Last night’s study was on how to practically pursue bearing the Spirit’s fruit, as Paul discusses in Galatians 5:16-25. We were trying to discern what process God uses to bear His fruit in our lives. We turned to Galatians 3 for some help. Here’s the notes:
Part One: Paul’s principles in Galatians (see 2:19-3:5)
1. You received the Spirit (initially) by “the hearing of faith” (3:2) i.e. – by hearing the message of the Gospel and believing it, they received the Spirit. How? See 4:6 – God sent Him into your hearts.
God rewards the believing hearing of the Gospel with the gift of the Spirit. Or, to say it another way, at the moment the Gospel is believed, that faith is accompanied by the entrance of the Spirit into your heart. (This is what Paul refers to in 5:25 as “living” by the Spirit.)
2. You continue to experience the Spirit’s working by “the hearing of faith.” (3:5) The Spirit continues to be supplied to you, and work among you, as you hear God’s word and believe it.
So: we can’t bear the fruit of the Spirit by keeping the Law of God. It must be by the work of God in us as we hear the message of Christ and believe it.
3. This message about Christ has to do with His death on our behalf (3:1) and, how that death applies to us (2:19-20). As we believe in the message of his substitution death on our behalf, our old nature (“flesh”) is dead in union with Christ’s death.
4. This message also includes the idea that, as we trust what God’s word says about Christ’s death, we experience a new inner life, and it is the very life of Christ inside of us (2:20). Or, as 4:6 says it, God sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, to live out His life through us.
5. This experience is how we are saved, but it is also the ongoing experience of believers. See John 7:37-39—Believing in Christ = drinking his water. Ongoing believing = ongoing drinking = ongoing flow of the Spirit out of our hearts.
See also John 15:7-10 the words of Christ “dwell” in us and then we:
A. pray and bear fruit.
This goes with Gal 6:7-10—“sowing to the Spirit” must mean: “to spend time hearing and believing the word of God, and praying, so as bear the fruit of the Spirit, which will lead us to “do good.” (Since love is always active).
To sum it up: This is how we bear the fruit of the Spirit: We hear and read God’s word to learn further about who He is for us and what He has done for us in Christ. The more we learn and believe God’s word, the more we trust who Christ is for us and in us. We rely on Him more (often in prayer) and we rely on ourselves less. Then, love begins to be “poured out” (Rom 5:5) in our hearts and to pour out of us (Jn 7) in real ways. We become actively loving people. And, as we are learning more of God’s commands, we are so changing inside that we have the desire and ability to keep them, and so we set about ordering our lives so that we actively keep Christ’s commands and do His work in the world. The more we hear, believe and obey, the more we receive the Spirit to empower us and bear His fruit out of us. (Or, the more we rely on Him, the more of Him we get.) The stronger and clearer Christ’s life is in us. As we do this moment by moment, we “walk in the Spirit” (5:16)—we don’t live by responding to what the flesh wants, but since our inner environment is shaped by God’s word, we hear and know what the Spirit wants, and so we yield to His desires, and He is free to work out His fruit in our lives.
Part Two: Why are the desires of the flesh so much easier to sense than the desires of the Spirit?
- Because we need to be more involved in this cycle.
- The desires of the flesh are more “natural” to us and familiar. If we feed them, they are strong. We live in a world that has thousands of opportunities to feed them every day. We need to “mortify” the deeds of the body by starving them. By neglecting them.
- We may be “grieving” (Eph 4) or “quenching” (1 Thess 5) the Spirit, and then we will not sense His desires as strongly. We grieve Him by fulfilling the desires of the flesh.
- Instead, we need to “sow to the Spirit”—by giving ourselves to God’s desires as recorded in His words: specifically by learning all He wants to be for us in Christ, or better yet, all He has given us in Christ that He wants to us to rely on. We need to cultivate open ears for the spirit by being better hearers of His word. Learn His desires in the Word.
Ending Reading: Romans 8:1-17, Psalm 1