Sowing to the Spirit
January 30, 2016
The title of our message is sewing to the spirit. Paul is bringing this letter to a grand conclusion with these versus, and I look back on this book, and I really appreciate it. It’s one of the richest, deepest, most practical books because it really speaks to the very important understanding of how a believer can have victory in his walk. Victory over the flesh. Now, let’s go back a little bit and understand why he wrote the letter. He wrote because there were these teachers that had come from Jerusalem that were disrupting the church. Not just these churches in Galatia as well, and they were trying to convince these believers that if they wanted to be true followers of Christ, then they really needed to take on Judaism.
They needed to come unto the law, and especially they needed to be circumcised as an outward sign of it. So, Paul is just hot. He’s just absolutely hot about this because this is not the gospel. This is not the heart of God, and if you’ll pardon the expression he wants to cut them off and literally bring the church to be in a place of house and spiritual maturity. So, he gives some of the greatest insights into the role of the holy spirit, and the life of the believer. Now, going back just a bit we have to ask the question why did God give the law at all. In fact, he addresses this in chapter three. If God knew that no one could live by the standards of this law, then why in the world did God even give it?
Then he gives the answer because of transgressions. He knew the tendency of the flesh. He knew that the tendency of the flesh was to desire those things which are very worldly, and so he gave the law to constrain you. To restrain, he said, but it was like an authoritarian bossy guardian, and it was never meant to be permanent. In fact, he said that it was only until the time the fullness of time came when God sent forth his son. That we would be set free, you see, there’s no relationship in a bossy authoritarian guardian. So, he says “we’ve been set free from that so we can have relationship to God as our Abba” father. We’ve been set free, we’ve been adopted as sons and daughters, Abba, beautiful relationship, but then we have to ask this question. “Well, if we’ve been set free from the law, we’re no longer under that bossy authoritarian guardian, then what about the flesh?” What about those transgressions? Did God set us free so that we can be free ranged chickens? Did he set us free so our flesh could go hog wild without any constraints?
Paul gives the answers that are very, very powerful here, and he lays down a foundation in the versus that we were looking at recently. For example, in verse 13 he said “you would call the freedom brethren, but do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh.” Verse 16, “I say this, walk by the spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” Oh, he’s speaking to it all right. One of the most powerful verses in the bible there. Verse 18 “If you are led by the spirit you’re not under the law.” So, he tells us the key, the key to victory is the holy spirit. He said “now God set us free so we could be adopted as a son or a daughter.” If you’ve been adopted, then you have a father. If you have a father, you have the authority.
That’s the picture of a father is an authority over your life, but you’re in a family. You have a relationship of love. It’s the beautiful, wonderful blessings that come in that being adopted. Now, we love that picture, it means a lot to us personally. It’s a beautiful picture of salvation. We adopted, as you know, the two boys from Russian. We adopted our granddaughter now, but the two boys from Russia were such a picture of what we’re saying because they were true orphans. Father was murdered, their mother died from cancer. They had no family, they had no future, they had no hope. We adopted them, they have a father. They have love, they have a relationship, they have a future, they have a new name, they have hope. They have a father, beautiful, powerful picture. God set us free so we could be adopted, and then he said “and then I sent forth the spirit of my son into your hearts.”
I. The Spirit brings Spiritual Fruit
What a picture, the holy spirit is given to every person when they receive Jesus Christ as lord and savior. The spirit ignites our heart. The holy spirit transforms our lives. See the holy spirit gives us the desires that are very, very different than the desires of the flesh. The spirit hungers, longs for, thirsts after, things which are good, right, beautiful, honorable, godly. I want those things. You see, that’s where the conflict is. There’s a conflict, everybody knows there’s a conflict because we still all have the flesh, and the urgings, the passions of the flesh are very much opposed to the things of the spirit. So, he says “we have a choice, there is a choosing, and it has everything to do with what we want our lives to become.” So, he lays this out in these versus beginning in verses 22. We start there, notice though he just finished speaking about what the deeds of the flesh are. We don’t really need a lot of instruction on that one.
We know that one pretty well, but he tells us in verse 22 that the fruit of the spirit, the result of the spirit of the living God in our lives is this, love. What a beautiful thing. I would love to have that kind of love alive, he says. Joy, the joy not like the world gives, Jesus says, the joy that I give is the joy of everlasting peace. Peace that passes understanding. Patient, we need patient. That’s of God he says. Kindness, that’s of God. Goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, again such things there is no love. Love doesn’t speak to these things. This is the move of the holy spirit. Then verse 24 “those who belong to Christ has crucified the flesh along with its passions, and its desires.” Hey, if we live by the spirit, let’s walk by the spirit. Let’s not become boastful, challenging one another. Envying one another, chapter 6 verse 1 “brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, or overtaken by a trespass. You who are spiritual restore such one in a spirit of gentleness.” We have a relationship to one another, to encourage, to lift up, to bless, and unify.
Each one, look into yourself less you to be tempted bearing one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. Did Christ give a law? Yes, he said a new commandment I give to you that you love one another, and in so doing the world will know that you’re my disciple when they see the love that you have for one another. So, he goes on to say “if anyone thinks he’s something, when he’s nothing, he deceives himself, but let each one examine his own life, his own work.” You see, we’re each one responsible for our own faith. You can’t rely, you cannot rest on the faith of your wife, your husband, or your parents. Each one has his own faith. So, then he will have reason for boasting, or glorying in regard to himself, not in regard to another. For each one bears his own load.
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches, and then verse seven and following very powerful verses. I quote these often, “do not be deceived, God is not mocked. That which a man sows this he will also reap. The one who sews through his own flesh shall, from the flesh, reap corruption, but the one who sows to the spirit shall, from the spirit, reap life, even eternal life. Let us not loose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” So, then while we have opportunity let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand, he adds a personal note. He had very bad eye site, so he writes with large letters. Let’s go back over this starting in verse 22 of chapter 5. The principals here are so key, so important, so practical, and he begins by helping us to see that the spirit brings spiritual fruit.
A. The Spirit draws you to God
He gives the list here of the fruit of the spirit, and I’m convinced that he gives us this list so that we can look at this list and say “delicious, I want that. That’s good.” I mean, love I want that in my life. Joy, man I would love to have joy. I want that. Peace, I so want peace. Patience, I need patience. I want that, what a wonderful list. These are things that I really, really desire, and he uses the word fruit. The fruit of the spirit. Now, I’m convinced he uses that word because fruit is good. Fruit is sweet, fruit is tasty. It’s like Oregon strawberries. Like, “oh how juicy, how delectable.” How delightful, how refreshing. Notice he doesn’t say the vegetables of the holy spirit. Doesn’t say the broccoli of the holy spirit. He’s giving us this picture so that we want it. So, that we go “oh that’s good, oh that’s juicy, that is sweet.” See we have a choice. He wrote these words so that we would understand. Fruit is tasty, it’s refreshing, it’s nutrient, it’s good for you. In contrast, there’s fruit loops. Now I realize that fruit loops are magically delicious, but what exactly is in fruit loops? I’m glad you asked, let’s look shall we? Let’s see, notice by the way they don’t even spell it right. You know why? There’s no fruit in fruit loops.
What is in fruit loops? First thing, sugar. Number one thing is sugar, but let’s not forget some of the other ingredients. There’s red member 40, that sounds really healthy. Blue number two, there’s colors, there’s yellow number 6, there’s blue number 1, and don’t forget there’s BHT for freshness. You know what BHT is? It’s some long word, and they make tires out of it. It can’t be good. That’s an interesting thing. What a picture for us. We see the different, the contrast. Food of the spirit, fruits of the flesh. If you’ve bene around in this world long enough, I think you can add your own testimony at this point. I think there’s a lot of people in this room who can say “oh I know something about the flesh. I’ve lived enough on this world. I know something about the flesh. I’ll tell you this.”
It wants short term pleasure, but it brings long term pain. I’ll tell you something about the flesh, I think it’s a lot of people who can add their own testimony. He would say “Matt if I could say something to young people it would be please know this, please know this because I’ve been there, and I can add my word to it.” See, Romans 6 21 “therefore what benefit were you deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed?” The outcome of those things is death. That verse had a great impact on me when I was very young. I was 21 or so, really in many ways, in the heat of that conflict between flesh and spirit. Someone had challenged me to memorize Roman six. So, I took on that challenge, and I was doing that. As I was going through, now that’s verse 21, so you’re well into the chapter. I’m going through, and I’m repeating the verse. Repeating, that’s how you memorize. You repeat, and you repeat, you start writing it on your heart, and as I repeated it several times when you repeat a verse enough it starts to look. It starts to turn a little. You begin to see it from a different perspective, and as I begin to repeat those words it started to hit me really hard because it was poignantly accurate.
What benefit did you gain? You’re right Lord, there was no benefit to that. From the things of which you are now ashamed. Lord I am ashamed, you’re right. The outcome of those things is death. Lord, I see it. I see it now. I see it now. See in Galatians 5 he’s laying this out for us. So, that we can say “I want, I want the things of the spirit of life. I want the things that are good, and godly, and honorable, and beautiful.” What is he showing us but that the spirit draws you to God? This is the thing that you need to see. It’s because of the relationship. He draws you to God. See, the list of the fruit of the spirit describes the nature of God’s character. What’s God like? What is his character? What is his nature? It’s right here, now the Jews for many years considered that the law defined God. The law defined his character, his holiness, his righteousness. I suggest to you, though, that these versus here gives us a much deeper, richer, a great higher understanding of who God is, and his nature, and his character. Many years ago I use to teach a class called what a Christian believes, and going through the tenants of the faith one upon the other, and we get to who is God? In that class I would, of course, bring out the fact that God is holy.
So, then I would say “well can someone define holiness? Would someone like to define holiness?” People would raise their hands, and I would say “okay.” The person invariably, someone would say “well holiness is the absence of sin.” To which then I would say “well we should be able to define holiness without contrasting it to sin, after all holiness has been around a lot longer than sin has.” It should be able to stand on its own, let’s define sin. Excuse me, let’s define holiness without contrasting it to sin. Answer? Holiness is the character of God. God is holy, and his character, his nature is defined for us right here. The fruit of the spirit is love. This is the spirit of the living God, and the nature of the results of his moving in our lives are seen. The spirit is love, God is love, and the spirit draws us to love.
See, draw near to love, and you will be more loving. The spirit draws us to God, and the closer you become to God the more you begin to see his character moving in you. God is love, you draw near to love and you’ll be more loving. You draw near to joy, the joy of the holy spirit, my joy I give to you Jesus is not like the world. My joy, you draw near to joy and you will find your heart beginning to move with joy. Peace, you draw nearer to he who is our peace, and you will find peace beginning to move in your life. God is patient, you begin to move nearer to God, and the transformation of that heart is that you’re seeing patient beginning to increase because you’re drawing nearer to him who is patient. James 4 verse 8 “draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Notice that Paul begins by saying “the fruit of the spirit is love.” See, this is the Greek word agape, love. Beautiful word, there’s different words for love in the Greek, but this is the kind of love that is concerned for the good of the other one. In other words, it gives itself away, it sacrifices self for the good of the other. That’s God’s kind of love. In contrast, the deeds of the flesh are selfish, self-centered, self-focused, and you see the contrast of this in Philippians chapter 2 verse 3. “Do nothing from selfishness, or empty conceit, but with humility of mind. Regard one another as more important than yourselves.”
B. Crucify the flesh
There it is, beautiful picture of what love is. Notice also, that Paul finishes the list by saying the fruit of the spirit is self-control. Control of self comes from the spirit of life. In other words, it’s just like verse 16, “if you walk by the spirit, you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” What does it mean to walk by the spirit? It means that the spirit is moving in your life. You’re walking with the spirit, and your soul is alive. Your soul, your spirit is ignited, and that’s what empowers you to say no to the flesh because your spirit is alive, and it’s constraining the flesh. Why, because in your spirit you want something better. You want something more beautiful. You want that which is honorable. You desire to have character, and integrity. Things of God you want. So, then he says in verse 24 a very practical word. “Those he belongs to Christ have crucified the flesh.” There it is, crucify the flesh, he says. Along with his passions and his desires. So, in other words the passions of the flesh we know what that is. The passions of the flesh, the desires of the flesh, they very much want to be the master. They want to control this whole deal. It wants what it wants, and it wants it now, and it expects you to cooperate.
It wants to be the master. Here’s a great verse, Romans 7 verse 5. “While you were in the flesh, the sinful passions” here’s this word again, but listen to the way he says it because it’s really interesting. “The sinful passion which were aroused by the law.” So, was that a double encounter? No, that’s on purpose. “The sinful passions which were aroused by the wall were at work in the members of your body to bear fruit to death.” You want to talk about bearing fruit, there’s the contrast, but how do you crucify the passions, and the desires of the flesh? Is that even possible? Is that even reasonable, is that even possible? How do you crucify? Nail it to the cross, to bring death to it. How’s that even possible? One of the things that we really need to understand that he’s pointing out and sharing us here is that it takes passion to kill a passion. This is a very, very important principal for the life of the believer. God made us to be alive, and passion for something is an expression of that. See, if a person comes to faith in Christ, and does not have passion. Does not have a depth of love toward God. Then the passions of the flesh still have power because there’s more passion for the flesh than there is for anything else. It still has power. It takes a passion to kill a passion. In other words, you cannot move from the passions of the flesh to boredom and Christ, and expect that to work. God did not make us to be boarded Christians. God did not save us so that we can be flat lined as a Christian. Jesus did not say “I’m going to give you salvation and boredom along with it.” I don’t think that’s what he said. What he said was “I have come that you have life, and have it abundantly to the full. I want you to have life.”
I remember a guy that had come to faith, and Christ, and our church. He was living a life of drugs, honestly, and he come to Christ. God took hold of his heart, and I remember speaking to him, and just being excited by how he was describing what God was doing to his life. He said “I don’t know how to explain it other than I was addicted to drugs, now I’m addicted to Christ. That’s all I can say. There’s something alive in me.” He use to play guitar, you know high, and he was really into it, and thought it made him more creative or whatever. As soon as he came to Christ, and got addicted to Christ, and started using his guitar for the lord writing songs, and playing, he had a band. He’s using his passion for good, and God. I’m excited about that, now you get it because we have to have passion to kill a passion. You don’t move from passion to boredom. It reminds me of when we were in Africa, and we would give these invitations for people to receive Christ, or in the gospel, and they would come and respond. Afterward, we would draw them to the side, and we would give each of them after we prayed, and talked with them, etc. We would give them a bible, and it was really hard to get bibles, it was very valuable. We were outside giving these bibles, and after we’d given them I begin to look around, and see that a crowd was gathering. Large crowd was gathering, and pressing in on us, and I thought “I think we should probably get in the vans now.” So, I started moving our group into the vans, and I was in the last vehicle of the jeep and we started to take off. There was this guy who started to chase us, and he is running with all he’s got down this block, up that block. I’m looking over my shoulder, and finally I said to the driver “stop this car, anybody who wants a bible that bad is getting a bible.” So, he stopped the car, and I go to the back where they are, and he’s like “oh, oh.” I remember handing the bible to him like a very proper African way. He takes it with both hands, and he goes “yes.” What passion. Consider the extreme case of someone being set free from the power of a demon.
What is the purpose of being set free from the power of the enemy if it isn’t so that the spirit can fill and bring life? If someone is set free from the power of the enemy, and not filled with units of life their condition can end up being worse than at the beginning. Let me give you a verse. Jesus says in Mathew chapter 12 verses 43 to 45. Now, he’s describing the case of someone set free from a demon, and then not receiving life. Notice, “when the un clean spirit goes out of the man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and doesn’t find it.” So then it says “I will return to my house from which I came, and when it comes it finds it unoccupied.” It wasn’t filled with life. So, then it goes and takes along with it 7 other spirits more wicked than itself, and the last state of the man becomes worse than the first. God made us to have life. We were made to have passion in how we live. God did not make us to be flat lined Christians. In John chapter 7 versus 37 to 39 Jesus speaks again. He says “now if anyone is thirsty let them come to me and drink.” Let’s just pause there for a moment. That is a very powerful phrase, if anyone is thirsty, let them come to me and drink. It’s a picture of the condition of the soul in the word, thirsty. There’s a condition in every person of emptiness. There’s a longing, there’s a longing, and desiring, searching, looking for that which to fill life, and to have experience of intimacy and passion of life. We are made for that, and until what we’re understanding what it means to be filled with the life that God gives people will start looking to fill it in wrong ways. They’re looking for passion in all the wrong places. They’re looking for love in all the wrong places, and the end results of it is not good. “The fruit of that is death” he says. So, he’s giving us this picture in John 7. “If anyone is thirsty, let them come to me and drink, he who believe sin me” as the scripture said, “from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”
There will be life inside of you. A well streaming up of life, living water. Joy abounding, you actually become one that can bless others because of the joy of the lord is flowing out, and the love of God. The blessing, the well-defined because you’re like David. My cup overflows. One of the lessons of parenting that we learned with our kids. I wish that we would have learned very early on, but one of those lessons is that kids need to be passionate about something for the lord. If they are not passionate about something for the lord, they’ll start looking to fill that with all kinds of other things. Get them started on a musical instrument, guitar, or piano or something. Get them singing worship songs, and excited about helping out or worship, or giving them voice lessons, and getting them singing and using that gift to help with worship, and leading others. Get them involved in serving in some way like a Avia goes and serves at the homeless shelter once a month. She goes to the senior center, and blesses the seniors once a week. I remember two of our daughters, they served at an orphanage in Mexico. An orphanage for disabled children, and fell in love with those orphan kids. There’s some passion that’s coming out of them as their love with these kids. This is good, Victoria lived down there for almost a year. That is awesome, life changing. We gave Avia some CDs of really great Christian artist, Jamie Grace, a young girl. She’s just a great role model for young girls, and great CDs. So, she’s playing these, and loves to play them. Can I play it in a room with all the speakers in it?
II. You Choose What You Reap
Yeah, absolutely you can, I’m the dad, turn it up. Let’s do this thing. Like yesterday we put it in there, turned it up, we were dancing. Hey let’s have some passion in life. God made us for passion, God made us for life. Otherwise you’ll be empty, and God did not make us to be empty. He says in chapter 6 he explains something. “You chose what you reap, what do you want your life to become? You can choose how you live.” He gives what is famously known in these versus as the principal of the harvest, and he begins in verse 7 with those very strong words. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked.” Now, people deceive themselves all the time. Mainly because they want to be, but when God is involved, deceiving oneself is quite dangerous. Then he says “do not be deceived, God is not mocked.” Now, what does it mean that God is not mocked. To mock God is to scoff at what he says. Yeah, you kind of look down with derision. It’s like God’s awareness of no consequence. It’s like the modern way of saying whatever. God has principals of wisdom, and life. Yeah, whatever. It’s very disrespectful. God is not mocked, which means the principals stands whether you like it or not. That’s what it means. The principal stands whether you like it or not. IT’s the principal, it stands. It’s the principal from God, it stands. What is that principal? Verse 7, “whatever a man sows he will also reap.” Now, there’s some details I think we can add to the principal. You reap after the manner that you sow. That’s a detail that we should understand. IN other words, if you sell corn you will reap corn. If you sell tomatoes, you will reap tomatoes. IF you sew zucchini, you will reap a lot of zucchini. Anybody ever raise zucchini you know exactly what I’m saying, and I remember. We grew up in the country, and we use to have a joke because you don’t really lock your cars, at least when I grew up. You didn’t have to lock your cars, or your doors when you live out in the country except during zucchini season. You either lock your car during zucchini season, otherwise, somebody might put a basket of zucchini into your car. That’s how much you grow. It’s a great principal, but you also reap more than you sew. That’s also a principal. Josiah 8 7, “they sew the wind, they will reap the whirlwind.” You reap later than you sew. That’s another important detail to it. Maybe we can make this personal. Show of hands, how many people know this principal is true, and would say “if I had known what it was going to cost me I would not have done it?” If I had known what it would cost me, I would not have done it because we know it’s true. It’s the principal, God’s not mocked.
A. Don’t sow to the flesh
The principal stands, that’s why he says in verse 8 “the one who sews to the flesh is going to reap from the flesh corruption.” In other words, don’t do it. Don’t sow to the flesh, now as we said last week the problem with the flesh is that it simply wants. It lives only in the moment. It gives no thought to consequences. It gives no consideration to the results.
It just wants. Me want stew, using a biblical illustration. Me want women, using a modern one. So, here Paul says there are consequences though. Please know this, there are consequences when a person sows to the flesh. They will reap from the flesh, but what they will reap is corruption, and the word is death, stinking death. Now notice also the thing about sewing and reaping, as I said, when the seed is planted the reaping does not come right away. There is where many get deceived because they thought they got away with it. The reaping does come. The principal stands, but there is something very important to understand. We need to add a layer of wisdom to this because while it is true that you sow to the flesh you will of the flesh reap corruption. You can look forward, and know that that is true. You can look forward if you sew to the flesh, you will reap of the flesh, and it will be corruption. You can look forward, but looking backward requires a depth of wisdom and discernment. Here’s why I say it, you cannot look at somebody’s life and say “oh I see that you’re going through troubles. What kind of sin were you involved with there my friend?’ No, otherwise you’re becoming one of Job’s counselors who took on the thought that everything of trouble is originated from a sin. That’s not always so. Not always so, here’s a case. Jesus and the disciples were walking by this man who was born blind. So, the disciples said Rabbi, who sinned that this man should be born blind? Was it him or his parents? No, they had already drawn the conclusion that somebody had already sinned, they just wanted to know who it was. Jesus said “neither, you’re wrong.
It’s neither that this man nor his parents sinned, but that the glory of God might be revealed through him.” He goes on to explain in a great depth a wonderful principal, but now let’s look at this. What do you do if you know that you are reaping from the flesh because you have sowed to the flesh? What do you do? A number of years ago, fellow came to the church. Just looked us up randomly, and drove to the church. “I need a pastor.” I sit with him, “what can I do for you.” Begins to explain the troubles, all the troubles. The mountains of troubles that he had in his life. Now, he could very easily see that these troubles came because he had made very wrongful decisions. He could see it. I said to him “let me say something to you that’s a very helpful, and good word.” He said “please I need something.” I said “what has happened is that you are living out the principal in Galatians 6. You have sewn to the flesh, and now you are reaping from the flesh. These thorns, and thistles, and all these troubles have come. You planted those seeds, and now they are born this.”
B. Sow to the Spirit and reap life
I said “listen though, the principal also works this way. You sew to the spirit now, and you can stand on this promise you will reap life.” You’ve seen the principal at work, but I assure you now that if you will stand on this principal of sewing to the spirit, you will of the spirit will reap life. The lord knows the way through the wilderness, all we have to do is follow. Stand now, and you will see.
You can stand on this. God is not mocked. The principal stands, it’s a good principal. It’s a good principal because it contains a great promise, and I never forget. I asked him if he would pray. He said “yes.” I said “I’m going to ask that you get on your knees with me.” He said “okay.” So, he got down on his knees, and remember we had these chairs that were leaning against, and I put my arm like this to hold myself up, and one arm around him and I said “please you pray.” What came out of him was a beautiful broken spirit. Beautiful broken spirit. I’ll never forget because my arm was getting wetted by his tears, and I thought of that verse “he holds our tears in a bottle because the oppressions to the lord.” This is good, this beautiful brokenness because it is now the spirit that’s moving. I said “you right now are planting, you are sewing, and good comes. You just keep doing that, you just keep standing in that. You can stand on this promise.” See, here's the promises, sew to the spirit and you’ll reap life. Can I say something to everyone in this room this morning? Everyone in this room, you right now are sewing to the spirit, right now. You’re sewing to the spirit because the word of God is going forth, and the holy spirit is taking the word of God and is beginning to take hold of lives, and is transforming lives. You, right now, are experiencing because you are sewing to the spirit. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Chris. Now, I am of little consequence in this.
This is the holy spirit at work. He is moving on people’s lives. You are sewing to the spirit right now, and you will reap life. Verse by verse, chapter by chapter. Day by day, sew to the spirit, and you can stand on this promise. You will reap life, now can you sew both to the flesh and to the spirit? Yes, you can, but one must overpower the other, and one will, and one will. Well, you might say can the flesh choke out the things of the spirit? Yes, they can. Let me give you a very clear verse. Luke chapter 8 verse 14. “Jesus is speaking about this parable of the source sewing seed, and he said that the seed I like the word of God being sewn on hearts, and there are different kinds of hearts.” So, he says in verse 14 “the seed which fell among the thorns. These are the ones that we’ve heard, but as they go their way they’re choked with the worries, and the riches, and the pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to maturity.” He uses the word, they choke out the word, and they bring no fruit. I mention before we grew up on a farm, and we grew rows upon rows of vegetables, and corn, and potatoes, and strawberries. We raise way too much of it. I know because I had to hold the weeds. One day someone had this idea. I know what let’s do. Let’s take chicken manure, and we’ll use it as fertilizer. Now, if you’ve ever been around the farm you know that this is a really bad idea. You know why it’s a bad idea? Because chicken while at every weed seed that they find, and weed seeds they just go right through them. Guess what we were sowing? We were sowing weeds all over those vegetables. When they came up we had a battle on our hands. Did they grow up together? If you don’t do anything, if you don’t do anything the weeds will overcome. Paul writes this so we can understand. We get to choose what we reap. What do you want your life to become? So, a thought reaps an action. Reap an action so a habit, so a habit, reap a character, so a character reaps a destiny. The weeds were everywhere. We wanted those things that were good get a hoe. Get a hoe, get a shovel, we’re going to take them out. I want that which is good, and right, and honorable. We get to choose, let’s pray.
- 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.