Preparing the Soil – To Walk in the Spirit – Pt. 2
INTRODUCTION: Last Sunday a theme for our church was presented as a goal for each of us – “Experiencing the Fruit of the Spirit in our Daily Lives.”
As such we focused on the verses found in Galatians 5:16-25; where the Apostle Paul contrasts the “Lust of the Flesh” with the “Fruit of the Spirit.”
“This I say then, WALK IN THE SPIRIT, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (17) For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (18) But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (19) Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, (20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (23) Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (24) And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also WALK IN THE SPIRIT.”
Again in this passage the apostle Paul listed SEVENTEEN works of the flesh that are devastating our society.
1. Adultery sexual sins between married people
2. Fornication sexual sins between unmarried people
3. Uncleanness impurity
4. Lasciviousness sensuality
5. Idolatry worship of idols
6. Witchcraft Greek is pharmakeia, which can refer to sorcery and/or drugs
7. Hatred enmity
8. Variances referring to the god of strife
9. Emulations rivalry, jealousy
10. Wrath temper, outburst of anger
11. Strife factions, cliques
12. Seditions divisions, dissensions
13. Heresies sects
14. Envyings coveting
15. Murders unlawful killing
16. Drunkenness rendered helpless by strong drink
17. Revelings carousing’s, orgies
Doesn’t this sound exactly like our world today? These un-qualities are spreading weeds, invading our entertainment, government, social media, families, and technology.
On the other hand in verses 22-23; Paul prescribes a nine-fold remedy God longs to reproduce within us—the fruit of the Spirit. These NINE aspects of this Spirit produced fruit are the antidotes to what ails our age.
Again here is a check list of the “Fruit of the Spirit.”
LOVE is found in caring more about the needs of another person than for ourselves. Philippians 2:4; says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
JOY is found in serving Jesus. There is an old song that speaks volumes, “There is joy in serving Jesus as I journey on my way, Joy that fills the heart with praises, every hour and every day." That chorus is seldom sung now, or practiced. But there truly is joy in going about our daily tasks as if doing them for the Lord.
PEACE is found in trusting the Scripture. Whenever you face a dark moment, there is something wonderful about finding a place all alone, meeting with God, pouring out the problem before Him, and searching the Scriptures until He gives you a word of reassurance from a verse or promise in the Bible.
Afterward, the crisis will pass. The problem will fade away. But that Scripture the Lord gave you will stay with you as long as you live.
LONGSUFFERING is PATIENCE. Here we find endurance in being committed to the cause. Sometimes we feel we can do only a little for the Lord, but how important to keep on doing it! Remember, little tasks performed faithfully over long periods yield big results.
GENTLENESS is KIND COMPASSION found by opening our hearts to the unfortunate, or as our Lord said – “to the least of these.”
GOODNESS IS GENEROSITY in stewarding God's resources. The relationship between compassion and generosity encompasses all our activity and resources. The deepest needs in our world are not merely physical, but spiritual.
Our churches and ministries need ongoing support. Giving to the Lord's work brings a sense of fulfillment, and volunteering for Christian service gives a sense of gratification. The Lord has a way of taking our gifts and multiplying them for eternal good.
FAITH has to do with FAITHFULNESS. Ecclesiastes 7:1; says, “A good name is better than precious ointment…” When someone uses a unique perfume and cologne, we get a little whiff of them that will linger after they're gone. That's the way our reputations are. God uses us to spread the aroma of Christ everywhere.
MEEKNESS has to do with GENTLENESS. We find humility in shifting conversations to the other person. Try practicing James 1:19: "… my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:"
TEMPERANCE is SELF-CONTROL. One of the reasons we're unfulfilled is because we let temptations get the best of us. When we yield to our besetting sins, we are left empty. God knows how to strengthen our will power, but we must exercise self-control as He helps us.
Now if there is a dimension of the fruit of the Spirit missing in our lives that should be a red flag, a warning that we have taken back the control of some area of our lives from the Holy Spirit.
One of the most refreshing scenes one can observe is a bountiful orchard full of trees laden with fruit. Conversely, one of the most discouraging sights is the opposite kind of orchard, made up of a few empty, sickly trees.
What makes the difference? To bear abundant fruit, trees must have water, sunshine, and good soil with nutrients to sustain life. Such is the Christian life—we are organic.
It all starts in the fertile soil of a soft heart, seeded with the Word of God, and then nourished with the watering presence of the Holy Spirit.
Our spiritual lives are made to grow from these three elements working together. Exposure to the right spiritual nutrients and elements triggers a natural process of transformation and fruit bearing.
On the other hand, like sickly trees, it is possible to become discouraged, distracted, and disinterested until we actually stop growing.
When properly nourished by God's Spirit, our lives remain full and fruitful. But when the spiritual life is neglected, we dry up and wither in fruitlessness.
The Bible has a lot to say about being a fruitful Christian. In John 15:1-4; Jesus said,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. (2) Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (3) Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.(4) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”
All fruitfulness begins with Jesus. This passage teaches us that He is the source—the Vine—and we are but branches, receiving our nutrients and life from Him.
The point of this passage is that the Lord wants us to continually bear fruit that glorifies Him. There is nothing good about you or me, except Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Apart from Him we can do nothing.
Fruit is the outward sign of the presence and power of God. It is what will convince a lost world that your relationship with God is genuine and cause others to see God's unquestionable power in your life.
Consider this for a moment: when others spend time with you or see your life, do they see unquestionable evidence of God?
Is there anything remarkable or outstanding growing in your life?
Are you exhibiting any qualities that would indicate a supernatural, transformational work taking place inside of you?
Christians who live in the power of the Holy Spirit are a marvel to the secular world. Their joy, their sincerity, their humility, and their peace are both ridiculed and envied at the same time.
There is nothing more attractive and compelling to a lost world than a Christian radiating the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
In John 10:10; the Lord said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." The abundant life is solid to the core, fruitful to the end, and amazing to experience. It is the biblical norm for God's people. Question – can that be said of you as a Christian?
In Philippians 2:13; we read: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” The development of character is a joint effort by our Savior and ourselves and it is part and parcel of the abundant life. Question – can that be said of you as a Christian?
Now if that is true, then why are we living beneath the norm? Why is there such a gap between what Christ wants us to be and what we are? Here I find three reasons why we struggle.
FIRST: Sometimes we struggle because we misunderstand the nature of salvation. Salvation is one of the Bible's great words, but many don't understand that the Bible presents salvation in three stages.
1. The moment we truly receive Christ as Savior and Lord, we are instantly and eternally saved from the PENALTY of sin.
2. During our Christian lifespans on earth, we're gradually being saved from the POWER of sin as we grow in godliness.
3. One day in heaven, we will be saved from the very PRESENCE of sin and will be wholly glorified.
Those who consider salvation a one-time, past event, forget its ongoing nature. Throughout our lives, we develop our character consciously in ways that bring remarkable rewards. Remember we are to “Grow in Grace.”
SECOND: Sometimes we struggle because we misapply the concept of works. Many biblical passages teach that we're not saved by our own efforts but by the grace of God alone. But the same passages also tell us good works are an essential evidence of the salvation experience.
For example, Ephesians 2:8-9; says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Hallelujah for that!
But the next verse, verse 10; says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Hallelujah for that too!
We are not saved by good works, but for good works, so we can serve Him here, letting our light shine before others, so they can see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.
THIRD: Sometimes we struggle because we have a mistaken view of spirituality in developing godly character. Some believe we have little or no role in our own Christian maturity. God does everything, they think, and we simply have to "let go and let God." After all, if it's the "fruit of the Spirit," we should passively let Him work within us as we abide in Christ.
God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. And He has given us the indwelling strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The rest is up to us.
In II Peter 1:5-8; we read, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; (6) And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; (7) And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (8) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This passage speaks of developing Christian CHARACTER. As I pondered this, I came across a short essay that made it all as practical as putting on our shoes or rolling up our sleeves.
Character is the only thing that goes in the casket with you. It's the only thing that you take with you to the hereafter….
Character is returning extra change at the grocery store.
Character is keeping appointments and being on time, honoring your commitments and honoring your word.
Character is choosing the harder right instead of the easier wrong.
Character is setting priorities that honor God, family, country, and then career….
Character in marriage is working through the tough times.
Character is being committed to the well-being of your family and friends, associates, and others, even if it is personally costly.
Character is setting a good example.
Character implies the courage to stand for what is right, if necessary, all alone to oppose what is wrong and to make the effort to discern the difference.
Character is being truthful in all things while being sensitive to the fact that sometimes the truth hurts and need not be spoken.
CHARACTER is the sum and total of a person’s choices.
CHARACTER is best checked at two extremities: one is when you are at the top; the other is when you are at the bottom.
CHARACTER is more important than talent, for CHARACTER will seek talent, and talent off-times will flee character. I have said it for years you give me someone who has character and I will be able to train them to have talent on a job. I also have said I will not clap or cheer those who have talent but lack character.
CHARACTER is the measure of what a real man would do if no one would find out. The real you is what you do when you are alone. Too many people spend too much time working on the outward appearance when they ought to be doing something about the inside. In I Samuel 16:7; we read, “For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but he LORD looketh on the heart.” It is not what a man has or even what he does that directly expresses his worth; it is what he is.
Do you want to be a person like that? I'm sure you do, and so do I.
That's what God desires for us. He wants us to be trees that never topple, people who bear enduring fruit. The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:7-10;
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. (8) For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. (9) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (10) I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
The FRUIT of the SPIRIT represents NINE decisions we must cultivate in the orchard of our thoughts and behavior. Each of these qualities offers a dose of hope imminently available to all who desire it.
The nine-fold FRUIT of the SPIRIT is a gift of God, but don't forget: it also represents nine decisions on your part. Those decisions will affect you every day; they will transform you into a person of character who fulfills your God given potential and inspires others to do the same. It's beyond amazing to meet people like that.
This is what happens when the power of the Holy Spirit works through ordinary lives. Victory and peace are available to all who are yielded.
May we humbly choose to walk in the Spirit.
May we stop whatever busy distraction life is throwing our way and purposely decide to stop serving sin.
There is nothing more satisfying than a spiritual, fruit-bearing Christian—someone who radiates the love and joy of Christ. Again from Galatians 5:22-23; we read,
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith. Meekness, temperance: against such
there is no law."
If God has spoken to your heart, after reading the sermon “Preparing the Soil – To Walk in the Spirit – Part 2” right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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