Summary: Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel: The Fruit of the Spirit
Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel:
The Fruit of the Spirit
We are in the last leg of our Galatians series, “Standing in the Freedom of the Gospel,” finishing chapter five today, looking at the fruit of the Spirit. I had some individuals disagree with me on a couple of things. Turn to Galatians 5:16-25 with me.
Message in a Sentence - The fruit of the Spirit is the result of the Spirits' continual transforming power upon our hearts by the God given means of grace, including Spirit empowered crucifying sinful propensities.
The Nature of Spiritual Fruit (v. 22)
I want to give you four truths about the nature of spiritual fruit. First, spiritual fruit comes from the spiritual character/nature of the individual. A tree produces fruit that is consistent with its character (Mat 7:18-19; 12:33-37; Lk 6:43-45). That is why Paul says what he does in verse 21; it points to the spiritual condition of the person. If your life is generally characterized by the flesh, the old sinful nature, then you have probably not come to saving faith in Christ (exception is spiritual infants; 1 Cor. 3:1). Second, the fruit are characteristics of God (except self control). This makes sense since we participate in the divine nature (2 Ptr 1:4) and Paul tells us to imitate God (Eph 5:1) because we are his children. Third, spiritual fruit is a gradual growing process over the course of our lives (Mat 13:23). We are told that God forms Christ in us (Gal 4:19) and promised that we will be conformed to the character of Christ (Rom 8:29). We are not the primary agent in spiritual fruit being produced in our lives. But and this is the fourth truth, we are not passive in producing fruit. We are commanded to do each of these fruits in the New Testament – we are to love, rejoice, be at peace, etc.
Some Examples of Spiritual Fruit (v. 22-23)
The first fruit listed is love and is the primary way in which God deals with his people (2:20) and characterizes the Christian life. Love is the overflow of our life in Christ because God has poured his love into our hears by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5). Joy is also a characteristic of the Christian life. It is not emotional as much as it is confidence in God and his love for us because of what he has done in the cross, making us his children. It is the confidence that he is present in our lives and working for our good even in the most terrible circumstances. So James, 1:2-4, can tell us to rejoice in trials because you know that God uses them to shape our faith. Peace is the freedom from anxiety, stress, or worry, when life is turbulent or not going your way. It leads to peace in our relationships. The next two, long suffering and kindness, are the passive and active sides of love. Love is expressed in long suffering (ESV patience) toward difficult people and circumstances. It may even be with those who oppose you. Kindness is the active side of love (luke 6:35). It is a gracious disposition toward difficult people. Goodness is acting morally good because you have taken on the moral goodness of God. When we come to faith in Christ, we partake of the moral nature of God (2 P 1:4). Next, faithfulness, describes a character of faith, faithfulness to God over your life (Eph 1:1; Heb 11). Gentleness is the attitude and behavior in contrast to harshness. Last is self control is the ability to control yourself for the larger good. Being able to say no to the flesh, sinful impulses.
How God Produces Spiritual Fruit (v. 24-25)
How is fruit produced in our lives? What or who is the primary factor? The bible describes the dynamic of the work of the Spirit overcoming the work of the flesh in our lives as crucifixion. There are three ways the flesh is crucified: God has crucified our flesh when we come to faith (2:20); we crucified our flesh when we came to faith by repenting (5:24). From both perspectives, the divine and human, the flesh has been dethroned, removed as the primary master in our lives. But here is the catch – it has been dethroned but not destroyed; it has been removed but remains. It is crippled and desperate like any wounded animal fights for its life. So that leads us to the third way the flesh is crucified. We must constantly and consistently renounce the flesh (Rom 6:6; 8:13; Col 3:8-10) saying no to its desires and embrace Christ as better. Let's spend the last few minutes describing three crucial principles that will help us in our daily battle of crucifying the flesh. Crucifying the flesh must be ruthless; take no pity on your enemy who wages war on your soul. Do not coddle or play with sin. Second Crucifying the flesh is painful. Crucifixion was the most painful way to die in the Ancient Near East. It was done to humiliate and torture criminals. Third, crucifixion is decisive. Crucifixion was a slow but certain death. Paul ends this section with, 'if live by the Spirit, then walk by the Spirit.' Life this side of the cross is a Spirit empowered life. We seek the work of the Spirit in our lives by the means he has given us – our life in Him and our life in community.