Have you ever had a sinful struggle from within, one that keeps knocking at your mind and your heart? It makes you feel like you simply have to give in. It tells you that all you need to do is just take one look, one taste, one sip, one touch, or one bite… no one will know! That, my friend, is man’s sinful nature battling within all of us. If you’ve been battling against these temptations, it means you’re alive in Christ and dead to sin (Romans 6:11). We no longer live by this world’s standards, but by God’s standards. However, while we are still living in this fallen world, it will continue to challenge our conviction and our relationship with God, and many times it lures us to compromise.
In Romans 7:14-20, Paul said that because of our sinful nature, our flesh is very much inclined to do what is evil. That is why it is much easier for us to be sinful than to be good. The Christian life is not just hard, it’s actually impossible. That is why we can’t live it by our own strength, but by the grace and power of God. When we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, we also receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes pure and holy living possible. He reminds us of God’s standards and empowers us to live by them. He gives us the fruit of the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)
Through this fruit, we are able to crucify our sinful nature. Sinful acts of the flesh operate in opposition to the fruit of the Spirit. Paul reminds us that the works of the flesh should be very obvious to one who follows Christ, and according to Galatians 5:19-21, these include sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. All of these acts show the fruit of the flesh and will threaten the quality of our relationship with God and other people. As Christians, we must produce Godly fruits in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8).
If we are to nurture the fruit of the Spirit in us, we must consistently communicate and relate with Him through the reading and application of the Word, along with persistent prayer. Paul said in Galatians 5:25 that if we live in the Spirit, we should also walk in the Spirit. Walking means that we don’t stay where we are at any given moment. We shouldn’t be complacent with our current spiritual and moral condition, but we must instead keep moving towards every step the Holy Spirit guides us to walk in. It takes deliberate effort on our part to live by the Spirit. Every time we read the Bible and live by it, it’s a step towards nurturing the fruits of the Spirit. Every time we worship and pray to God, our feet are strengthened and we are encouraged to take another step.
The fruit of the Spirit produces God’s nature in us. It may not be an instantaneous change, but if we keep walking with Him, we will experience the progressive but glorious transformation that the Holy Spirit brings. Ultimately, this fruit manifests to bring glory to our God, not us. After all, we are destined to conform to the image of Christ, not ours (Romans 8:29). These fruits are gifts from God, gifts that we could never earn or even live up to. That’s why they must be given through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus looks at us as dear friends and He loves us so much that He does not want us to remain the same as when He took us out from darkness. As we walk with God, in the righteousness of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, He calls us to bear much fruit—fruit that will last.
(John 15:15-16 KJV)
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.