Last year I did a series of lessons with our youth group at church on the fruit of the Spirit, at the same time I was teaching the same topic to the little ones in the toddler room each Sunday. (Yes, I am the toddler room teacher in a Sunday Sabbath church but I keep the biblical Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, I figure God decreed that the last day of the week was the Sabbath from the very first week I am going with what he says, but I also believe that we each have to follow our convictions so I am grateful for a chance to teach these precious children to love God with all their hearts no matter what day of the week I am blessed to be able to spend time doing so.) It was fun teaching both age groups the same things each week and seeing how each took it in. Granted it was very simplified for the littles, I always try to keep things very basic in there, I would do a short lesson detailing what it meant to display each fruit and then take advantage of any teachable moments to make the connections again. I have to say in a room full of 2 and 3 year olds teachable “fruit” moments aren’t hard to come by! Actually, they aren’t in a group of preteens and teens either, the moments tend to be much deeper though. We didn’t just learn the “fruits” and a simple example of what they are but we got into the connections between fruit of the Spirit and of the flesh. It is my fervent prayer that these young men and women will always follow the path that God has for them, as willing and obedient servants to their Creator, really knowing what is of the Spirit and what is of the flesh is vital to that.
It’s not just my prayer for those children though, it is my prayer for all Christ followers! I pray daily for all who have obeyed the Lord’s command to take up their cross and follow him that they are filled with the desire, the heart and Spirit to do so. I want to tell each of you what I told those kids including my own son. Live by the Spirit! Be good fruit!
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
This is hard at times I know, walking by the Spirit doesn’t mean we will never war with our flesh or be tempted by our old desires. It just means that we are well equipped to resist those desires, we no longer feel the irresistible compulsion to act upon the desires of the flesh because we have the Spirit and it’s fruit within us. Accepting Jesus into our lives and allowing him to fill us with his Spirit and love, his light, leaves no room, no dark corners for those old fleshly desires to hide, to bear fruit.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:17
Not that they don’t try – they do but the love and light of the Spirit is so much more, so much stronger, brighter than the darkness. It overpowers the flesh, the dark, the devil when we fully submit to God, as James told us:
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:18
You don’t need to be because you are under grace, under love, filled with love and light. The law is in place for those who do not walk by the Spirit, it is there to show us that we need Jesus, his grace, his mercy. It also shows us how very dark we are without our sweet Lord, how broken, weak, poor. But when we are led by the Spirit, when we accept Christ and allow him to create a clean heart within us, to wash us clean through his own blood, to change us from darkness to light then we have no need of the law, we have become the law in a sense. Our lives reflect the light that fills us, like our precious Savior we are a light to the darkness of the flesh, the darkness of this world.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21
This is the fruit of the flesh, this list of depravity, of pain and anguish, selfishness, violence. It shames me to my core to think of how many of these I was guilty of before I knew my Lord. It terrifies me not to think of all those who are still walking in that same guilt, walking in the flesh. My heart aches for them and I pray earnestly that the scales fall from their eyes and they see the peril of their walk before it is too late. For it is clear they will not inherit the kingdom of God. We all know what the alternative is, the lake of fire, eternity separated from the God who created us, who loves us so much he sent his only Son to die for our fleshly walk that we might be with him always! That is not a fate I want for anyone, instead I pray we are all filled with the fruit of the Spirit!
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24
When we are filled with the fruit we don’t need the law, we have overcome the darkness through the light of Christ in us. Our desires of the flesh died with our Lord and Savior on the cross, but they didn’t rise with him the third day. They died once and for all, forever and when we accept the free gift he offers us we are freed from them. No longer bound by our dark desires, addictions, weaknesses. We are free to flourish in the Light.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:25
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:26
How will you live by – flesh or Spirit?