June 3rd

Fruits of the Spirit or the Flesh

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”  Galatians 5:16 NIV

 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Galatians 5:22-25 NIV

 

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."  Galatians 5:19-21 NIV

 

Paul illustrated the contrast between living for God and living for sin by describing the characteristic fruits of each.  Jesus once told his disciples that they could recognize a tree by its fruit.  In the same way, the fruits of our life will bear testimony about what we are living for. 

 

When we live by the Holy Spirit’s desires, we bear wonderful fruits:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Who wouldn’t want each of these growing in their lives?  Paul mentioned also that the people who belong to Jesus have “crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”  In order to bear the fruits of the Spirit, we’re going to have to stop responding and following after our sinful passions. 

 

The Holy Spirit will help us do this by giving us alternative passions and desires to follow after.  These passions and desires are God’s passions and desires.   David wrote, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NIV).  When we follow the Lord, our desires and passions will change and come into alignment with his will.  At some point, we’re going to prefer to obey God than to indulge in our favorite sin. 

 

We need not condemn ourselves if our desire for sin is still thriving in us.  We simply can confess that condition to God and ask for his help in changing it.  God doesn’t want us to pretend that we’re repentant, when we’re still planning to sin in the next moment.  He wants us to be truthful with him and then to take whatever action the Holy Spirit shows us to take. 

 

One of the ways the Spirit will guide us is by helping us recognize the nature of the decision we face – i.e. whether it will serve our sinful nature or the Spirit’s desires.  As we look at the results our decisions might cause or even the feelings that led to the decision, we may be able to correlate them with the fruits of the Spirit or of the sinful nature.   For example, if I volunteer to lead a prayer meeting at church out of pride in my ability to say impressive prayers, that desire matches the “selfish ambition” fruit of the sinful nature.   If instead I volunteer to lead the prayer meeting out of a sincere burden to pray for the lost and to see God’s will be done, then that would match the love in the fruit of the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit will help us search the motives behind our desires and discern the right thing to do. 

 

Questions for further thought:

 

Prayer:

“Heavenly Father, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to live in me.  Thank you that you didn’t leave me as an orphan.  Thank you that I have the perfect Counselor living in me who guides me in all truth.  Please help me to better recognize the nature of every decision I have to make.  Please strengthen me to die to any sinful desires that are still working in me.  I desire to bear good fruit for your kingdom, Father.  Thank you for my new life in you!  I praise you now and forever, Amen!”