Introduction: This morning I spoke from the last part of Galatians 5 on the subject of “Why Christians Fail.” Tonight I’d like to speak from the same passage about “Why Christians Succeed.” The simple answer is that when we succeed, it’s not us but the Lord Jesus through us by His Holy Spirit. It’s the fruit of the Spirit.
Scripture: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh… The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 22-23, 25).
1. We Succeed Because the Holy Spirit Indwells Us – Paul mentions the Holy Spirit 18 times in Galatians.
- In Galatians 3:2, he likens receiving Christ to receiving the Holy Spirit.
- In verse 3, he said the Galatians had begun in the Spirit.
- In verse 5, he talked about God’s giving His Spirit to the Galatians.
- In verse 14, he referred to our salvation as receiving the promise of the Holy Spirit.
- In Galatians 4:6, he wrote, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts.
- In verse 28, he said that we are children born by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- In Galatians 5:5, he wrote, “By faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
- And here in the last part of Galatians 5, he wrote that we must be led of the Spirit and walk in the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit who comes to live within us at the moment of salvation.
2. We Succeed Because the Holy Spirit Enables Us. We Bear the Fruit of the Spirit – This is talking about character and about attitude.
- Love – The determination to meet the needs of someone else.
- Joy – The ability to enjoy life.
- Peace – The calmness and confidence of knowing God is always in control.
- Patience – The knack of putting up with people and circumstances.
- Kindness – The practice of going out of your way to do nice things for people.
- Goodness – The display of moral integrity.
- Faithfulness – The habit of utter dependability.
- Gentleness – The soft covering of strength.
- Self-Control – The capacity of doing what we don’t feel like, and not doing what we do feel like.
A. These Attitudes are Produced by Inner God-Created Processes. We’re not like Christmas trees on which we hang artificial ornaments, but real trees that bear genuine fruit. When we’re rooted and grounded in Christ, the Holy Spirit, like sap in a tree or vine, bears the nutrients of the Word to every part of our spirit, and the fruit is produced from within.
B. These Attitudes are Perfected with the Passing of Time. An apple or cluster of grapes begins with tiny nubs and matures as the harvest draws closer. These are attitudes that develop within us.
C. These Attitudes Require Cultivation. From the very beginning (even before the curse and the fall), humans were farmers. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to “dress and keep it.” Everyone who has ever grown a vegetable or fruit knows that the plants require cultivation. We have to cultivate these attitudes, and it’s the Lord who is the overseer of the farm, pruning, fertilizing, and cultivating us.
D. These Attitudes are Pleasant. My father ran an apple orchard. Every fall, we’d hire crews of men to pick the apples, send them to the packinghouse, and be delivered to the stores. I sold many an apple at two dollars a bushel, the going rate in the mountains when I was a boy. The apples weren’t left on the trees or to rot on the ground. They were for the benefit of others. God produces these qualities in our lives so we’ll be a blessing to others.
E. These Fruits are Reproductive. Plants have a potent built-in drive to reproduce, and that’s why they bear fruit. Every fruit contains the seeds of more plants as the world is replenished. The fruit of the Spirit has evangelistic potential. When observed in our lives, it will draw others to the Savior.
The key to the passage is found in verse 25: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” If we have been saved by the power of the Holy Spirit, we must keep in step with Him. That means going in the same direction, at the same speed, side-by-side, and in communion one with the other.