Paul described what it means to live in Christ. If you live in the Spirit, you will not fulfill the works of the flesh. The sinful nature wars against the Spirit, but if you live by the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
God produces good fruit in the life of the believer who seeks to be led by the Spirit. “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” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Paul gives us not only what to do but how to do it. Living by the Spirit will make it possible to reject the sins of the sinful nature. Notice these important considerations about the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
First, this is the “fruit” not the “fruits” of the Spirit. This is a package deal. God has a plan for our sanctification. We probably should think of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in terms of a harvest. God wants to do great things in our lives. Think of it this way: “The bountiful harvest of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace. . . ”
Notice how these qualities of the Holy Spirit fit together. We cannot pick and choose. For example, you probably like the idea of having peace but you may not appreciate long suffering (patience). God brings all these qualities together because He wants to make us complete. We need the entire package of fruit to be as He wants us.
Second, we must cooperate with God for our sanctification. Like spiritual gifts, our sanctification is God’s gift for which we must work to accomplish. If we don’t use our spiritual gifts, we are destined to lose them. So it is with the fruit of the Spirit. We must seek God and the fruit of His Spirit.
We are responsible for our growth and service for God. Instead of drudgery, the person led by the Spirit longs for the Spirit to be actively involved in his sanctification. To be in Christ is to want to become like Him as well.
Finally, these blessings are bestowed on everyone who trusts in God. God gives them to each believer. Thus, we have the possibility to reject the sins of the flesh and embrace the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5: 16).
Next Sunday, I will discuss individually and collectively the nine virtues which make up the fruit of the Spirit.
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