Summary: Today we begin a series on the fruit of the Spirit. We consider why we struggle with manifesting the fruit and how we are able to do so.
1. The days are getting longer, the temperature slowly warming up. We can see and feel that soon it will be spring.
2. One of things I used to enjoy doing in late spring, is looking at the beautiful gardens people have. Last year remember handing out brochures for VBS. I admired well-landscaped yards, rich, luscious lawns and gardens full of beautiful flowers.
3. I could tell those who spent much time in making their property attractive.
4. But every so often I came to a property that stood out like a sore thumb - a yard that had no bushes and trees or if they hade not been trimmed for years. The gardens had no flowers, the grass was uncut and covered with dandelions and other weeds.
5. People in these houses were not interested in landscaping or maintaining their gardens or perhaps they were simply too busy.
6. When we look at someone’s yard or garden, we can tell something about the person who owns the house.
7. So also, when people look at us, the way we behave, at our attitudes and actions, at our personalities, they can also tell something about who owns or controls us.
8. Also, it is hard when you live beside someone who lets their property get run down - had neighbour like that beside first house we owned. I wished city would pass a law that they have to look after yard, but unless the place is a total disaster, the owner has the freedom of deciding whether his yard is nice or not.
9. In a similar way, we as Christians have been given freedom - we are not forced to live a certain way but we have freedom to choose how to live.
10. This evening we consider how well our lives are landscaped, how we are to and can use our freedom to choose, to show to self and others that we are children of God.
1. Paul is writing to the Christians in Galatia. These people are dealing with an important issue - whether or not non-Jewish converts should be circumcised or not. Paul says they do not need to be. (Gal 5:6)
a. In Gal 5:1 Paul had told them that they had been set free from the law. This is good news because no one, none of us, could ever live up to its demands.
b. In our passage Paul tells us how we are to respond to this freedom we have. (Gal 5:13)
c. This is a choice that each of us as Christians make every day.
2. In some ways life might be easier when we are not a Christian, when we are still in bondage to sin. Then there are no decisions or choices to be made. That is why some people commit another crime as soon as they get out of jail. So they can return to the safe, well-defined confines of a prison cell - no thinking required - they are conditioned to live a certain way. - eg. Maslov’s - stimuli-response theory.
3. We are free - no longer automatically conditioned to sin. We are free to not sin and free from having the law hang over us, telling us you better obey or else.
5. There are 3 ways to respond to this freedom.
a. 1st is to feel free to do whatever want because the law cannot convict him - sin all week without feeling guilty and then on Sunday go to church and show that we do have faith in Jesus Christ since that is all that matters - so they think. Life is simple - there are no struggles at all. Simply follow natural inclinations or as Paul says - indulges in the sinful nature
b. 2nd - is to become a legalist, to prove faith is real they must follow law to the letter. But somehow they always fall short and so they sense no certain, ultimate triumph - so always struggling with whether you are really a believer or not.
c. 3rd way - is the ways of a true believer. We experience a conflict - a deep conflict in his heart, continually battling against sin. But we have assurance of salvation, the victory Christ attained for us on cross. We see we fall short of living as Christ wants him to and so are continually struggling.
6. Which of these three describes you?
7. As a Christian, there is a strong battle going on within us between two powerful forces - between the sinful nature and the Spirit.
a. Sinful nature is old nature, that which controls us before we rec’d Christ and Holy Spirit. Still seeks to draw us from Christ. It is our natural self apart from Christ. (Gal 5:17)