For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.- Galatians 5:13-26
In this passage Paul is writing to the church in Galatia. The people in Galatia had moved into a lifestyle of justification by works and keeping the law and the Apostle Paul had to explain to the church that they were freed from the law in Christ. This meant they were no longer judged by how they kept the law but by how Christ completed the work of fulfilling the law. As Paul was explaining this to the church, he had to make this preemptive teaching about their freedom. He knew that without explaining this freedom and some would get the idea “Well, if I’m no longer bound by the law. . . . let’s party!
Paul goes on to explain that the freedom in Christ is not to be used as an opportunity to sin in the flesh but to love and serve one another as Christ served us. The freedom God has given to us by His grace is the freedom to live and to walk in the Holy Spirit of God.
A major problem in Christianity in America is continuing to walk in the flesh after we are saved. We put our faith in Christ, yet little may change in our lives. We continue to sin how we did before we were saved, we continue to talk like we did before we were saved and we continue to live almost totally in the same way before we were saved. Now this is not to say that when we first become saved that all our major junk is cleaned up. . . . definitely not, however in the coarse of cleaning out the garage, you should end up taking out a bag of trash every now and then!
In this passage we see a picture painted of the contrast between the works of the flesh and the Fruit of the Spirit. Right out of the gate I really enjoy the difference in how the Bible phrases these 2 concepts. . . . . WORKS vs FRUIT.
How many eagerly await and look forward to work?
How many look forward to and enjoy eating a nice juicy pear, orange, apple or blueberries?
I love how the Bible paints these attributes of Christians that come from the spirit as fresh and delicious fruit. There’s just something different between a Big Mac and a fresh and juicy nectarine or melon. Big Mac’s are tasty and filling, but you sure don’t feel awesome after eating one. However after eating a few pieces of sweet fruit, you feel fulfilled but not like you indulged. . . . or need a nap.
This is an image that should resound in our mind about the works of the flesh vs the fruit of the spirit. One makes you feel temporarily happy yet terrible afterward and the other fulfills you and makes you feel revived and fresh!
When we read this passage we clearly see that contrast between work and fruit. Verse 17 speaks about the opposing nature of the Spirit and the Flesh.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
This difference of nature is like ice and steam. One cannot be both ice and steam at the same time. One is hot and one is cold. Thus is our nature and living as a Christian. We cannot walk both in the Spirit and in the Flesh simultaneously.
I. Works of the Flesh (Self-Centered)
- a. Sexual Immorality / Impurity / Sensuality
- -Pornography, Adultery, Fornication, Homosexuality, Fantasies, Flirtation, Dirty Jokes, Cursing
- b. Idolatry / Sorcery
- -Worship and elevation of anything that is not God
- c. Enmity / Strife / Jealousy / Fits of Anger / Rivalries / Dissensions / Divisions / Envy
- -Pride , Anger & Jealously between others
- d. Drunkenness / Orgies
- -Partying / Drinking / Drugs / Worldly & Sexual Dancing
II. Fruits of The Spirit (People Centered)
- a. Love
- -Laying your life down for others, compassion, caring for others
- b. Joy
- -Spirit of joy/contentment despite the circumstances, thankfulness, gratefulness, optimistic
- c. Peace
- -Steady and calm spirit among the storms of life. No matter the surrounding, our countenance and spirit is unmoved
- d. Patience
- -Joyfully waiting on the Lord’s timing and enduring tough conditions many times accompanied by suffering, especially when timing is not ideal to us
- e. Kindness
- -Speaking and acting with positive and encouraging words / tones and spirits regardless of other’s treatment of us
- f. Goodness
- -Uprightness of heart and life, living life in integrity and goodness
- g. Faithfulness
- -Fidelity, whole hearted belief and faith in God. The character of one who can be relied upon
- h. Gentleness
- -Mildness, Meekness. Treating others with gentleness without being abrasive, angry, and intensity
- i. Self-control
- -The virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites. Food/Gluttony, Compulsive Spending, Lust of the Eyes
PATIENCE is better than wisdom: an ounce of patience is worth a pound of brains. All men praise patience, but few enough can practice it. It is a medicine which is good for all diseases: therefore, every old woman recommends it, but it is not every garden that grows the herbs to make it with. When one’s flesh and bones are full of aches and pains, it is as natural for us to murmur as for a horse to shake his head when the flies tease him, or a wheel to rattle when a spoke is loose. But nature should not be the rule with Christians, or what is their religion worth? If a soldier fights no better than a plowboy, off with his red coat. We expect more fruit from an apple tree than from a thorn, and we have a right to do so. The disciples of a patient Savior should be patient themselves. Grin and bear it is the old-fashioned advice, but sing and bear it is a great deal better. After all, we get very few cuts of the whip, considering what bad cattle we are; and when we do smart a little, it is soon over. Pain past is pleasure, and experience comes by it. We ought not to be afraid of going down into Egypt when we know we shall come out of it with jewels of silver and gold.- Charles Spurgeon
1. Walking in the Nature of God
As we walk in the spirit, we walk in the actual nature of God. We are then able to love as God loves, be patient as God is patient, be good like God is Good. In total, we walk in the spirit, attitude, tone, actions and qualities of Jesus Christ.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.- 2 Peter 1:3-4
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.- Romans 8:10-14
In verse 16, we see the contrary nature of walking in the Spirit and gratifying the flesh. If we walk in the Spirit, the result is that we do not gratify/satisfy the flesh.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.- Galatians 5:16
This means that we kill 2 birds with 1 stone. By walking in the spirit, it cancels out our walking in the flesh. Instead of running away from one set of sinful behaviors, we run to another nature and rest under the grace of the Holy Spirit that enables us to eat of and reap the fruit of the Spirit of God.
The fruit of the Spirit only comes by walking in the Spirit
If we are not living in the fruits of the Spirit, you are not walking in the Spirit. If you are not bearing the fruits of the Spirit, you need to water your tree. How do you water the tree? You don’t. You pray every day for the Holy Spirit to be in you and to work in you. The reason it’s call the fruit of the Spirit is because it’s of the SPIRIT! If we try to walk in the spirit in our own strength, we will fail and end up frustrated that we failed! You might try to beat that anger problem on your own, then when things get really annoying and on your nerves. . . BOOM! Fit of rage. . . Why? Because you are working in your own strength.
Pray all night. Pray all day. Have your friends pray, your family pray and your church pray. We must pray and walk in the spirit to bear the fruit of the spirit. If we don’t use an umbrella in the rain. . . We WILL GET WET. This week, let our minds be set on walking in the spirit and reaping the fruits of the spirit. Spend time in prayer every morning and ask the Lord to fill you will more of His spirit so you can walk in His nature and as he walks. Meditate on these qualities day and night and let them sink into your heart.