19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions,factions,
21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
As humans, we like lists. We have the Ten commandments posted in our court rooms. We have lists of rules at work about how to safely perform your duties. Lists are simple because they tell you what to do and what not to do. Unfortunately, this causes us to focus only on those lists and anything outside of them “don’t count”. We tend to do this with the bible and it leads us astray. This is one of those times.
It’s very easy to used these three verses to either justify your actions or judge someone else. these are two things I try to be very cautious about. When looking at the words in this list, it is also easy to think of just one thing defined by each word in this list. For instance, we look at “idolatry” and think of the golden calf in the old testament. We tend to forget that idolatry is the worship of anything other than God.
In regards to ourselves, I see this as a check sheet by which we can gauge our own behaviors. As we talked last week about backsliding, we can go along this list and see if we are beginning to fall back into our old ways. In regards to others, rather than using this as a way to judge others, rather we should look at it as a way to see where others are struggling. This is a cause for us to help and pray for our brethren (whether believer or not).
In verse 21, Paul says, those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. I must admit, I used to misinterpret this verse until recently. I used to think, “well, we all sin, so therefore we will not inherit the kingdom of God even though He says we will?” Seems contradictory, doesn’t it? To me, the word “practice” means one who does it habitually. Certainly, we all have our habits and hang-ups, however if we truly repent to God and strive to love and worship Him, then these things will fall away. Some addictions (yes, these are all addictions) are ended abruptly by God’s strength, others are healed slowly as we grow in faith and out of this world.
So where are you in this list? If you read it and can’t find something you struggle with, you are lying to yourself, to others, and to God.