[Please go read the entire Galatians 5 on your own time]
“You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.” Galatians 5:7-8
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, then you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery (witchcraft), hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16-25
As human beings, we will always naturally lean towards our fleshly desires. It's only once we are born again and start living a lifestyle of repentance and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us daily - that we'll learn to start leaning into our spirit instead of acting from our flesh. Repentance is a daily thing!
The fruit of the Spirit we read about in Galatians 5 is not something that comes naturally to us. Or just magically sprouts forth once you are born again. We are fleshly driven by nature and we have to make a deliberate choice to change otherwise our flesh will continue to dictate our lives.
The original Greek word for "fruit" refers to the "natural product of a living thing." Paul intentionally used the word "fruit" in Galatians to help us understand the " product" of the Holy Spirit. When we are born again, we receive the Holy Spirit inside of each one of us. What we need to realise is that the fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Holy Spirit inside us, and not through our own workings. The original word in the Greek translation was singular - fruit and not fruits. Cultivating the fruit of the spirit is about changing our character.
Our character is NOT our personalities. So I' m not telling you to change who you are. I am simply asking you (and myself) to evaluate whether you are operating from your flesh or from your spirit?
Learning to operate from our spirits will be a journey. One without an expiry date. We'll be busy cultivating it until the day we die or Yeshua comes back - which ever comes first! Our flesh (worldliness / sin) will always be in conflict with our spirit (set apart) - because there is an ongoing war in the spiritual realm between the enemy and God's angels.
The fruit of the spirit has to be cultivated / grown / formed over time. It' s not like once we have given our hearts to Yeshua that all out of sudden we just carry all these fruit. Being born again does not make an impatient person a patient one in an instance. No! You have to walk in new ways and start cultivating it. Then it can start to grow and bear more fruit over time.
When you plant a tree, you don't eat the fruit thereof the next day. Growing fruit takes time! It' s a walk, a movement, a process - which will take time and commitment. We read in Gal 5:17 that there' s an ongoing battle between the spirit and the flesh.
"Walking " by the spirit (Gal 5:16) means that it will take/require something from me. The original Greek word that was used in this verse was "peripateo" (περιπατέω). Which means: to walk; to make one' s way, progress, to make due use of opportunities. It' s the Hebrew word for: to live, to regulate one ' s life, to conduct one self, to pass one ' s life. That means that I need to do my part. It doesn 't say sit in the spirit or sleep in the spirit. Once I am born again - it' s my responsibility to feed my spirit so that it can grow. As we grow in the spirit, the characteristics will become more and more visible in our lives.
Just like a gardener must battle against the weeds to enjoy his flowers. In the same way we have to be consistent in our walk to cultivate the fruit. We need to work to get rid of the "weeds" of our sin nature which wants to nullify the work of the Spirit. We should realise that the Scripture is referring to the Holy Spirit and not just our spirit. Thus the fruit is associated with the Character of the Holy Spirit, the character of Yeshua, the character of God! It's about walking in the Image of Him and conforming my life to represent Him to the world. So that I can know Him & make Him known.
Through the help of the Holy Spirit - we have the power to reject the sinful nature within us - including the sinful desires we experience (1 Cor 10:13). The more we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us - the more we will grow into the Image of Yeshua. Our goal on earth is to become more and more like Yeshua (Rom 8:29) and we have the Holy Spirit in us to help us exchange the sinful nature for a more Christ like nature.
Gal 5:1 says that it's for FREEDOM. Not for slavery. When we cultivate these fruits, we will experience true freedom. What the world sees as freedom vs what God says is freedom, looks completely different. In Gal 5:23 we read (after listing the fruit) "Against such things there is no law." It doesn't mean that we are free from the instructions of the Word. Yeshua Himself said in Matt 5:7 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."
The fruit of the Spirit is His character, it' s Who God IS. Thus if we cultivate that, we are in line with His instructions. And we will be blessed. Because there are no laws or instructions that goes against it. His instructions can never go against His character. The law / instructions shows us God' s character. It' s not legalism. You can 't carry these fruit when you try to do it in legalism (Gal 5:18). When you read that you are to love. It' s not legalistic, doing certain things because it' s deemed right. It' s about walking a journey with Abba so that He can transform your being and as a result love automatically flows from it. I'm not forced to love, I'm excited to love because I am free to do so! Like babies learn to walk as they grow up - in the same way, we learn to walk in the spirit after we have been born again. As we start to live in the spirit, the fruit of the Spirit will start to flow from us over time - IF we cultivate it (1 Pet 2:2-5).
We start to live in the spirit and the fruit, over time, automatically start to flow from us. But we have to cultivate it (1 Peter 2:2-5).
A while ago I listened to a podcast where the pastor likened our walk with Abba to dogs in the park and it explained it so well! So I'm going to re-share it with you...
The pastor said that there are 4 types of dogs in the park:
Spike - He's on a leash. The leash chokes his neck, he's pulling away the entire time. Never happy alongside his owner. But he doesn't do anything bad or cause any harm.
Busta - Is the same type of dog as Spike, but off the leash. He's running around, eating everything. Jumping against other walkers & doing whatever he wants.
Max - Is also the same type of dog, also off the leash like Busta. But Max walks obediently next to his owner even though he's off the leash.
Benji - Is also the same type of dog. But Benji is too lazy to walk on his own, so his owner carries him.
The "Christian" is Max. He will smell the other dogs. His fleshly nature still wants to run and explore. And occasionally he might even run off a little. But he is obedient to the voice of his owner/master. He listens when the master says "Max come back!" He reminds himself that he belongs to the master and then he obeys his commands. It's not like there isn't a battle within him, it's not as if he doesn't smell the rabbits. But he chose to stay and be obedient.
Spike smells the rabbit and he pulls on the leash trying to get to the rabbit. That' s religion! His nature/character hasn't changed. He's simply pulled back by the leash - religion! Like the Pharisee in the temple. His actions looks quite reformed and "good" from the outside. He hasn't bitten anyone or pooped under the tree. But it' s only because he is on a leash.
Basta is the non-Christian. He's just all over the place, doing whatever he wants. Not listening to any instructions.
And Benji is lazy. He expects everything to be done for him. The "God will provide - I can just sit back and relax - God knows my heart" mentality. The one who abuses God's grace.
I love this analogy - as it makes it so practical to understand the concept!
So what can we learn from this random story?
We are not on a leash! We are not under the law. We have freedom! It doesn't mean that we no longer smell the rabbits. It means that despite smelling it, we choose to be obedient. Max is still a dog. His physical being didn't change. But he made the choice to be obedient and his character / nature changed.
In Gal 5:16 we read that IF we habitually walk in the Spirit. In other words - we seek Him and are alert to hear His voice. It says, THEN you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature. This doesn't mean that we won 't still have fleshly desires. Because the truth is - we 'll all have fleshly desires until the day we die. It simply means that you won 't gratify those desires.
Sometimes we might wander off a bit but when we hear God' s voice - we repent and return. That' s the daily act of repentance mentioned earlier. The fruit of the Spirit are not personality traits. It is the characteristics of God. And it is character traits that true Christians will carry, which the rest of the world won't.
Non-Christians can love. Of course they can! But the "love" which is mentioned in the fruit of the Spirit is not an act of love, but the character of love. You are free to love and serve God. And you are free to love and serve others. The difference between the world and born-again believers is the motive with which we love. The more we intentionally cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, the more we will grow into the person whom God intended you to be.
In Gal 5:20 we read the word "sorcery" - some translations use the word "witchcraft." The meaning of the original Greek word partially means "religious frenzie." That means that we act religiously "correct" and we do the things which the world classifies as "Christian like" - but it's not in line with Scripture. The Word says if we do things that looks "Christian like" (sunday worship, easter, christmas, to name a few) which are contrary to the Word - we are busy with witchcraft/sorcery!!! Regardless if our intentions are pure. If our actions are not in line with the Word, we are in rebellion against God and we will reap the harvest of our disobedience. The things listed in Gal 5:21, are the things that the human flesh / sinful nature are naturally drawn to. Remember Spike the dog? He wants all of the things listed in Gal 5:21 and the only reason why he doesn't act upon it is due to his leash a.k.a. religion! Religion is empty. It carries zero eternal value! Busta on the other side, doesn't care - he doesn't ever bother to act well. Max choose to act well regardless of the fact that he is drawn to the wrong things. Not because of a leash that prevents him, but because of a choice he made. And Benji wants to receive the blessings without doing his part.
In the coming weeks, we'll dive into each of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Gal 5:22-23. I encourage you to go and read through the entire Galatians 5 when you have time. But I'm going to finish off this first blog post with Gal 5:25 - "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
Because we are born again, our hearts desire should be to walk (do what is required) in obedience. If we do that, we'll start bearing the fruit of the Spirit! Are you willing to allow God to take you through His refining fire so that Ha can cultivate His character within us so that our lives can bring glory and praise unto Him?