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Evangelistic. Apologetic. Polemical.
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Lesson 8 - THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
The Natural and Inevitable Outworking of God’s Presence
By Brian S. Holmes
Were you born again, made a new creation by the Spirit of the Living God now in you? How does His presence affect how we Think? Feel? Live? Act? We’re forgiven of our sins through faith in Jesus and His death on the cross on our behalf. We’re saved by who He is and what He did, not by who we are and what we do. But that doesn’t mean we won’t change - we will!But we’re changed as a result of having already been saved by God’s grace and receiving His Spirit—not by our obedience to God’s law. In Galatians 5 apostle Paul talks about the fruitless and enslaving pursuit of trying to be saved by our own good works. Verse 1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” We aren’t to be enslaved by the law anymore. However, while we do have a new spirit inside we’re still living in bodies of sinful flesh. Our body and our soul (our mind, will, emotions, desires) still has sinful desires and selfish passions that are contrary to the will of God. Sinful desires must be put to death, and selfish passions of the flesh must be forced into submission. The Holy Spirit desires to lead you and He transforms from the inside-out.
Live according to the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-18 says, “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.” The law of God served as a schoolmaster to know what was wrong from right. It was good but limited. First, because they were always guilty of sin needing continuous atonement for, and second, because they just had to obey the law to the best of their ability in their weak, natural human strength. But now we have the freedom of the Gospel that has set us free from sin, death, and Hell. And authority over Satan. And the guidance and power of the indwelling Spirit in us. All these things ensure victory over sin, not as our goal to attain, but as our foundation to rest and live from. Romans 8:5 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”
Know, identify, and crucify the works of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-21 says, “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.” Other examples are listed in Matthew 15:19, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Colossians 3:5-6, and Revelation 21:8. These are evidences of being still unsaved, or of having false beliefs that need to be corrected, a part of you still broken you need to bring to the Lord to heal, or something you’re doing in disobedience to the Lord instead of submitting to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Verse 24 says, “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Commit yourself today to crucify it!
Know, embrace, and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit. Verses 22-23 say, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” In future lessons we’ll examine each fruit separately but here’s a brief overview. Love is the sacrificial giving of yourself to others, putting their needs above your own. This is foremost love of God followed by love of neighbor. (see Matthew 22:36-39, 1 Corin. 13:13, John 15:12-13, 13:34-35, Galatians 5:13). Joy is deep, internal gladness that first comes from God within and then it culminates in external expression. It could be reserved or energetic, quiet contentment or noisy shouting and dancing - all fueled by delight and appreciation for God. Peace refers to both the inner wholeness, well-being, and rest of the soul that’s now in right relationship with God, as well as the pursuit to forgive and reconcile with others. Patience and Faithfulness are about trusting in the Gospel, and in God, in His sovereignty, His trustworthiness, and in His perfect character, will, and timing. Selflessness is again evident and manifested in the fruits of Kindness and Gentleness, wherein our perspective of others, and our personal character and disposition, are changed in such a way that it affects how we treat others. Goodness (called righteousness in Romans 14:17) is about divine justness, about being godly and morally upright and like God. Lastly, Self-control is now available to us and makes it possible to overcome every sin and obstacle by the indwelling presence, guidance, and power of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 3:16, Philippians 4:13).
The fruit of the Spirit is the natural and inevitable result of God’s presence. In other words, these things are the natural outworking of God’s attributes. Wherever God’s Spirit is, He is, and His attributes will manifest outwardly as a result. Whoever has God’s Spirit in them these attributes will naturally and inevitably flow. For example, 1 John 4:8 teaches that “God is love” and “anyone who does not love does not know God.” If we know God we will know love and become loving because He is. It’s essential that we know who God is through Jesus and the Bible and then cultivate our relationship with Him by spending intimate time with Him through prayer and worship. If these fruits aren’t greatly evident in your life you need to inspect yourself. Humble yourself, repent of your sin and/or your waywardness, and draw near to God in desperate hunger for more of Him. Stoke the flames of your desire to glorify Him with all of your life, to give Jesus all of your trust as your Savior, and all of your life as your Lord. Continually invite the Holy Spirit to consume and change your innermost being and to operate in and through you. As Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, we want more of You. Fill us with Your Spirit that we may overflow. Help us identify and crucify every sinful desire of the flesh, and abundantly bear the fruit of Your Spirit.