Q. What are "sins of the flesh"?

A.Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:

When the New Testament epistles contrast "flesh" with "spirit," they generally do not mean a contrast between the physical and the spiritual. The Greek word for flesh, sarx, is used to denote the whole person turned in toward himself and away from God. In this usage, the opposite is "spirit," pneuma, the whole person turned toward God, open to His Spirit.

In Galatians 5:19-23 we see a contrast between "works of the flesh" and "fruits of the Spirit":

"Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. ... In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." Another listing of sins of the flesh occurs in Romans 1:28-32.

Sometimes, in popular usage, "sins of the flesh" designates sins involving bodily appetites, such as hunger and sexual desire. However, this usage is somewhat misleading. Bodily appetites in themselves are morally neutral. They become sinful only with our sinful misuse of them; in other words, by human choice.

According to Paul's use of the term "flesh," then, all sins are sins of the flesh.