Taboo Subjects in Today’s World

Taboo Subjects

Fleshly Deeds are Taboo

In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul states the practices of the flesh are evident, clear or obvious. Yet we rarely speak of sin because it is taboo; we must not speak of it. Yet, love compels us to speak of the fruits of the flesh in contrast to the fruit of the spirit of God. We don’t glorify sin, but we must warn people that “the wages of sin is death.” Love is not taboo.

I list the Fruits of the Flesh or Fleshly Deeds in alphabetical order:

  • Carousing – drinking hard [W] Those who cannot control their appetites obviously demonstrate a life dominated by the flesh, not the Spirit. [P] Revelries are riotous gatherings for entertainment, accompanied by drunkenness. [MD] Sin against ourselves. [MH]
  • Disputes – an attempt to prove and maintain one’s own opinions by arguments or statements in opposition to the opinions or claims of another. [W][They had a dispute on the lawfulness of slavery, a subject which, one would think, could admit of no dispute. ~Webster] Selfish ambitions denotes ‘office seeking’ and Paul addresses preachers preaching with impure motives such as ‘out of rivalry, not sincerely’ which suggests evidences of living by the flesh, not the Spirit. [P] Selfish ambitions are self-centered striving to be ‘number one,’ even at other’s expense. [MD] Sin against our neighbor, and contrary to the law of love…and sometimes can break out into murders, not only of the names and reputation, but even of the very lives, of our fellow-creatures. [MH]
  • Dissensions – a disagreement which is violent as in differences which produce war; quarrel [W] Dissentions or divisions. Paul warns us not to ‘bite and devour one another’ for the Spirit brings unity, but the flesh brings division. [P] Dissensions are separations caused by disagreements. [MD]
  • Drunkenness – intoxication; a state in which a person is overpowered by liquor [W]; Those who cannot control their appetites obviously demonstrate a life dominated by the flesh, not the Spirit. [P] Drunkenness refers to intoxication caused by strong drink. [MD] Sin against ourselves. [MH]
  • Envying – to feel uneasiness or discontent or fret or grieve one’s self at the real or supposed superiority or success or happiness enjoyed by another, and to hate him on that account. Envy springs from pride or ambition and mortification that another has obtained what one has a strong desire to possess. [W] Envy is similar to jealousy. The envious person is not happy with God’s gifts and cannot stand it when others succeed. [P] Envy is displeasure at the success of prosperity of others. Envy is specifically the sin of wanting something that belongs to someone else to which one has no right or claim. Envy begrudges another person’s success, talents, possessions, or good looks. This is foreign to grace. [MD]
  • Factions – discord or violent commotion [W] Factions stands for false teachings that create division where there should be no division. [P] Heresies are sects formed by men with self-willed opinions. [MD]
  • Hatred/Enmities – a fixed or rooted hatred; the quality of being an enemy; ill will [W] Hatreds refers to enmity of any kind. It is at the root of conflict. [P] Hatred means strong feelings of malice directed toward individuals. [MD] Some sins are against our neighbor, and contrary to the royal law of love, such as hatred, variance (disagreement), emulations (rivalry), wrath, strife, which too often occasion seditions (commotions), heresies (error in essential doctrines of religion or law), envying’s, and sometimes break out into murders, not only of names and reputation, but even of the very lives, of our fellow-creatures. [MH]
  • Idolatry – the worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands, or which is not God. [W] A fruitless religion; everyone worships someone or something; those engaged in idolatry are refusing to worship the true and living God; worship of created things instead of the Creator God. Idolatry is a heart issue. People commit idolatry when they look to something other than God to give them what only God can give them. [P] Idolatry is not only the worship of idols, but also immorality that accompanies demon worship. [MD] Sin against the first and second commandments (no other god/no idols), as idolatry and witchcraft. [MH]
  • Immorality – any act or practice which contradicts the divine commands or the social duties; all crimes are immoralities. [W] Emphasizes lack of restraint and unbridled passions; it is the opposite of love; it displays self-centeredness; grieves the Holy Spirit; it violates God’s pure plan for marriage; it dishonors those made in the image of God. [P] Adultery is unfaithfulness in the marriage relationship. Fornication is unlawful sexual intercourse. Lewdness is shameless conduct involving absence of restraint. [MD]
  • Impurity – unholy; defiled by sin or guilt [W] Emphasizes lack of restraint and unbridled passions; it is the opposite of love; it displays self-centeredness; grieves the Holy Spirit; it violates God’s pure plan for marriage; it dishonors those made in the image of God. [P]
  • Jealousy – suspicious that we do not enjoy the affection or respect of others, or that another is more loved and respected than ourselves; suspiciously fearful. Jealously destroys peace. [W] A jealous person wants what someone else possesses. This sin often leads to other sins like bitterness and violence. Those who are jealous demonstrate a lack of gratitude to God for His providence and a lack of love for others. [P] Jealousies are distrust, suspicions. [MD]
  • Outbursts of Anger – a violent passion of the mind excited by a real or supposed injury; usually accompanied with a propensity to take vengeance, or to obtain satisfaction from the offending party. This passion however varies in degrees of violence, and may be attended only with a desire to reprove the offender. [W] It refers to the eruption of a person with an uncontrolled temper. We should not try to excuse this sin by making it a personality trait or a cultural trait. Paul says it is a work of the flesh. [P] Wrath is outbursts of hot anger or passions. [MD]
  • Sensuality – devoted to the gratification of the bodily appetites; free indulgence in carnal or sensual pleasures. [W] Emphasizes lack of restraint and unbridled passions; it is the opposite of love; it displays self-centeredness; grieves the Holy Spirit; it violates God’s pure plan for marriage; it dishonors those made in the image of God. [P] Uncleanness is moral evil, sensuality. [MD] Some sins are against the seventh commandment (not commit adultery), such as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, by which are meant not only the gross acts of these sins, but all such thoughts and words, and actions, as have a tendency towards the great transgression. [MH]
  • Sorcery – magic; enchantment, witchcraft; divination by the assistance of evil spirits. [W] A fruitless religion; sorcery involves the practice of trying to manipulate circumstances or dark powers to bring about a desired goal rather than submitting to and trusting in God alone. This is the work of the flesh. [P] Sorcery is witchcraft. [MD]
  • Strife – exertion for superiority; quarrel or war. [W] Strife means to have contentious temper. [P] Contentions are discord, quarrels. [MD]

[MD=MacDonald 1923-25; MH= Matthew Henry; P=Platt 2158-2213; W=Webster’s]

Paul gives fifteen concrete examples of the deeds of the flesh, concluding with the phrase ‘things like these’ (5:21). He could easily have listed more. Swindoll narrows Paul’s list of fifteen sins into four major categories:

  • Sexual sin – uncontrolled lust, adultery, fornication, other sexual practices, prostitution, and pornography
  • Religious sin – occult involvement, false religions, new age spirituality, superstition, and idolatrous materialism
  • Social sin – things that are destructive to our families, churches, and communities, such as slander, gossip, harboring bitterness, bearing grudges, taking revenge, road rage, refusing to forgive, unjust or unnecessary lawsuits, and physical or verbal abuse
  • Personal sin – sins against one’s own body, such as drug addiction, workaholism, alcoholism, barhopping, gluttony, and other forms of self-destructive behavior.

“Paul says that people who ‘practice’ these deeds of the flesh ‘will not inherit the kingdom of God’ (5:21). Paul means that those whose lifestyles continually demonstrate indulgence in the deeds of the flesh do not have the Spirit of God. Paul’s point is that because these lifestyles of sin typify those who do not know Christ. And we are not just to avoid the bad: those who have the Spirit [need to] display quite a different set of characteristics, the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ (5:22-23).” [Swindoll 125-126]

“God’s Word tells us that any lack of character virtue is not a matter of an isolated deficiency of one godly attribute—rather, it reflects the truth that the person has not crucified his old nature (5:24). Our prayer must be, ‘Help me, God, to walk in the Spirit and to be led by the Spirit and to live in the Spirit!’ You see, ‘if the Spirit is the source of our live, (we must) let the Spirit also direct our course’ (5:25). If we want more fruit of the Spirit to be displayed through our lives, we must allow the Spirit freedom to work in our lives.” [Blackaby 59]

Help me, God, to walk in the Spirit and to be led by the Spirit and to live by the Spirit! ~Blackaby

This is a small portion of a longer blog post Love – One of 9 Fruits of the Spirit – Strength with Dignity which talks about

  • Fruit for Freedom
  • Works versus Fruit
  • God’s love through Jesus and Others
  • Christlike Fruit
  • Examining our Walk
  • Fleshly Fruit (above)
  • Transitioning from Fleshly Fruit to Spiritual Fruit
  • Fruit of the Spirit
  • Path of Victory (over the flesh/sin)
  • Love Defined
  • Foundational Thoughts on Love
  • Words of Love
  • Love Conquers All

For more insights about walking in victory over sin, please see my post on Love. Love is not taboo! Victory over sin is not taboo! We want a meaningful and life-giving existence of physical freedom and spiritual liberty, not bondage to sin.

Recommendations:

Entrap Us Not Entrap Us Not – Strength with Dignity

Longing Leads to Great Gain if it’s for Christ Longing Leads to Great Gain if it’s for Christ – Strength with Dignity

References:

Blackaby, Henry, Richard, Thomas, Melvin and Norman. Encounters with God – The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians. Thomas Nelson, 2008. [Kindle Edition]

MacDonald, William. The Believer’s Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson, 2016, pages 1920-1927.

Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible. [MH] Originally written in 1706. Kindle Edition published November 7, 2010.

New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB 1995), copyright 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.

Platt, David and Tony Merida. Christ-Centered Exposition – Exalting Jesus in Galatians. Published by B&H Publishing Group, 2014. [Kindle Edition]

Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s Living Insights – New Testament Commentary: Galatians, Ephesians. Tyndale House Publishing, Inc., 2015. [Kindle Edition]

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Retrieved September 3, 2021, from http://webstersdictionary1828.com/

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I’m joining The Write 28-Days Challenge for the month of February. #write28days

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6 thoughts on “Taboo Subjects in Today’s World”

  1. What a well written, thought-through post. Thank you Lisa. I’ve enjoyed your 28 days. I don’t know how many writers stayed with it but I’m grateful for the ones who pushed through!

    1. I’ve enjoyed your writings on Gideon, Susan. It has been a good 28 days and I’m thankful for each writer who contributed.

    1. Actually, my first article was in a cultural strain, Barb, then I scrapped it and stuck with an overall Biblical approach as I felt it was sounder.

  2. I like the way Swindoll divided them into four categories :). You’re right, we don’t often talk about things like this out in public–but it’s important to address them in our home and use God’s standards to measure our behavior and train our children.

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