October 26, 2011

Day 26: The Spirit and His Fruit

This morning, Elizabeth said to me, "There's something I've never told you before.  But sometimes when I remember things I've done, I feel embarrassed."  I pried a little to understand what she was getting at, but she couldn't give me any specifics.  Nevertheless, what a delight to share with her that sometimes I feel shame, guilt, or embarrassment about things I've done and that are forgiven, but when satan tries to bring them up to keep me down and forget God's loving-kindness, I can look to Jesus (she can look to Jesus!) to be reminded of the Truth.

For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  Colossians 3:3


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Today let's take a look at Galatians 5.  I love Galatians 5.  It so very well describes us in our sinful nature and so very well gives us hope for the work the Spirit can do in us.   The chapter begins:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

In verse 13, Paul continues:

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 
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. 
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: 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. 
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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

We're called to live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit.  In doing so, we'll naturally be loving God and loving our neighbor, living by the two greatest commandments.  As we live by and keep in step with the Spirit His fruit begins to grow in us; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control come more naturally as the nasty weeds of the acts of the sinful nature (self-dependence) are replaced with new blooms of Spirit-fruit.

Gardens need to be tended, cultivated, and protected to grow to their full potential.  And we get to participate with the Spirit in making our heart a place of good soil, fertile ground for the roots of His fruit to go down deep.

Paul draws an interesting contrast between the slavery of life under the sinful nature/law and the life of freedom that we have when we're in Christ.  We're free!  We're free, not to do whatever we want, but to confidently begin putting to death the passions and desire of the flesh, opening our hearts to the work of the Spirit.  The sinful nature gives us no choice, we naturally go it's way for it is a slave master.  In contrast, life in the Spirit is lived not under compulsion, but in joyful relation to a Father who calls us sons & daughters and friends!  When I walk hand-in-hand with my husband, I always adjust my steps so they match his.  Getting in step with the Spirit is like that, doing a quick skip-step to align ourselves with Him.  We won't do this perfectly, but the Spirit Himself will give us little reminders, so that in the middle of the day we see that our step is off and it's time to skip-step to get back in rhythm!

One final point before leaving Galatians 5:  Paul talks in this passage about using our freedom in the Spirit to love and serve others.  How much you think of and act on impulses to do things for others, withhold criticism of another, patiently wait for someone, faithfully pray for someone, etc, is a great litmus test for your "keeping-in-step-ness."  Walking in the Spirit will keep us from the conceitedness Paul warns against, because our eyes are fixed in the proper place.

Let me be clear, your salvation does not ride on how well you're keeping in step with the Spirit.  Jesus' blood has secured your standing before the God if you've believed in your heart and confessed with your mouth that He is Lord.  Paul is reminding us, however, that in that new identity we're called to a whole, free, and wonderful new way of life, life in the Spirit.

For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  Colossians 3:3

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This past Sunday we read the first question and answer from the Heidelberg Catechism.  I'll leave you to meditate on that for the waning hours of today:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my Own,
but belong body and soul, in life and in death-
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. 
Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.


  1. Heather this is soooo good! I need to be reminded that life in Christ is one of freedom from sin and freedom to obey. Beautiful. Thanks for putting the time in to think about and write this!

  2. wow, Kit, thanks. I felt like I was really floundering yesterday trying to get something up here. I guess the impulse to use a big chunk of Scripture was a good one - let the Lord speak for Himself. :)