Sermon Outline On Galatians 5:16-25 (NRSV)
Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Paul writes to the Galatians about life’“ life that can be the works of the flesh or life that can be the fruit of the spirit. Paul contrasts ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’ in comparing human beings subject to earthly tendencies with human beings under the influence of God’s spirit.
Paul uses flesh to speak of the natural, material, visible human existence, weak and earth bound, the human creature left to itself’“ a person who cannot please God (Rom 8:8).
Paul says, ‘live by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.’ (5:16) Elsewhere, Paul assures us that we are new creatures in Christ Jesus. As new creatures in Christ, we can walk by the Spirit. John wrote of being born from above. Paul echoed this idea as he writes of being new creations.
We are born by the spirit. We are new creations ‘“ re-created. As new creatures we live by the Spirit. And when we live by the Spirit, we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.
Scripture uses the term fruit fairly often. Jesus told us that were are to bear fruit.(John 15:16) Jesus warned about false prophets. He said, ‘You will know them. You can tell them by their fruit.’ (Matthew 7:15-16)
Paul writes to the Romans that Jesus has come to us so that we no longer depend on the law for our salvation, but we have Jesus and with Jesus we can bear fruit for God. (Romans 7:4)
Most often when we see that word fruit, it applies to what we do in response to what God has done for us. Fruit usually refers to the products of OUR labors.
But you notice here, Paul writes about the fruit of the Spirit. He is speaking of the product of the Spirits labors in our lives. He is writing about the work of the spirit in our lives’“ the character of our being as a result of the Spirt’s work in us.
So beware! Paul is not saying, to be a Christian you ought to love — to be a Christian you ought to: exhibit joy ‘“ know peace ‘“ practice patience — be kind ‘“ be good ‘“ be faithful ‘“ be gentle — have self-control. These are not our achievements, but God’s gift through the Holy Spirit — another example of God’s grace.
These fruit of the spirit reflect God’s sanctifying grace acting in our lives through the Holy Spirit. We are being sanctified as we grow in our knowledge and love of God. And as we grow in that knowledge and love, we exhibit behavior that not all that common.
As a matter of fact, the behavior is so uncommon, we have to be transformed from our old selves. The Spirit must perform re-creating work in us before we can display such a demeanor as described by Paul.
The re-creating work of the Holy Spirit is an ongoing process. It’s a little like that need for a vacation. We work and work until we are stressed out and need to be rejuvenated.. We slip into old habits, or maybe even new habits, that call for the Spirits re-creating work in our lives.
One of the tools used by the Holy Spirit in re-creating our lives is worship. In worship we grow in our knowledge & love of God. In worship the Holy Spirit labors to produce fruit in our lives.
After worship we sometimes struggle with what to say as we are leaving the sanctuary. Sometimes people say to me, “I enjoyed the worship.” or “I enjoyed the sermon.” What is the “right” thing to say?
Vacation is recreation, but vacation at it’s best is re-creation. And so it is with worship. There is nothing wrong with enjoying worship. As a matter of fact worship should be enjoyable. But worship at its best is re-creation.