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Galatians 5:19

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Now the works of the flesh are manifest - By flesh we are to understand the evil and fallen state of the soul, no longer under the guidance of God's Spirit and right reason, but under the animal passions; and they are even rendered more irregular and turbulent by the influence of sin; so that man is in a worse state than the brute: and so all-commanding is this evil nature that it leads men into all kinds of crimes; and among them the following, which are manifest - known to all, and most prevalent; and, though these are most solemnly forbidden by your law, the observance of its ordinances gives no power to overcome them, and provides no pardon for the guilt and condemnation produced by them.

Adultery - Μοιχεια· Illicit connection with a married person. This word is wanting in this place in the best MSS., versions, and fathers; the next term often comprehending both.

Fornication - Πορνεια· Illicit connection between single or unmarried persons; yet often signifying adultery also.

Uncleanness - Ακαθαπσια· Whatever is opposite to purity; probably meaning here, as in Romans 1:24; 2 Corinthians 12:21, unnatural practices; sodomy, bestiality.

Lasciviousness - Ασελγεια· Whatever is contrary to chastity; all lewdness.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Now the works of the flesh - What the flesh, or what corrupt and unrenewed human nature produces.

Are manifest - Plain, well-known. The world is full of illustrations of what corrupt human nature produces, and as to the existence and nature of those works, no one can be ignorant. It is evident here that the word σὰρξ sarx“flesh,” is used to denote corrupt human nature, and not merely the body; since many of the vices here enumerated are the passions of the mind or the soul, rather than of the body. Such are “wrath,” “strife,” “heresies,” “envyings,” etc., which cannot be said to have their seat in the body. If the word, therefore, is used to denote human nature, the passage furnishes a sad commentary on its tendency, and on the character of man. It is closely parallel to the declaration of the Saviour in Matthew 15:19. Of the nature of most of these sins, or works of the flesh, it is unnecessary to offer any comment. They are not so rare as not to be well known, and the meaning of the words requires little exposition. In regard to the existence of these vices as the result of human nature, the notes at Romans 1 may be examined; or a single glance at the history of the past, or at the present condition of the pagan and a large part of the Christian world, would furnish an ample and a painful demonstration.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
If it be our care to act under the guidance and power of the blessed Spirit, though we may not be freed from the stirrings and oppositions of the corrupt nature which remains in us, it shall not have dominion over us. Believers are engaged in a conflict, in which they earnestly desire that grace may obtain full and speedy victory. And those who desire thus to give themselves up to be led by the Holy Spirit, are not under the law as a covenant of works, nor exposed to its awful curse. Their hatred of sin, and desires after holiness, show that they have a part in the salvation of the gospel. The works of the flesh are many and manifest. And these sins will shut men out of heaven. Yet what numbers, calling themselves Christians, live in these, and say they hope for heaven! The fruits of the Spirit, or of the renewed nature, which we are to do, are named. And as the apostle had chiefly named works of the flesh, not only hurtful to men themselves, but tending to make them so to one another, so here he chiefly notices the fruits of the Spirit, which tend to make Christians agreeable one to another, as well as to make them happy. The fruits of the Spirit plainly show, that such are led by the Spirit. By describing the works of the flesh and fruits of the Spirit, we are told what to avoid and oppose, and what we are to cherish and cultivate; and this is the sincere care and endeavour of all real Christians. Sin does not now reign in their mortal bodies, so that they obey it, Ro 6:12, for they seek to destroy it. Christ never will own those who yield themselves up to be the servants of sin. And it is not enough that we cease to do evil, but we must learn to do well. Our conversation will always be answerable to the principle which guides and governs us, Ro 8:5. We must set ourselves in earnest to mortify the deeds of the body, and to walk in newness of life. Not being desirous of vain-glory, or unduly wishing for the esteem and applause of men, not provoking or envying one another, but seeking to bring forth more abundantly those good fruits, which are, through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 453

Those who educate themselves to do their work with dispatch, as well as with economy, will drive their business instead of allowing their business to drive them. They will not be constantly hurried and perplexed because their work is in confusion. Diligence and earnest fidelity are indispensable to success. Every hour's work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. The record of wasted moments and unimproved opportunities must be met when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened and everyone shall be judged according to the things written in the books. Selfishness, envy, pride, jealousy, idleness, or any other sin which is cherished in the heart, will exclude one from the blessedness of heaven. “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are.” 4T 453.1

Our offices are suffering for the want of men of stability and firmness. As I was shown from room to room I saw that the work was conducted with indifference. Losses are sustained at every position of trust. The lack of thoroughness is apparent. While some have borne the burdens of care and responsibility, others, instead of sharing these burdens, have pursued a course to increase anxiety and care. Those who have not learned the lesson of economy, and acquired the habit of making the most of their time in childhood and youth will not be prudent and economical in any business in which they engage. It is a sin to neglect to so improve our faculties that they may be used to the glory of God. All have responsibilities to bear; not one can be excused. 4T 453.2

There is a variety of minds, and all need more or less cultivation and training. Every movement in connection with the cause of God should be characterized by caution and decision. Without decision, an individual is fickle and unstable as water, and can never be truly successful. All who profess Christ should be workers. There are no drones in the household of faith. Every member of the family has some task assigned him, some portion of the vineyard of the Lord in which to work. The only way to meet the demand of God is to be constantly persevering in our endeavors for higher usefulness. It is but little we can accomplish at best, but every day's effort will increase our ability to labor effectually and to bear fruit to the glory of God. 4T 454.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 225

To this class I would say: “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. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” 5T 225.1

When the Pharisees and Sadducees flocked to the baptism of John, that fearless preacher of righteousness addressed them: “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.” These men were actuated by unworthy motives in coming to John. They were men of poisonous principles and corrupt practices. Yet they had no sense of their true condition. Filled with pride and ambition, they would not hesitate at any means to exalt themselves and strengthen their influence with the people. They came to receive baptism at the hand of John that they might better carry out these designs. 5T 225.2

John read their motives, and met them with the searching inquiry: “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Had they heard the voice of God speaking to their hearts they would have given evidence of the fact by bringing forth fruit meet for repentance. No such fruit was seen. They had heard the warning as merely the voice of man. They were charmed with the power and boldness with which John spoke, but the Spirit of God did not send conviction to their hearts and as the sure result bring forth fruit unto eternal life. They gave no evidence of a change of heart. Without the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, John would have them understand that no outward ceremony could benefit them. 5T 225.3

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 270

When the voice of God awakes the dead, he will come from the grave with the same appetites and passions, the same likes and dislikes, that he cherished when living. God works no miracle to re-create a man who would not be re-created when he was granted every opportunity and provided with every facility. During his lifetime he took no delight in God, nor found pleasure in His service. His character is not in harmony with God, and he could not be happy in the heavenly family. COL 270.1

Today there is a class in our world who are self-righteous. They are not gluttons, they are not drunkards, they are not infidels; but they desire to live for themselves, not for God. He is not in their thoughts; therefore they are classed with unbelievers. Were it possible for them to enter the gates of the city of God, they could have no right to the tree of life, for when God's commandments were laid before them with all their binding claims they said, No. They have not served God here; therefore they would not serve Him hereafter. They could not live in His presence, and they would feel that any place was preferable to heaven. COL 270.2

To learn of Christ means to receive His grace, which is His character. But those who do not appreciate and utilize the precious opportunities and sacred influences granted them on earth, are not fitted to take part in the pure devotion of heaven. Their characters are not molded according to the divine similitude. By their own neglect they have formed a chasm which nothing can bridge. Between them and the righteous there is a great gulf fixed. COL 271.1

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Ellen G. White
Counsels on Health, 69

With what care should Christians regulate their habits, that they may preserve the full vigor of every faculty to give to the service of Christ. If we would be sanctified in soul, body, and spirit, we must live in conformity to the divine law. The heart cannot preserve consecration to God while the appetites and passions are indulged at the expense of health and life.... CH 69.1

Paul's inspired warnings against self-indulgence are sounding along the line down to our time.... He presents for our encouragement the freedom enjoyed by the truly sanctified. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1. He charges the Galatians to “walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” Galatians 5:16, 17. He names some of the forms of fleshly lusts—idolatry, drunkenness, and such like. After mentioning the fruits of the Spirit, among which is temperance, he adds, “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Verse 24. CH 69.2

There are many among professed Christians today who would decide that Daniel was too particular and would pronounce him narrow and bigoted. They consider the matter of eating and drinking of too little consequence to require such a decided stand—one involving the probable sacrifice of every earthly advantage. But those who reason thus will find in the day of judgment that they turned from God's express requirements and set up their own opinion as a standard of right and wrong. They will find that what seemed to them unimportant was not so regarded of God. His requirements should be sacredly obeyed. Those who accept and obey one of His precepts because it is convenient to do so, while they reject another because its observance would require a sacrifice, lower the standard of right, and by their example lead others to lightly regard the holy law of God. “Thus saith the Lord” is to be our rule in all things. CH 69.3

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