- Sermon Notes
Sowing to the Spirit
Paul is now bringing this letter to a grand conclusion. This is one of the most powerful letters that Paul wrote because it’s so practical and speaks directly to how we can have victory over the flesh.
Paul is writing because some teachers had come from Jerusalem trying to convince these churches that if they wanted to be true followers of Jesus Christ they needed to start living under the laws that God gave to Israel and especially that they needed to get circumcised as an outward sign of their submission to the Law.
Paul is writing to get them back on course. That’s not the gospel, that’s not the heart of God at all and if you’ll pardon the expression, Paul wants to cut them off and get the church healthy and spiritually mature by giving them some of the greatest insights we have in regards to the Holy Spirit.
Why was the Law given it all? It was given because of transgressions, Paul wrote. God gave the Law to Israel to restrain their flesh, knowing that everyone carries about in their flesh very worldly and fleshly desires. But the Law was like a guardian, an authoritarian over them, to restrain them.
But there’s no relationship in that. God set them free from that authoritarian, bossy guardian so they could have a relationship to God as their Abba, Father. And He has set us free, we’ve been adopted as sons and daughters and we also have God as our Abba, Father.
But if we’ve been set free from the Law, what about the flesh? Did God is set us free so we could be free range chickens? Is God okay with having our flesh go hogwild without any constraints? Paul’s answers are powerful.
There are several verses in Chapter 5 that lay the foundation for the verses we’re studying today. Verse 13 – You were called to freedom, brethren, only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh. Verse 16 – But I say this, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. Verse 18 – If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The key to victory, then, is the Holy Spirit.
God set us free so that we could be adopted by God as a son or a daughter; and if you are adopted, then you have a father and if you have a father, you’re under that authority, you’re in that family, but you also have a relationship of love that you never had before. Paul wrote in Galatians 4:6, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
The Spirit of His Son is the Holy Spirit given to every person when they open their heart to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Spirit ignites our heart; the Spirit transforms our lives by giving us desires that are very different than the desires of the flesh. It is the Spirit within us that hungers and thirsts for that which is good and right and honorable and godly.
But there is a conflict because we all still have the flesh; it’s still urging us on with its own set of desires that are very much opposed to the things of the Spirit. We have a choice. It has everything to do with what we want our lives to become.
I. The Spirit brings Spiritual Fruit
- Paul gives a list of the fruit of the Spirit in these verses so that we can look at them and say, “I want that in my life. These are good things to have.”
- Fruit is good; it’s sweet and refreshing. Notice he didn’t write, “The broccoli of the Holy Spirit.”
- We have a choice. Paul wrote these words in the power of the Holy Spirit to inspire us, to ignite our desires; to make us hungry.
Illus - The thing about fresh fruit is that it’s tasty, refreshing, and nutritious. In other words, it’s good for you. In contrast, there’s Froot Loops; and though they’re magically delicious, the number one ingredient is sugar. And, there’s no fruit in them at all and in fact they all literally have the same flavor.
- If you’ve been around this world long enough you know that the flesh wants things that bring short-term pleasure, but result in long-term pain.
Romans 6:21, Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.
- This list of the fruit of the Spirit describes the nature of God’s character to us. What is God like? What is His character? What is His nature? It’s right here.
- The Law was considered as that which defined the righteousness, the holiness of God; but these verses give us a higher and deeper understanding.
Illus - I used to teach a class called, “What a Christian Believes;” in that class I asked them to define holiness. They would usually say, “Being without sin.” But we should be able to define holiness without comparing it to sin; and we can – it’s right here.
- These things describe God’s heart, God’s character and when the Spirit draws us closer to God we begin to see His character in us.
- Draw near to love and you will be more loving; draw near to joy and you will have more joy; draw near to peace and you will have more peace, and on and on.
James 4:8, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
- Notice that Paul begins by writing, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” This is agape love; it’s concern about what’s best for the other person. The deeds of the flesh are the opposite; they are selfish.
Philippians 2:3, Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.
- Notice also that Paul finishes the list, writing, “The fruit of the Spirit of self-control.” In other words, “If you walk by the Spirit you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” - Verse 16.
- Walking by the Spirit means that your soul is alive, your spirit is ignited and that’s what empowers you to say no to the flesh, to constrain the flesh, because you want something better; something more beautiful, more honorable, you want character and integrity.
B. Crucify the flesh
- Verse 24 – those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
- In other words, the passions and desires of the flesh want to be the master, to control you. It wants what it wants and it wants it now and expects you to cooperate. It wants to be the master.
Romans 7:5, For while you were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of your body to bear fruit for death.
- But how do you crucify the passions and desires of the flesh? Is that even possible?
- It takes a passion to kill a passion. God made us to be alive and passion for something is an expression of that. If a person comes to faith in Christ, but doesn’t have a relationship of love toward God, then the passions of the flesh still have power.
- In other words, you can’t move from the passions of the flesh to boredom in Christ and expect to have victory. The fruit of the Spirit is love and joy.
Illus – A guy in our church came to Christ from a life of drugs and I loved to watch his passion for Christ and his desire for the Word of God. “I’m addicted to Christ,” he said. That’s exactly what he needed.
Illus - We were in Africa and gave Bibles to those who came to Christ. The crowd became too much and we had to leave, but one man ran for blocks, chasing after us. I told the driver to stop. Anyone with that passion is getting a Bible; he then lifted his treasure to God.
- Consider the extreme case of someone being set free from the power of a demon; the purpose is so that that person could be filled by the Spirit of God.
Matthew 12:43-45, “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came,’ and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied… Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”
- We were made to be filled with the life of God. We were made to have passion in how we live.
John 7:37-39. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” By this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believe in Him were to receive.
Illus - One of the lessons on parenting we learned is that kids need to be passionate about something for the Lord. Get them to play an instrument or take voice lessons and learn how to lead worship for the children’s ministries, or get them involved in feeding the homeless. Two of our daughters worked at an orphanage in Mexico and fell in love with disabled kids there. It’s life-changing.
II. You Choose What You Reap
- In chapter 6, starting in verse 7, Paul gives what is famously known as the principle of the harvest.
- He begins with the strong words, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked…”
- People deceive themselves all the time, mainly because they want to be, but when God is involved, deceiving one’s self is quite dangerous.
- God is mocked when a person scoffs at what God says, or laughs in derision, looking down at what God says as being of no consequence. It’s like when someone says in a scoffing way, “Whatever.”
- God is not mocked; the principal still stands.
- Paul then gives us the principle that he applies spiritually; whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
- We can add some details to the principle;
- 1.You reap after the same manner you sow. (You don’t so sin and reap righteousness.)
- 2.You reap later than you sow.
- 3.You reap more than you sow.
Hosea 8:7, They sow the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind.
Illus - How many people would say, “If I had known what it would cost me, I would not have done it”?
A. Don’t sow to the flesh
- As we said last week, the problem with the flesh is that it just simply wants. It lives only in the moment. “Me want stew,” “Me want woman.” It gives no thought to the consequences. It just wants.
- Here, Paul says that there are consequences. When a person sows to the flesh, they will reap from the flesh; and what they reap will be corruption.
- The thing about sowing and reaping is this; a seed is planted, but the reaping does not come right away.
- Therefore, many are deceived; but God is not mocked, the principal stands, reaping will come.
- However, there is something we must also understand. If you sow to the flesh, you most certainly will reap from the flesh, but all troubles are not because of the flesh.
Illus - In John 9, Jesus came upon a man blind from birth and the disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?”
- But what do you do if you know that you are reaping from the flesh because you have sown to the flesh?
Illus - Many years ago someone came to the church office asking for a pastor. His life had become a field of weeds - troubles; that is what he had planted. We prayed and he wept bitterly, “Sow to the Spirit now,” I said, “and know that God’s blessings will come.”
- You are sowing to the Spirit right now. The word of God is going forth, empowered by the Holy Spirit and it will bear fruit in your life spiritually.
- One seed at a time, one chapter at a time, day by day, sow to the Spirit and you will reap life.
- Can you sow both flesh and Spirit? Yes, but one must overpower the other.
Luke 8:14, “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life and bring no fruit to maturity.”
Illus - On our small farm growing up someone decided at one point to use chicken manure as fertilizer. Problem; chickens eat every weed seed they find.
- Paul writes so that we understand that we get to choose what we want to reap. Sow a thought; reap an action. Sow an action; reap a habit. Sow a habit; reap a character. Sow a character; reap a destiny.
Galatians 5:22-6:10 NASB
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5 For each one will bear his own load. 6 The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. 10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.