16 “So I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”Galatians 5:16
In the first half of Galatians Paul tells us that we cannot be saved through the Law. If we still followed the Law then Christ would be no use to us–we don’t want that! Jesus replaced the Law that, through our faith in Him, we would experience God’s grace. Pretty nifty, huh?
But it’s not quite that simple.
Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins, when we accept Him as our savior we are filled with the Holy Spirit, aka the REALLY good stuff. Now here comes the problem. Felisha (the flesh) doesn’t like Susie (the spirit). In fact, the two are complete opposites of one another. You cannot obey both, it has to be one or the other.
“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:17
See the problem? Lucky for us Paul lays out exactly what we should (and should not) be doing. Let’s examine.
Up first we have the acts of the flesh.
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 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.” Galatians 5:19-21
Yikes. That’s a hefty list for anymore to break down.
Let’s take a look at the Spirit now.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23
Better, right? Now I’m not here to preach to you about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. If you’re looking for the answer to that question, read the old testament. I want to show you why you need God’s grace and how to get it.
First, I want to point out one small difference between those two verses. If you noticed, it is ACTS of the flesh and FRUIT of the spirit. That is a small, but mighty difference. Let me explain.
One definition of ‘acts’ states, "through one's own action." Now to me that relates directly back to the Law. The Law was before Jesus, we were “on our own” so to speak. It was by following the rules that we would inherit Heaven, not by faith in Jesus–Jesus wasn’t quite in the scene yet.
Now I want to take you back for a minute to Galatians 3:11.
“Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” Galatians 3:11
The righteous will live by faith. In order to live by faith, you must believe that Jesus broke our reliance on the Law by being sacrificed on the cross. You can’t do that, it is a gift from God!
So, if you attempt to live by the rules of the past, you will never inherit God’s Kingdom. You aren’t Jesus, you aren’t perfect. We’ve all broken rules before, probably more than we even recognize. It is by faith in Jesus that we are saved! By believing in Him, you free yourself from the Law and secure your spot in Heaven.
“Okay Mariah, we know about the acts of the flesh, but how exactly does this relate back to that fruit thing?”
Well, I’m glad you asked.
Fruit defines as serving some purpose, advantageous, and/or helpful. Paul has already stated we shouldn’t pursue our own selfish ambition, so what does that leave us with. If we can’t serve our own purpose, whose purpose are we to serve?! Jesus Christ, ladies and gentlemen.
He has a purpose for our lives, but we often get too involved in our own selfish ambition that we miss the signs He shows us. There is a higher purpose–pinky promise.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
Do we all have dreams? Absolutely! I believe that God places certain desires on our hearts, not to serve ourselves, but to fulfill God’s grand plan for our lives. When we start to pursue these dreams and desires that God places on our hearts we begin to produce our own fruit! How awesome is that?!
“Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:8
That old saying, you reap what you sow? Well now you know! Pursue the Spirit and not your own selfish ambitions and you will receive eternal life–and all the goodies that come with it.
And just to bring this full circle, it is by pleasing the Spirit, of whom God fills us with when we believe in Christ Jesus, that gains us grace and inheritance to God’s Kingdom, the law.
If you act by the flesh you will reap nothing, but the Spirit will produce the sweetest fruits of your labor!
You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to feel like God doesn’t love you when you sin because it is in those moments when His love for you is greatest. God’s love and grace is a gift remember? No take backs.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.” Galatians 5:13
Y’all! Jesus made you free! Rejoice with me! Don’t let the desires of your flesh bind you any longer. Lock that door and throw away the key. I’m giving you permission to leave your past in the past and step into a BRIGHT future! I love you, Jesus loves you.