Fruit of the Flesh or Fruit of the Spirit?

Right now in my life I am preparing to teach the last day of the Galatians bible study we did this summer at my church.  I had no idea at the beginning of this study how much I would end up loving the book of Galatians.  With all things that have to do with God, He put in front of me the exact truth I need at the exact time in my life that I could learn from it.  I love that about Him.  He is such a BOSS!

The book of Galatians is the most concise explanation of how the Old Testament relates to us, the Church.  I love how in the book of Galatians Paul tells us we are children of Abraham, who believed God and was counted righteous.  So by showing us that OUR righteousness comes ALSO by faith, because we are children of Abraham.  Paul shows that God did not call us children of Moses on purpose to prove that salvation comes by faith and not works.  It just flipping blows my mind how God systematically shows us that.  Do you know why He has to show us that?  Because we want to work for our salvation instead of accepting the free gift of salvation from Jesus.  Why do we want to work for it?  Because then we don’t have to admit that we are hopeless sinners in need of that free gift–but that is a blog post for another time.

Anyway, Galatians proves that salvation is a free gift from God and that making ourselves look religious or holy will NOT MAKE US RIGHT WITH GOD.  You must believe in the free gift of salvation from Jesus to be right with God.  Without that you are simply looking the part on the outside but the inside is still a dirty unrighteous mess.  When we accept this free gift of salvation and stop working for it we are FREED up to love God the way He intended us to.  Then as we develop this relationship with God we are FILLED up so that we can love others they way He wants us to.  Once Paul proves that salvation comes by faith alone, he moves into what in the world we do after that.

In Galatians chapter 5 he talks about fruit of the flesh and fruit of the Spirit.  Check it out in the Message Version of the bible, it really makes it come alive:

Galatians 19-23a  It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

 This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

I mean, what in the world.  When I read the fruits of the flesh I was knocked to my knees because “stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; a brutal temper; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival,” could be used to describe me on my Wikipedia page.  Or it will be what the narrator says about me on a true crime show where there was no survivors because I finally lost it.  Or it will be something that Kelly, Cheryl or Ashley will say when they are interviewed about me for a 20/20 story about that girl who thought she was Lara Croft Tomb Raider, but finally ended up on a clock tower screaming about how “Lara Croft doesn’t do dishes or laundry!!!!”  I just feel like that list might actually characterize my day-to-day life.  And that scares me because that means I am living by my flesh.

But God also includes the list of the Fruit of the Spirit in this section too.  Anybody read that and throw up your hands and say, “We I’m toast!”  Or maybe you are like me and when I read that list the first time, as a new Christian, I was like, “Oh, ok I got this!  I can do these things!”  That is the, uh, WRONG ANSWER!  “I’m toast,” is more appropriate because it shows that you know you are not capable of manufacturing these kinds of fruit.  I am capable of manufacturing this kind of fruit for exactly as long as no one pisses me off.  (I’m looking at you guy at the harbor who yelled at me cuz you thought I was going to run you over.  Do you know how lucky you are that Jesus saved me?  You better thank Him because He is the only reason I did not get out of my car and throat punch you and then run you over for real!  Anyway, moving on….)  And here is the greatest news in all the land, besides that Jesus paid for my sin, I DON’T HAVE TO MANUFACTURE THIS FRUIT!!!

Do you see there where it says, “But what happens when we live God’s way?  He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard….”  “When we live God’s way,” means that we are living in that freedom that comes from the free gift of salvation.  We are not working for Him, to impress Him or to get into heaven.  We are simply learning about who He is from His word, talking to Him in prayer and experiencing this world through His eyes.  When we live that way HE MAKES THE FRUIT APPEAR!

The section we are doing this week in Galatians is Chapter 6 is a beautiful challenge to sow into the Spirit instead of the flesh.  I want to write more about that next time.  I am making a concerted effort to keep these posts around 1000 words because I know my friends and family have other things to do besides read 8000 words from me.  And let me just say too, if you read these, THANK YOU!!  I am tickled to death that you are reading things that I write.  It is the highlight of my day to hear that you connected with something I wrote or that I made you laugh.  Thank you for encouraging me to write more, I have a lot of words, but none that will cover how precious your kind words are to me.   I pray that my words point you to Jesus.