Summary: This is the first sermon in series of four to introduce the concept of the Fruit of the Spirit.

TEXT: Galatians 5:22-25

TITLE: The Year of Fruit

PROPOSITION: By walking in the Spirit, Jesus begins to come out in our lives.

We all have different names, but we share a common destination. It is not heaven, but rather is a matter of what we are too be as the people of God. Paul shares this with us in Galatians 5. This text will be our theme text for all of 2006. This morning I want to lay out four principles that will be foundational for all that we consider this next year.

1. God’s people are expected to bear fruit. Paul evokes the image of a fruit tree. There is an expectation most people have about fruit trees – we expect them to bear fruit. Sometimes, we also try to fake the fruit of the Spirit. We try to tie it onto an unchanged life. Christians are to bear fruit, but it has to be the right kind of fruit. The fruit is the character, conduct, and conversation of Jesus. Notice that the word “fruit” in our text is singular. The nine different attributes are the summation of one person – Christ. We are to become more and more like Christ.

2. Bearing fruit is the effect of walking in the Spirit. What is important to note is that Paul designates this as the “Fruit of the Spirit.” It is not our fruit. We cannot and do not produce it. It is not the result of our actions. It is the result of the Holy Spirit. The key to walking with the Spirit is learning to recognize the voice of God.

3. Walking in the Spirit requires spiritual discipline. We learn to recognize a voice by the amount of exposure we have to it. The voice becomes familiar to us. Some people want their faith like a vending machine. They want to make a deposit, put in some money and let the rest be taken care of automatically. But, there is no such thing as automated prayers, devotion, worship in song or service. The religion of Jesus requires personal discipline.

God is constantly seeking to make Himself known to us. He wants and desires a close relationship and fellowship. He wants us to know His plan for our lives. He wants to make us into the image of Jesus. We must learn to recognize the voice. The spiritual disciplines are like a cup. They allow us to catch the goodness of God. There are many disciplines – in fact, we can define a spiritual discipline as any action or activity that is done for the purpose of building up one of the elements of the fruit of the Spirit. There are many disciplines, but we must exercise them in order to obtain the desired effects.

4. Walking in the Spirit releases us from legalism. I realize that the use of the word “discipline” creates immediate concerns – especially on the day of the year when people are making resolutions to be broken. But we must consider the options. If we do not spend time with the Spirit, then we must try to become Christ like on our own. We will sink into the abyss of legalism and all of its disappointments.

To practice the spiritual disciplines means that we become more and more aware of the leadership of the Spirit. We give Him the opportunity to work in and our of our lives. It means we have to know His Word and give Him the chance to use it in our lives. This is where the disciplines come into play.

The Holy Spirit guides us through the maze of life. He can guide us if we have a knowledge of God’s Word and His will is established in our minds.

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