by Paul Tautges | January 20, 2020 12:38 pm
The Christian life is not a playground; it’s a battlefield. Since we are in a war, and the world, the flesh, and the devil are always working against the Spirit’s agenda, we must get serious about sanctification, overcoming sin, and becoming like Christ. But we cannot do it without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.Gal. 5:22-26
“But” indicates that what is to follow is in contrast to the works of the sinful flesh, the Holy Spirit produces a harvest of righteousness in the believer’s life. To reap the harvest of walking in the Spirit, you need to occupy yourself with four ongoing actions…
“But the fruit” in contrast to the works of the flesh. Jesus used gardening language when describing our growth in Him (John 15:1-5). The fruit of the Spirit is the outworking of the new life of Christ which is active within you. William MacDonald writes, “It is significant that the apostle distinguishes between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. Works are produced by human energy. Fruit is grown as a branch abides in the vine (John 15:5). They differ as a factory and a garden differ.”
Notice that “fruit” is singular. It is not fruits, but fruit. The fruit is Christlike character. The primary evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in a believer’s life is not some form of bizarre behavior, but that of stable, godly character that reflects Christlikeness. So, again, we are reminded that God’s goal for us is to become conformed to the image of his Son: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29). Other Scriptures indicate the same Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:13).
What does it look like to be becoming more and more like Jesus? There will be a harvest of righteousness. You and others will see that you are growing in the following nine virtues. No doubt, as the list of the works of the flesh was not exhaustive, so this list is not either.
Against this fruit “there is no law.” If these qualities are becoming more and more evident in your life, there is less and less of a need for outside governance. Instead, you are learning to govern yourself from inside, as you walk in the strength of the Spirit.
“Those who belong to Christ” are true believers. The harvest of fruit, or the lack of a harvest of the fruit of the Spirit, says something about your true spiritual condition. Believers “have crucified the flesh,” which refers to a completed action in the past. It’s referring to what happened at the moment of your conversion. Armand Tiffe has published a helpful personal Bible study of Romans 6. It’s entitled The Liberating Truth of Romans 6. Working through that study will give you a firmer grasp on your position in Christ, and how Christ sets us free from our sinful habits and lazy tendencies. God says that your sinful passions and desires were crucified when you first came to Christ. So why return to them? Why would you want to return to that which once enslaved you?
“If” means since. Since you are a new creature in Christ. Since the life of God now dwells within you, in the person of the Holy Spirit, do not be controlled by your sinful flesh. Instead, walk in submission to the Spirit. The word walk here, in verse 25, is a different word than the one used previously. Here it means to keep in step, or march in line, with the Spirit (see also Eph. 5:15-21).
Pride is an enemy. It is the enemy of the development of Christlike character. When you say in your heart, “I’m not going to change that part of my life” then you are demonstrating a stubborn determination to remain in control. Instead, the Holy Spirit wants to help you change—to be humble, flexible, and moldable like a lump of soft clay. Paul mentions three prideful attitudes to repent of.
He goes on to say, “All such attributes are foreign to grace.” Wherever you see these attitudes in your life, you need to repent of them. You need to humble yourself and esteem others are more important than yourself.
God’s call is clear. In Christ, we are called to walk in a manner that is worthy of our calling. But we cannot do this successfully without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. As we yield the control of our mind and heart to the Spirit’s will, as revealed in the Word of God, we will see His fruit become increasingly evident in our lives. Seeing progress in your Christian life is the chief means by which God builds assurance of your salvation (2 Pet. 1:3-11). This is the work of God’s grace in our lives, not only saving us, but transforming us into the image and likeness of Jesus.
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