Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 20 2013 - Galatians 5:13-26 – The fruit of the Spirit

This world has become a battleground. God created it to be a place of blessing, a world that would reflect his own character and glory. He created us in his image that we might reflect his character in all our actions and relationships. But something has gone horribly wrong. An enemy has sown his own seed in the Garden of God and it is bearing an ugly and poisonous fruit springing up from the seed of self-interest and selfish desire.

The Message expresses this well: “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community” (5:19-21). These are the things that mar God’s world and reflect the activity of the evil one.

But God has not given up on his world. He loved the world so much that he gave his Son for its salvation. His death is God’s verdict on a dying world. By his resurrection he has created the possibility of new life. He sets us free from bondage to sin and self that we might live for him: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). God is at work to reclaim his lost world.

But, “The battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man” (Alexander Solzhenitsyn). It continues to run through us until that day when Christ shall come and we shall be made perfectly like him. Left to ourselves, we do not have the power to live the life of God’s free children. We need to live by the power of the Spirit; “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 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” (5:16-17).

The great battle for Mansoul is still going on in the life of the Christian, a battle between the flesh and the Spirit. Our fallen human nature, would draw us back into behaviour inconsistent with the kingdom of God, into a life centred in ourselves with its insistent demand for self-satisfaction and for having our own way.

God has given us his Spirit that we might be transformed from within; that his image within us might be restored – that we might be made like Christ. The Spirit is reshaping our lives that we might abound in the fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (5:22-23). Paul urges the Christians in Galatia (and us), “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (5:25). The Spirit is the one who has given us life in Christ; so let us live by the power of the Spirit, keeping in step with him as he leads us on in following Jesus Christ.

How is this fruit, in all its beautiful forms, developing in you? And how is God, by his Spirit, at work through you to bring healing and wholeness to his broken world?

Father God, I am conscious of the pull of the flesh, of the ways in which my recalcitrant nature fights against your work within. Forgive my sin for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, who died for me. Heal my brokenness and fill me with your powerful and persuasive Spirit. Help me to keep in step with your Spirit today. May my life bear an abundant harvest of the Spirit’s fruit, to the blessing of others and to the glory of your name.

Peter Misselbrook