"Bear[ing] fruits worthy of repentance" implies a process. Just as a tree does not produce fruit overnight, a Christian does not fully repent overnight. It is a lifelong process of making changes, and over time we will produce the fruit of the Spirit more consistently than the works of the flesh.
Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Repentance
Adulterers will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But God will forgive an adulterer if he genuinely repents, and He can still give him eternal life ( II Samuel 12:13-14; John 8:10-11). However, the consequences of sin still have their harmful effect, as we see in the death of David and Bathsheba's child. Although forgiven, David and his household endured violence from that point forward because of his adultery and murder.
Martin G. Collins
The Seventh Commandment
Consider these "works of the flesh," and notice how many of them are elements of disagreement. Do people commit adultery because they agree with the one they are fooling around on? Do people murder because they agree with their victims? How about people who are characteristically hostile, hateful, and contentious? Two of these are on the list. Do people live in agreement with one of whom they are jealous? Can people dwell together in unity when they are filled with such character flaws as outbursts of wrath (explosive tempers), selfish ambition (running over rivals in the rush to attain a desired thing or outcome), dissensions, heresies (holding ungodly opinions or doctrines), envies, drunkenness, and so on?
These actions do not reflect the nature of God, and if one does any of these regularly, then the person is probably unconverted—or converted but carnal and weak, as Paul says in I Corinthians 3—and he is not being led by the Holy Spirit. It is certainly possible for that to occur.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Division, Satan, Humility
Consider this passage in light of the laws and beliefs that we frequently point to as setting us apart from the world. A person can keep the Sabbath, at least in the letter, and still display drunkenness, hatred, contentions, outbursts of wrath, and dissensions. One can reject the Trinity doctrine, the doctrine of eternal security, and the immortality of the soul yet promote and practice heresies, since a heresy is simply any deviation from truth. An individual can tithe yet exhibit selfish ambitions, envy, and jealousy. Someone can observe the laws of clean and unclean meats and still be unclean in his heart and in the decency of his life. A man can be physically pure in his relationships while living vicariously through revelries, which Adam Clarke's commentary defines as wild parties and obscene music.
The warning at the end of verse 21 is explicit: Those who practice such evils or make them a part of their lives will not be in God's Kingdom—they simply would not fit in. Their lifestyle is contrary to the quality of the life God lives and expects His children to live.
To put this another way, what kind of witness does a person make who keeps the Ten Commandments (including the Sabbath and holy days), eats only clean meats, tithes faithfully, and rejects false doctrines, yet has a temper, curses, tells dirty jokes, has a perpetual chip on his shoulder, always has a complaint against another, always looks out for "number one," drinks too much, and revels in perverse entertainment? Such a witness of nominal lawkeeping is useless to God, just as ancient Israel's witness to the nations gave the enemies of God an occasion to blaspheme (Ezekiel 36:20-23).
When Jesus Christ introduces Himself in the letter to the Laodicean church (Revelation 3:14), He highlights the fact that He is "the Faithful and True Witness." He points to this title to show where the Laodiceans fall short. They are so enamored of the world and so much a part of it that it is difficult for an observer to tell them apart from the rest of Babylon! Their lives do not glorify God because they do not demonstrate a separation from the world. They do not demonstrate holiness or sanctification.
In contrast, the result of the Holy Spirit being active in a person's life will be love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness), and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These attitudes are not manifested all at once, which is why Paul calls them "fruit." Fruit takes time to develop and mature. Nevertheless, one whose life God dominates, who is led by His Spirit, will be exhibiting these things in addition to obeying God's law. He will be not merely obeying but also imitating God. He will be exhibiting these characteristics because he is a regenerated son of God who expresses the traits of his Father.
David C. Grabbe
The Pentecost Witness
Paul obviously saw anger and hostility as a basic element of human nature. Of all the negative attitudes that are part of the spiritual mark of the beast, hostility and anger are probably the most frequent expressions against God and others. But how often does the Bible show Jesus, our Model—the One we are to pattern our lives after—angry?
Consider this interesting observation that Solomon made: "Be not hasty in your spirit to be angry: for anger rests in the bosom of fools" (Ecclesiastes 7:9). Jesus was no fool. Thus, we do not see much in the Bible about Him being angry. The Proverbs say, "A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). It is not very frequent that an angry, hostile person speaks softly.
"By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaks the bone" (Proverbs 25:15). "The discretion of a man defers his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression" (Proverbs 19:11). Anger hardly ever helps a situation. It divides. It almost invariably makes things worse. It forces the other person to defend himself, and then a vicious cycle is generated.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Spiritual Mark of the Beast
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Galatians 5:20:
1 Corinthians 2:2
2 Corinthians 7:1
2 Peter 2:1