Kyle’s sermon on Sunday was AWESOME and has been on my mind ever since. If you missed it, I strongly encourage you to listen to it HERE - ASAP.
His BIG IDEA was that people can live by Christian principles, modify their behavior, manage their sin and even, for a while, suppress their sinful desires. BUT without a full surrender to the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ, they won’t enjoy the abundant life (John 10:10), never experience true gospel freedom and not produce the “fruits" of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22)
In Galatians 5:16-25, Paul explains that there are two natures at work in every Christian: the Spirit and the sinful nature (vs. 16). And at any point in our life, we will “live by” one, and “not gratify” the other. Consequently, Paul is encouraging all Christians to “live and be led by the Spirit”.
To be “led by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:18) is to change, and be changed supernaturally. The Spirit-fueled development of Christ like character is liberating freedom, because it brings us closer to being the people we were designed to be, the people our Spirit-renewed hearts wants us to be.
The Apostle Paul always chooses his words and images carefully. And him using the word “fruit” reveals three things about how the Holy Spirit works in changing us.
First, he is saying that Christian growth is gradual – as gradual as an apple or potato growing. So “stand firm” in your faith, even if you don’t see your growth happening, you will be able to measure it over time. With the growth of the fruit of the Spirit, it might be growing in your life, but you won't realize it until a trouble, tragedy or difficulty shows up and you think: A couple years ago I would have never been so patient or self-controlled in this situation. That shows that the fruit of the Spirit has been growing, gradually and unnoticed.
Second, the growth of the Spirit’s fruit is inevitable. There’s a story about a man who, when he died, was buried under a marble slab, and somehow an acorn got into his grave. Over time, gradually and unnoticed, the acorn grew and eventually split open the marble and burst forth for all to see. If someone has the Spirit in them – if they are Christian – the fruit will grow. Whatever a Christian’s life is like; the fruit of the Spirit will burst through. It is inevitable! We are saved by faith alone, NOT growing fruit: but we are not saved by fruitless faith (we will talk more about this in our study of the Book of James in the Fall), but a person saved by faith will be a person whom the fruit of the Spirit grows. So stand firm in your faith!
Third, the fruit of the Spirit has internal roots. It is not about traits or characteristics. It’s about change much deeper than that. Think about an apple tree. Do the apples on the tree make it alive? NO – if you tied apples onto a dead tree’s branches, that wouldn't make it alive! The apples don’ t give life; they are the sign that the tree is alive. But the life produces the fruit, not the other way around. Focus on the ROOT not the FRUIT!
The way we change is not by focusing on our behavior, but instead focusing on Jesus’ behavior for us. Change will take place in your life when you keep your eyes on Jesus. You do this by continually repenting of your sin and believing the gospel – the declaration that God is who He says He is. Has done what He says he has done and will do what He has promised to do in the life of His children.
This is more than an intellectual exercise. We must worship Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit, adoring Him until our hearts find Him more beautiful than anything else. As we do that, our old nature will be put to death, clearing room for the fruit of the Spirit to grow; and we will find that fruit growing and changing us more and more into the people we long to be, and God desires us to be.
(Contents of this blog were used with permission from "Galatians for you" by Tim Keller)