Summary: The Holy Spirit is at work producing fruit in the life of believers.
(NOTE: This series is based on the book Living in the Spirit by Dr. George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God).
As we get to know the person, presence and power of the Holy Spirit there will be a natural by-product: fruit. What does that mean? Simply this: as you develop your relationship with God, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, there will be a marked change in your attitude toward everything.
The Holy Spirit’s power is more than just to enable us to do the supernatural. He empowers us for the journey from doing what pleases the flesh to what pleases God. This is not an easy journey but it is also not a lonely journey. We have been given the Holy Spirit and we have been given the church to help us develop into the person God intends.
Let’s read Galatians 5:22-25 together this morning (stand and let’s read it out loud – bulletin insert)
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…
The book of Galatians is an awesomely fascinating book authored by the Apostle Paul. He had travelled through the region of Galatia (present day Turkey) on all three of his missionary journeys. On those journeys through the area a church had been established.
Many of the early converts to Christianity in Galatia were Jews. They had experienced the freedom that comes through relationship with Christ. Unfortunately, their freedom was being challenged by a group of people we call Judaizers. They were teaching that before anyone could experience the “full blessings” of God one had to become a Jew (including circumcision) first and then become a Christian. The result of this teaching was a horrible church split along Jewish and Gentile lines. The church had become “ethnocentric” (focused on race/ethnicity) and not Christocentric (centered upon Christ).
Paul writes to this divided church to remind them of freedom in relationship with Christ that comes by grace and is empowered by the Holy Spirit. Paul is “astonished” by how quick they deserted the “grace of Christ” (Galatians 1:6). In the place of Christ they had accepted a false gospel and confusion was ruling the day (cf. 1:7-8). He is so angry about what has happened he writes these words…
If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (1:9)
All of this turmoil was bringing this church into crisis and Paul knew that the only answer was to return to the freedom of Christ’s gospel.
• Paul spends two chapters talking about how the gospel is real/authentic – it truly brings salvation/freedom from sin. And it is available to all who will call on the Name of the Lord (not just the Jew).
• He then spend chapters 3 & 4 talking about the SUPERIORITY of the gospel over The Law – freedom in Christ no longer requires the religious ritual and rule that binds and kills.
• The last two chapters are spent talking about this simple thought: we are free to do what is right – our freedom in Christ is not a license to sin but license to live right.
Over and over in this book Paul talks about the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life. The Holy Spirit instructs, guides, leads and gives power. The Holy Spirit “ends our bondage to evil desires, and he creates in us love, joy, peace and many other wonderful changes.”
On the other side of the work of the Holy Spirit is the work of the flesh. In Galatia fleshly works were disguised in religious clothes. Some were keeping score by checking off the boxes of rules. Others, however, were using their freedom from the rules to do anything they felt like doing.
The sad result of obedience to The Law and to the flesh was the same: a spirit of criticism, anger, judgmentalism, competitiveness and more. Why does this happen? Because we stop being motivated by love!
(TRANSITION) This is where we are in Galatians 5. Paul confronts those who have backslid into horrible sin because they forsook Christ and tried to save themselves either by The Law or by fulfilling their own desires.
Before Paul gets to the often quoted verses about the fruit of the Spirit he spends time talking about the “fruit of license.”
Now I know that word “license” creates a very different picture in today’s mind than in Paul’s day. If you are 15 and hear that word you think about the day you are allowed to drive. If you are the parent of a 15 year old you hear that word and dread fills your heart because the State will allow your child to drive.