The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5 : 16 – 26

16:  So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17:  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. 18:  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Paul is continuing his teaching from earlier in his letter. In chapter 3 verse 3 he writes that the Holy Spirit was a gift given to them from the moment of their conversion.

Galatians 3 verse 3 (NIV)

Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

He builds his argument by reminding them that the purpose of their redemption through the blood of Jesus was that they might receive the Holy Spirit into their lives.

Galatians 3 verse 14 (NIV)

He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Also we live and walk with the Holy Spirit because through Jesus we have become children of God

Galatians 4 verse 6 and 7 (NIV)

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

The Old Self

Once we accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord we become aware of the possibilities of a new and different life. We understand our sinfulness which separates us from God and we rejoice in the freedom that being a child of God brings with his Holy Spirit.

We realise that God gives us a choice –  He frees us from the inevitability of doing wrong and gives us an alternative.

The Holy Spirit living and working within us enables us to take on the character of Jesus himself and with a change in character comes a change in attitude to sin and a change in our actions. But there remains a conflict going on within us. A conflict that even Paul himself struggled with. In Romans 7 verse 24 he writes:

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Paul’s answer is found in Romans Chapter 8 verse 1:

1:  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2:  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

For the sake of clarity Paul describes some of the things that our sinful nature is prone to:

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft;

all things that are condemned by the Jewish Law, but then In the middle of his list he includes some things that point directly at his opponents within the church:

hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy;

and then back to expected stuff:

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.

The New Creation

2 Cor: 5 : 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

The result of the Holy Spirit working in us, Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit –

As a healthy tree will automatically produce good fruit so a spiritually healthy Christian will produce this good fruit:

22:  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. 24:  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

Note that Paul writes in the singular, there is only one fruit of the Spirit which entails:

Love – The one all-embracing gift of God’s grace. The giving of himself to his children of faith. Love is not one virtue among a list of virtues, but the sum and substance of what it means to be a Christian.

God is love – we are his children – we inherit his likeness. What a thrill it is to see our children inherit a family likeness or a family trait.

We are called to love!

Tony Campolo – gives us a vision of God mingling among the angels with a picture of me saying “He’s one of mine, isn’t he lovely” God loves all his children and we, through the Holy Spirit inherit that ability to love.

Joy and Peace – The inner change brought about by the Holy Spirit. The deep overflowing satisfaction of being in tune, in harmony with God, the world and our fellow Christians, and as far as depends on us with everybody else. Shalom, a state of being.

Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control –

The virtues that overflow from our state of Love, Joy and Peace and dictate our relationships and the way we live our lives, not just with our fellow Christians but with our neighbours whoever that may be.

As we study further into the Spiritual life of the Church we will find that wherever Spiritual gifts are mentioned there is also a plea to love. The most well know of these passages is 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13 verse 4 – 13 (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

 We must value our freedom

Paul concludes this part of his letter:

25:  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

26:  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

So what is Paul saying to these Galatians? You must value you freedom!

We must not submit to the Law or any other legalistic system that religious leaders or anyone else want to impose upon us. It is too easy to want everything regulated and leave no room for the Holy Spirit to work in us. Instead we must walk with the Holy Spirit allowing him to change our characters and our lives for the good of others.


This change comes about as an act of will on our part. We have to choose to let the Holy Spirit do his work. Paul uses the imagery of clothing. We have to put onour new selves!

Ephesians 4

22:  You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23:  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;

24:  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

A Prayer

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your great love for us in Jesus Christ. Help us by your indwelling Holy Spirit to put off our old selves and put on our new selves, new creations by the power of your Spirit, and make us in your image to be righteous and holy, children of the living God. In the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord. Amen.

Category: Sermons , The Bridge

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