CULTIVATING THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

Galatians 5:19-25

“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

This is an interesting series of verses. It gives a clear comparison and contrast to sinful nature and the fruit of the spirit. Let’s compare:

Sinful Nature

sexual   immorality

impurity

debauchery

idolatry

witchcraft

hatred

discord

jealousy

fits   of rage

selfish   ambition

dissensions

factions

envy

drunkenness

orgies

Fruit of the Spirit  

love

joy

peace

patience

kindness

goodness

faithfulness

gentleness

self-control.

Which of these characteristics do you exhibit most often? Which describe your relationship with others?

When people observe you which list are they likely to read from?

If you look around you, you probably already know others that clearly exude the fruit of the Spirit. You have probably noticed they act and react differently from others. By reading the list, you can now see, and understand why.

Fruit is a public testimony to a believer’s sensitivity to and dependency on the Holy Spirit. It is the telling sign. Fruit sets the abiders apart. It is not simply one mark of a Spirit-filled life; it is the preeminent mark. When we see fruit in a life, we know without a doubt that the Holy Spirit has custody over that particular child of God. The person is more than His possession; the person is under His influence.

The closer you get to believers who are truly walking in the Spirit, the better they look. There is nothing plastic about them. You don’t get the impression that they are hiding something. They radiate integrity. You get the impression you could trust them with your most intimate secret. You may even find yourself opening up to them in a way that is uncharacteristic for you.

Intimidation is not their game. They don’t rely on personality and trumped-up enthusiasm to win you over. They seem to be at peace with who they are. And they seem almost anxious to accept you for who you are as well. For that reason, you may feel drawn to them. They are the people you find yourself wanting to be like, not because of a particular skill or talent, but because of the depth of their character.

We are not talking about perfection. In fact, you will hear more apologies from the lips of those who walk by the Spirit than any other group of people. Their sensitivity to the Spirit provides them with an uncanny ability to know when they have offended or hurt someone. Their internal security allows them to respond quickly once they realize their sin or error in judgment. They are not afraid to admit their faults. They have reconciled themselves to the fact that they are sinners. However, they are aware that they have within them the power to rise above their fleshly appetites and desires.

Spirit-filled believers make their biggest impression during troubled times. Then it becomes most apparent that the source of their abiding character is something that lies deep within them. When all the crutches and props are kicked away and they are still standing, no one can argue that their uniqueness was simply a byproduct of their environment. They have their down times. They don’t win every battle. Doubt and temptation take them out of the race from time to time. But their recovery time is remarkably short. They don’t stay down. And once they are back, it’s as if they actually benefited from the experience. Specifically, their lives will be characterized by the nine fruit Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit.

 The fruit of the Spirit may be divided into three groups:
    1- Love (charity), joy, peace: Our God ward relationship.
2- Patience, kindness, goodness: Our relationship with the people.
3- Faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: Our inward relationship, the attitudes and actions of the inner self.

These 9 fruits are all related to each other, that’s why Paul calls all of them “the fruit of the Spirit”, and all should characterize our lives when we abide in Christ and Christ in us, by the power of the Spirit, for the glory of the Father, for our own good, and for the good of the Church.

1.  Love: Love seeks the highest good of others.

Love is not based on emotions or feelings.  It is a decision to be committed to the well-being of others without any conditions or circumstances.

2.  Joy:  Gladness not based on circumstances.

Joy is more than happiness.  It is not based on financial success, or health, or popularity.

By believing in God, obeying his will, receiving his forgiveness, participating in fellowship with other believers, ministering to others, and sharing the gospel, believers will experience joy.

3.  Peace:  Contentment, unity between people.

Peace is a state of assurance, lack of fear, and sense of contentment.  It is a fellowship, harmony, and unity between individuals.  Peace is freedom from worry, disturbance, and oppressive thoughts.

4.  Patience: Slow to speak and slow to anger.

Patience is slowness in avenging wrongs.  It is the quality of restraint that prevents believers from speaking or acting hastily in the face of disagreement, opposition, or persecution.  Patience is bearing pain or problems without complaining.

5.  Kindness:  Merciful, sweet, and tender.

Kindness is an eagerness to put others at ease.  It is a sweet and attractive temperament that shows friendly regard.

6. Goodness:  Generous and open hearted.

Goodness is the selfless desire to be open hearted and generous to others above what they deserve.

7.  Faithfulness:  Dependable, loyal, and full of trust.

Faithfulness is firm devotion to God, loyalty to friends, and dependability to carry out responsibilities.  Faith is the conviction that even now God is working and acting on one’s behalf.

8.  Gentleness:  Humble, calm, non-threatening.

Gentleness is a humble non-threatening demeanor that derives from a position of strength and authority, and is useful in calming another’s anger.  Gentleness is not a quality that is weak and passive.

9.  Self-control:  Behaving well.

Self-control is to restrain one’s emotions, actions, and desires, and to be in harmony with the will of God.  Self-control is doing God’s will, not living for one’s self.

The fruit of the Spirit is not an optional extra in the life of a believer but the evidence that the Holy Spirit is in residence and working to make us more like Christ each day. But how do we ensure that the fruit of the Spirit is growing in our lives and is evidenced in our lives?
Galatians 5: 24-25 tells us how:

24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Paul says we are to crucify the flesh……the sinful nature with its passions. Note will you he says we crucify the flesh. It is not something done to us but something we do. It is a deliberate putting to death.

Metaphorically we are to nail the desires and passions of our flesh to the cross and leave them there.

Only criminals were condemned to die by crucifixion and our old nature is to be treated as a criminal. Death by crucifixion was lingering but it was certain. When we nailed the old nature to the cross by coming to faith in Christ we began the process of the gradual, but certain, death of the old nature. That death will be complete in heaven.

When a criminal was crucified he was left to die but soldiers kept guard to ensure no one took him down before he died. We must leave our old natures on the cross to die and not allow them back off every so often. Then in verse 25 Paul says the positive thing we must do is to ‘walk by the Spirit,’ keep in step with the Spirit.  In verse 18 we are led by the Spirit – the Holy Spirit takes the initiative. In verse 25 we are to be active participants.

Paul uses a word for ‘walk’ which speaks of someone who ‘walks in line.’ So, Paul is encouraging believers to follow what is right, what we know to be right. This is a disciplined walk in the things of God. Just as a natural tree requires

  • healthy soil,
  • the right food,
  • careful pruning,
  • a mixture of rain and sunshine in order to bear good fruit

   – the same is true of our lives.

*  We require good nourishment from prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship.                                                                  

                       

  • We require careful pruning by God through His Word.

                                                                 

  • We require the times of trial and blessing in order that the fruit of the Spirit might be seen in our lives.

                                                                

To finish let me say once again – Paul says ‘fruit’ – singular – this is not a pick and choose list – all of these must be evident in our lives.

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