Sunday, April 06, 2008

Matt's Messages "The Holy Spirit Produces His Fruit In Us"

“The Holy Spirit Produces His Fruit In Us”
The Fellowship of the Holy Spirit
April 6, 2008
Galatians 5:16-26

We are continuing in our series on the biblical teaching about the person and ministries of Holy Spirit.

We’ve learned that the Holy Spirit is God, the Holy Spirit is a Person, the Holy Spirit is Mysterious, and the Holy Spirit is Christ-Centered.

And we’ve also learned that the Holy Spirit is incredibly important to us–even though His ministries often go unnoticed. The Holy Spirit Brings Us to Christ, the Holy Spirit Assures Us of Our Relationship with God, the Holy Spirit Guides Us Into Truth, and (last week) the Holy Spirit Dwells Inside Of Us. And we’re just getting started!

Last week, as we learned about His indwelling presence, I noted especially that this truth makes us holy.

Because we have the Holy Spirit within us, we are holy, and we are being made holy.

And I said that we are going to talk more about that truth in the these next few weeks.

So that’s what I want to do this morning. And I think that a key passage for understanding how the Spirit makes us holy is Galatians 5:16-26.

And I want to summarize it with this sentence:


Let’s read Galatians 5:16-26. Now, I hate jumping in at the end of a book, but it would take too long to read the whole context.

Let me just say that Paul has been strongly confronting the Galatian church for thinking about submitting again to the Old Covenant Law as their path to holiness and requiring submission to the Old Covenant Law and its physical marker of circumcision as a requirement for entrance into the Christian church.

Paul has said that that would amount to another gospel, a false gospel that would not save and that must be opposed in the strongest way possible.

And then He has defended the gospel of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone.

And He has also said that this true gospel leads to freedom, freedom from sin and from the law–and freedom (not to do whatever you feel like but freedom) to love. The church there apparently was struggling to demonstrate love among the members. They were fighting with each other.

And one of the key things that Paul has said is that when they believed the Gospel, they received the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:2).

Now, he’s going to say that they need to live by the Holy Spirit and allow Him to produce His fruit in them.

Now, there’s a lot here, but I want to boil it right down into three things I want you to see about the Holy Spirit.

His Fight, His Fruit, And His Fellowship.

Let’s take those one at a time.

The first is HIS FIGHT.

There is a war.

There is a war going on between the flesh (NIV translates it “sinful nature”) and the Holy Spirit.

And it’s a war that rages across your heart. Let’s read verses 16-18 again and notice the fighting words:

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.”

Here’s the truth: There is a war going on between the sinful nature and the Spirit. And this war rages across the hearts of Christians.

Now, we we’re getting to know Who the Holy Spirit is. Who is the “sinful nature?” Or if you have the King James Version, “The flesh.”

The sinful nature is the Old You. It’s your old way of life. Pre-Christian. What’s left-over of your old sinful self now that you have become a believer in Jesus Christ.

You see, believers are simul justus et peccator, right? Simultaneously righteous and sinner. We are declared righteous in Christ and given a new heart when we came to faith, but our new hearts are not yet perfected and sin still dwells within us.

Yes! The Holy Spirit dwells within us, and yet, so does sin!

Let me ask you a question...

How do you think the Holy Spirit feels about living in the same residence as the Sinful Nature?

Do they want the same things? V.17

“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.”

So what do we have? We have a fight going on.

The Spirit and the Sinful Nature (v.17), “are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

Now, we all feel this, don’t we?

Don’t you often feel like there is a battle going on inside of you?

I want to be holy, but I don’t want to be holy. Right?
I want to be pure, but I don’t want to be pure.
I want to speak the truth, but I also want to tell little white lies.
I want to be a man of peace, but I also want to fight.
I want to be content, but I also want to be gluttonous.

You know how that feels, don’t you?

Well, I have two pieces of good news for you.

Number One. Praise the Lord! It’s a good thing that there is a war inside of you. Because it’s HIS War! If there was no battle, then you might have to wonder if you had the Holy Spirit inside of you!

You know, I’m not very worried about folks who come to me and confess terrible struggles with sin and the battle that they feel all the time to gain some victory.

I’m much more worried about people I see who have just given in to sin and aren’t struggling with it very much. Or who aren’t even aware of their indwelling sin because they don’t yet have the Spirit within to start the warfare!

So, praise the Lord for the war within!

And secondly, Praise the Lord! The victory is sure! Because this is His Fight, we know how it’s going to ultimately turn out.

Whose going to win the “cage-match” of your Soul? The Sinful Nature or the Holy Spirit?

Not “what does it feel like some times!”

Even the Apostle Paul felt sometimes like the Flesh was going to win (read Romans 7 some time!).

But Who do you really think is ultimately going to win?

My money is on the Spirit. Any fight that He seriously takes up is NO CONTEST.

That’s why Paul says to live by Him. V.16 again.

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you WILL NOT (guaranteed) gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

And verse 18: “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.” I think that means that you are now past the Old Covenant Law. If the Spirit is at work in you, then you don’t need that Old Covenant Law, you have something more powerful at work inside of you doing battle with the flesh and Who will win!

And what does His “winning” look like? He wins piece by piece by taking ground in your heart and life. What does that look like?

It looks like HIS FRUIT. V.19

“The acts of the sinful nature [the deeds that the sinful nature produces] are obvious [obviously sinful, that is]: 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.”

As usual, Paul starts with the bad news.

If you live like verses 19-21, then you can have no assurance that you are going to inherit the kingdom of God.

Why? Because these things come out of the sinful nature and are signs that the sinful nature is all that there is to know about you: sexual immorality (which is sex outside of the covenant of marriage), impurity (not being pure) and debauchery (which is giving yourself fully over to your unholy sexual passions); idolatry and witchcraft (both of those are false worship–of other gods); hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy (those are all relational-type sins); drunkenness, orgies, and the like (which opens these categories up for expansion as we think up new ways to sin and new levels to take sin to).

If that’s what characterizes your life, then it’s pretty obvious what you are living from: the flesh, the sinful nature.

And Paul warns us that if that describes us, then we aren’t headed to heaven.

But that’s not what He expects of believers! He expects believers to live by the Spirit, be led by the Spirit, and produce the fruit of the Spirit. V.22, Famous words.

“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.”

My parents have a plaque with these two verses hanging in their kitchen.

When I was growing up on the farm, it hung over the stair steps. I used to just sit on the landing and read that plaque over and over again and commit it to memory.

I didn’t know then that it was in the Bible! But I knew that it was good.

That’s a great list isn’t it?

“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Who wouldn’t want those 9 virtues to describe them?

What Paul is saying is that these character qualities are produced by the Holy Spirit when He comes to live inside of us.

This is HIS FRUIT.

“The fruit of the Spirit is...” these things.

Fruit is the product of some process, organically-tied to its source.

Apples are the product of apple-making trees.
Oranges are the product of orange-making trees.
Acorns are the product of acorn-making trees called oaks.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (and other such things) are the product of a Holy Spirit-making process in our hearts.

They are HIS FRUIT.

The Holy Spirit Produces His Fruit In Us.

His love, His joy, His peace, His patience (oh how I need that!), His kindness, His goodness, His faithfulness, His gentleness, His self-control worked into me.

The Holy Spirit Produces His Fruit In Us.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any part in it. It’s not just automatic.

But this fruit doesn’t come from our own self-effort and independent hard work, either.

This is HIS WORK in us.

And our job is simply to repent, trust, and cooperate as He produces it in us.

I’ve made the mistake before of trying to make Galatians 5:22&23 a checklist of character items that I need to achieve.

Of course, I want these verses to be true of me!

They are a beautiful list of character traits that are exemplified by the person of Jesus Christ!

But I can’t just walk up to them and achieve them by myself or with a little help from my friends and then check them off of my list.

Love. Check.
Joy. Check.
Peace. Check.

No, I need the Holy Spirit to create these things in me as I yield to Him.

And when He does, then I increasingly begin to look like Jesus–this is another way that the Holy Spirit spotlights the Lord Jesus Christ.

As He produces His fruit in us, we are increasingly restored to the image of Christ.

And that means that we are increasingly...holy.

This is what holiness is. These 9 things are holiness lived out in someone’s life.

Sometimes, we think that holiness is NOT doing certain things.

“I don’t smoke. I don’t chew. I don’t go with girls that do.”

And forsaking unholy things is a part of holiness. It’s saying NO to verses 19, 20, and 21.

But it’s so much more than that!

Holiness is being a loving person. Putting someone’s needs ahead of your own. I’ve seen that holiness at work in the last few weeks. We’ve been building a chicken-coop. And I’m in waaay over my head. I thought it would take a full day and half with a good crew to get it done. We’ve now put in 2 full days, and the end isn’t yet in sight!

But I’ve had some wonderful friends come over to our house and sacrifice their hard-earned Saturdays in loving our family. And that’s holy!

Holiness is being a joyful person. Someone who is filled with a happiness that isn’t tied to their circumstances and how things are going in their life. I have a buddy who has been going through a hard time in the last year, but his just exudes joy, and it’s a joy to see. It’s holy joy!

Holiness is being a peaceful person. Someone who isn’t ruffled by the difficulties of life. Not that they ignore them, but their boat isn’t upset by the wind and waves of adversity. They have peace with God, and they are peaceable with others, and they are at peace in themself. That’s holy!

Holiness is having patience. The King James Version translates this “longsuffering.” What a great description. That’s putting up with someone or something for a long time–longsuffering without complaining.

When you or I see that in another believer–we’re seeing holiness. His fruit!

Holiness is kindness. Being a person who finds something good to say to someone that will build them up and not tear them down–even when it’s hard to do. There are some really kind people in this church–and it’s holy!

Holiness is goodness. Wholesomeness, moral beauty on the inside where it really counts. It’s holy.

Holiness is faithfulness. Sticking to promises. That’s holy!

Holiness is gentleness or meekness. Strength under control. Strength used for someone else’s good instead of to overpower them. Power with the power to caress. That’s holy! And it comes from the Holy Spirit.

Holiness is self-control. Being a person who has himself or herself under command. And that’s holiness!

This is what holiness looks like! And it is His fruit.

The Holy Spirit makes us holy, and He does it from the inside out.

Now, again, what’s our part?

Simple repentance, faith, and fellowship with the Holy Spirit.


And by that, I mean that as we turn, trust, and yield to Him, we will experience more and more fellowship with Him, becoming more and more like He wants us to be.

Look at verse 24.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

This is a description of all Real Christians, all true believers in Jesus Christ.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

This is another way of talking about repentance. When we became Christians, we were crucified, right?

When Jesus died, we died, right?

Well, at the same time, our sinful nature was crucified. We crucified it. We nailed it to the tree. We repented. We turned from being that person that didn’t have the Spirit, and lived for our own desires, and turned to trust in Christ and what He did on Cross for us and to His passions and His desires for us.

And that dealt a death-blow to the sinful nature.

Now, we just read that the sinful nature is still around. The death-blow was decisive, but its still staggering around trying to control things.

The sinful nature is no longer in charge. It’s dead in a legal sense.

I’ve heard it said that the flesh “is no longer president even though it’s resident.”

It’s a “squatter” now with no legal right. Its fight is an insurgency.

And it’s doomed to lose because it’s been crucified–at the Cross.

And there is also a daily killing that needs to happen, as well.

Daily, hourly, we “mortify” the flesh, killing it off with its passions and desires, remembering that it is ultimately crucified.

And we do that, by (v.25) “living by the Spirit” “keeping in step with the Spirit.” v.25.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

What this is talking about is a relationship. It’s allowing ourselves to be guided, led, and in step with the Holy Spirit.

This isn’t that strange and mysterious. It’s basically just turning away from sin (in righteous choices in the face of temptation and confession when necessary after giving in), and trusting in the promises of God, and living in fellowship with God through the Holy Spirit.

It’s leaning upon Him and leaning into what He is doing in our lives.

And as we do that, He produces His fruit in us.

Let’s make this personal:

What is coming out of your life?

Do you look more like verses 19-21 or verses 22&23?

When I read verses 19-21, I don’t immediately see myself there. I think of “bad people,” and I don’t automatically put myself in those categories. But I can see how I have been there, and how I haven’t completely escaped those verses yet.

But when I read verses 22&23, I don’t immediately say, “Yeah, that’s me!”

I’m the “poster child for the fruit of the Spirit!”

No, I say, “That’s Jesus! I wish it was me!”

My prayer is that verses 22 and 23 would increasingly be an accurate description of me, so that His fruit is what is evident in my life. So that I am more holy!

And it’s my prayer that it is increasingly an accurate description of all of us, as well.

And I believe it will be. Because it’s not, ultimately, up to us.

This is His fight, His fruit, and His fellowship.

We just get to enjoy it!

“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.”