Living By The Spirit

Paul contrasts the “acts of the flesh” (verse 19-21) with the “fruit of the Spirit” (verses 22-23).  Those who live by the flesh follow their sinful nature.  Those who live by the Spirit demonstrate the character traits found in verses 22-23.  I used to think that the fruit of the Spirit was kind of like a staircase.  You got love first and then joy and then peace and so on.  I incorrectly believed that they were all individual fruits.  In the Greek language, the word fruit is singular.  In other words, when we live by the indwelling Spirit of God, He produces love, joy, peace, patience, etc. all at the same time.  The Spirit is always producing this fruit in our lives.  How do we know that we are living by the Spirit?  We are becoming more loving, joyful, peace loving, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled followers of Jesus.  When we are controlled by the sinful nature, we demonstrate the acts of the flesh.  Our flesh, according to Paul, has been crucified with Christ.  The sinful nature has been crucified with Christ.  Our flesh no longer has mastery over us.  We still struggle with sins and temptations, but our lives should not be characterized by the acts of the flesh.  Rather, we should be characterized by the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces within us.  This is how we know we are living by the Spirit of God.
Galatians 5:19-26 (NIV)

The acts of the flesh 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.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.


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