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I have my deceased dad’s file cabinet of Bible study notes, and thought I’d share these about the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:17-21. I appreciated the list of hyphenated self-sins of Bible characters. A few “thinking out loud” thoughts first… It is common for people to make false dichotomies, that is, to make two extremes the only options.

For example, if we don’t love our self (have high self-esteem) that means we hate our self (have low self-esteem/self-deprecation). How about a realistic and balanced view of your self instead? You are someone with strengths -and- weakness! But somehow, today, acknowledging weakness and limitation can be seen as hating your self, and you need a positive pep talk!

Note that Moses (below) is noted to have the sin of self-deprecation. I’d agree. Remember that Moses eventually “annoyed” (angered) God when he continued to make excuses and deprecate himself! I think Moses’ initial reaction was okay, expressing his limitations, but then Moses continued to find fault with himself and doubt God. Enough Moses! Yes, you have limitations but you have abilities too and God will help you, even in your limitations.

We should have a sense of our self-worth. All humans are made in the image of God, and we all have inherent worth and dignity. God doesn’t want us to be self deprecating. I’d say that we need self-worth, but not self-esteem. I looked up the word esteemed and these are some definitions: held in great respect; admired; to regard highly. Hmm. I think it sounds rather narcissistic and prideful to esteem your self. Pride comes before a fall, as a Proverb tells us.

Similar thoughts could be shared about the idea of self-confidence. Ultimately we need God-confidence, and a realistic view that we are capable of…failure, and we will sometimes fail, especially if we’ve placed all our confidence in our self without depending on God. Like pride, total self-confidence (which also seems prideful) can lead to a fall. That seemed to happen to Peter – see below.

Finally lets get to those notes on Galatians!

The Work of the Flesh

1. Sins of the Flesh, Galatians 5:17-21
The seventeen works of the flesh listed in this passage of Scripture is no doubt a partial list of the works that the flesh can produce in either a believer or unbeliever. These are the byproduct of the old nature. These works of the flesh can appear in a believer when self is in control and the Spirit of God is not allowed to govern, to control, and empower the Christian’s life.

2. Self and the Flesh
The work of the flesh is to keep self in control of the Christian so that Christ cannot be reproduced in us. Perhaps the work of the flesh with self in control can best be illustrated in the following seven examples.

a. Self-defense: Adam. Genesis 3:12.
Adam blamed God for his sin of disobedience.

b. Self-deprecation: Moses. Exodus 4:10.
When God wanted to send Moses to the people of Israel, Moses had two

c. Self-deception: Samson. Judges 16:20.
Samson continued practicing sin and deceived himself into thinking that God would overlook it.

d. Self-conceit: Elijah. 1 Kings 18:22; 19:10, 14.
Elijah saw himself, in his conceit, as the only one left as a prophet of the Lord.

e. Self-complacency: David. 2 Samuel 11:1.
In the spiritual battle of life, David sent someone else to take his place.

f. Self-centeredness: Jonah. Jonah 4:1-3, 10-11.
Jonah wanted God to destroy all the people and the city of Nineveh; in extreme self-pity he wished he was dead. He was very upset over the destruction of a plant but was not concerned over God about to destroy 120,000 persons.

g. Self-confidence: Peter (and other disciples): Matthew 26:31-35.
Instead of saying Lord willing I will stand with thee, they placed total confidence in their ability to stand with Him even though He told them they would be scattered.

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