Paul ends Galatians 5 by contrasting what it looks like when we follow our old nature versus what it looks like when we follow our new nature. When we follow our old nature it produces what Paul calls "the deeds of the flesh." Last Sunday we saw 15 examples of these deeds. We divided them into four categories - sexual areas; religious areas; relational issues; and excessive areas. as we saw last Sunday, the list is in no way exhaustive seen by Paul's ending the passage with the words, "and things like these."
This Sunday we will look at the counterpart to the "deeds of the flesh." In verses 22-23 of Galatians 5, Paul describes what it looks like when follow the new nature within us. He calls these characteristics the "fruit of the Spirit," and he lists nine of them. This list is a whole lot easier to preach on than last Sunday's list. The list includes the following:
Let me point out three introductory remarks about this list:
First, the word "fruit" indicates that these characteristics are a natural by-product of a life that is lived walking by the Spirit. When we walk by the Spirit the pattern of our living will not show the characteristics of the deeds of the flesh which we looked at last Sunday. Rather, when we walk by the Spirit, the pattern of our life will naturally show forth these 9 characteristics.
Second, the word "fruit" is singular, not plural. These 9 characteristics are one fruit not nine different fruits. In other words, you can't pick and choose the ones you want to show and leave the others behind. This isn't a grocery store or a buffet. When you walk by the Spirit all nine of these characteristics will become an evident part of your life.
Third, the passage ends in verse 23 with the words "against such there is no law." In other words, gluttony is permitted on these items. You can have as much of them as you desire. There is no limit to the amount that you can enjoy a life that is characterized by these 9 fruit if you are walking by the Spirit.
Beginning tomorrow I will give a brief description of what each of these fruit look like.