Galatians 5:22-24—But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he was encouraging them to walk in the Spirit. Other teachers were trying to get them to follow formulas and rules. The problem with that is that you can keep good rules with an evil heart. Obedience to the Spirit causes us to confront the areas of our hearts that are not surrendered to His love. Since obeying the Spirit is not something that can be put in a box and formulated, Paul had to define what it looked like in some way. Anyone can say they are led of the Spirit, when in fact, they are just doing what they desire. So, what does obedience to the Spirit look like? How can we tell that we are not deceiving ourselves? First, Paul listed what the works of our old nature look like. Then he listed the product, fruit, of the Spirit. Notice the word is singular. The work of the Spirit in us produces all the qualities mentioned together, not individually. If one is missing there is something of the flesh entering in. If I possess and express love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, I am walking in the Spirit. In the Spirit I would not be acting against God’s righteousness. Therefore I am doing what God requires. But, if one of those qualities is missing, it is a warning to me that the flesh is interfering with the Spirit’s reign in me. Those who have given themselves to Jesus as a living sacrifice have identified with Jesus in His crucifixion. They have placed their sinful nature on the cross with Him. They consider that old nature judged and finished. It may struggle in death throws. I may revert, without thinking, to an old way of acting, but my heart has been changed. I don’t desire those things. The rearing of its ugly head just makes me aware of an area I then readily submit to my new Master, Christ.