Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Sinful nature vs The Fruit of the Spirit

God has been dealing with me for several days now on the importance of living by the "NUDGE" of the Spirit. As you live like this, the Spirit of God will begin to develop character qualities into your life that are called the "Fruit of the Spirit." I would like to share with you today the difference between the "works of the flesh" and the "fruit of the Spirit."

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

No passage in the Bible draws a clearer contrast between the lifestyle of the Spirit-filled believer and that of the person controlled by the sinful human nature than Gal. 5:16-26. Paul not only discusses general lifestyle differences by emphasizing that the Spirit and the sinful nature are at war with each other, but he also includes a specific list of both the acts of the sinful nature and the fruit of the Spirit.

THE ACTS OF THE SINFUL NATURE. “Sinful nature” [Gk sarx] pictures the human nature with its corrupt desires. The sinful nature remains within Christians after their conversion and is their deadly enemy [Ro 8:6-8,13; Gal 5:17-21]. Those who practice the acts of the sinful nature cannot inherit God’s kingdom [Gal 5:21]. Therefore, this sinful nature must be resisted and put to death in a continual warfare that the believer wages through the power of the Holy Spirit [Ro 8:4-14; see Gal 5:17]. The acts of the sinful nature [Gal 5:19-21] include:

1) “Sexual immorality” [Gk porneia], i.e., immoral sexual conduct and intercourse; it includes taking pleasure in pornographic pictures, films or writings [cf. Ex 20:14; Mt 5:31-32; 19:9; Ac15:20, 29; 21:25; 1 Co 5:1];
2) “Impurity” [Gk akatharsia], i.e., sexual sins, evil desires and vices, including thoughts and desires of the heart [Eph 5:3; Col 3:5];
3) “Debauchery” [Gk aselgeia], i.e., sensuality; following one’s passions and desires to the point of having no shame or public decency [2 Co 12:21];
4) “Idolatry” [Gk eidlolatria], i.e., worship of spirits, persons or graven images; trust in any person, institution or thing as having equal or greater authority than God and his Word [Col 3:5];
5) “Witchcraft” [Gk pharmakeia]i.e., sorcery, spiritism, black magic, worship of demons and use of drugs to produce “spiritual” experiences [Ex 7:11, 22; 8:18; Rev 9:21; 18:23];
6) “Hatred” [Gk echthra], i.e., intense, hostile intentions and acts; extreme dislike or enmity;
7) “Discord” [Gk eris], i.e., quarreling, antagonism; a struggle for superiority [Ro 1:29; 1 Co 1:11; 3:3];
8) “Jealousy” [Gk zelos], i.e., resentfulness, envy of another’s success [Ro 13:13; 1Co 3:3];
9) “Fits of rage” [Gk thumos], i.e., explosive anger that flames into violent words or deeds [Col 3:8];
10) “Selfish Ambition” [Gk eritheia], i.e., seeking of power [2 co 12:20; Php 1:16-17];
11) “Dissensions” [Gk dichostasia], i.e., introducing divisive teachings not supported by God’s Word [Ro 16:17]
12) “Factions’ [Gk hairesis], i.e., division within the congregation into selfish groups or cliques that destroy the unity of the church [ I co 11:19];
13) “Envy” [Gk phthonos], i.e., resentful dislike of another person who has something that one desire;
14) “Drunkenness” [Gk methe], i.e., impairing one’s mental or physical control by alcoholic drink
15) “Orgies” [Gk komos], i.e., excessive feasting and revelry; a party spirit involving alcohol, drugs, sex or the like.

Paul’s final comment on the acts of the sinful nature is stern and forceful: any so-called Christians who engage in these types of activities shut themselves out of the kingdom of God, i.e., they do not possess eternal salvation

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. Contrasted to the acts of the sinful nature is a single-minded lifestyle called “the fruit of the Spirit.” This is produced in God’s children as they allow the Spirit to so direct and influence their lives that they destroy sin’s power, especially the acts of the sinful nature, and walk in fellowship with God [see Ro 8:5-14, 8:14,2Co 6:6; Eph 4:2-3; 5:9; Col 3:12-15; 2Pe 1:4-9]. The fruit of the Spirit includes:

1) “Love” [Gk agape], i.e., a caring for and seeking the highest good of another person without motive of personal gain [Ro 5:5; 1Co 13; Eph 5:2; Col 3:14];
2) “Joy” [Gk chara], i.e., the feeling of gladness based on the love, grace, blessings, promises and nearness of God that belong to those who believe in Christ [Ps 119:16; 2Co 6:10; 12:9; 1Pe 1:8;Php 1:14];
3) “Peace” [Gk eirene], i.e., the quietness of heart and mind based on the knowledge that all is well between the believer and his or her heavenly Father [Ro 15:33; Php 4:7; 1Th 5:23; Heb 13:20];
4) “Patience” [Gk makrothumia], i.e., endurance, long-suffering; being slow to anger or despair [Eph 4:2; 2Ti3:10; Heb 12:1];
5) “Kindness” [Gk chrestotes], i.e., not wanting to hurt anyone or cause them pain [Eph 4:32; Col 3:12; 1Pe 2:3];
6) “Goodness” [Gk agathosune], i.e., zeal for truth and righteousness and a hatred of evil; it can be expressed in acts of kindness [Lk 7:37-50] or in rebuking and correcting evil [Mt 21:12-13];
7) “Faithfulness’ [Gk pistis], i.e., firm and unswerving loyalty to a person to whom one is united by promise, commitment, trustworthiness and honesty [Mt 23:23; Ro 3:3; 1Ti 6:12; 2Ti 2:2; 4:7; Tit 2:10];
8) “Gentleness” [Gk prautes], i.e., restraint coupled with strength and courage; it describes a person who can be angry when anger is needed and humbly submissive when submission is needed [2Ti 2:25; 1Pe 3:15; for gentleness in Jesus, compare Mt 11:29 with Mt 23 and Mk 3:5; in Paul, compare 2Co 10:1 with 10:4-6 and Gal 1:9; in Moses, compare Nu 12:3 with Ex 32:19-20];
9) “Self-control” [Gk egkrateia], i.e., mastering one’s own desire and passions, including faithfulness to one’s marriage vows; also purity [1Co 7:9; 9:25; Tit 1:8; 2:5].

Paul’s final comment on the fruit of the spirit indicates that there are no restrictions to the lifestyle indicated here. Christians can – in fact, must – practice these virtues over and over again; they will never discover a law prohibiting them from living according to these principles.

My prayer today is, "Lord, help me to crucify the works of the flesh, and cultivate the Fruit of the Spirit!" Blessings!

Pastor Rusty


Treasure Seeker said...

i am right with you!
i want to live with the Fruit of the Spirit for all to see...
very challenging word!
thanks! ~sure love you!

Beth said...

Pastor Rusty,
Another great entry! I've started a study on the fruits of the Spirit this week and this will really help me out. The definitions are awesome. Thanks for always following God's direction.

Anonymous said...

really good stuff.

Anonymous said...

really good stuff