B.C.P. Trinity 14 : Galatians 5:16-24
16 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.
The Galatian Church had Judaizers; they said you had to believe in Christ and keep the O.T. law, including circumcision. They had alleged that Christian freedom would lead to sin. May even have been the suggestion that, because Christianty offers forgiveness, it encourages Christians to sin in order that they could enjoy even more forgiveness.
The Judaizers relied upon the law, Paul encourages Christians to rely upon God's Holy Spirit. Paul contrasts a life lived according to the flesh, the sinful nature, and a life lived according to God's Spirit.
( N.I.V.) 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 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.
All of these sins are selfish and involve a loss of control : to sexual lust, to false worship, to anger, to alcohol.
People who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God, says Paul. Why, if Paul is writing to Christians ?
Whilst the Christian life involves the forgiveness of sins, it also involves a deliverance from the power of sin. Those who live this way habitually are showing that they have not fully turned from their sin to Jesus. Verse 24 says that the Christian has crucified the sinful nature. Therefore, if it is truly dead it can have no effect, just as a dead alcoholic cannot be tempted by a full bottle of whisky.
Paul is not saying that a Christian will go to hell if he, say gets drunk once and then regrets it. He is saying that if someone claiming to be a Christian lives a life of drunkenness without repentance and an attempt to live a sober life , he will not be forgiven.
A missionary approached a native whom he had not seen before and asked, "Have you ever heard the gospel?" "No," he replied, "but I have seen it. I know a man who used to be the terror of the neighbourhood. He was a bad opium smoker and as dangerous as a wild beast. But he became completely changed. He is now gentle and good and has left off opium."
The alternative to living according to the sinful nature is to live according to God's Holy Spirit, who lives inside every Christian. The natural consequence of having God's Spirit is to grow, slowly but surely, the nine fruit of the Spirit. Just as you expect an apple tree to produce apples, a Christian is expected to grow the 9 fruit of the Spirit. This will make us more like Jesus.
We saw how the works of the flesh are selfish and involve a loss of control. The fruit of the Spirit are selfless and are about self-control aided by God's Spirit.
First three are about our relationship with God, yet affect our relationships with others.
Love. Agape love e.g. Jesus. God is love, Holy Spirit inside us, we have a source of divine love. 'All men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another', John 13:35.
Joy, a quality, not an emotion, happiness caused by circumstances. Grounded in God's love.
Peace, not lack of war/hostility. Peace with God through Jesus death. Leads to peace of mind in our relationship, a confidence in his purposes for us, a security, which can lead to peace with others.
The next three fruit are manward, how we relate to others.
Patience, long-suffering towards those who aggravate or persecute. Being slow to anger.
Kindness, God is kind, even to the ungrateful and selfish, wanting the best for those who disregard him. We are to mirror this.
Goodness. This involves doing something for someone who does not deserve it. It is generosity that springs from kindness.
The last three are inward qualities, but ones which will affect the way we relate to others.
Faithfulness. This refers to reliability, someone who can be trusted and is steadfast in their faith,
Gentleness, this is the humility that Christ displayed. It does not mean that Christians are to be spineless wimps. Jesus was not. He confronted the religious leaders of the day with their hypocrisy,
Self-control. A quality that gives victory over selfish desire, the root of many of the sins listed earlier by Paul.
After this list Paul writes, 'against such there is no law'. To the Judaizers it was important that you keep the law. These fruit do not go against what the law demands, indeed they meet the requirements of the law.
How can we grow these fruit ?
verse 24 says that we are to have crucified the sinful nature, to have put it to death and live the new life that God gives.
This new life involves verse 25, Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
An new army recruit will spend hours on the parade ground, listening to his commander, obeying him , keeping in step with those around him. After a while it will become second nature to him.
We are to listen to our commander, Jesus, obey him, and fall instep with the way that he wants us to live, aided by his Spirit who is alongside us every step of the way.
"It's not the label we wear but the fruit we bear"