“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
I’m going to preface life in the Spirit with a term that is one of the most crucial words in my vocabulary, a word my soul must come to grips with and understand regularly:
The definition of the word is simply “moral corruption.” This is the problem with all of mankind. We are bent towards sin, and I mean completely bent, meaning we are unable to un-bend ourselves.
Prior to God saving us, our affections are fixed on self-gain and self-glorification. They are God-belittling and glory-robbing. It is entirely the faith alone in God provided by his glorious grace that we can seek God’s glory instead.
We are in a unique place in history, however. It’s referred to as the already, but not yet. [Refer to this article from Ligonier Ministries for further explanation on this tension.] We have already been saved, but that salvation is not perfected. We still sin and have to deal with that in our lives. We are fighting to kill the sin and pursue holiness for the glory of God.
Our previous pastor, Matt Chandler, used an illustration when we went through the book of Galatians. He said that if the past 48 hours of everything in our hearts and minds were broadcasted before the church, we would probably leave ashamed and unable to return based on the filth within.
Depravity is a foundational understanding of your (my) salvation in Christ. You see, if we are completely corrupt, there’s simply no way we can help ourselves. Someone, The One, has to step in, remove sin, and replace our wretchedness with His righteousness.
Now, a quick overview on the book of Galatians:
I find the reformed doctrine of justification to be the clearest description of what Galatians is all about:
Sola Fide –> /faith alone/
[read J.I. Packer's further explanation of this doctrine here.]
Paul is indicting the Galatians for what they have allowed to creep in.
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” –Galatians 1:6-9
Paul is serious about this. He goes on to call out Peter for succumbing to this distortion of the gospel by bowing to the circumcision party.
Then Paul restates the realities of the gospel and concludes with the theme of our text: the FREEDOM we have in Christ found in chapter 5.
Works of the flesh vs. Fruit of the Spirit
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
Works of the flesh, our vain attempts, keep us bound and found wanting; but the fruit of the Spirit is the produce of our faith in Christ. The first will keep us caged, the later will free us to joy.
It is important to note that it is not the “fruits” of the Spirit but “fruit.” It is holistic. We aren’t failing in love and flourishing in gentleness. That simply doesn’t make sense.
Sisters, when we lose our grip on self-reliance, we will effortlessly experience the fruit of the Spirit, because then it is God at work in us rather than our vain attempts. I am not saying that we are to be lazy in our pursuit of holiness because it’s just supposed to happen. That would be contrary to scripture. God has called us to work…in the Spirit. The difference lies in our affections. When we work outside of the atoning work of Christ, we are laboring for all that will perish. Just as our sin prior to Christ was not premeditated per say, so our bearing fruit will be natural in the God that gives us faith.
How can we flourish in the fruit of the Spirit?
First and foremost, communion with God is essential. Read his word. Talk with Him. Fast. Journal. Look for ways to stir your heart’s affections for the sweetness of the gospel. Let me touch on an area I also believe to be key. I find this to be so essential in our spiritual growth because I have experienced it first hand at our previous church. God also calls us to it.
We need to be so in each other’s lives that we can help each other grow in holiness. We will be found lacking until the day we die, and that will discourage us. However, we each have our own strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are mothers, others are single, some work in the home, others outside the home, some are in college. We are all so different and live different lives. But we have the one unchanging circumstance in common: The gospel of Jesus Christ! Let’s forget the comparing we so often do with one another, and instead look into each other’s faces and remember that we are all aiming for the same thing: conformity to Christ.
John Piper says the following:
“But the mentality behind the fruit of the Spirit is the mentality of faith depending upon grace. People who bear the fruit of the Spirit know they are worthy only of condemnation. They know that the only pay they can earn is the wrath of God. Therefore, they have turned away from self-reliance and look only to mercy in Christ who “loved us and gave himself for us” (2:20). They do not expect anyone to be their debtor because of their worth. Any satisfaction will be a free gift of grace. They bank on the mercy of God and entrust themselves to his Spirit for help. And out of that mentality of faith depending on grace grows not “works” but “fruit”: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness . . .”
We have been freed to FREEDOM in Christ rather than slavery to sin. There’s so much to boast in and so much encouragement to be had and shared in each other’s lives.
I recommend listening to the followings sermons on this text:
John Piper’s “Walk by the Spirit!”
Matt Chandler’s “Life in the Spirit”