Grace and peace and mercy to you Beloved in the name of Christ Jesus. I pray that as Believers gathered together on the Lord’s Day to worship our Triune God in Spirit and in truth that we truly would be “in the Spirit” and that would dwell together as spiritual brothers and sisters in unity in Christ. (Ps.133:1-3) And that our worship today would truly be a love offering to God. Oh, may today find us growing in our love for God and our love for others. (Mt.22:35-40)
Well today we are going to finish off Galatians chapter five. After this – one more chapter to go in the book. Maybe three to five more sermons. We shall see. Today I will read for us Galatians 5:18-26. In the sermon we will touch on V.18, then we will skip over the deeds of the flesh. We looked at those last week. And we will focus most of our time on V.22-23. Now, please read along with me in faith. Hear the holy word of God, read.
Galatians 5:18. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
Christ taught us as His disciples to imitate His practice and preeminently to obey His precepts. Well, our Christ was and is a praying Christ. (Heb.5:7, Lk.3:21, 6:12, Jn.17:1-17, Mt.6:1-15) And He taught us to watch and to pray always and to bring all our desires to the throne of grace. Well, let’s be good learners of Christ. Let’s pray for God’s blessing on our worship today, pray. (Ps.95:6)
Last week we looked at the deeds of the flesh. By this God is telling His children, flee from these things, mortify these things in your life. The deeds of the flesh are God’s negative instruction to us. (I Cor.10:1-14)
Today, we have God’s positive instruction for us. Here we are looking at the fruits of the Spirit. God is telling His children, sow to these things, seek these things. We are required as Christ’s lambs to not only die to sin, but we are to grow as to righteousness as well. Both lessons are needful for us.
And my intention is that this passage will prove very comforting to us, but maybe also at the same time a bit convicting as regards to the quantity and the quality of the fruit we are bearing.
But I do not want to get ahead of ourselves.
The Root of our spiritual life.
Before a person can bear fruits of the Spirit one must be “in” the Spirit or led by the Spirit as our passage says. (Rom.8:9) Remember negatively our miseries are the sad fruit of the evil root of sin. Like that, holy fruits must come from a holy Source. There is only One that is essentially or naturally holy and good and that One is God. (I Pt.1:15-16, Isa.6:3)
So, who are these people led by the Spirit? You see that our translators have put the word Spirit with a capital “S” meaning God the Holy Spirit. So, who are the people that are being led internally by the Holy Spirit? The Biblical answer is those people that have been born again by the Holy Spirit.
There are Christian churches that teach the waters of baptism make a person spiritually new, that the waters of baptism inwardly regenerate a person, that is to say they implant the principal of spiritual life.
The Bible teaches otherwise. (Rom.4:10-12) The water depicts the reality. But the sign is not the thing signified. Jesus said the Spirit goes where and when the Spirit desires. (Jn.3:1-9) Judas was circumcised according to the flesh but he did not receive the circumcision made without human hands on his heart. (Col.2:11, Rom.2:25-29, Dt.30:6, Mt.23:25-27)
Simon the sorcerer was baptized in Acts 8 and Peter told him that he was still in the gall of his bitter sin. He was baptized but he was not a spiritually reborn new creature in Christ.
The spiritual gift of new life that believes in God and loves God is a miracle-gift of God. And God gives it to whom He wills. Not all have faith. Not all will be born again. The reborn are those that have been chosen and blessed by God. (Mt.13:16-23)
Perhaps it would be helpful if I read a few passages that speak to the truthfulness of this blessed gift from God. I will read one from the OT and one from the NT.
Ezekiel 36:24. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 “You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.
John 3:1. Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Titus 3:5, I Pt.1:3, 23)
It is these people, and these people alone, that belong to Christ Jesus as V.24 says. Only by the Spirit-wrought gift of faith can anyone truly say, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God come in the flesh, Jesus is my sin-atoning sacrifice Savior. (I Cor.12:3, Eph.2:1-9, WCF 14.1)
Oh, I do not mean that people that have not experienced this new spiritual second birth cannot say these words. Of course, they can and they do. But I am saying, they cannot truly mean them, not savingly. (Rom.8:7, I Cor.2:12-16) Faith is a gift of God the Holy Spirit. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without being born again by God the Holy Spirit all people are spiritually dead in their sins and trespasses. (Eph.2:1-3)
Listen to Martyn Lloyd-Jones. A man does not become a Christian by making a decision. He is made a Christian by God, who has marked him out before the foundation of the world and sees to it that he is born again, and that he believes in Him.
Here is Lloyd-Jones again. We do not give birth to ourselves. We are not reborn because we believe. We believe because we are reborn.
You see the Holy Spirit gives us new life, faith to join us to Christ. And Christ in turn brings us to the Father. So, the great spiritual gift and blessing is that we have a spiritual union with the holy Trinity. We are spiritually united to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. (Rom.8:10-20, 2 Cor.13:5, Eph.3:17, Col.1:27, Jn.14:23, Mt.10:20)
And from that union we enjoy a holy communion or holy friendship with God. And that holy friendship is something that we can see and hear, and I mean that it comes out of us in our words and deeds, our holy fruits. And this in turn works to our assurance that we do in fact possess that life giving spiritual union. (WCF 26.1, Gal.2:19-20, WCF 16.1-6) As Jesus says, you will know them by their fruits. (Mt.7:15-20)
So, here are some questions for all of us. Has the Spirit given you new birth? Does your soul thirst for God in Christ? Do you desire spiritual truth? Do you have in internal drive towards things of the Lord? Do you now feel that your life only has meaning as bound up in the life of God? If you do beloved, that is the Holy Spirit within you. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Cor.3:16-17, I Cor.6:15-20)
You are in the Spirit. And He does lead you. And He will lead you. And as we shall see today, He will produce holy fruits that will come out of you.
The fruits of our spiritual life.
Now let’s look at those holy fruits that the Holy Spirit will produce in our lives. Before we go to the list, see that God has inspired Paul to call the product of the Spirit something different than the product of the flesh.
The flesh produces deeds or works of the flesh.
The grace of God.
But Luther says that God gives a nobler name to the product of the Holy Spirit. He calls them fruits of the Holy Spirit. This is the life of God in the soul of man coming out of us. There is a treatise by a fellow named Henry Scougal on this. I highly recommend it.
Just as you cannot hide that a man is spiritually dead, his dead works give him away.
So too, you cannot hide that a man has the life of the Triune God in Him. God has made us new creatures in Christ so that our lives will give glory to God and not to ourselves. Luther said when He stands before Christ on the final day, and Christ says well done My good and faithful servant. Luther will say, Lord I have done nothing. Your word has done everything. Oh Beloved, anything good that is in us or comes out of us is of God. He gets all the glory. (I Cor.4:7, Rom.7:18)
The service of man.
Also, this list is the proper Biblical answer to those that reject the gospel of justification by faith alone in Christ alone apart from any good works of ours because they think it will produce lazy and sinful “Christians”. (Rom.6:1-10)
You see the gospel of faith alone in Christ alone is true. (Jn.3:16) One look to Christ in true and saving faith unites us to Christ savingly forever. However, this list shows us that saving faith is never alone. True saving faith in Jesus always will produce a Christlike life in us and out of us.
This is what Jesus taught in the Beatitudes and the Similitudes. (Mt.5:1-16)
Matthew 5:7. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
For those that come to Christ for mercy, they in turn will have mercy on others. For those that come to Christ for peace with God, they in turn will have the peace of Christ on others.
Think of this beloved, why should we forgive others that sin against us? Because God in Christ has forgiven our sins against Him. Forgiving Christians show that we have received forgiveness in Christ. (Eph.4:32)
I would argue this is what James is getting at in James chapter two. Our persons are justified before God by faith alone. Our faith is justified before man by our good deeds or as Paul puts them, by our holy fruits.
Oh Beloved, Christ has saved us to be reckoned holy and then to live holy. (Heb.12:14) In justification the holiness of Christ is imputed to us. In sanctification the holiness and the life of Christ is infused in us. This is what we are looking at with this list. This list is a summary of the sanctified life. (WLC 69, 75, WSC 35)
Given what we just said, all true Believers are equally justified before God in Christ. However, all true Believers differ in many, many ways with other Believers as regards to our sanctification or practical holiness or practical Christlikeness. (Rom.8:26-29)
All Believers will not all have the same fruits of the Holy Spirit. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, we will not all have them in the same degree. All true Christians will bear holy fruits. But as Jesus says, some will produce 30-fold, some 60-fold, and still others 100-fold. (Mt.13:8, Mk.4:20)
But remember as well, God has not given to any one Christian the perfect quantity or quality of spiritual fruits. We are all works in progress. 😊 And God has so ordered the Body of Christ that we are to help build one another up as we go along. (I Cor.12:1-31)
And remember fruits starts off small and then grow to full size. Tiny love is still love. Tiny patience is still a gift of God. Just be patient your patience will grow. So will all other aspects of your conformity into Christ’s image. Give it time. God will bring to completion the good work He has begun in you. (Phil.1:6) He will water you. Don’t despise the day of small things. (Zech.4:10)
God is the One that gives to each our measure of faith. (Rom.12:3)
Ephesians 4:7. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
By way of application I would say these are here for our personal or individual benefit first and foremost. So, we can see the holy life that pleases Christ and seek to imitate Him and so we could pray and seek that for ourselves.
But we should resist the great sinful urge in all of us to be the “fruit inspector” for other Christians! 😊 I will say, if we have the first fruit in good degree, then we will make good fruit inspectors. But if we lack the first fruit, without Christlike love, we will make poor inspectors.
And if you remembered from last’s week’s sermon, true Believers have two natures. The old fallen nature, the flesh nature, that is drawn to sin. And we have the new nature that is drawn to God. And what this means is even for the best Believer, our holy fruits will still have a mixture of our sin nature in them. But God accepts them because He accepts us in Christ. (WCF 16:3, 5-6) So, we should accept one another even though are fruits are imperfect.
The holy life.
And we see that Paul also uses what I am calling a “catch all phrase” at the end of his list. He says, “against such things”.
Well, God inspired him to say the same thing with the deeds of the flesh. You can see in V.21 “and things like these”. The idea both for lists of the unholy deeds and the holy fruits is that God is not giving us an exhaustive or complete list. These lists are meant to represent either displeasing unholy lives or pleasing and holy lives.
Now let’s look at V.22 God gives us a list of nine fruits.
Galatians 5:22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The chief fruit – love.
When we look at the fruits of the Holy Spirit, we would do well to remember what Paul brought in earlier.
Galatians 5:13. For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
Remember Christ has set us free so that we would no longer love sin, but rather we would love God and man. Luther said, our freedom consists in slavery to serve, or slavery to love.
Love is the greatest commandment in the Bible. In fact, the Bible says that love fulfills all the commandments of the Bible. Love fulfills the Law. (Rom.13:8-14, Gal.5:14) Love is the one gift or fruit that governs all of the others or informs all of the others.
We labor to be at peace with our spouse or our children and with all men because we love them – because God in Christ loves us.
Love makes us cover over a multitude of offenses committed against us. Love does not take account of wrongs done. Love does not dwell on the sins of others. Loves thinks higher of others more than self. Love looks to Christ and wants to imitate Christ’s love. (Phil.2:1-11)
There is nothing too hard for love to bear. Is there anything a father or mother would not endure for their little child. No. Many fathers and mothers have gone hungry in order to give their children enough to eat – because of love.
Think of the way Christ will greet His children on the Last Day. To those on His right He will said, you fed Me, you gave Me a cup of cold water, you clothed Me, You visited Me. And we will say to Him, when did we do these things Lord. And He will say every time you did these things to the least of My lambs, My disciples, you did it to Me. Love motivated the giving of the food, the water, the clothes, the kind word, and the visit.
Love compels us to say and to do loving things. We love God and we love others because God in Christ loved us first and gifted us with a spiritual gift to love people with the love He gave us. (Mt.25:31-46, I Jn.4:19-21, 2 Cor.5:14-21)
God is love. Christ is God’s love to sinners that He makes into saints. Love imitates God.
Next, we see the fruit of joy, joy in the Holy Spirit. The gift of being able to have joy in the Lord even when we have sorrow in the world. (Rom.14:17-19) You see the happiness of the Christian is the enjoyment of holiness. Even as misery or sadness is the fruit of sin, so too happiness is the fruit of holiness. Being joined to holy Christ we now enjoy His holiness. And holiness is a delight to us. God’s commandments are not burdensome to us, but delightful.
I want you to think of something. Say, you knew of some healthy and wealthy unbeliever. They had a super abundance of good things in this life, but they did not know God in Christ. And say, you as a Believer in Jesus were sitting at this rich man’s door covered with sores? Would you trade places? Do you suffering-Believer have more joy than the “happy” unbeliever? (Lk.16:19-31)
Would you trade places with the rich man and his big barns but having no love to God? (Lk.12:12-23)
Our joy is eternal. Any weeping we have is but for a moment. Perfect joy cometh in the morning. (Ps.30:5) What does the Bible say? At the right hand of God are pleasures forevermore. (Ps.16:11)
As we look at things with our “spiritual lenses” on, we know we are reconciled to God in Christ and we have every blessing in the Bible, so we rejoice. (WSC 32, 36-38) Think of this to make you happy. Christ is your Husband. And you are His holy beloved Bride!
Christ has given us His peace that He purchased with His blood. (Jn.14:27-31) The world did not give this to us. The world cannot take it away. God is at peace with us. No more condemnation in Christ. (Rom.8:1) Therefore we can rest at peace in this troubled world.
Long-suffering or Patience.
One man said that patience is gentleness of mind that motivates us to see the good and not to be easily offended. Wow. How helpful is this gift to the peace of our homes and of our churches? May God increase this fruit 100-fold!
God gives us the ability to persevere with Christ in the face of tremendous hardship. In Christ our Overcomer we shall overcome. In Christ we can do all things.
Goodness. Kindness. Faithfulness.
One man calls these social virtues, gifts wherein we can live in harmony with others – to God’s glory and to their good and to ours as well.
Gentleness or meekness is another fruit of the Spirit that He gives to us in Christ. I have been saying lately regarding all the political and social turmoil that has some of the people of God angry and riled up, crying out for some reaction to what they perceive is injustice, that we are Christ’s lambs, and we are not wolves. Christ is meek. He is gentle. He would not break off a bruised reed. He was not shouting in the public square. (Isa.42:3, Mt.12:20, Lk.6:21-38)
Oh Beloved, it pleases Jesus when we imitate Jesus. I know that gentleness is sometimes seen as weakness maybe even cowardice. But it is not. It is Biblical. It is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit Himself came down upon Christ in His baptism in the form of a gentle creature, a dove.
Listen to the apostle Paul.
Romans 12:17. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. 20 “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
V.19-21. You remember God warns us against the sin of the flesh in things like sexual sins, outbursts of anger, envying, drunkenness and carousing (which some translations translate as gluttony, excessive eating and drinking).
Now the Holy Spirit tells us that one of the fruits He produces in our life is the ability to restrain ourselves. True Believers in Christ have the spiritual ability in Jesus to control our appetites.
We are no longer slaves to any of our appetites. Uncleanness is not our god. Our belly is not our god. Drink is not our god. God is our God. And He gives us what He requires of us, the ability to walk by faith in Him as He reveals Himself to us in His word. As Believers we can use the world for God’s glory, for our own good, but we can hold the world lightly knowing that it is passing away.
As we practice this moderation and self-control in our life, we know that we are being led by the Spirit, we are sowing to the Spirit.
The growth of these holy fruits.
May I say something as regards to the growth of these holy fruits.
Commune with God.
Christ said, it is as we are attached to Him as the Vine that we bear spiritual fruit. Indeed, He told us that He chose us and appointed us to bear fruit in Him. (Jn.15:1-10)
The more we love Christ the more fruits we will produce. We grow deeper in love with Jesus as we feed upon Him daily in His word, in prayer. As we find Christ our delight when we gather each Lord’s Day to worship Him, we will see the fruits of the Holy Spirit grow in our life and the deeds of the flesh diminish.
You see as we walk by faith in the living God and by faith commune with Him spiritually this then changes us, it conforms us into the image of the One we are communing with.
The Bible says, bad company corrupts good morals. (I Cor.15:33) Well, holy company with the holy God mortifies the flesh and sows to the Spirit, it conforms us into His image.
I want to say something else as well.
Be driven to commune with God.
Most of us think, well if God would send sunny easy days to me, well then, I would produce more holy fruits in my life.
Well, I have been reading through Second Chronicles for my morning worship and what I have seen is that often when the kings became popular and powerful and wealthy that they would suffer spiritually or in their faith. Oh Beloved, it was when God brought Israel into the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey that they grew fat and sleek and worldly and forgot God. (Dt.32:15)
Samuel Rutherford one of the ministers of the Westminster Assembly was thrown into prison for his faith in Christ. And there he learned many valuable spiritual lessons. One lesson was this, grace grows best in the winter!
Lloyd-Jones said this, Christian people are generally at their best when they are in the furnace of affliction and being persecuted and tried.
Beloved, this is because we can only learn some of the sweetest lessons of Christ during the bitterest of times.
Live close to Christ and you will begin to look like the One you love.