THE WORKS OF THE FLESH ARE MANIFEST
By John C. Carpenter
 
The apostle Paul wrote the church in Galatia, For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty [freedom from having to keep the law]; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another (Gal 5:13-26). In our subject verses, the apostle list several works of the flesh, including envy. In verse 21, the word “envyings” is the Greek word “phthonos,” which means “ill will, jealousy, spite, or envy.” Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines envy as “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage [or an appearance of advantage] enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.” Webster's dictionary give a similar definition of jealousy. Envy and jealousy were prevalent in the church of 2000 years ago, and they are rampant in the contemporary Christian church. Many individuals in the church today are literally possessed by envy, thinking that others are doing better than themselves, that others have more things, that others are more successful, that others make and have more money, that others have a bigger or “better” house, cuter children, or a more beautiful or talented wife. The list is endless. Unfortunately, especially with Christians, the pain of envy often leads to anger, which leads to spiteful, argumentative, aggressive, or mean spirited behavior towards those we are envious and jealous of. God the Father not only clarifies to us that envy is a work of the flesh, but also gives a clear and stern biblical warning that envious Christians shall not inherit and enter the kingdom of God. What do the Holy Scriptures have to say about envy?
 
SOME INDEED PREACH CHRIST EVEN OF ENVY AND STRIFE
 
Regarding envy, the scriptures give us considerable instruction about its' source, prevalence, and dangers. In proverbs, we read, A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones (Proverbs 14:30), as well as Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? (Proverbs 27:4). Even the Old Testament Joseph was sold by his brothers into Egyptian slavery because of their envy of Joseph (Acts 7:9). The Jews were envious and jealous of Christ, and, as a result, were instrumental in causing Christ to be crucified (Mark 15:10). They were also jealous of Paul: But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy [full of jealousy, malice, and indignation], and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting [disputing, denying] and blaspheming [defaming, speaking evil of] (Acts 13:45). In yet another example of Jewish jealousy, the scriptures instructs us, And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people (Acts 17:2-5). Although hard to understand, sometimes it is even God who engineers, or allows, men to be full of envy and jealousy. Regarding ungodly and unrighteous men, who hold [resist, suppress]the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18), Paul taught ...as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Rom 1:28-32). Regarding anyone who teaches other than the doctrines of God and Christ, Paul warned Timothy, He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself (1 Tim 6:4-5). There are even Christian preachers who pretend to be true ministers of the gospel, but, in truth, preach Christ because of their envy and malice. Paul wrote believers in Philippi: Some indeed preach Christ even of [specifically due to] envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice (Phil 1:15-18).
 
THE SPIRIT THAT DWELLETH IN US LUSTETH TO ENVY
 
The apostle Paul explained the carnality of envy to the church in Corinth when he wrote, And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? (1 Cor 3:1-4). Paul reminded his own son of common faith, Titus, that, before coming to Christ, all believers were...proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness... (1 Tim 6:4-5). Explaining that wars and fighting are the result of worldly lusts and envy raging in human spirits, the apostle James wrote the twelve Jewish tribes scattered abroad, From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The [human] spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth [intensely craves] to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:1-10).
 
MAKE NOT PROVISION FOR THE FLESH, TO FULFILL THE LUSTS THEREOF
 
Envy of others is actually considered by God to be a worthless, destructive and fleshly lust for self glorification. After outlining the works of the flesh, which included envyings, Paul instructed Galatian believers, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory [worthless glorification of self, conceit], provoking one another, envying one another (Gal 5:22-26). Paul wrote the Corinthian believers, Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things [including envy and jealousy], as they also lusted (1 Cor 10:1-6). The apostle Peter instructs believers, Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Pet 2:1-5). The apostle James wrote the twelve Jewish tribes scattered abroad, But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but  is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy (James 3:14-17). Paul understood that envy was a hidden lust of the flesh which resulted in conflict when he wrote the faithful in Rome, And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness [hidden, deceptive, evil], and let us put on the armour of light [revealed, seen, honest, good]. Let us walk honestly [fitting, good, decently], as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife [quarreling, contention, debate] and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Rom 13:11-14). Paul identified envying as a manifest work of the flesh, and strongly warned that they which do such things shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  AMEN.


 


 


 
 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"Whereby are
given unto us exceeding great
and precious promises: that
by these ye
might be partakers
of the divine nature, having escaped
the corruption that is in the world
through lust"
(2 Peter 1:4)


 
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