grapefruitTurn with me today to Galatians 5.  I told you it was a field trip.  We’re familiar with this passage.  We know this passage.  Probably some of you have this passage memorized—at least the fruit of the Spirit part.  In Galatians 5, 16 through 18, we’re also told how to abide.  In order to abide in Him, we need to be walking in the Spirit.  And listen to the power of this verse:

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”  Do you understand the spiritual dynamite in that verse is right there?  “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”  You are free under grace to pursue goodness and holiness and righteousness.  Walk. in. the. Spirit.

To walk in the Spirit there is to depend upon Him.  In fact, the word for “walk” is a word that says “conduct yourself in”—conduct yourself in the Spirit.  It’s to be led by Him, it’s to be guided by Him.  How does the Spirit lead us and guide us?  “Oh, He talks to me.”  Really?  How?  It’s the written Word of God.

John Owen said it this way: If you’re receiving private revelations from God and they disagree with the Word of God, the written Word of God, then you’re not hearing words from God.  And if they do agree with the written Word of God, they’re not necessary, because you’ve already got it in the Word of God.  We go to the written Word.  It is our only infallible rule for life and practice, for doctrine and for belief.  Go to the Word.  Abide in the Word.  Let the Word abide in you.  Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

And we’re familiar with this combat that we’re in, this war that we’re in.  Paul in Romans 7 talks about it: “What I am doing, I do not understand.  What I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”  We’ve all been there, haven’t we?  The things I hate—that’s what I do.  I hate it, but I still do it.  “If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.  But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  And he gives us the answer: “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”  We are at war.  And we, in this case, need to kill the enemy.  It’s called “mortification.”  Mortify the deeds of the flesh.

What are the deeds of the flesh?  He tells us there in Galatians chapter 5, as we go on in verses 19 through 21: 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness,”—this is a list of those old-timey Bible words I just talked about.  This is them: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  That’s an awesome list right there, isn’t it?

Okay, we’ve read the list.  Let’s define these terms, because I’m going to be honest—there are not many preachers that use these terms in their preaching anymore, and there they are right there in the Bible.  And because they don’t use those terms in their preaching, because they tell you that you need to come for “addiction recovery,” and you need to come to find help for reconciliation in your marriage after unfaithfulness—because they use all of these psychological and medical terms, nobody knows what they mean when you read them on the printed page of your Bible.  So what do these words mean?  I’m glad you asked.  I’ve got them here for you:

  • Adultery: Any sexual conduct unfaithful to the confines of marriage.
  • Fornication: Who knows the Greek word for fornication? “Pornia.”  Doesn’t that sound like pornographic?  Any sexual immorality.  Specifically, we usually relate the term “before marriage,” but it is simply a reference to any sexual immorality.
  • Uncleanness: The word for “uncleanness” refers to impurity in your motives, your speech, or your behavior. It is to be unclean, literally.
  • Lewdness: The word here is licentiousness. It is an unbridled lust.  It’s desire, unrestrained.
  • Idolatry: Literally means you’re full of unfaithfulness. You have a false god.  Usually, who is our false god?  We are.
  • Sorcery: I gave you the Greek word there: pharmakia. You know that word, don’t you?  Pharmacy—the use of substances to enhance or change a state.  This was the use of drugs to induce trance states, usually applied to fortunetelling, but used for other spiritual pursuits.  If anybody ever tells you that drugs bring clarity to their spiritual life, understand, they are under a demonic influence and they are being deceived.  Anything that controls you, other than the Holy Spirit of God, is only going to lead to bad things.
  • Hatred: The word “enmity.”  It means hostile feelings and actions.  We all know people full of hate, don’t we—people who are hostile all the time.  It doesn’t matter what happens, they’re going to fight.  You know where you fuel this work of the flesh?  Turn on the news.  They’ll tell you who to hate, who to be mad at, who to be hostile against, who needs to be killed.
  • Contentions: The word is “strife,” or a good Texas word for that is “wrangling.” People who just like to scrap.  They just like to fight.  They’re not happy unless you’re not happy.  They like discord.
  • Jealousies: The word for jealousy here is a desire to possess, a desire to control. It’s a word for envy.  It also has as its root “factionalism.”  I’m going to divide people based on certain things, and some of them I’m going to get along with, and some of them I’m not.
  • Outbursts of wrath: This is the word for heat, for rage. It’s an outburst of uncontrolled anger.
  • Selfish ambitions: Self-seeking pursuit. Selfish ambition is a word that was used in classical Greek as a descriptive term to apply to a politician who was running for office.  A pretty fitting description.  Selfish ambitions.
  • Dissensions: That’s just it—to divide; to cause division.
  • Heresies: The word for heresies refers to schismatic sects, factions. To break the whole into its separate parts, and then to pose them against one another.
  • Envy: The word for “envy” is not just to want what somebody else wants. The word for envy goes deeper than that.  It’s to hold a grudge against somebody because they have something you think you deserve.  It’s to hold a grudge.
  • Murder: As we know, murder is to kill unlawfully. Jesus expands on that for us, doesn’t He?  He says if you’re angry at your brother without a cause, you’re guilty of the same motive.
  • Drunkenness: Intoxication with any substance. Being controlled by a substance.
  • Revelries: Excessive feasting, partying, and carousing.

The works of the flesh—otherwise known as life on a college campus today.

But what does God tell us?  “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

Let’s define the terms again:

  • Love: It’s the word agape—unconditional love. This is a decision of your will about how you are going to treat somebody else; to treat them for the better, to hope for the best.
  • Joy: The word for rejoicing. It speaks of gladness, finding delight in something.
  • Peace: The spiritual fruit of peace is tranquility, or harmony.
  • Longsuffering: Patience, to suffer much.  That’s one of my favorite Greek words: makrothumia.  That means a lot of heat.  It means you can take a lot.  It refers to endurance.
  • Kindness: To do what’s right. It speaks of kindness and generosity.  People who are always giving of themselves.
  • Goodness: Refers to something that is good and healthy and right.
  • Faithfulness: Means full of faith, and it refers to being reliable.
  • Gentleness: It is a humble gentleness; being considerate; having courtesy. The word for gentleness really speaks of having good manners.
  • Self-control: Or self-discipline. It is a virtue.  It is self being controlled by the Spirit.

But I want you to notice something—back to the grammar.  The fruit of the Spirit is—that’s singular.  Paul does not write, “The fruits of the Spirit are.”  The fruit of the Spirit is.  Think about it this way, when you slice a grapefruit, if you slice it the right way—you use that little teethy grapefruit spoon—you get the sections out.  There are sections all in there.  One fruit, lots of sections.  It’s one fruit, singular.  This is the fruit of the Spirit.

Now how is this often taught?  Well, I have love and joy and peace, but I’m not very patient, so I need to work on that.  I need God to produce that fruit in me.  No, you don’t.  What’s the problem?  The problem is we sectionalize it and we think we need to focus on some, but on others, we’re just fine.

You see, what Paul’s telling us is that if you look at the life of the believer, somebody who is walking in the Spirit, this is what their life looks like all throughout—all of these are present and active in the life of a person who is walking in the Spirit.  We compartmentalize it.  And when we do that, we do great harm to the whole picture of what it means to be a follower of Christ and to be abiding in Him.