In the margin of my Bible the other day I found this anonymous notation, “The fruit of the Spirit is not the result of ‘self-development’, but of self-crucifixion.”
Not sure where it originated but it sums up Pastor Steve’s final point concisely. He asked, “What does the Lord want me to do?” and in reply took us to the next verse of Galatians 5 “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Gal. 5:24).
Now, you might be puzzled at this if you are familiar with Paul’s claim back in chapter two: “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). Which is it? Is the crucifixion of the flesh something that Christ has done, or is it something that I must do?
Well the reality is, it’s both.
I’ve worn a tuxedo twice in my life: once when I was rendered as the angel Gabriel in an up-scaled production of The Nativity, and once when I attended our daughters wedding. Now a tux is a spiffy costume… its usually rented and not cheap to replace if it gets soiled or damaged. Wearing a tux changes your behaviour. You don’t slouch back and slop a drippy pizza slice over your lips. You don’t go with the gang to help push buddy’s jeep out of the mud. No, wearing a tux demands the best from you. Though others may have paid for my tux, still a certain sort of behaviour was expected of me.
God helps us in this. As Paul exhorted and reminded the Philippian believers, “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Phil. 2:12, 13).
And to the Colossians Paul writes,
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:1-3).
If you have acknowledged your sinful nature to God and are trusting in Christ’s sacrificial death and bow to Him as Lord you are saved. In Gods eyes you “have been” raised, the old nature “has died.” But now you must train your heart and mind to focus on new things. Deny those old sinful habits for now in Christ you have the ability to do so.
Paul goes on, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature….rid yourselves of...” (v.5, 8). “…as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (v.12). Sounds to me like he’s talking about the fruits of the Spirit again. Then he sums up with this: “…over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Love… Agapé Love, unconditional and sacrificial. It comes right back to it, doesn’t it? God has done His part, now we must do ours.
To hear Pastor Steve’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website, click on Media and select the April 28th message.