We live in a world that praises ideals and ideologies that are not from God, and the pull of many of them is appealing because it feels right to our flesh. We often downplay the pull of our flesh and the ways it can lure us towards destruction. We claim things like, ”the devil made me do it,” so we can absolve ourselves of responsibility. Make no mistake, the devil is out to “steal and kill and destroy,” (John 10:10) but in acknowledging the reality of spiritual warfare we must not ignore the ways our flesh can divert us away from the spirit. Paul gave clear exhortation to believers in Galatians 5:16-17, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”
Jesus warned his followers to observe the fruit of others so they could grow in discernment. Paul then goes on to give us a verse that is commonly referred to as an indicator of growth in which he lists the fruit of the spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
But too often we forget that, before reminding us of love, joy, peace, etc., Paul also called out the fruit of the flesh, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Paul lists a bushel of fruits of the flesh, and while humanity struggles with them all, we are going to focus on 10 that are especially prevalent today.
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