Sunday February 16, 2014
The Fruit Of The Spirit
Galatians 5:16 – 24 – Theme: Fulfilled passions or fruit.
The desires of the flesh are not absent from believers but threaten them constantly. Nevertheless, believers are now able to conquer the flesh and its desires through the power of the Holy Spirit. Nor is it unclear whether one is yielding to the flesh or the Spirit, for one’s life demonstrates whether the flesh or the Spirit reigns.
a. Yield to the Spirit (5:16 – 18)
– Walk by the Spirit. All believers have the Holy Spirit who empowers them to live godly lives. “To walk,” indicates a continuous action. It is a life of obedience – one step at a time. Walking also implies progress.
– The passions of the lower sinful nature are opposed to the new life in the Spirit. We need to grow in this respect. There will be conflict in the Christian’s life. This is normal. The fight against sin will never vanish in this life. Luther admits his own conflict. “Anyone who would know this art well (living by the Spirit) would deserve to be called a theologian. The fanatics of our day, who are always boasting about the Spirit, as well as their disciples, seem to themselves to know it superbly. But I and others like me hardly know the basic elements of this art, and yet we are studious pupils in the school where this art is being taught. It is indeed being taught, but so long as the flesh and sin remain, it cannot be learned thoroughly.”
Augustine says: “He did not say ‘Walk in the Spirit so that you will not have desires of the flesh’ but ‘so that you will not gratify them.’ Not to have them at all, indeed, is not the struggle but the prize of struggle, if we shall have obtained the victory by perseverance under grace. For it is only the transformation of the body into immortal state that will no longer have desires of the flesh.”
– Verse 18 says: “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” Paul is saying – “make your choice, it cannot be both.”
b. Marks of the flesh and the Spirit (5:19 – 23)
i. The works of the flesh (5:19 – 21)
– “The works of the flesh are evident.” This is the natural condition of fallen humankind (see Romans 1:24 – 32). Those in union with Christ have a “new nature” (see 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Cor. 6:9 – 10).
– Note: immorality, sensuality, sorcery, drunkenness, orgies, – (see MacArthur’s SB).
– “Those who do (practice) such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The word for “do” in Greek is “prassontes.” It means to practice. It indicates habitual action, not an occasional lapse. “Paul is not talking about Christians who from time to time commit one of these sins against their better judgment, all the while knowing that they are grieving the Holy Spirit and wishing that they could stop. Rather, he is talking about people whose lives are dominated by sin, who are committed heart and soul to immorality, idolatry, sorcery, and envy” (Philip Ryken).
ii. Fruit of the Spirit (5:22 – 23)
– Notice that the flesh has “works” while the Spirit produces “fruit.” These characteristics are the characteristics of Jesus and are being formed in the truly regenerate believer. We grow in these fruits throughout our walk in this life. Nobody fully arrives.
– Love heads the list and encompasses the others.
– The Spirit produces what the law could never accomplish. There could be no law against such fruits. When a believer walks by the Spirit and manifests His fruit, he needs no external law to produce the attitudes and behavior that please God.
c. The crucifixion of the flesh (5:24)
– Notice the past tense. “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”