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In the book of Galatians Paul writes that we are to walk by the Spirit and we will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  He goes on to tell us that the Spirit and the flesh are in opposition to one another.  When a person comes to faith in Jesus you might expect, and may have been told, that life gets better.  Indeed it does in many ways; we are forgiven our sins, have peace with God, have the hope of eternal life, fine joy in knowing Jesus and having fellowship with others.  But this is only part of the story, the other part is that we find an internal war that arises within.  In this passage Paul tells us to expect a major battle to ensue.  Our flesh lashes out against the Spirit, it does not want to submit to the law of God or the ways of the Spirit.  At the same time the Spirit is against the flesh and wants the flesh to die.  This is the normal experience of every genuine Christian.  Paul then adds that the works of the flesh are obvious; sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these.  To these Paul adds that that those who do these things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  When we take a look at this list what we see included are things that non-religious people tend to do and things that religious people tend to do.  God is saying that he makes no distinctions between sins the way we often do.  All of us, no matter how religious we may be are in trouble if we practice the works of the flesh no matter what stripe or flavor it happens to be.  What are we to do?  The answer of course is getting right with God through Jesus Christ as God’s provision to deal with our sin and the ways that we try to save ourselves.  Once this happens the Spirit of God moves into our lives and begins to teach us how to live under his control.  To this Paul says walk by the Spirit and two things will happen: 1) you won’t gratify the desires of the flesh, 2) the fruit of the Spirit will begin to be seen in your life.  How then should we think about the fruit of the Spirit?  Here are several thoughts for your consideration.  First, the fruit is in direct contrast to the works of the flesh.  The fruit is the life of the Spirit.  It is what the Spirit of God produces or gives off.  Like the fragrance a flower gives so the Spirit gives His fruit.  By contrast, the works of the flesh are the things we do which are driven by our self-centered desires for pleasure and control.  So, the fruit of the Spirit is the presence of a whole new life that is operating within us.  Second, Paul calls it the “fruit” of the Spirit not the “fruits” of the Spirit.  This is because the Spirit is the being of God and therefore when He comes into your life, He comes with His whole being.  The Christian is one who is experiencing the total makeover of God having come in all his fullness.  Third, fruit grows organically, that is slowly and in accordance to its conditions.  You don’t see fruit grow overnight it takes time to notice change.  There maybe times when we see spurts of growth but usually this is “knowledge growth.”  Meaning we’ve discovered new insights and knowledge about God or the Gospel or the scriptures, but the actual growth of internalizing that knowledge and allowing that knowledge to change our inner attitudes and habits takes time, teaching, prayer, meditation, fellowship, circumstances - in a word the means of grace.  Which leads me to my final thought, the fruit of the Spirit grows by attendance.  What do I mean?  Think about a garden, what grows most naturally and abundantly?  Weeds.  You don’t have to do anything for weeds to grow.  The grow of their own volition and without help.  But the fruits and vegetables need attendance.  In order to get good fruit, you have to continually attend to them, pulling weeds, watering, fertilizing, pruning, guarding against disease and so forth.  So, it is with the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  The works of the flesh, like weeds, grow naturally and quickly.  Those you have to constantly be pulling out.  The fruit you must attend to.  You must give attention to the things of the Spirit.  The word of God, prayer, the fellowship of the saints, communion – in a word the means of grace.   Paul calls this activity “sowing to the Spirit.”  Where are you today?  What weeds need pulling?  What do you need to do to turn your attention toward the Spirit?  He will produce his life in you as you join with him in sowing to the Spirit.  May the Lord give us such a desire that we might reap eternal life. Pastor Paige