Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these;
uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft,
hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings,
murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you, as
I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall
not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Thus far we have dealt with the first two works of the flesh: Adultery
and Sexual immorality. In this section we will deal with the third work of
the flesh as listed in Galatians 5: Uncleanness
What is uncleanness?
The Greek word used in Galatians 5 is
According to Vine’s Dictionary, it has two meanings: 1. Physical uncleanness
and 2. Moral uncleanness.
Thayer, in his Lexicon, defines the term as follows:
a. physical uncleanness
b. in a moral sense, the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate
c. impure motives
Mike Willis, in his Commentary
on The Book of Galatians,
wrote the following:
"The basic meaning of
akatharsia is 'impurity.' It can refer to physical uncleanness
or filth. The Greek word was also used to refer to ceremonial
uncleanness (Matt. 23:27). Later, it began to refer to moral
uncleanness. It is joined with fornication in several contexts
(Rom. 1:24; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5)[vii]
Stan Cox, in his article “Uncleanness” adds,
“Yes, the term uncleanness is a broad term. Anything that is not
pure; that influences the children of God to profligate (immoral) activity;
that turns our minds away from righteousness; is unclean."[viii]
In fact, being clean means being
“holy.” Holiness and cleanliness are synonymous. When God commands us to be
Holy as He is holy, he is saying to us "be clean;" physically, that is
outwardly, be clean mentally, and let your words and actions be clean as
Jesus Christ looks forward to a
Church that will be ready at his appearing and that will be without spot or
he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or
wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27
Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on
the life eternal, whereunto thou wast called, and
didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.
I charge thee in the sight of God, who giveth life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who
before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession;
that thou keep the commandment, without spot,
without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ
(1 Timothy 6:12-14).
In the light of these scriptures,
let's analyze ourselves so as to find any possible spots or blemishes that
might be a problem in our relationship with God. Let’s look now at all the major areas
where spots may be found.
WE MUST BE PHYSICALLY CLEAN
Physical cleanliness is demanded of
“for ye were bought with a price: glorify
God therefore in your body”
“If any man
destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple
of God is holy, and such are ye.” (1 Corinthians
We, therefore, have a duty to make
sure that God’s temple is clean and in as good a shape as possible. To do so
we must follow certain laws of hygiene. Hygiene has always been very
important to God. And from the start He made that evident in His emphasis on
hygiene in the Book of the Law.
Washing is emphasized frequently in
the Torah; especially the Book of Leviticus. The Israelites had to wash
frequently, in particular if they touched certain things which God declared
unclean, such as dead animals, dead bodies, human fluids, etc.
The laws of cleanliness placed Israel
way ahead of the rest of the nations who had no understanding of the
importance of hygiene in maintaining proper health and prolonging human
The other ancient nations had no such
laws. For instance, one of the treatments in ancient Egypt was to treat
wounds with animal dung. But Israel was chosen to inherit amazing laws of
hygiene that would place them way ahead of the rest.
and he said, If thou wilt diligently
hearken to the voice of Jehovah thy God, and wilt do that which is right in
his eyes, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes,
I will put none of the diseases upon thee, which I have put upon the
Egyptians: for I am Jehovah that healeth thee." (Exodus 15:26).
We Christians should also be very
conscious of maintaining a high level of cleanliness. Washing often
decreases the chances of catching germs and other bugs and decreases the
chances of getting sick, as a result.
We often touch door handles and
handrails, shopping carts that have been touched by countless others. Some
people don’t wash as they should, and they leave their bugs all around. We
touch what they touch. As a result, it is vital that we wash our hands
It is crucial that we wash our hands
after going to the bathroom, thoroughly, with warm water and soap. Feel free
to use a paper towel to open and close the knob.
It is also important that we wash thoroughly when we handle uncooked
foods, particularly raw meat, poultry or fish, when we blow our nose, cough
or sneeze when we handle garbage, and when we tend to someone who is sick or
Since we deal with people throughout the day, it is very important
that we shower through the week so as not to emanate bad
odor, and that we brush our teeth after every meal so as to prevent
the buildup of plaque which can lead to gum disease and bad breath.
For some of us who have poor digestion, we need to take digestive
enzymes as the problem with bad breath is caused often by poor digestion.
When we come to church even if we don’t have luxurious clothes, we can
and should appear before God with clean bodies and washed hair.
What about our houses? Are they relatively clean?
Obviously, people work. It’s hard to keep a house clean when little
children are running around. Young mothers should try to do what they can,
but it’s not easy to keep a clean house.
But what if we do have the time? What do we do if we do have the time?
Do we clean our house as best as possible?
Is our car a mess? It’s tough to keep the outside clean, in Winter.
But is the inside of our car always a mess? If someone where to get a ride
with us, what would they see?
On the other hand, there are people in the world that do this
obsessively. Is that alone an indication of spirituality? No, it is not.
Hitler, apparently, was fastidious about cleanliness, yet he was definitely
not clean in his mind. The Pharisees were fastidious about washing hands,
yet they were dirty in their thoughts and actions.
Then certain of the scribes and
Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee.
answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given
it but the sign of Jonah the prophet:
40 for as
Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall
the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth
Thus, the Pharisees were the epitome
of what the word entails. They were hypocrites; they were filled with evil
thoughts and attitudes; some, or many were adulterous and took advantage of
the weakness and frailty of the widows. They were whitewashed tombs that
looked beautiful on the outside, but inside were like tombs filled with
Yes, there is much more to “cleanness” than just washing often. That
takes us to INTERNAL CLEANLINESS.
When we talk about internal uncleanness we are talking about thoughts,
attitudes, motivations, words and behaviors that are a manifestation of
Let’s looks at all of these areas in details:
Humans have an inner world that is hidden from others. It is the
mental world. Let’s be reminded of what Christ said about this in
of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications,
thefts, false witness, railings” (Matthew 15:19).
Yes, we can be clean on the outside, yet
entertaining all sorts of evil thoughts inside.
The mind works like a TV. It has its own antenna
and it constantly receives thoughts from the "Prince of the Power of the
Air." Satan is the most powerful transmitter on earth. We receive his waves
all too easily, and all too clearly. His thoughts appear in our minds often.
What do we do when his unclean thoughts appear on the mental screen? Do we
watch? Do we savor the images? Or do we immediately change channel?
Although other humans do not know what we are
watching in our minds, God knows.
(for the weapons of our warfare are not
of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds),
down imaginations, and every high thing that is
exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into
captivity to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Not just some. Not all, except a few.
How do we fight a battle against evil
1. By always being on guard. We must
always be aware of what is going through our minds and we must catch
ourselves -- quickly.
2. By suppressing evil thoughts. God has given us
the ability to throw thoughts out of our minds, and he demands that we do
so, when is necessary.
3. By replacing
evil thoughts with good thoughts. That is very effective as sometimes
throwing out thoughts may not work so we replace thoughts with good and
This is where Philippians 4 comes into play:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever
things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good
report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these
things (Philippians 4:8).
If we have been Christians for many
years, do we still use unclean words? Do we fool ourselves that just because
we don’t use certain words we can use others?
When we get angry, the use of unclean words become quite easy for some. Does
anger justify the use of unclean words? Unclean words are unclean words. Can
we not use other words instead of unclean words?
What is corrupt communication? Four letter words; words that if looked at closely have a
dirty connotation; dirty jokes; jokes with a partially dirty connotation.
Are we known at work for not
using bad language? Some time ago, a colleague used some bad language and
apologized to me for doing so. Why? Because she remembered that I don’t. I
never condemned her or others for their use of dirty language. Yet, they
know that I don’t.
What about lies? Do we lie “little lies”? There are countless Christians who lie
“little lies” and they think it’s nothing.
“For out of the heart come forth evil
thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness,
railings” (Matthew 15:19).
Lying is a serious sin and no
rationalizing will ever change that obdurate liars will not inherit the
kingdom of God.
there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are
written in the Lamb's book of life” (Revelation
That is an uncleanness that is spoken that must go. That we must
Our actions may seem clean, our words may be clean, but the
motivations may be quite unclean. The difference between clean motives and
unclean motives is sincerity, truth framed by love.
love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is
good” (Romans 12:9).
hospitality one to another without murmuring” (1 Peter 4:9).
A Christian must regularly self-assess his/her motives to make sure
they are clean and holy.
Why did he fear that
that was the case? Any congregation that allows sexual immorality in its
midst has many other serious problems, such as, quarreling, jealousy,
outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.
Are we nutrients, or are we poison? When people
talk to us do they leave edified or perturbed?
A fully converted Christian,
has his/her times of discouragement and discomfort when they are down. That
is inevitable. That is not what we are talking about.
We are talking about a partially converted or
unconverted Christian who passes poison along, constantly.
Where do we fit?
COMPROMISING WITH OUR CONSCIENCE
Could compromising with our conscience be a cause of uncleanness? It
God has given us this great gift called the conscience. It is a
warning mechanism which tells us that we are about to cross into forbidden
territory, or that we may have crossed into forbidden territory. It works
through a warning bell called "guilt."
Do we listen to it? Do we suppress it?
Our minds can be defiled by even small compromises with our
conscience. Some people do not understand how critical it is that out conscience
be kept clean. Some people do not understand how serious compromises with
our conscience can be.”
faith which thou hast, have thou to thyself before God. Happy is he that judgeth not himself in that which he approveth” (Romans 14:22).
How many things do we allow that we
are in doubt about? Those are spots on our conscience that demand cleaning.
draw near with a true heart in fullness of faith, having our hearts
sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure
water” (Hebrews 10:22).
What are the benefits of having a good conscience?
“Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have
boldness toward God” (1 John 3:21).
Having a clean conscience is,
therefore, vital for our spiritual well being.
6. SEXUAL IMMORALITY
Immoral acts are central to the meaning of "Akatharsia."
previously addressed various types of sexual immorality, such as adultery,
fornication, homosexuality, bestiality and incest. All of these sins are
included within the term "uncleanness."
There are critical aspects of sexual immorality that are not covered
by the word "Porneia" which are covered by the
There are forms of intimacy that are unclean, and potentially harmful,
even within marriage. There are forms of intimacy that may be
unacceptable to one of the partners.
Society is more and more pushing forms of sexual activities that are
demeaning and harmful.
distorted forms of sexuality are causing a lot of friction in many marriage
relationships as one partner tries to force the other to participate in
activities that are unwanted and unacceptable to them.
I have known of, or counseled people where this was a major problem.
In two cases it led to serious difficulties.
Just because two people are married, and just because the scriptures
say that one’s body belongs to the mate does not mean that a mate can demand
anything one’s lusts desire.
Physical Love has to be framed by respect. Demanding intimacy that is
unacceptable or potentially harmful to the other is unchristian -- and
“For God called us not for
uncleanness, but in sanctification” (1 Thessalonians
Yes, we were called to holiness, not
uncleanness. Not partially, but fully; that is physically, mentally
and spiritually. We have to be clean
outside and inside. Our words must be clean, our thoughts must be clean, our actions must be clean.
That is God’s will: that we be holy -- clean -- as He is holy.
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The Works of the Flesh:
The Fruits of the
Copyright, Michael Caputo, 2009