Galatians 5:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Galatians 5:19, NIV: "The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;"

Galatians 5:19, ESV: "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,"

Galatians 5:19, KJV: "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,"

Galatians 5:19, NASB: "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior,"

Galatians 5:19, NLT: "When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,"

Galatians 5:19, CSB: "Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity,"

What does Galatians 5:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has urged his readers not to waste their freedom in Christ to merely serve themselves. Some Bible teachers call this "license," as in having a license to sin. It means to decide that because we are already justified by our faith in Christ, we don't need to restrain any of our sinful desires. We can just do whatever comes naturally. Paul has made clear that God calls us to use our freedom, instead, to serve each other in love under the power of His Holy Spirit with us. According to Paul, we are absolutely able to allow God's Spirit to lead our thoughts, words, and actions instead of following our own sinful desires (Galatians 5:16–18).

Now Paul begins to identify some of the sins we are inclined to take part in when we refuse to walk by the power of God's Spirit. Why does he need to list them, especially if they are "evident" or "obvious"? Part of this tactic comes from Paul's point that Christians are no longer living under the law of Moses. The Law spelled out in great detail exactly what was sin and what was not.

Paul is not creating a new law to be followed; instead, he seems to say, "We all know what sinful lifestyles look like! Here's a list." He is giving examples of sinful behaviors, which don't correspond to living free in Christ, through the power of God's Spirit.

The first three sinful lifestyles Paul lists all fall within the category of sexuality. "Sexual immorality" is from the Greek term porneia, a catch-all term referring to any kind of sexual activity outside of biblical marriage. Adultery, bestiality, homosexuality, extramarital sex, promiscuity, and so forth are all covered under this idea.

"Impurity" is from the Greek akatharsia, referring to any kind of uncleanness in our thoughts, words, and actions. Thoughts motivated by lust, greed, or excess are part of this group.

"Sensuality" is a broad term, referring to a kind of shameless, open lifestyle that flaunts indulgence in doing anything that feels good, in spite of consequences or morals. The original Greek term, aselgeia, carries a sense of being out of control; it suggests a person lacking discipline, or any capacity for self-restraint.