by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Matthew 6:19-24
I. Whenever I taught someone to drive, I was reminded that people have a tendency to go in the direction they are looking.
A. When a person first learns to drive, they tend to look at things close to the car, such as the edge of the road. As a result, they constantly drift toward the edge.
B. The experienced driver looks out at a distance toward where they would like to go. As a result, the car stays on a steady path toward the goal.
C. Jesus makes the same analogy in Matthew 6:19-24
1. Where your treasure is (that which you desire) your heart follows after.
2. If you look toward righteous things, you will tend to be righteous.
3. If you look toward wicked things, you will tend to be evil.
4. You can’t have it both ways. We will always gravitate toward one or the other.
II. The churches in Galatia were having problems with people teaching that they needed to follow the Old Testament law.
A. In particular, these people were demanding that non-Jewish Christians must be circumcised.
B. Much of the book of Galatians contains Paul’s reasoning for why Christians are not subject to the Old Law.
C. But there was another problem that Paul addressed. The Galatians were not reasoning out their differences. Instead they were arguing and bickering with each other - Galatians 5:15
D. This desire to win at all cost, Paul says, is not godly but fleshly - Galatians 5:16-18
E. Paul’s concern was that if they continued down the path they had started to walk, they would destroy themselves.
1. You cannot behave in a worldly manner and expect it to lead you away from the world.
2. The teachings of Christ do not lead toward the hatred of brethren - I John 2:9-11
F. Paul then lists several characteristic of those who are led by worldly desires - Galatians 5:19-21
1. Paul says these behaviors are easily seen as being worldly.
III. Sexual Sins
1. Some translations have adultery and fornication.
2. It refers to having sex outside the bonds of marriage.
3. Sex within marriage is honorable, but outside of marriage it brings condemnation - Hebrews 13:4
4. Unlike most sins which harm someone else, sexual immorality harms the person committing the sin - I Corinthians 6:15-20
1. This refers to moral impurity within a person. It is a person with a dirty mind (soul).
2. When God gave up on the Gentiles who left their worship of him, Paul said that God gave them over to the impure lusts of their hearts. - Romans 1:24
a. In other words they began thinking about improper sexual actions. They had dirty minds.
b. What followed was a society that acted on their impure thoughts and engaged in fornication.
3. Impurity (or uncleanness) describes a state of mind that is the opposite of holiness - Romans 6:19; I Thessalonians 4:7
4. It is often connected with impure sexual thoughts, but it is not limited to just sex.
5. Even when a person doesn’t engage in impure actions, Christians must be careful not to think or give the impression they engage in such behavior - Ephesians 5:1-8
a. This means that Christians must not engage in the telling of dirty jokes or speak profane things.
b. We are not to use foul language or cuss words. These pollute our minds, making us unclean and impure.
6. It is this word which describes why pornography is wrong.
1. This is a person who shamelessly pursues sensual pleasures.
2. It is sometimes translated lasciviousness, licentiousness, or wantonness.
3. He feels no guilt in satisfying his desires. He does not care what anyone else thinks about his pursuits.
a. Licentiousness captures the meaning well. It is a person who thinks he has a license to sin.
4. It is often connected to sexual sins, but again, it is not limited to them - Romans 13:13, I Peter 4:3
5. It is through the appeal of sensual desires that false teachers capture followers - II Peter 2:18
IV. Religious Sins
1. The worship of other gods. It literally means image worship.
2. But Paul has more in mind that worshiping before statues and other images - Colossians 3:5
a. Anything that we place as our prime desire which is not God is a form of image worship.
b. In Colossians many of the words are connected to sexual sins and greed.
c. In I Peter 4:3 it is connected with drinking and partying.
d. These become idols of those who pursue them
1. The word here literally refers to a person who abuses drugs. It refers to a person who mixes potions.
2. Such drug use was tightly coupled with witchcraft or sorcery.
a. People who are high on drugs will believe just about anything – magical things are happening
b. They are easy to manipulate. Their resistance is lowered.
3. They will do just about anything for another high. It becomes their God
V. Relationship Sins
1. People who hate each other
2. As we mentioned before, Christians are to love one another. By that love, they show their love for God. I John 4:7-11
3. But when our mind is focused on worldly things we become haters of God - Romans 8:7
1. People who argue or quarrel with each other
2. The Corinthian church was involved in arguments with each other - I Corinthians 1:10-11
3. Such contentions was a sign of their worldliness - I Corinthians 3:3
4. That is why there are warnings against unprofitable arguing - Titus 3:9
1. The word here is literally “zeal”. It refers to the fanatic. A person so zealous for a cause that he cannot stand the thought of considering another position. He possesses an ideal and he jealously guards it from all detractors.
2. It describes the High Priest and leaders of the Jews - Acts 5:17
3. It is often connected with strife in Scriptures, because a jealous man will argue his position without considering any other.
4. The zealot thinks he is contending for God, but all he manages to do is contend - James 3:13-18
D. Outbursts of anger
1. A person who feels so passionately about a cause that he is unable to control his temper
2. It describes the crowds reaction to Jesus - Luke 4:28-29, or the Greeks reaction to the Apostles - Acts 19:28-29
3. These are your rioters and mobs
1. This is the person who does not outwardly show his hatred, but involves himself in games of intrigue. He acts only for his own interest and backstabs his opponents.
2. Interestingly, this word was used by the Greeks to describe the actions of politicians.
3. Paul used it to describe those who tried to add to his affliction - Philippians 1:16
4. As Christians, we should not do things from strife - Philippians 2:3
1. A person who causes division between people. It is the opposite of unity.
2. A person we must watch out for - Romans 16:17
1. The word literally means to chose. In application it is a person who chooses sides.
2. For example, the Sadducees and the Pharisees were religious factions of the Jewish religion.
3. Paul warned the Corinthians against dividing into factions - I Corinthians 1:10-13
1. The desire to harm someone because you want what belongs to that person.
2. The envy can be over a person’s possession or even his position in life.
3. Jesus was handed over to the Romans because of the envy of the Jewish leaders - Matthew 27:17-18
4. It was the motivation for those trying to cause Paul harm - Philippians 1:15
VI. Sins Causing a Lack of Self-Control
1. A person under the influence of alcohol
1. A riotous party. What we often associate with fraternities.
2. It is often associated with drinking - Romans 13:13
VII. Paul’s list is not meant to be a complete list, but one that gives us a general idea of the character of those who are worldly minded.
A. Paul has warned these brethren repeatedly that to engage in such actions will prevent them from reaching heaven
B. It will prevent us as well.
C. If there is any here who wishes to leave the world behind with all of its problems, there is no better time than today.