Topical Sermons                                                                                                          Power Point Show


Scripture Reading:  1 John 4:17-5:3


Part 4

Works of the Flesh:  Rivalry (I)

Galatians 5:20


1.  Freedom in Christ does not mean free to sin/do as we please (Gal. 5:1).

2.  The next group of words in the list of the works of the flesh is given more prominence than any other group (eight words).

3.  ReasonGal. 5:13-15 – Thru love we are to be servants of each other & thereby avoid the biting, devouring & con­suming that destroys relationships & souls.

4.  There is a general progression in these words:  attitudes, actions & results.

5.  With this in mind, we begin to study works of the flesh that destroy friendships, marriages, churches & the influence of the Spirit in our lives:  Hatred, contentions, jealousiesTraits of rivalry (competition, challenge, opposition & contention) that destroy souls!



  A.  Hatred (enmities, ASV; quarrels, NEB) - [echthra].

    1.  “It is the opposite of agape, love.”  (Vine, 201)

    2.  “Intense ill-will; enmity, hostility, malevolence; wishing evil upon another.”  It is feuding, hostility.

    3.  Working definition of echthra:  Hateful attitude.

    4.  Wm. Barclay: “Echthra (hatred, enmities) is the attitude mind & heart which puts up the barriers & which draws the sword.”

    5.  One with such an attitude is a murderer in God’s sight:

      a.  While the world may hate us, we must not hate each other – 1 Jno. 3:13-15.

      b.  Love opens doors for the influence of the gospel, but hatred throws open the gates of hell! – Jno. 13:34-35

    6.  Liar if we say we love God & hate our brother – 1 Jno. 4:20-21.

    7.  Marriage & the home, neighbors…we must be motivated by goodwill, not hatred!

  B.  Contentions (variance, KJV; strife, ASV; contentious temper, Moffatt translation) – [eris].  (Squabbling, quarrelsome, argument)

    1.  “The disposition to wrangle or quarrel.”  (wrangling, Jer. Bible)

      a.  “When a man begins to argue to demolish his opponent rather than to win him, then eris comes in.”  (Wm. Barclay, Flesh & Spirit, p. 44)

      b.  “Eris, strife, is the outcome in actual life of that state of mind (echthra, enmity, hatred – jrp).”  (Ibid., 42)

    2.  Hatred engenders strife; it puts one in the “kickitive” mood – Prov. 10:12.

    3.  Used to describe contentions among brethren that indicates carnality (domination of the flesh) – 1 Cor. 1:11 & 3:3.

    4.  Eris divided the Corinthian church into sects & parties, claiming to be of Cephas, Apollos, Paul & Christ.

    5.  Strife has a disposition to wrangle & causes a dividing in two among those who should be one:

      a.  Brethren (1 Cor. 1:10).

      b.  Marriages, families, businesses, neighbors, etc.

      c.  Strife promotes division where unity ought to exist. 

    6.  Barclay correctly notes:

Eris invades the church and becomes characteristic of the church, when the leaders and the members of the church think more about people and about parties and about slogans and about personal issues than they do about Jesus Christ.  Here is our warning.  Whenever in a church Jesus Christ is dethroned from the central place, all personal relationships go wrong.”  (Flesh and Spirit, 44)

    7.  Strife is a trait of the pagan world the Christian is called out of & that we are to put to death – Rom. 1:29; 2 Cor. 12:20.

  C.  Jealousies (emulations, KJV) - [zelos].

    1.  Often associated with strife (Rom. 13:13; 1 Cor. 3:3; 2 Cor. 12:20).

    2.  Envious & contentious rivalry (the competitive spirit gone awry…one-upmanship).

    3.  “Jealousy desires to have the same or same sort of thing for itself.”  (Vine, 204; quoted in STS, XX:8:12)

    4.  When one hates another, strife is generated, which can cause one to be jealous of what that person has or is.

      a.  Jealousy promotes vengeance (settling the score) – Prov. 6:34 (1 Cor. 13:5).

      b.  Jealousy resides in the heart; its companions are selfish ambition, arrogance & dishonesty Jas. 3:14.

    5.  Present-day applications include:

      a.  Ambition to “keep up with the Jones.”  (When admiration turns to envious rivalry, jealousy is present.) – 2 Cor. 10:12

      b.  Preachers, elders, song leaders locked in bitter rivalry [cf. Phil. 1:15eris (strife) & phthonos (envy)].

      c.  When we become competitors against each other instead of co-workers! – 1 Cor. 3:9; Eph. 4:16

      d.  When we cannot rejoice when one is honored, or weep together – Rom. 12:15; 1 Cor. 12:25-26.



1.  So far, what we have considered are attitudes that reflect the control of the flesh over one’s heart.

2.  Put the flesh to death & walk in the Spirit – Gal. 5:16, 24-26.

3.  Next lesson:  How the spirit of rivalry shows / displays itself in our actions toward others, & its inevitable results.