spirit.
This is why Paul taught them about the Fruits of the Spirit.
The “fruits” of the Spirit are the attributes of the Holy Spirit when he indwells a people. Paul cited nine such fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Paul implied strongly that if a Christian believer “walked in the Spirit,” or by the leading of the Holy Spirit, that a believer could manifest such fruits and have them, by the continuing work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer.
These fruits could become a consistent part of the character of the Believer.
Paul also maintained that this “walking in the Spirit,” was absolutely necessary to avoid the opposite of… “walking in the Spirit”: which is, “walking in the flesh.”
These two types of “walking” are diametrically opposed to each other.
Paul described the virtues of walking after or by the leading of the Spirit.
He then described the pitfalls, or lusts or desires, of the Flesh. The “flesh” is King James translation English, for walking according to the desires of human nature, and what Paul described in the Letter to the Romans, as walking in the natural, or carnal mind…
Paul had taught the Romans that the chief benefit of walking in the Spirit, was the development of what he called a “spiritual mind.”
There is no benefit for walking in the natural mind. Paul described the traits of walking in the flesh, or carnal mind. Paul listed them to the Galatians. Paul told of seventeen different traits, or actions, or works of the flesh. Paul started to list them, as according to the King James English translation as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings.
The King James 2000 Version, which I like to use as it is updated, lists uncleanness as “impurity;” lasciviousness as “licentiousness;” emulations as competitive “jealousies;” seditions as “divisions.”
I am not going to dwell on these “works of the flesh” each individually. That is another topic altogether. But I will make some observations on some of them…
….in Part Two of this study.
Thanks for reading.
Copyrighted. Joseph Spickard, 2015. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this intellectual property without prior permission from the author is prohibited.