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The Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:16-26
March 16, 2014

It’s about the size of a bowling ball, covered with sharp, stiff, spiny points, and grows on trees throughout southeast Asia, most predominantly in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. The business end of a durian, which is the inside, is mucuslike in consistency, and the unique flavor is reminiscent of garlic, smoked ham, and rancid cheese.

That’s how one writer describes the fruit called durian.  Another introduces it this way:

Q:  What fruit is shaped like a hedgehog and smells like compost?

A:  Durian.

[He then describes his first exposure to the fruit…]

I first encountered durian while visiting some dear friends in Singapore—a delightful young married couple named Adrin and Jennifer Loi. We were walking up the stairway to their flat when I was overwhelmed by an embarrassing odor. It smelled like someone’s 2-year-old had a stomach ailment about a week before and no one had carried off the soiled nappies yet. I was bravely and politely trying not to show that I had caught wind of the odor—when they began to talk about what a lovely fragrance it was.

“Mmm. Do you smell that?” Jennifer asked, stopping me just where the foul effluvium was wafting so thick you could almost feel it.

“Well, I did notice a rather pungent scent,” I admitted, eyes watering. Then, after silencing a couple of involuntary gags, I asked, “What happened? Your neighbors move away and leave their compost pile behind?”

“Americans always say they don’t like that smell!” Jennifer said in all seriousness. “But we think it’s heavenly.”

I looked at Adrin, thinking Jennifer must be setting him up for a clever punch line, but he just nodded in perfect sincerity.

Then Adrin explained what durian is and promised to treat me to a taste of “the king of fruits” after dinner. I decided on the spot that I was going to order something light for dinner—maybe a clear broth, or something else that wouldn’t be too awful to puke up.

I also changed the subject, hoping Adrin would forget about the promised treat. I began thinking of things I might say if Adrin brought up this suggestion again. (Dessert? DESSERT?! We don’t NEED no STINKING dessert!)

But Adrin did not forget. In fact, to make sure he didn’t forget, he purchased the diabolical produce before dinner and left it in a paper bag in his car while we were in the restaurant. Big mistake. Even Adrin himself later admitted this was a bad decision. When we returned, the car was so fetid we had to roll down the windows and hang our heads out on the ride home. Even so, it was all I could do to keep from heaving. [Phil Johnson, accessed 3/14/14]

Some fruit, evidently, just isn’t very fruity or worthwhile.  And that’s not only true in the produce department of your favorite grocery store, but it’s also true of our spiritual lives.  We all produce fruit of some kind — the question is whether it is worthy and appropriate fruit of Christ.

We are in the midst of a brief series on the Holy Spirit that has arisen from John says in 1 John 3:24,

The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

We can be sure of our salvation when we recognize the work of the Spirit in our lives.

But who is this Spirit?  And “What does the Spirit do?”  There are many activities that the Spirit does independently of the believer.  These are His works in every believer, beginning at the moment of salvation:  His baptism, indwelling, and sealing.

But there are also activities that the Spirit does in cooperation with the believer — things like His filling, His fruit, and His gifts.  And today we want to examine just one of those works, the fruit of the Spirit.  What does the Spirit of God work in and through the life of the believer and what does that work look like?  In simplest terms, the Spirit of God is given to us to make us look like Jesus Christ.

  • “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” (Eph. 1:4)
  • “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’” (1 Pet. 1:14–16)
  • “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:17–18)

And the Scriptures tell us that there are some specific qualities that the Spirit is working in us to make us reflect the Christ we believe and follow.  The most obvious passage — Galatians 5 — is the one I want to examine this morning.  And as we look at this passage, we will find that…

When we are filled with the Spirit of Christ, He will produce Christlike character in us.

One writer has said about this passage,

Christian character is a divine product…which becomes wholly and instantly available when right relationship to the Holy Spirit is unhindered.  As has well been said, Galatians 5:22-23 is the shortest life of Christ ever written, for the fruit of the Spirit is the outliving of the inliving Christ. [Chafer, Systematic Theology, VI: 201.]

1.  When We Are Not Filled with the Holy Spirit… (vv. 16-21)

  • We will carry out the desires of the flesh  (v. 16)
  • We will lose the battle with the flesh  (vv. 17-18)
  • We will live like the world  (vv. 19-21)

2.  When We Are Filled with the Holy Spirit…  (vv. 22-26)

  • We will live like Christ  (vv. 22-23)
  • We will win the battle with the flesh  (v. 24)
  • We will carry out the desires of the Spirit  (vv. 25-26)

Download the rest of this sermon on Galatians 5:16-26.

The audio is posted on the GBC website.