The Lists

I love lists. I have a to do list that never seems to get completed. My wife and I keep a running grocery list that I use when I go grocery shopping. We have a list of movies to see that I’ll never find the time to finish off. If you’re like me, you are drawn to the sense of accomplishment when you can check something off the list. Sometimes, I’ll even add something to the list and cross it off if it wasn’t on there already. Done deal!

Per our discussion here, there are a few lists in the Bible that tell us what “to do” or “not to do”. I find the lists fascinating. I especially find them fascinating in light of the advancing morality or ethics of the day. My next few blogs are going to be focused on defining some of these terms: Sin, morality, ethics, etc. But for now, let’s look at these passages in terms of good behavior and bad behavior.

Of course, we have the 10 Commandments.

  1. You shall have no other Gods before me
  2. You shall not make for yourselves an idol
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy
  5. Honor your father and your mother
  6. You shall not murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery
  8. You shall not steal
  9. You shall not give false testimony
  10. You shall not covet

Some of these we would still put into a good or bad behavior category. For example I would expect most people would still put murder, adultery, and stealing into the bad behavior category. However, coveting, giving false testimony, honoring your father and mother, and I would argue pretty much the rest of them have sort of fallen into a gray area, if not maybe into the good behavior list.

The apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Let’s break this down. Let’s think about what this verse is really saying. I want you to think about these items one by one with me.

Sexual immorality:

sex·u·al
/ˈsekSH(o͞o)əl/
adjective

  1. 1.relating to the instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact between individuals.”she had felt the thrill of a sexual attraction”synonyms:carnal, erotic, coital, venereal; sensual”sexual pleasure”
  2. 2.relating to the two sexes or to gender.”sensitivity about sexual stereotypes”

I’m using definitions per the internet. I’m not making these up.

im·mo·ral·i·ty
/ˌiməˈralədē/
noun

  1. the state or quality of being immoral; wickedness.”he believed his father had been punished by God for his immorality”synonyms:wickedness, immoral behavior, badness, evil, vileness, iniquity, corruption, dishonesty, dishonorableness; More

I think this one could have it’s own blog post. But for now, I will just say that I think culturally or morality wise we are a bit confused on what would actually fall into this category. I’ll ask you what you think fits into this category. Lust? Masturbation? Viewing pornography? Adultery? Pre-martial sex? Homosexuality? Swinging? I don’t want to define anything for you, but I do want you to think about what would actually fall into the “sexual immorality” category for you.

Impurity:

im·pu·ri·ty
/imˈpyo͝orədē/
noun

  1. the quality or condition of being impure.synonyms:adulteration, debasement, degradation More
    • a constituent which impairs the purity of something.plural noun: impurities“aluminum and lead are impurities frequently found in tap water”synonyms:contaminant, adulterant, pollutant, foreign body; More
    • ELECTRONICSa trace element deliberately added to a semiconductor; a dopant.

Hmm… Not sure what to say here.

Debauchery:

de·bauch·er·y
/dəˈbôCHərē/
noun

  1. excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.synonyms:dissipation, dissoluteness, degeneracy, corruption, vice, turpitude, depravity, loucheness, rakishness, libertinism, immodesty, indecency, perversion, shamelessness, iniquity, wickedness, sinfulness, sinning, impropriety, lack of morals, lack of principles, immorality, impurity, unchastity, lasciviousness, salaciousness, lechery, lecherousness, lewdness, bawdiness, lust, lustfulness, libidinousness, licentiousness, promiscuity, wantonness, abandonment, abandon, profligacy, decadence, immoderateness, intemperance, lack of restraint, indulgence, self-indulgence, pleasure-seeking, hedonism, sybaritism; More

Geez…. we’re really raising the bar here.

Idolatry:

i·dol·a·try
/īˈdälətrē/
noun

  1. the worship of idols.synonyms:idol worship, idolatrism, fetishism, iconolatry, icon worship; More
    • extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.”we must not allow our idolatry of art to obscure issues of political significance”synonyms:idolization, idolizing, fetishization, worship, worshipping, adulation, adoration, adoring, reverence, glorification, lionizing, lionization, love, admiration, loving, admiring, hero-worshipping”our idolatry of art”

I would say that this one is almost an integral part of our American “normal” culture. It’s my opinion that our media and entertainment worlds ebb and flow based on idolatry.

Witchcraft:

witch·craft
/ˈwiCHˌkraft/
noun

  1. the practice of magic, especially black magic; the use of spells.”children and goods were believed to be vulnerable to the witchcraft of jealous neighbors”synonyms:sorcery, black magic, the black arts, the occult, occultism, wizardry, witching, necromancy, voodooism, voodoo, hoodoo, wonder-working, divination; More
    • (in a modern context) religious practice involving magic and affinity with nature, usually within a pagan tradition.
    • bewitching or fascinating attraction or charm.

This isn’t something that is blaringly obvious. Outside of The Blair Witch Project, and other movies about witches, witchcraft isn’t something that really comes up much. Although, and I’m using the definition here, I do see the “religious practice involving magic and affinity with nature” making it’s way into our culture.

Hatred:

ha·tred
/ˈhātrəd/
noun

  1. intense dislike or ill will.”racial hatred”synonyms:loathing, hate, detestation, dislike, distaste, abhorrence, abomination, execration, resentment, aversion, hostility, ill will, ill feeling, bad feeling; More

A regular scroll through Facebook or Twitter and you will see lots and lots of hatred. Again, this is something that appears to be culturally okay, especially as pertains to politics, media, social media, the entertainment industry. It’s also interesting to note that hatred is in the same list of “acts of the flesh” or bad behavior as sexual immorality.

Discord:

dis·cord
/ˈdiskôrd/
noun

  1. 1.disagreement between people.”a prosperous family who showed no signs of discord”synonyms:strife, conflict, friction, hostility; More
  2. 2.MUSIC lack of harmony between notes sounding together.”the music faded in discord”synonyms:dissonance, discordance, lack of harmony, disharmony, cacophony, jarring, jangling”the music faded in discord”

At this point, I can stop writing because this passage should be speaking for itself by now.

Jealousy:

jeal·ous·y
/ˈjeləsē/
noun

  1. the state or feeling of being jealous.”a sharp pang of jealousy”synonyms:envy, enviousness, covetousness, desire; More

Fits of Rage:

rage
/rāj/
noun

  1. 1.violent, uncontrollable anger.”her face was distorted with rage”synonyms:temper, fit of rage/fury/anger/temper, fit of bad/ill temper, towering rage, bad temper, pet, fit of pique, tantrum, fury, frenzy of rage/anger, rampage, paroxysm of rage/anger, passion, bad mood, mood; More

verb

  1. 1.feel or express violent uncontrollable anger.”he raged at the futility of it all”synonyms:be angry, be furious, be enraged, be incensed, be infuriated, seethe, be beside oneself, have a fit, boil, be boiling over, rant, rave, rant and rave, storm, fume, spit, breathe fire, burn; More

Selfish Ambition:

self·ish
/ˈselfiSH/
adjective

  1. (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.”I joined them for selfish reasons”synonyms:egocentric, egotistic, egotistical, egomaniacal, self-centered, self-regarding, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-seeking, self-serving, wrapped up in oneself, inward-looking, introverted, self-loving; More

am·bi·tion
/amˈbiSH(ə)n/
noun

  1. a strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.”her ambition was to become a pilot”synonyms:aspiration, intention, goal, aim, objective, object, purpose, intent, plan, scheme, mission, calling, vocation, desire, wish, design, target, end, dream, hope”her ambition was to become a pilot”
    • desire and determination to achieve success.”life offered few opportunities for young people with ambition”synonyms:drive, determination, desire, enterprise, initiative, eagerness, motivation, enthusiasm, zeal, commitment, a sense of purpose, longing, yearning, hankering; informalget-up-and-go”young people with ambition”

If this list truly is a list of bad behaviors, I’m beginning to feel a bit of inclusion.

Dissensions:

dis·sen·sion
/dəˈsen(t)SH(ə)n/
nounplural noun: dissensions

  1. disagreement that leads to discord.”these issues caused bitter dissension in the party” synonyms:disagreement, difference of opinion, dispute, dissent, variance, conflict, friction, strife, discord, discordance, discordancy, disunion, disaffection, rivalry, antagonism; More

Factions:

fac·tion1
/ˈfakSH(ə)n/
noun

  1. a small organized dissenting group within a larger one, especially in politics.”the left-wing faction of the party”synonyms:clique, coterie, caucus, cabal, bloc, camp, group, grouping, side, sector, section, wing, arm, branch, division, contingent, set, ring, lobby; More
    • a state of conflict within an organization; dissension.synonyms:infighting, dissension, dissent, dispute, discord, strife, contention, conflict, friction, argument, difference of opinion, disagreement, controversy, quarreling, wrangling, bickering, squabbling, disputation, falling-out, debate, division, divisiveness, clashing, disharmony, disunity, variance, rupture, tumult, turbulence, upheaval, dissidence, rebellion, insurrection, sedition, mutiny, schism”the council was increasingly split by faction”

What the heck? I don’t think it would be unfair to say that, especially here in America, we are a bunch of small dissenting groups. Again, it must be said that along with factions, things like sexual immorality and hatred are here in the same list.

Envy:

en·vy
/ˈenvē/
noun

  1. 1.a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.”she felt a twinge of envy for the people on board”synonyms:jealousy, enviousness, covetousness, desire; More

verb

  1. 1.desire to have a quality, possession, or other desirable attribute belonging to (someone else).”he envied people who did not have to work on weekends”synonyms:be envious of, be jealous of; More

I’m laughing at this point.

Drunkenness:

drunk·en·ness
/ˈdrəNGkənˌnəs/
noun

  1. the state of being intoxicated; intoxication.”a growing problem of drunkenness”synonyms:intoxication, inebriation, insobriety, tipsiness; More

We might be able to achieve some sort of agreement around this one. Drunkenness = Bad Behavior. But seriously, it’s in the same list as sexual immorality, hatred, discord. I’m checking myself here and invite you to do the same.

Orgies:

or·gy
/ˈôrjē/
noun

  1. a wild party, especially one involving excessive drinking and unrestrained sexual activity.”he had a reputation for drunken orgies”synonyms:wild party, debauch, carousal, carouse, revel, revelry, bacchanalia, bacchanal, saturnalia, Dionysiacs; More
    • excessive indulgence in a specified activity.”an orgy of buying”synonyms:bout, excess, surfeit, overindulgence, overconsumption; More
    • HISTORICALsecret rites used in the worship of Bacchus, Dionysus, and other Greek and Roman deities, celebrated with dancing, drunkenness, and singing.

Sound’s like a common frat party. And, they are common.

There’s another list in Romans that is very similar.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 

Have I ever disobeyed my parents? Am I greedy? Am I arrogant?

What’s your point here Dray? Why have you exhausted us with your definitions and lists? My point here is I’m guilty. If this represents a list of “bad behavior”, then I must admit I’m guilty. Furthermore, my point is that the lists have moved culturally or morality speaking. Remember how some items have fallen out of vogue with the Ten Commandments? It’s happening again.

I’m fairly confident that if I was judged by the list of “bad behaviors” that could be crafted by our normal modern day American culture and morality that I would be considered a pretty good guy, or maybe not. But when I look into the mirror of what I consider to be the Word of God, I realize that I am the “worst of sinners.”

That’s the argument that I’m making here. We, as an American culture, have crafted a new list that is a departure from what we’ve discussed here. Bad behavior has a new face. And furthermore, we are judging each other based on this new list. We are bringing people to the feet of Jesus with stones in our hands asking him if we can proceed with the execution. Jesus would tell us, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…”

Furthermore, we’re throwing stones. Stones are being thrown because we are basing the goodness or badness of our behavior against the new culturally effective morality. We’re working with a new list. A list that we’ve crafted.

I’m proposing a better way to get to goodness and it starts with inclusion in the group with the sinners, with those who have behaved badly and continue to do so. I consider myself “the worst of sinners” and I’m recommending that as a starting point.

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