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Fruit Of The Spirit

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Most of us assume deep down that the Gospel is…

•    The means by which we get God to give us the stuff and the lives we think we want.

•    Simply a way get a good afterlife and avoid a bad one.

•    Simply a strategy to make us better, more moral people

•    Then what is it?


The gospel is

•    The story of God

–   saving this world from the rebellious, destructive path we have place it on

–   Restoring this world to the good and glorious purposes for which it was originally created

•   By embracing, redeeming and restoring the rebellious, fallen overseers to their intended glory


The Gospel

•    The purpose of the Gospel is a restored, renewed creation

•    The means by which this creation and its overseers are embraced, restored and renewed is grace

•    God’s answer to evil

What is grace?

•    The way of the cross

–   Jesus freely chooses to suffer, to absorb the penalty and consequences for the perpetrators of suffering and decay

–   By definition this path is chosen by Jesus with no emotional guarantee that it will help anything (God is silent, he abandons Jesus on the cross, Jesus suffers hell)

–   We enter into Christ when we enter into this story (“we died with Jesus”)

Why don’t we trust grace?

•    Practicing grace in a fallen world is enormously costly

•    By definition practicing grace offers no worldly guarantee it will “work”

•    We want to keep matters in our control and achieve the results in our own power.

What our project looks like

We seek to control others

•    Through labeling and shaming them

•    Through carrots and sticks

•    Through war

•    Through manipulation

•    Any means necessary to keep ourselves looking good and keep “the other” managed

This is the only way we can see the world!

•    We imagine if we don’t maintain this the world will fall apart

•    Everything we hear or read around us reinforces our ideas

•    Even the Bible is read to understand the world this way

Today we should see

•    What is the nature of our problem

•    How Christ has resolved our problem

•    Why only grace (not moral effort) really saves us (in this world and the world to come)



How did you understand that?

•    Spirit = good, flesh = bad

–   Desires of the flesh

–   When we die we’ll be pure spirit and then we’ll be good

–   While we’re here on earth we have to eat, pay bills, etc. Material existence makes us do bad things

•    This is a Gnostic dualism

–   “spirit”=good, “flesh”=bad

Do good, not bad

Do bad things and God will send you to hell, so be good!

Do good things

Read ALL the text

We assumed Spirit = Law


•    Spirit = freedom: “what you want to do”: “Not subject to the law”

•    Flesh = law

•    I thought that that list of bad things were the things we (or at least “bad people”) wanted to do and it was the law that kept them from doing it?

We thought our problem was

•     We (and others especially) want to do bad things

–   We count on the law to stop us

–   Here it says that what we want to do is Spirit which is against the law

•     We need to try harder to be moral and to get everyone else to be moral too through will-power and control and that will save the world

Our Problem?

Our real problem

•     “desires of the flesh”

–   What do we imagine this is!

•     Epithumea: “inordinate desires”

–   Our desire to build our life on good, created things (flesh = +/- fallen created order)

•     These are good things but we’ve turned them into ultimate things

–   We have taken these good things and turned them into idols (Romans 1:18f)

Excessive identity need for

•     Pleasure

•     Marriage

•     Security

•     Sex

•     Children

•     Status

•     Affirmation

•     Money

•     Power

•     Prestige

•     Influence

•     Understanding

•     Adoration

•     Affection


•    Me

•    Me seeing me

•    Me seeing me in relationship to everything that is not me

•    Building my identity on something inside this creation: Epithumea

If you make _______ the center of your life, your chief identity

•    Your kids

•    Your marriage

•    Eating

•    Your career

•    Your financial security

•    Physical attractiveness

•    Your church

 Galatians 5:16-21 Your self is restless, in despair because it keeps trying to find itself IN that thing in this created order (marriage, kids, career, security, comfort, status, etc.) but it can’t!

 The law is

• a restraint on us to keep us from destroying each other

• what we manipulate and abuse to get the things in the created order we inordinately desire!

For what purpose do we do these things?

Why do you NEED that…

This is the eventual outcome to our restless selves

Live by the Spirit

•    Your old selves have been crucified with Christ already: it is finished!

•    Don’t go back to the inordinate desires for those good things, trying to find your selves in them, making them your idols: “works of the flesh” (not fruit)

•    Those things lead you to disorder and disaster. That trap is everlasting!


“fruit” is singular!


•    Natural: this is what you were made for

•    Inevitable: it will happen if the prior conditions are true

•    Progressive: it won’t happen over night. This is what God is using your life for, including your sufferings

–   Your sufferings expose your inordinate desires!

–   Don’t waste your sufferings

Why this isn’t “works”
Why only grace can accomplish this!

If you work your list

•      You will be proud of your moral accomplishments

•      You will look down on those who haven’t accomplished what you have

•      You will seek to control and subjugate those who fail or disagree

•      Your “inordinate desire” is for your own moral status!

What we have seen

•     What is the nature of our problem

–   We elevate good things to ultimate status and “worship” them

•     How Christ has resolved our problem

–   He crucified our identity with him

•     Why only grace (not moral effort) really saves us (in this world and the world to come)

–   Now the true freedom AND goodness can begin!

But I’m not seeing the fruit!

•    Find your idols: don’t waste your suffering

•    Embrace the cross

•    Stop pursuing your inordinate desires

•    Let the joy and freedom of the cross displace those other desires


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