Gal. 5:22-23, 25
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law; If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Do you know what it means to walk in the Spirit? Today’s verse indicates that there is a distinction between living in the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. I think the distinction is akin to the difference between justification and sanctification. At the moment of salvation, we become justified. We now have accepted the propitiation of Jesus Christ to atone for our sins and no longer live according to the flesh. We now live according to the Spirit. That is a change of life that occurs in an instant. We are actually born again in the Spirit. Now that we live in the Spirit, we are then called to walk in the Spirit. This is the process of sanctification. This is how one goes from being not so much like God to being more and more like God daily. Any Christian who surveys his or her walk from the moment of salvation until any later time can see the changes that have occurred over that time. Perhaps bad habits that still existed shortly after the moment of justification have over time fallen to the wayside. Maybe one has been able to overcome anger or hatred. When those unsavory aspects of our character are removed, that is because they have been replaced with the perfect antithesis that comes from God.
The fruit of the Spirit is what replaces what we used to carry, which was the fruit of the flesh. The lustful heart now hungers instead for love. The person with a divisive spirit now desires to bring others together through peace. The tongue that once was used to bring death is now slowly reined in to give life. This is the work of the Holy Spirit producing in us that which is good, perfect, pure and holy. This fruit is produced when the Holy Spirit is permitted to live inside us and work through us. Living in the Spirit is great, but we must also walk in the Spirit. We cannot stop at the moment of justification and quench the Holy Spirit by not allowing him to continue to transform us into the image of God himself. We may think that there are things about us we do not want to relinquish. We may desire to maintain control of certain areas. This is foolishness. We know where our control leads. It only leads away from God. Allowing the Holy Spirit to take control of us from the inside out leads us to God. But we must keep in mind that it is not the work of our hands or our effort that accomplishes this sanctification. It is only the work of the Holy Spirit that completes this work once we have decided to relinquish control.
It is a wonderful thing to watch a person to go from walking in the flesh to walking in the Spirit. If you have been able to walk beside a brother or sister during this process or even notice the changes in yourself, you must admit that this is simply miraculous. Perhaps others in your life have commented about the changes the Spirit has brought that they never thought would manifest in you. The fact of the matter is that this production of good spiritual fruit in us by the Holy Spirit is not merely a good thing but it is a critical and necessary thing. We cannot fulfill God’s plans and purposes for our lives if we stall this process. We cannot function as our assigned part of the body if we stall this process. We cannot grow into having the knowledge of God’s good and perfect will if we stall this process. We should seek for sanctification to come, and we should be vigilant to spot the fruits of the Spirit as they manifest in our lives. This is not only evidence of God’s work in us, but it is encouragement as we go through times of trial and hardship. To know that God has already done miracles inside of us will give us more faith that He can work things out in other areas of our lives as well. Father, help us to relinquish control and allow You to continue to sanctify us, and show us how your Spirit is manifesting in us through the fruit that He produces.