In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. In previous weeks we’ve seen that God made a ‘covenant of works’ with humans which we broke by sinning. But then we saw that God made a ‘covenant of grace’, which, among other things, means God graciously gives us his Spirit. Last week we saw that the Spirit produces faith in us. This week I want to show you that the Spirit produces fruit in us too.
All humans have been enslaved to the sinful nature from birth. Paul describes life under the sinful nature in Galatians: ‘The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like’ (Galatians 5:19-21). Such a list is rather sobering as we all too clearly see ourselves caught in such behaviour. And then even more sobering is Paul’s comment immediately after the list: ‘I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God’ (Galatians 5:19-21).
So how do we inherit the kingdom of God and get out from under control of the sinful nature? By entering into the covenant of grace through the Holy Spirit. Once the Holy Spirit produces faith in you, the Spirit also graciously produces fruit in you – fruit that is in accordance with God rather than the fruit of your sinful nature. What does such fruit of the Spirit look like in your life? Paul explains: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (Galatians 5:22-23).
So Paul encourages Christians to see the fruit of the Spirit in their lives: ‘So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law’ (Galatians 5:16-17). And again Paul says: ‘ Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:24-25).
Do you know the Spirit’s power in producing fruit in your life? Or are you still enslaved to the sinful nature?