Continuing his list of proclivities of the flesh, Paul adds several more in Galatians 5:21. Not only does the flesh tend towards those characteristics mentioned in verses 19 and 20, it also includes, “…envy, drunkenness, 19 warningorgies, and things like these.” I expect that Paul includes these things just in case someone might not see themselves in the list above which in my opinion is totally unlikely. Yet envy isn’t one of those things we’d normally place in a list with adultery and murder or for that matter with drunkenness, orgies or things like that! But here it is! Adding envy points out much of what Jesus pointed out regarding sin being an internal issue. It’s a matter of the heart. You’ve heard that it’s wrong to murder. But Jesus says hating someone is to murder. We know adultery is wrong, but even to fantasize about it is to violate the standard. Sin is the woof and warp of our fleshly nature. It’s in us all. It’s using the world for personal gratification regardless of the cost to others. It’s pure selfishness.

I can’t deny that Galatians 5:21 is a warning. Paul says, “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Many commentaries will suggest that this is a warning regarding our falling from God’s grace and into sin. Thus they serve as a warning that if we commit these sins we will forfeit our place in God’s kingdom. As Jesus used the phrase “the kingdom of God” we see that He was referring to heaven itself. I cannot see that Paul’s warning was of this nature because of what he has already said in the previous passages of Galatians. It would mean that the religious Judaizers were right in that works were essential for our salvation. If this is the case we would live in daily fear of our eternal destiny. C. H. Spurgeon said,

“If ever it should come to pass,
That sheep of Christ might fall away,
My fickle, feeble soul, alas!
Would fall a thousand times a day.”

I think the warning is more about rejecting God’s love expressed for us on Calvary which changes us from the inside through the indwelling, fruit producing, work of God’s Holy Spirit. It’s moving from the Gospel of God’s grace back into living under the law. Living by “works of the flesh” we live unloving, selfish lives. The law always brings out the worst in us. Because God so loved us, He sent us His Son who fulfilled the Law for us and provided complete forgiveness for our sins and assures us through the channel of faith a place in the kingdom that will not be taken away. Paul hasn’t changed his subject. He’s still addressing the consequences of rejecting the Gospel and reverting to living under the law. It’s a warning against placing our confidence in self-righteousness instead of Christ’s righteousness.