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. 18 But if you are led by
the Spirit, you are not under the law. 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. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:16-26)
Belief in God should result in a transformed life but it doesn’t always happen. It turns out that it is not automatic. It is through the practices of the faith that change starts taking place. The bible says to “examine yourself”.
“But let a man examine himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:28)
Why are we examining ourselves and what are we looking for? The answer is found in the fruit of the spirit. We do this in order to cultivate the fruit.
Three observations about the fruit of the Spirit:
1. Growth doesn’t happen all at once
The fruit can be very small and not very obvious but it is there- it doesn’t just pop out of the tree, it takes time to come about in a person’s life. Paul is saying in essence that if these things are not growing in you, you can’t be a Christian. The way you know a tree is alive is if there is fruit. No fruit- no life.
Love: serving others for their sake
Joy: Delight in God for Himself, not for what he gives you. If you have joy in God in who He is and nothing else it results in emotional evenness. Your joy is not dependent on circumstances.
Peace: is trusting God.
Patience: the ability to suffer without melting down
Kindness/Goodness: Integrity to be the same with everyone no matter who they are.
Faithfulness: Persistence in all circumstances- courage and staying power.
Gentleness: blessed self forgetfulness
Self-control: If you have all the others, you have this.
2. The fruit is interdependent on all the others
People look at this list and they pick and choose. Paul says that’s impossible because the word “fruit” is singular. He does not say the “fruits of the spirit are…” He says “the FRUIT of the spirit IS…”
3. The fruit reflects the inner life of the vine
In the place of the neediness and selfishness and self centeredness is replaced by God-centeredness. Unless your growing in all of them, your not growing in any of them.
Unless these things are growing in your life you can’t be sure if the Holy Spirit is in your life.
What does he mean by “crucify the sinful nature”? it is the partially intact temptation toward self salvation. This is why he warns against being under the law. In your heart you have a flesh operating system that creates passions and desires. The word for “lust’ is not evil desires by “over desire”.
Your flesh operating system moves good things into the center of your heart and lies to you about your joy and self fulfillment.
When you put human approval at the center of your heart it does devastating things to your heart. When people hurt you it is natural to be hurt but when you have human approval at the center of your heart it will be crushing.
The same is true for work and for family and for every good thing the flesh moves into the center. The flesh turns your ego into a monster.
You won’t be able to grow in the fruit of the spirit until you recognize the flesh operating system and see where your true life comes from.
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus …” “Belong” is covenant language- we belong to each other.
Only when you know you are unconditionally loved and received and accepted can you drive away the flesh operating system. The fruit reflects the inner life of the vine.
- Why is “fruit of the spirit” singular and not plural?
- Why is it important to examine yourself in this way?’
- What does it mean that the fruit doesn’t grow all at once?
- What does it mean that all the fruit are important and we can’t just single one or two out?
- How do we grow in the fruit of the spirit?