The flesh is a term used in the New Testament, especially in the writings of the apostle Paul, that is given to describe the fallen human nature that everybody receives from conception from our parents, from their parents, from their parents etc. all the way back to Adam and Eve our first parents. This nature is basically selfish or self-serving and isn't focused on pleasing God or seeking his glory as was the case for Adam and Eve before they fell and when they were still in fellowship with God. The flesh nature is also focused on physical satisfaction of the body and satsifying the senses rather than seeking godly spiritual satisfaction, and seeking the things of heaven and eternity. The flesh also is focused on the things of this life and the things of time as that is the world that the flesh seeks to gratify and that is associated with the senses. The self exalting part of the flesh also seeks mystical or legalistic religion or spirituality rather that yielding to the creator God and seeking his glory and will and to follow his word the Holy Bible. The flesh since it is self centred can not please God or earn salvation or eternal life from him but we need to trust in Jesus who through his virgin birth bypassed the flesh but was still God come in a fully human person and died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead so we could have new life in the Lord Jesus Christ by His then indwelling Holy Spirit that helps us live in this new life for God above the self centred old nature of the flesh. The apostle Paul also sometimes uses the word "carnal" to describe the fleshly nature. Although myself and other born again Christians have the new nature in Christ and theoretically could live the rest of our lives in this new nature even in this life in practice none of us is able to unfailingly, fully resist all aspects of the flesh in this life and that is why even true Christians still sin but it shouldn't be as much as those that aren't saved and we won't be comfortable when we commit sin because the indwelling Holy Spirit will not allow us to delight in sin like the unsaved that don't have the Holy Spirit indwelling them. It is impossible to get to heaven if we are still only have the flesh nature and are not born again with the Holy Spirit indwelt and empowerd new nature in Christ.
Although it is quite popular with many Christians especially evangelical Christians to pay significant attention to the verses also in Galatians 5 about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and this is certainly worthy of attention, there should probably be more attention given than is the case to the works of the flesh to understand, detect and overcome them in the lives of the believers instead of often being oblivious to them or excusing them. The degree to which we still have works of the flesh active in our lives will cause a corresponding hindrance to the working of God by His Holy Spirit of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the believers or of the initial reception of them as well as the initial reception of the Holy Spirit in the unsaved person that is seeking God and Jesus and to have a relationship with him. It should be kept in mind that most if not all of these works of the flesh or sins can be manifest or expressed in thoughts, words or deeds. Although much time could be spent on each of these works of the flesh I will give just a brief explanation of each of them although some are clearer than others. Adultery is sexual unfaithfulness of a husband to a wife or of a wife to a husband through the husband having sex with another woman or the wife having sex with another man. Fornication means sex between people that aren't married although this would also include homosexuality as God in neither the Old Testament or New Testament recognizes same sex marriages or relationships but sees it as an abomination (intolerable). Uncleanness means excessive sexual thoughts or desires. Lasciviousness means sexually lustful actions in general. Idolatry partly means the making, worshipping or invoking gods or goddesses through idols such as of wood, stone, gold or silver but can also means any thing visible or invisible that we put in a higher place than the Triune creator and living God of the Bible. Although other (Old Testament) scriptures means the use of sorcery, enchantments, astrology, fortunetelling, contacting spirits such as spirit guides or what the Bible calls familiar spirits or spirits of divination or other occult or Satanic activity, the reference here in Galatians 5 of the word witchcraft is from the Greek work Pharmakeia. This word in other parts of the New Testament is translated sorcerer(s) as in the book of Revelation. This word pharmakeia means the use of drugs as related to magic, in other words use of drugs such as is done now with what are called mind-altering drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth, herion, fentanyl and other opioids, LSD etc as well as excessive use of over the counter drugs. These can and are used to get into a higher state of consciousness where evil spirits can gain control of the individual taking these drugs. According to Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament words the word pharmakeia or sorcery in the New Testament also includes the idea of using spells or amulets with drugs to contact evil spirits to conduct sorcery or witchcraft. I think this could be done either with the person who is the object of the sorcery, witch or warlock in their presence and who could audibly hear the spells and perhaps be persuaded to take the probably mind altering drug or at a distance through the spells and the drugs being used by the sorcerer to get them into a higher state of consciousness and their using evil spirits or demons to carry out the spells or sorcery on someone they want to cast a spell or commit sorcery against at a distance. I have heard on Christian mission reports that witches or occult people do still today sometimes use their sorcery powers against Christians especially Christian workers, evangelists, missionaries or pastors or congregations such as seeking evil spirits to bring division, wearniness or problems with the lust of the flesh for Christians but Christians need to pray for each other and Christian workers for God's protection by His Holy Spirit against these Satanic or demonic attacks as the Holy Spirit is one Person of the Divine Trinity and is greater than Satan or demons if Christians prepare ourselves for His protection sufficiently. This is also another aspect of traditional witchcraft and sorcery. Witchcraft or the original Greek work would also warn against enthusiasm about what we call zombies, vampires, ghosts and such things that can manifest themselves through drugs and can be considered part of witchcraft. Hatred means having an excessive or unreasonable dislike of someone. Variance means arguments or discord. Emulations means jealousies means someone excessively not wanting to give up something they have to someone else. This could be power, money or fame or to some extent possessions but it is of course right for a husband to be jealous of his wife and vice versa but not to the point of vigilantiism. Wrath means outbursts of anger. Strife means arguments than lead to physical violence. Seditions means causing or encouraging unwarrented divisions especially in the church. Heresies means false teachings especially when people aren't aware they are teaching, condoning or following these false teaching or not doing it deliberately. Apostasy is the term for deliberate false teaching. Envying is wanting something someone else has. Murders are killing other people especially due to hatred. Drunkeness is excessive partaking of alcohol that leads to intoxificaton and the lack of inhibitions although this could refer to other drugs which can have similiar affect such as to get an artifical "high" such a marijuana, cocaine etc. Revelling means what we call partying where there is often wild or unrestrained behaviour sometimes due to alcohol or drugs but could also refer to some riots. There are also some other works of the flesh not mentioned here such as lying and deception as the apostle Paul says this list is not exhaustive when he says and such like. A warning is then given that those who do or practice these works of the flesh especially who aren't repentant or seek God's forgiveness of them and to seek God's strength to stay away from them will not inherit the kingdom of God. True believers or Christians can sometimes when getting away from God or Jesus can commit some of these sins but shouldn't be comfortable in them or practice them and should want to turn back to God from them when they are committed or else there could be some question whether the conversion is genuine. The scripture reference from Galatians 5 of the works of the flesh is as follows:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of which I tell you before, as I have told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
As I write this in November 2016 from southern Ontario, Canada among other things there is a health crisis in the abuse of the powerful drug fentanyl and other opioids. This is causing many overdose deaths and other serious harm in users often before emergency response teams can reach the people affected as the effects seem to take place within a couple minutes which is sometimes faster than emergency response teams can reach the person experiencing an overdose. From a Biblical Christian worldview the use of this or other drugs is likely done in many cases because of the depressing world situation and people trying to escape from reality. Also in some cases people do not have hope because they have either not heard or not been open to the true hope available to all people and the joy, love and peace that is available in this life as well as a sure hope of eternal life through God's only begotton Son Jesus Christ and receiving Him as our personal Lord and Saviour Who died for all our sins on the cross and rose again to give us eternal life and a relationship with God and a home in heaven. There is probably an effect from peer pressure to use fentanyl and other opioids and other so called recreational drugs. Much of the supply of this drug especially outside of prescribed medical use is from China and other parts of Asia through Asian street gangs in Canada as far as the supply to Canada is concerned. According to Wikipedia a large source of it for similiar use in the United States seems to come from Mexico, likely from the drug cartels there. Some of the worst of this fentanyl abuse problem is in British Columbia that of course is in the part of Canada closest to Asia.
A large part of the overdose deaths and abuse seem to be with street people and young professionals according to Wikipedia but I have heard on the radio that there is also a significant problem with overdose from abuse of it with senior citizens. My hometown of Hamilton and area unfortunately seems to have about the highest rate of abuse in the province of Ontario according to what I have heard on the radio from CBC or a local radio station CHML in Hamilton. There is a major concern from politicians and health care officials at the local and federal level here including seeking to stem the flow of it from Asia and warning about its use on the radio. However, because of political correctness here one good part of the solution that is not being encouraged by the government is to offer people true hope through trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour and have true hope in the life to come and contentness in their heart by God's Holy Spirit. Fentanyl and some other Opioids seemed to have been first produced and introduced into use with a seemingly legitimate and more controlled basis as an anesthetic for serious surgeries in hospitals and now to reduce the pain in chemotherapy or other cancer treatment. It is also apparently, according to Wikepedia, used in palliative care which I think to put chronically ill people to death and in veternarian use as an anaethetic. (This is the same type of political correctness that led to the rise of Donald Trump in the United States to become president as he was seen as someone who would lead a fight against it.)
There is also the issue of other drugs that are abused or taken for recreational uses that don't cause overdoses, especially deadly ones, as easily but can still cause highs and sometimes get people into the mystical realm but muddle or take away the soundness or clarity of their mind or thinking. This is also all under the category of the term Pharmakeia which in the King James Version of God's word the Holy Bible is usually translated sorcery and in Galatians 5 as witchcraft and is one of the lusts of the flesh that is against God's will and that is often exploited by demons or Satan the devil to make people more resistant to salvation of God and seeking to turn from their sins and have them forgiven through God's Son Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit of God and become a restored child of God and born again. Evidently the use of drugs for ungodly mystical or spiritual experiences including with sorcery or witchcraft and paganism was fairly widespread in the Graeco-Roman world in New Testament times for the New Testament writers to associate drugs with sorcery and witchcraft as well. Among other things this has also led to more accidents, injuries or even deaths on the road when used by drivers or in some industrial or other harzardous working environments where these drugs are sometimes used by workers there. Part of the problem with marijuana and other drugs like that is that they are glamorized in much of the music and movies in the west from Hollywood in the US or perhaps from the increasing movie and entertainment industry in Canada based at least in part in the Toronto, Ontario area. The federal government under the Liberal leader and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the son of former Liberal leader and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau is currently in the process of establishing legalization of marijuana but I think in a controlled way in Canada as an attempted solution to widespread use of it here in Canada and so it can be monitored and perhaps so the government can get the revenue from taxes on it instead of unmonitored use of it from professional crime in street gangs or otherwise as has been the case up to now or with people growing it themselves.
In a Bible prophecy sense the increasing use of all these drugs to get high or be under the influence of them is consistent with the last days with people either wanting to escape the problems in their own life or of society in general or to get into a mystical state and a high that way and associated experience of visions and with people that have either not heard or don't want to seriously consider hope and life in the true God and His Son Jesus Christ and the His Holy Spirit that will indwell anyone's heart who trusts in the Lord Jesus for salvation. In Revelation 9 God's word says that in the soon coming tribulation that many demons will be allowed by God to come from within the earth to people left behind on earth after the catching up to heaven or rapture of the true Church and work of the Holy Spirit through the Church. One of the things God will allow these demons to do will be to torment people in all nations who refuse to confess and seek God's help to live for God and turn from their sins including sorcery including occult or false mysticism including illigitimate drug use such as with marijuana, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, oxycotin or other prescription medication etc. However, as in the current and almost over Church Age or Dispensation of Grace people that admit they are sinners in this or other ways and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour will get God's forgiveness, a relationship with Him and an assured hope of a home and eternal life with Him and all His people the Church and the saved of Israel and the nations in Old Testament, and coming tribulation and Millennial Kingdom times. If you the reader are still under the influence of these or other drugs and want God's solution to be free of them and forgiven God's way of them I would encourage you to call out to the true God in Jesus's name in prayer and receive Him as your personal Lord and Saviour and seek deliverance from strong Christians through prayer and discipleship for you at a good local evangelical Church or ministry such as Freedom Village or Teen Challenge or others.
Related to the above descriptions of current problems, including in Canada, with illegal drugs related to sorcery or pharmakeia and fentanyl there has been a new development. It was just announced, likely from informal talks at the recent APEC summit where representatives from both Canada and China were present, that China had agreed to Canada's request to limit illegal exports of the strong and often deadly opioid fentanyl from coming to Canada through criminal channels. This will hopefully limit the recent rash of fentanyl overdoses and other problems with people taking it illegally or as a recreational drug but according to some sources I heard it may be coming to Canada from other parts of Asia as well and I don't know how serious some other countries are for sources of fentanyl to Canada and what if any agreements Canada has or is seeking to have from those other countries in Asia to limit sources of illegal fentanyl to Canada.
When I first became a Christian through admitting I was a sinner and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour that He died for all my sins on the cross and rose from the dead to give me new life I did some personal evangelism at the university where I was led to the Lord. This was with the local chapter of the Christian campus group Campus Crusade for Christ. A main evangelical or gospel booklet we gave out or tried to have interested people read through with us was called the Secrets of the Spirit Filled Life. In part of that booklet there was mentioned the three main types of people on earth from a spiritual perspective according to the New Testament. These are the natural man (people who haven't trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ and become Christians and who haven't become indwelt of God's Holy Spirit), the carnal or fleshly man (people who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ and become Christians and become indwelt of God's Holy Spirit but who often still live in the old selfish or sinful nature from conception), and the spiritual man (people who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ and become indwelt of the Holy Spirit who are generally also suppressing the old fleshly (sinful and selfish nature) and living by the power of the Holy Spirit). Despite what some well-meaning Christians and others say, people that have genuinelly trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ and been indwelt of the Holy Spirit can still live in the old fleshly nature and still be genuine Christians as here such carnal or fleshly Christians are addressed by the apostle Paul under divine inspiration as brethren (brothers and sisters in Christ). However Paul says such Christians that are living too often in the old or fleshly or carnal nature are not spiritual and are not growing as much as they could in the new nature in Christ (they are still babes in Christ). God through the apostle Paul then uses the analogy of infants being fed milk as they have not developed teeth or digestive system to eat solid food (meat) corresponding to Christians that are not able to understand or apply to one's life the more demanding or harder to understand parts of the Bible that are better understood and applied to those who are more fully grown in Christ by the leading of the Holy Spirit as applies more to the spiritual man. Although there are other aspects of the old or carnal or fleshly nature and Christians living in that, Paul gives the example of Christians who are quite partisan and often have envy, strife and divisions including who their favourite Christian teachers are and arguing about that. However, although Christians shouldn't unduly argue about minor matters of doctrine and that can be a mark of spiritual immaturity, there are fundamental Christian doctrines that it is a mark of spiritual maturity to uphold and stand for including the divine inspiration of the Bible as the word of God, the virgin brith of the Lord Jesus Christ as how he as God also became perfect man, the universal sinful nature of all other human beings, the inability of human beings to save themselves, the atoning death or the payment for our sins by the death on the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and the sure second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for the blessing of His people and the judgment of those who by then have still not trusted in Him as Lord and Saviour. The scripture reference from 1 Corinthians 3 of Christians who live in the old nature from physical conception that is generally sinful and selfish and focused on this world demonstrating lack of spiritual growth of Christians but that still is consistant with true Christians who are on their way to eternity in heaven if they have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour and called brethren by Paul is as follows:
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envyinng, and strife, and divisions, are ye not yet carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 1 Corinthians 3:1-4
The beginning of this passage mentions that God has quickened or made alive those who have trusted in God through receiving His Son Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour. This means that we have God's eternal life and that we can additionally have his peace and love and joy in this life when we resist sin and the lust of the flesh even if we are still being affected by it but if we resist it constantly, fully and long enough we can be freed from the lust of the effects of the lust of the flesh as long as we don't make an effort to give in to it. Before true or Bible believing Christians trust in the Lord Jesus Christ we were as non-Christians still are that we walked according to the course of this world which means the ungodly and anti-Christian world system. We also walked as others still do according to the prince of the power of the air that is after the devil and other demons and their temptations to live without or against God in self-indulgence. We were as other people who haven't trusted in Jesus yet the children of disobedience. True Christians can still be disobedient to God at times in this life but we won't be as comfortable in our hearts as unbelievers because the Holy Spirit who indwells only true Christians will make it clear he is not pleased with being drawn through non-Christian behaviour. This affect of the world system on the fallen and selfish or ungodly nature of unsaved people which is their only nature or the old nature of born again Christians can be openly such as what non-Christians openly do, or say towards other non-Christians or Christians or it can be covert or hidden such as by the ungodly prayers of non-Christians such as those in the occult or actions of evil spirits seeking to work up fleshly lusts or temptations in other non-Christians or on the old nature of true or born again Christians. These can affect our body or our minds. However as born again or indwelt of the Holy Spirit or true Christians if we live in the new nature in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit long enough and steady enough or perhaps by rebuking the spiritual beings tempting us if we are seeking to be freed from the temptation we can be freed of it unlike non-Christians who need to initially trust in the Lord Jesus Christ that that are sinners and that he died for all their sins and rose again from the dead to give them new life and then seek to live in that new life and seek God's deliverance by the HOly Spirit and living in the new nature in Christ to be delivered from some of the strongholds of the fallen fleshly nature if they are to be freed from it. People that haven't yet and never end up truly receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and SAviour and to know God through Him are children of wrath and in danger of experiencing his eternal wrath in hell if they don't trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as soon as possible in this life according to the Bible. The scripture reference of the effects of the world system and the prince of the power of the air the devil or Satan on unbelievers or on the old nature of true Christians through the fallen fleshly nature in Ephesians 2 is as follows:
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation (manner of life) in times past in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. Ephesians 2:1-3
Although the United States Supreme Court took some time more than one or two weeks to make its ruling, it came down with its ruling today about whether in their mind the ban by some US states to ban same sex marriage should stand. This ruling was in the understanding that overturning these bans would effectively legalize same sex marriages in all states in the United States. Today June 26, 2015 the US supreme court decided to effectively approve the legalization of same sex marriages for all states and interested citizens of the United States. However what might be lost on many people with the increasing legislative and social acceptance of homosexuality incluing in Canada where I live is that this doesn't change at all what the true and living God the God of the Bible including His Son Jesus Christ say in His word the Holy Bible in both the New and Old Testaments. Although in 1 Corinthians 6 God allows people who have been involved in homosexual relationships abusers of themselves with mankind and effeminate are referring to that to become Christians and part of God's kingdom it is on the condition that they admit is a sin as are the other behaviour mentioned in 1 Corinthians 6 and that they need to be confessed as sins to God through His Son Jesus Christ to have forgiveness and then to seek God's strenght by His Holy Spirit to help the Christian that is then forgiven of any of these sins to better refrain from still living that lifestyle. In Romans 1 also in the New Testament God says that homosexuality is part of the basis that he judges a people or nation and this will put the United States in a worse situation with God after the rapture of the Church when the tribulation starts on Earth. Jesus also said he did not agree with homosexuality including same-sex marriage when in Mark 10 he referred back to Adam and Eve and the first marriage done by God in the Garden of Eden and said part of God's way and what was and is Jesus' view of marriage is between one man and one woman when He said that God made them at the beginning with Adam and Eve and with every other person who has come into the world at conception. This means that Jesus is also not accepting transsexuals as good or normal (but they can be forgiven is they confess their sins and become part of God's eternal family) when He said God made them male and female (not a modern doctor or medical professional giving a sex-change operation or chemicals to change the sex a person had since conception to the opposite sex.) Jesus also said a man should leave his father and mother when he gets married to his wife. He doesn't say a man should leave his father and father or mother and mother which would be more consistent with same sex relationships. The scripture passages from 1 Corinthians 6 about forgiveness and membership in God's kingdom is available to those involved in a same sex relationship before or some other sins if they admit these are sins and seek God's help through His Son Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit to turn from these things and the Lord Jesus Christ's view in Mark 10 of homosexuality including same-sex marriage are the following:
(Jesus said) "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Gospel of Mark 10:5, 6-9
Although this passage doesn't explicitly mention the term flesh or lust of the flesh, compared to other passages in the New Testament that is clearly what they are. The apostle Paul asks a question about whether his audience the Corinthians who were from quite a sinful or fleshly background knew that the unrighteous would not inherit the kingdom of God. From the context including the later verses in this passage Paul is meaning the unrighteous that don't seek cleansing and forgiveness and a new life in the Lord Jesus Christ and in God through Him. The sins in the list are fornication which means extramarital sex, adulterers which means sex outside of one's opposite sex marriage partner in which at least one of the people involved in the sexual encounter is married, effeminate means a catamite or a passive partner in homosexual sex usually a younger person, nor abusers of themselves with mankind which means a sodomite or homosexual especially the active partner. Effeminate and abusers of themselves with mankind would probably also include women who practice same sex activities or relationships or what we call lesbians. Also mentioned are thieves which is someone who steals money or things that are not rightfully theirs or covetous which is those who are greedy to have something or someone that belongs to someone else or drunkards which is those who get intoxicated through alcohol or revilers which is those who use abusive language or extortioners which is those who use threats or manipulation to gain things not rightfully theirs. The apostle Paul then says under divine inspiration that people who do these things, without seeking God's forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ or seeking to turn to Him, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. This is still the case however much our society might seek to justify any of these things. Then Paul gives some grace by saying that some members of the Corinthian church were in these categories of people before but that now they are washed, sanctified and justifed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit. This would include admitting to God that any time these things are committed by an individual they are sins in God's sight and to seek God's forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ and to seek to renew living for God in the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit. The scripture reference from 1 Corinthians 6 of some other sins of the flesh that people commit that keep people out of the kingdom of God unless they are confessed as sins to God and God's strength is sought to keep from these things is as follows:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers or themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
For more information, comments, questions or advice contact Doug at Contact Spirit and Truth MinistriesSpirit and Truth Ministries Homepage