Sins Of Hostility

Series: The Way Of Salvation


Sermon By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / January 19, 2020


Discipleship requires both the CULTIVATION of the fruit of the Spirit) and the REMOVAL of the works of the flesh.

The way of salvation involves both ADDITION and SUBTRACTION.

In our studies from Gal.5 and Col.3 we've come to recognize the need for both NURTURING and NIXING.


Way back in 1990, Life magazine published an article naming the 100 most significant individuals of the 20th century.

One name on that list that you may not be familiar with was Karl Menninger.

Dr. Mennigner, authored several books and was a very influential American psychiatrist.  He passed away in 1990.

His most famous book was titled, “Whatever Became Of Sin?”.

He wrote, The very word 'sin', which seems to have disappeared, was a proud word. 

It was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word...but it went away.

It has almost disappeared - - the word, along with the notion.  Why?

Doesn't anyone sin any more?  Doesn't anyone believe in sin?


Menninger's concern was that SIN has been vacated in our thoughts and replaced by by words like crime and symptoms

He adds, Whenever you look at sin as either crime or symptoms, you are missing the

essence of...right and wrong behavior...What you have done is take God out of the picture.

He argues that the word “crime” defines things downward - - it's one man violating another man.

Using the word “symptoms” takes things even lower - - it focuses on heredity, environment and such like.


He illustrates his proposition by noting how our nation's presidents have ceased using the word SIN.

President Lincoln was the first American president to call for a national day of prayer.

In that proclamation, Lincoln uses the word SIN, calling on our nation to repent of its sin and turn back to God.

Almost 100 years passed - - and then, in the early 1950s, Congress passed a law that the president

should henceforth and every year after designate a certain day in May as a National Day of Prayer.

President Eisenhower, in the first year, went back to Lincoln's declaration and borrowed

much of his language.  In his proclamation in the early 1950s, Eisenhower used the word SIN,

but in the years since, the word has virtually evaporated.


It is easy to blame our presidents over the last several decades, but if the truth be

known, our churches in general, and our preachers in particular, can also be faulted.

Over the years, calls to acknowledge SIN and REPENT has evolved into a thunderous silence.


When SIN is obfuscated (made fuzzy), a society begins to deteriorate. 

If you are 50 or older you have surely noticed this erosion. 


Under the guise of “job security” many preachers have opted to tone things down, to not speak so plainly.

After all - - with fewer and fewer attending church, we wouldn't want to offend those who do.


I'm at a juncture in my preaching career where I'm worrying less and less about getting the axe.

I don't think I've been intentionally weak in preaching about SIN over the last 40 years,

but I find myself resolved to try to finish strong on this matter in the time I have left.

In saying “the time I have left”, I'm not intending to spark rumors that I am ill and dying.

I'm in fairly good health and I hope to be around for a while yet, but I am more convinced than

ever that we preachers must stand firm on God's word:  neither compromising nor dumbing down SIN.


Having said that, I want to add that I'm hopeful that we as a church are a Bible-thirsty group.

I trust that YOU will continue to be a congregation of Christians who want to hear the truth first and foremost.

I pray that we are all willing to hear the truth … even when it is somewhat painful.

Actually we need to hear the truth at all time, but especially when it is painful.

If we're behaving as we should be, there is no pain in hearing sermons about works of the flesh. 

It is when we're misbehaving that “the pain” is needful and hopefully helpful.


Open your Bibles to Gal.5:19-21 and follow along as we read from the sacred Scriptures.


Over the next few Sundays I want us to dig down into these works of the flesh.

I may tweak things a bit, but for now I have taken this text (along with a few others)

and am planning to break down their content into four basic categories.






I want to focus this morning on SINS OF HOSTILITY.  In this text of Gal.5:19f, Paul says more about

these sins than any other, employing numerous words to describe sins that fall into this particular category.


It would be wrong to say that sins of hostility are more sinful that the others:  impurity, idolatry & intemperance.

On the other hand, it would likely be correct to say that this group of sins is more troublesome.


One could fairly ask, “Why is this the case?”

I'm not absolutely certain, but I think it has to do with the subtlety or subtleness of the sin.

In other words, we have a greater proclivity to rationalize some sins than others.

Everyone knows that fornication is sinful.  Likewise for idolatry and drunkenness.


But when we encounter specific words like:

enmitiesstrifejealousyoutbursts of angerdisputesdissensionsfactions … and envying,

these have a tendency to fly under the radar - - as if they are not all that bad.

The truth is that these sins are BAD! - - in all caps, boldface and with an exclamation point.


Each one of these sins, standing alone, can bring heartache and grief to the body of Christ.

Furthermore, if and when they work in concert (which they so often do), they can wreak havoc to the church.


We used to sing a song at our annual summer youth camp years ago, “Love”.

This old song was profoundly simple.  Easy to sing but rich in meaning.  Join with me in singing this song.


The thing about these sins of hostility is that they seriously undercut what we are all about.

They indict our LOVE; They destroy our PEACE; They downplay our GRACE; They snuff out our JOY;

And perhaps, worst of all, they insult our CHRIST.  


Let's think together for a bit more, about each of these sins.



One translation uses the word hatred, which speaks of a strong dislike (a feeling of ill-will) toward another.

Paul uses this same word in Eph.2:14 & 16 to depict a wall of hostility between Jews and Gentiles.

This word is the exact opposite of agape/love. 

Enmity puts up barriers and draws a sword; Love widens the circle and opens up arms of love.

John writes (1Jn.3:15) - - anyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life... We can hate actions or ideologies, but we must never hate other human beings.

We're living in a political world that continues to be a hot-bed of partisanship.

Cringe at the politics of someone, if you must, but let us not become haters of our fellow Americans.


The old KJV uses the word varianceI prefer the word strife because variance sounds too harmless.

The New Century Version translates this word, making trouble

Both words, variance and strife are synonyms for quarreling and in-fighting.

One commentator has written:  “There are too many church members who are simply not easy to get along with.

Many are dreadfully touchy and easily offended.  Some are stubborn and bull-headed, and just plan contrary.”

In Flesh And Spirit, William Barclary observes that no sin more commonly invades the church than this (one).



The KJV renders it emulations.

The Greek word, zelos, is neutral and can denote both good and bad qualities.  Zeal can be a positive quality.

Jealousy at its center speaks of those who desire to surpass others.

It implies a begrudging resentment which envies the good fortune of others.



Some of your translations may say, wrath. The word fury is an apt synonym.

Elsewhere, Paul urges, be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath (Eph.5:26).

This is a word with an almost unlimited potential for good and for evil.  Righteous indignation is a good thing.

Yet, in context, this word often denotes anger out of control, an unharnessed temper.

It encompasses a wide array of actions:  the anger of Cain (Gen.4:5-6) drove him to kill his brother Abel.  

But a less extreme version of this anger also results in:  slamming doors, road rage, yelling at your wife and fits of rage.



Some versions translate this word as, strifeIt implies selfish ambition and rivalry.

The original word address the idea of “office seeking” or “canvassing for a position”.

It describes someone who wants an elevated position of responsibility primarily for prestige.

It describes what took place when the mother of James and John requested chief seats for her sons  (Mt.20:21).



Other words used here are, sedition and divisionsIt contributes in making people angry at each other.

It an elaboration of what happens when a church splits occur.

This work of flesh fractures the unity of the Lord's church and sorely besmirches our testimony to the world.

It is an expression of a divisiveness that chooses to walk in the way of envy and bickering

rather than to walk the royal way of love, forgiveness and magnanimity.



This word alludes to false teaching.  You might find the word heresies used in this spot.

We all have an obligation to search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so (Acts 17:11).

When one holds a view that we deem to be wrong, unless they have a really ugly spirit about them,

there may be occasions where we have to agree to disagree, for the sake of the unity of the Spirit.



This work of the flesh is closely akin to jealousy.

But whereas jealousy (emulations) can sometimes be good (as in zeal), envy is never a good quality.

Envy speaks of a resentful desire for another person's possessions or advantages.

It is jealousy gone to seed - - it is an evil desire that is so strong that it plots the downfall of another.


If these sins of hostility are permitted to go unchecked, they will work in unraveling the body of Christ.

With keen vigilance we must make every effort to not let them find a residence among us.

If and when they should begin to sprout up us among us, we must be willing to work together to eradicate them.

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