16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:16-18; 22-23)
How does a person experience deep, lasting, radical change?
1. Growth is gradual
Paul invokes a botanical metaphor – Christian change is as gradual as a fruit growing.
Botanical growth is something you never actually see. Growth is so gradual you can’t see it.
This means you need to be patient with your growth. It happens in cycles. Spring and fall and winter.
There will be times when you don’t think you are growing. But normally growth comes in spurts.
By definition is never something you actually feel, you can only measure it.
You may be growing but you can’t tell until trouble comes and you realize yo are able to get through things you never thought you get through before. It is mysterious, gradual, often missed.
But remember it is fruit of the spirit. What is it producing? It is inevitable.
2. Growth is inevitable.
If you are a Christian, you will grow- it is inevitable. G. Campbell Morgan- story of marble slab split in half by tiny acorn in graveyard.
STORY OF FIG TREE and JESUS
Real faith will inevitably lead to growth. How do you know? Ask your friends.
Some of you:
- Can’t keep secrets
- Are overly critical
- Are worriers
- Your abrasive
- You have secret sin
- You are not a loving person
- You are resentful
- You are always getting your feeling hurt
This is lack of love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control.
You can’t know you are a Christian if you are NOT changing.
3. Growth is organic
It does not happen in a mechanical way. It happens in an organic way. It happens from the inside out.
1 Corinthians 13: Paul says you can have all kinds of religious stuff and have nothing.
Love is patient, kind…
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor 13:1-7)
4. Growth is conformity to Christ
Paul says FRUIT of the spirit- not fruits. It is ONE FRUIT- not many fruits. You can’t look at some of them and say you don’t have the rest. They are all related.
Jonathan Edwards says they are concatenated. They are interconnected and interdependent.
It means all the graces of Christianity are connected to one another. LOVE JOY PEACE PATIENCE KINDNESS GOODNESS FAITHFULNESS GENTLENESS SELF CONTROL – they all go together.
Out of love flows all the other. Some people have individual characteristics but struggle in other areas- and it might even come out of their sin. A person can be gentle because they have no self control or maybe they have peace because they are not compassionate. Some have self control because they don’t have gentleness or they have patience because they are cowardly.
Two things if you want to grow in grace: Crucify the sinful nature. The main problems in your life are things you want too much. Keep in step with the spirit.
What does the spirit love? The spirit wants to make you more like Jesus. The spirit is always pointing you to Jesus.
Your flesh is longing for things
Your spirit is longing for Jesus