January 05, 2012

Fresh Fruit, Not Flesh Fruit

Galatians 5:16-21

Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Galatians 5:16


When Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit, he contrasts it with “the acts of the flesh.” When we hear that phrase, we might think Paul is talking only about bodily sins, but that is not the case.

Paul identifies attitudes as well as actions that are “of the flesh”—that is, things that are a part of us because of our sinful nature.

In the New Testament, “the flesh” is a summary term that refers to everything in our lives that is hostile to God. The flesh is the natural condition of every unregenerate person.

In his book Baptism and Fullness John Stott puts it this way: “The works of the flesh are the deeds we do naturally, when left to our own resources, while the fruit of the Spirit consists of qualities which the Spirit works in us supernaturally.”

Simply comparing the words “acts” and “fruit” can help us understand. Acts are what we do, and fruit is what the Spirit produces.

When we abide in Christ, there can be no such thing as flesh fruit—only fresh fruit, graciously nurtured within us from an external source, the Spirit.

It’s by the ministry of the Holy Spirit that our sinful acts are replaced with his holy fruit.

What fruit has the Spirit produced in you lately?

Thank you, Lord, for delivering us from the power of sin, and for ruling in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Help us to live by the power of your Spirit every day. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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