This post is the fifth lesson in a 6-week study series on the Fruit of the Spirit. (You can still access previous posts: Intro, One, Two, Three, or Four .) You can read today’s post and make notes in a journal or print the PDF version.
I know what you’re thinking. Images of horror movies and the undead have probably crept into your mind. Just for fun, I Googled “The Walking Dead,” the title of today’s lesson. Did you know there’s a TV series with the same name? This drama on AMC tells the story of a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by a zombie epidemic.
Thankfully, our fifth lesson in the “Fruit of the Spirit” has nothing to do with zombies. But we do need to talk about death – our own, in fact.
We Cannot Produce the Fruit of the Spirit
Here’s the truth of it: We cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit. We cannot – with any consistency – live a life characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control.
You may be able to muster up a loving act now and again. I might work up enough will-power to control my fleshly desires in one instance today. But our lives will never abundantly exhibit the characteristics of Christ by our own strength and works.
So just how can we live a life full of the Spirit’s fruit? Galatians 5:22-25 tells us:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Nowhere in this passage does God tell us to produce the Fruit of the Spirit. But He does command us to do two things:
- Crucify the flesh – Paul used the “active” voice in verse 24 when he wrote “have crucified the sinful nature.” This signifies an act that a believer has done and must continue to do to herself. We can choose to turn away from our sinful desires. Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, we have the power to resist temptation and choose the way out God provides (1 Corinthians 10:13).
- Keep in step with the Spirit – Since the Holy Spirit has given new life to our sin-dead souls, we are obligated to follow His lead. This is the second thing we are commanded to do in this passage. Depending on your translation, you may read “keep in step with,” “follow the Spirit’s leading,” or “let us walk by.”
Since “fruit” is the natural by-product of the Holy Spirit, only the Spirit can produce these characteristics in our lives. As we allow Him to take control, His life will be manifested in ours. (For more on “crucifying the flesh” and “following the Spirit” print this week’s PDF lesson.)
On my own, I would produce nothing but sinful works. Even my “good fruit” would be rotten. My flesh is too weak and sinful and to produce the characteristics of Christ. Kathy must “die.” I have to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit live Christ’s life through me. It’s the appropriate response to the One who saved my life. And my eternal hope.
Let’s talk: What is the hardest thing for you about following the Spirit? What helps you submit to His leadership?