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Galatians 5: Freedom from the Works of the Flesh

In Galatians 5, the Apostle Paul highlights the stark contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. This passage serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of the Gospel and the freedom we have in Christ. Let us delve deeper into these verses and explore the profound implications they hold for our lives as believers.

The Works of the Flesh

Paul enumerates the works of the flesh, stating "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" (Galatians 5:19-21). These vices represent a life lived apart from God, governed by self-indulgence and driven by worldly desires.

Each of these works manifests in different ways, but they all share a common thread: they are rooted in selfishness and a rejection of God's design for our lives. They lead us away from love, unity, and righteousness, and instead ensnare us in the bondage of sin and separation from God.

  • Adultery - Engaging in sexual relations or lusting after someone other than one's spouse.
  • Fornication - Sexual immorality or any sexual activity outside of marriage.
  • Uncleanness - Impurity or moral impurity in thought, word, or action.
  • Lasciviousness - Indecent behaviour, characterized by a lack of restraint or self-control.
  • Idolatry - Worshiping or devotion to any object, idea, or person other than the true God.
  • Witchcraft - Involvement in sorcery, occult practices, or abuse of supernatural powers.
  • Hatred - Intense hostility towards others, often resulting in harmful actions or thoughts.
  • Variance - Discord, quarrelling, or contentiousness, causing division or conflict.
  • Emulations - Jealousy or envy, desiring what others have and seeking to obtain it for oneself.
  • Wrath - Outbursts of anger, fury, or uncontrolled rage.
  • Strife - Contention or bitter conflict, often arising from disagreements or disputes.
  • Seditions - Stirring up rebellion or inciting divisions within a group or society.
  • Heresies - Promoting false teachings or doctrines that are contrary to biblical truths.
  • Envyings - Resentment towards others due to their possessions, qualities, or success.
  • Murders - Taking the life of another person or harbouring thoughts of violence.
  • Drunkenness - Excessive consumption of alcohol or drugs leading to intoxication.
  • Revellings - Engaging in wild partying, characterized by immoral or disorderly behaviour.
Paul adds that this is not an exhaustive list and other similar traits may manifest from the flesh.

The Consequences

Paul warns that those who practice these works of the flesh "will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:21). The consequences of indulging in these sinful behaviours are severe, as they hinder our relationship with God and hinder our participation in His eternal kingdom.

However, Paul's intention is not to instil fear or condemnation but to awaken believers to the truth and redirect their focus toward the transformative power of the Gospel. He desires that we recognize the destructive nature of these works and turn away from them, seeking restoration and reconciliation through Christ.

The Fruits of the Spirit

In contrast to the works of the flesh, Paul presents the fruit of the Spirit as a beautiful alternative. He says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). These virtues are not products of human effort but are the result of the Holy Spirit's work within us.

When we surrender our lives to Christ and allow the Spirit to dwell in us, His transformative power enables us to bear these fruits. They reflect the character of Christ and enable us to live in harmony with God's will, cultivating healthy relationships, and bringing glory to His name.

Living in Freedom

Galatians 5:1 declares, "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Through the redemptive work of Christ, we have been liberated from the bondage of sin and the works of the flesh. We are no longer slaves to our sinful nature but have received the Holy Spirit, empowering us to live a life pleasing to God.

The works of the flesh are incompatible with the freedom we have in Christ. As believers, we are called to continually crucify our fleshly desires and live in alignment with the Spirit, bearing the fruits of love, joy, peace, and more.


Galatians 5 serves as a powerful reminder of the contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. It challenges us to examine our lives, identifying areas where we may still be entangled in the works of the flesh, and encouraging us to embrace the freedom we have in Christ.

By allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us, we can experience a transformation that leads us away from the works of the flesh and toward a life characterized by the fruits of the Spirit. Let us walk in the freedom Christ has granted us, pursuing a life that reflects His love, righteousness, and grace.