According to Galatians chapter 5, there are two things which keep us from reaching our full potential and obtaining the fruit of the Spirit.
The first thing we do incorrectly to obtain Spiritual fruit is to try to make it ourselves. Fruit comes from a seed. The seed is planted. Roots form. The little plant grows and matures. After many years of continual growth, flowers appear and when the season is right, fruit pops out on the branch.
Spiritual Fruit is similar. The seed comes from a relationship with God. We cannot get it on our own.
In John chapter 3, Jesus says that “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. "Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
Without a Spiritual rebirth, the Spiritual fruit cannot begin to grow.
In Galatians chapter 4, Paul reminds us of the story of Sarah and Hagar. If you recall, God promised Abraham and Sarah a child in the old age. Sarah laughed at the idea, because she believed she was too old to bear a child. After years of waiting, Sarah persuaded Abraham to father a child with his servant Hagar. After Hagar’s son Ishmael was born, Sarah became pregnant with Isaac, fulfilling God’s Promise. I have often reflected my work and ask God to remind me if my work is in His will or my own effort. There are many times I think I have “pulled an Ishmael” when I should have “waited for Isaac.” Spiritual fruit will not grow without God.
Along the same idea, Galatians 5:1-2 reminds us that performing rituals and following man-made laws will not grow fruit either. I have to be careful to catch myself when I get the idea in my head that I am better than other people because of all the good things I have done for God. Isaiah 64:6 reminds me “…all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…” Having a tighter necktie and shinier shoes than my brother will not make fruit. Intentionally suffering more than my brother, will not make me bear greater fruit. Keeping score and comparing my work to others will not make my fruit sweeter than my brothers’ fruit.
The second thing that keeps my spiritual fruit from growing is when I poison it with poor decisions and behavior. Galatians 5:19 calls these self destructive actions “the works of the flesh.” When I do these things, I am intentionally dripping poison onto my precious fruit and the fruit begins to shrivel away. The devil doesn’t make me do these things. It’s my choice to shoot myself in the foot.
Galatians 5:19-21 reads, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like;”
These actions are “evident”, the text says. You know, I know, God knows.
Let me emphasize one of these to give it more meaning – sorcery. This word was translated from the original Greek word “pharmakeia” from which our English word “pharmacy” was derived. In Paul’s day, sorcery was another word for drug user. When we use drugs without a prescription, we lose control. We are also locking the doors to letting God have control.
Ephesians 5:18 says, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” I like to read this as “do not be filled with the spirits (booze) but with the Holy Spirit.”
When we allow ourselves to lose control with chemicals, the Spirit is not in control either and our fruit will not grow. Galatians 5:16 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
So what is our goal? To walk in the Spirit - Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”
We start with love. Without receiving the love of Jesus, it is impossible to grow the love of the Spirit. Without the love, we cannot receive true joy. The fruit of love and joy must grow before we can have the fruit of peace. Each of the fruit grows upon the others, like layers of an onion, until we get to self-control, which is really Spirit controlled.
It all starts with the true Love of Jesus, breaking the stony ground in our heart and making us into a new creation.
Pastor Jay Merritt