Following the listing of the sexual sins in verse 19 of Galatians 5, Paul then lists the works of the flesh that can be classified into two groups. They are religious sins (idolatry and witchcraft) and societal sins (hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, sedition, and heresies).

The religious sins, idolatry and witchcraft, were very common in the first century and many, if not all, Gentile converts would be touched by these sins. We may think these would not be relevant today, but they are. Idolatry is more than the worship of pagan gods. It is putting anything ahead of God and our service to others. One of the great idols of our time is "sports" both professional and amateur. However, it can be anything we pursue to the detriment of our service to God. Witchcraft is from the Greek word "pharmakeia" which means the use of drugs. Our word "pharmacy" comes from this word. Witchcraft, then, is the use of drugs for a mind-altering experience. If you do not believe these words apply today, then you must be blind to our pursuit of entertainment, possessions, and drugs.

The societal sins: Hatred, which is the opposite of love and is a quality that makes enemies, defies and challenges others. Variance is the expression of hatred in our relationship with others. Emulation is jealousy. It involves self-assertion derived from our being self-centered. Wrath involves being carried away by our passions and rage. You can see this exhibited on television and radio talk shows and in our political arena. Strife is action that creates divisions through ambition and seeking our own. Sedition is division and includes standing apart from the group either in hostility, indifference, or not wanting to get involved. Finally, we come to heresies. Heresies are very close to sedition and comes from the Greek word "haireseis" meaning to make a choice and often the wrong choice. In other words, instead of receiving the whole word of God, we pick and choose what we believe and align with those of a like mind.

Charles Royal, Decatur AL