As we look at the list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:20-21 and the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 it is easy to see what list we would want to be used to describe us. We all want to be known as loving, joyful, and peaceful people. On the other hand, very few if any would want themselves described as angry, idolatrous, envious, and sexually immoral.
If this is true, why do we find ourselves turning to works of the flesh? Satan and our hearts are very deceitful. One of the reasons we fall into the traps of doing the works of the flesh is because we ironically believe that in doing them, we will get the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy and peace). We are tempted to envy because if we only had what that other person had we would be full of love, joy, and peace. Or we turn to the idols of money, entertainment, or power because we believe they can give us joy. Each work of the flesh promises us that if we just reach out and seize it all the desires of our heart will come true. Yet as soon as we reach to grab it turns to ash. Instead of bringing blessing, these acts only produce death.
This is why the real path to being filled with the fruit of the Spirit is putting to death the deeds of the flesh. We saw Jesus do this last week in Luke 4. Satan came at him with the promise of food, power and being rescued by his Father. All Jesus had to do was reach out and seize it. But Jesus chose to deny his flesh and instead live in dependent, trusting obedience to his Father. He refused to reach out and grasp for God’s blessing.
This is how we are called to live. In Christ, we are sons and daughters of God through faith (Gal 3:26). The flesh says you can’t depend upon God – you need to get what is yours. But the Spirit says we ought to be dependent upon our Father who did not spare his own Son and who will graciously give us all things (Rom 8:33). The flesh says don’t trust God he will let down; God helps those who help themselves. The Spirit says God is faithful and those trusts in him will never be put to shame (Rom 10:11). The flesh says ignore and disobey God follow your heart, for that is the way to happiness. The Spirit says obey your Father in Heaven and your joy will be made complete (John 14:10-11).
As we deny the flesh and walk by the Spirit in dependent, trusting obedience we will produce the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is both something God works in us and something we choose. God’s Spirit transforms our hearts through faith so that we might choose to walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. These are things we all called to put on in Christ (Col 3:12-14). We don’t do them as some duty-driven task but because we want to follow in the footsteps of our elder brother, Jesus who was full of all these fruits. As we follow Him in this way, we will see him transform our hearts and affections and become the new men and women we are in Christ.
May we be a people full of the fruit of Spirit. My prayer each one of you is that the list of the fruit of the Spirit will come more and more to describe you. We serve an amazing, faithful God who is powerfully at work in his people by his Spirit.
Pastor, Friendship Baptist Church