Galatians 12: The operating system

Galatians 5:16-25

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 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 And 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 keep in step with the Spirit.


Let me start with a few questions. How many IOS or Apple users do we have in this place? How many Android users? Just to be sure no one feels left out, how many Nokia or Blackberry users do we have? There were days when I used both Apple and Android. I used Apple for my laptop and iPad and Android for my phone. But I recently repented of my two-mindedness and stuck to one. Which one? The one that led to the downfall of humanity. Now I don’t know much about technology, but I do know that Android and Apple don’t get along. They are not friendly with one another. Some ridiculously smart I.T. people can make them get along but in general, they don’t. Because they have a different operating system. Every device needs an OS or an operating system for it to work and function. Why are we talking about an operating system in church? Because wired inside of us, there is an operating system from which we function. There is a system that drives and directs everything we do. The question is, what is your operating system?

Our passage for today is the Holy Spirit passage. We talked a lot about the gospel and the role of God the Father and God the Son in Christian life, but we have yet to talk a lot about the role of the Holy Spirit. This is it. Throughout Galatians, Paul has been fighting against the false teachers who said, “For you to grow as Christians, the gospel alone is not enough. You must obey the law. You must be circumcised.” The Galatians were drifting into salvation by works where it was all about their performance. But Paul says, “No. That’s not how you grow in Christ. The way you grow is the same way you become a Christian. You never walk away from the gospel.” Paul calls them to a life of freedom where it is no longer about their performance but Christ’s perfect performance on their behalf. And when they get the gospel, they obey God not because they have to but because they want to. Their relationship with God is no longer driven by fear but driven by love. That’s last week’s sermon. So, here is what we are going to look at this week. Question: How does love-driven motivation enable us to grow and bear fruit? Answer: We grow by being led by the Holy Spirit.

I have three points for my sermon: the two operating systems; how the operating system works; activating the Spirit.



The two operating systems

Galatians 5:16-18 – 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

In the passage that we just read, Paul introduced us to two different operating systems. These two systems are like Android and IOS. They don’t get along. They always clash. One is called F.O.S. (Flesh Operating System), and the other is S.O.S. (Spirit Operating System). And just like every OS, these OSs have built-in apps inside of them. And these OSs and their apps are what drive and direct everything we do. So, we are either an F.O.S. person or an S.O.S. person. The question is, which one are we? We must know which one we are. Because Paul says one of these OS will not inherit the kingdom of God. Translation: if we have the wrong OS, we will perish. We are either of the Spirit or of the flesh. The Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit. It is our new self after we put our faith in Jesus. The flesh refers to the part of our heart which is not yet renewed by the Spirit. And the Spirit and the flesh are against each other.

So, here is what happened. When we become Christians, life does not become easier for us; it becomes harder. Before we became Christians, life was a lot simpler. We simply followed our sinful desires and did whatever we wanted. But when we become Christians, we have a new desire. We want to obey God’s commandments. We want to do what is right. But it does not mean that the old desire goes away. The old desire, our flesh, still resides in us. So, there are now two conflicting desires at war within us. There is part of us that want to please God and there is part of us that want to disobey God. So, even though we are already fully saved because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross, we continue to struggle with sin inside of us daily. There is a battle inside of us.

Many Christians assume that as we mature in our relationship with God, the less we will struggle with sin. But that’s not true. It’s the opposite. The more mature we are, the more struggle we experience. Why? Because the more mature we get, the more we see the sin in our hearts. The more holy we become, the less holy we feel. The closer we are to God, the more exposed we are to our flaws. But listen. I am not saying that the more mature we are, the more we sin. As we grow in our relationship with God, we will make progress against many sinful habits and attitudes. But at the same time, we will become more aware of the sinful desires still within us. It’s like trying to clean the basement of your house with a candle. You do the best you can, and you think it is already clean. But the next day you come back to the basement with a flashlight and the basement looks even dirtier than before. Is the basement getting dirtier after you clean it? Of course not. But you can see the basement more clearly with a flashlight than a candle. This is what happens when we are growing in God. The more aware we are of God’s holiness, the more aware we are of our sinfulness. So, we must expect a battle with our sinful nature as long as we are alive.

But here is the comfort. If there is a battle within us, it means the gospel is at work in us. When we struggle with sin, it is easy to think that we must be terrible people. We must be very wicked or very immature to have such struggles. But just because we are in a constant struggle does not mean that we are not growing. In fact, it’s the other way around. The battle within us is proof that we are growing. One of the signs we are growing in God is we think we are a worse sinner today than we were last year. So, here is the irony. If we feel more righteous today than we were last year, we are not growing. But if we feel our sins more today than we were last year, we are growing. What separates Christians and non-Christians is not the lack of struggle, but Christians feel their failure; they are pained and frustrated by it. Can you see how comforting this is? Because sometimes I look at my own heart and I get so discouraged. I mean, after all these years, why do I still struggle with comparison? Why do I feel jealousy toward pastors who are more successful than I am? Why do I find it easy to assume the worst about others? Why do I still struggle with sexual temptations? Why do I find it easier to blame others than to repent of my sin? Why is my love for God so cold sometimes? It’s not that I don’t love Jesus. I love Jesus. But oftentimes my love for myself is greater than my love for Jesus. Deep down, I want to obey God’s command, but I just can’t make myself obey God’s command. Some of you are thinking, “Bro, you are so messed up. Are you sure you are qualified to be a pastor?” It’s okay. This church is a home for the imperfect. That includes the pastor. But does anyone know what I am talking about or am I alone? So, what do we do in our struggle?

Paul says in Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Notice the order. This is important. Paul does not say, “Say no to the desires of the flesh, and then you will walk by the Spirit.” Paul says, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” In other words, the way we fight sin is not first and foremost by saying no to sin, but by saying yes to the Spirit. And look at verse 18. It is very interesting. Galatians 5:18 – But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. There is a striking parallelism in these two verses. Paul equates the desires of the flesh with being under the law. Can you see it? What does it mean to be under the law? To be under the law means to earn salvation through our own works. It means we do not need God. We can be right and good on our own. We rely on our performances to save us. This is the heartbeat of F.O.S. And Paul says that the desire to save ourselves is the desire of the flesh.

It means that the sin underneath all sins, the motive for our disobedience, is always a lack of trust in God’s grace and goodness, and a desire to pursue a self-salvation project. Let me put it more simply. The source of everything wrong in our lives is our desire to be accepted by God through our own works. This is the desire of the flesh, and this is opposed to being led by the Spirit. To be led by the Spirit is to realize that there is nothing we can do on our own to save ourselves, but Jesus has done everything on our behalf. The law has nothing on us. We are no longer under the condemnation of the law. And God gives us the Holy Spirit to remind us of that glorious truth and delight in it. And the more we delight in that truth, the more we are led by the Spirit, the more we can say no to sin. John Piper puts it this way. “You allow the Spirit to control you by keeping your heart happy in God. You walk by the Spirit when your heart is resting in the promises of God.”



How the operating systems work

Galatians 5:19-21 – 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Just like every OS comes with built-in apps, both F.O.S. and S.O.S. have built-in apps. In these verses, Paul gives us F.O.S. built-in apps. Now the list is very interesting. When we think of sin, we often think of external sins. And that’s not wrong. Paul mentions sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, and he ended with drunkenness and orgies. Those are all external sins. But sandwiched between these external sins, there are sins of the heart. Sins that may or may not manifest outwardly but it’s happening inwardly. Enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and envy. Therefore, sin not only refers to what we do externally but also to what’s happening internally. But do you know what is causing these sins? In previous verses, Paul says that what leads to the works of the flesh are the desires of the flesh. The word desire is a very weak translation. It comes from a very important Greek word, ‘epithumia’. Literally, ‘epithumia’ means an over-desire, a super-desire. This is crucial. Desire by itself is not sinful. It can be good or bad, depending on who is at the centre of it. When God is at the centre of our desire, it leads to life. But what happens is because of sin, the centre of our desire shifted from God, and it creates ‘epithumia’, over-desire. Therefore, the main problem of our hearts is not so much desire for bad things but over-desire for good things.

Let me show you how our operating system works. “Goal <- Needs <- Drives”. First, we have a goal that the imagination finds desirable. This goal then generates what we perceive as “needs” and manufactures “drives” to attain them. Or, if we put it the other way around, “Drives -> Needs -> Goal”. So, what F.O.S. does is it corrupts the flow by focusing on what is good and turns it into an idol by which we seek our own meaning, and which finally then creates over-desire for that idol. So, this is what happens. God gives us a desire for good things that he created for us to enjoy. But because the centre of our desire has shifted, rather than praising God for the gifts, we over-desire the gift and make it the ultimate meaning in life. Let me give you a few examples. The gift of sex. The first three examples of the works of the flesh are related to sex: sexual immorality, impurity, and sensuality. Let me ask you a question. Is sex a good thing or a bad thing? This is not a tricky question. Sex is a good thing. Sex is a good gift of God that God wants us to enjoy and find fulfilment in the context of marriage. Why marriage? Because it reflects Christ’s single devotion and commitment to his church. God created sex for us to enjoy, delight, and take pleasure in as it reflects the enjoyment, desire and pleasure Christ has when he becomes one with the church. So, sex is a good gift from God. But then because of F.O.S., the centre of our desire shifted. Rather than using our desire to glorify God, we use our desire to satisfy ourselves. What happens is we over-desire the good gifts of God. Rather than trusting God’s way, we pursue our own way. We pursue sex outside the boundaries that God has given us. We make sex the ultimate meaning in our lives. We over-desire sex. That’s how sexual immorality, impurity, and sensuality come in. So rather than seeing sex as the gift of God that is reserved for the pleasure of marriage, we trade it with one-night stands and pornography, or we sell it cheap by pursuing sex outside marriage.

Let me give you another example. Desire for control. Is it good or bad? I don’t know about you, but I like it when life goes smoothly. I like it when the situation is under control. I like it when everything is in order, and nothing happens that makes me panic. I like it when I know exactly what is going to happen tomorrow, so I can plan well today. Is that sinful? I don’t think so. All of us have the desire for control. God wired us that way. We long for order. And God is the God of order. In the beginning, he created order out of chaos. God is the God who is always in control. Nothing happens in this world outside of his permission. God is in absolute control of every single molecule in the universe. He is never surprised or shocked by anything. So, the desire for control is a good thing. But because of F.O.S., we turn control into the ultimate thing in our lives. We must have control of our lives and when we don’t, we are extremely anxious. We become the kind of person who forces others to follow our will and we think we always know what’s best for us and others. Instead of trusting that God is in control, we want to be in control. And because of it, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and envy come in. Can you see what happened? F.O.S. takes the desire for what is good and turns it into an unhealthy over-desire.

And this is exactly what F.O.S. does with the law of God. The law of God is good and holy. But the law is given for us to understand the holiness of God’s standard and realise that we are absolutely crushed by it and there is absolutely nothing we can do to meet that standard and to see Jesus as the one who can and did on our behalf. So now we obey the law not to earn something from God but because we love God. We obey the law, but we are not under the law. But F.O.S. makes us believe that we can attain salvation on our own. F.O.S. wants us to be our own saviour. Of course, no Christians will say with their mouth that they don’t need Jesus for their salvation. All Christians confess that Jesus alone is the source of their salvation. But do our lives reflect that? Do our souls reflect God’s approval of us or are we still trying to find that approval by what we do? Are we rejoicing in God’s love for us in Christ or are we still seeking to earn that love by our performance? Can you see how F.O.S. affected us? And heed Paul’s warning about the works of the flesh. He says, “Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul is not talking about lapses here. He is not referring to those who struggle with sin but those who live in sin. He is talking about the habitual practice of sin. Those who continue to sin habitually and do not repent won’t be in the kingdom of God.

In contrast to the Flesh Operating System, Paul introduced us to another operating system. Galatians 5:22-23 – 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. For those who put their faith in Jesus, there is a new operating system in them, the Spirit Operating System. And for those with S.O.S., nine apps come with it. Or to use Paul’s language, those who are led by the Spirit will have the fruit of the Spirit. And here is what you must understand about fruit. Fruit doesn’t start big. You don’t expect a big fat apple to pop out of nowhere. Fruit always started small. So, it is possible for Christians to have fruits and don’t feel like they are growing. Growth, by definition, is never something you feel. However, growth can be measured over time. Growth is gradual. So, you need to be patient to see growth. Yet one thing for sure is that every Christian must produce fruit. Growth is inevitable. If you have the Spirit of God in you, you will change. If there is no fruit on the tree, then the tree is dead. The same with Christians. How do you know if you are a Christian? Not by what you do for God. Not by how gifted you are. The Bible has many examples of people who have the gifts of the Spirit, but they are not saved. The clearest example would be Judas Iscariot. Judas was gifted to cast out demons and heal the sick, but he was not saved. Jesus says you will know whether a tree is healthy or not by its fruits. If the tree bears good fruit, then it is a healthy tree. If the tree bears bad fruit, then it is a sick tree. It is your fruit that determines whether you are healthy or not. So, if you call yourself a Christian and you don’t have the fruit of the Spirit, then you are dead and you are not a Christian. Let me make it clear. You are saved by faith, not by growing fruit. But you know your faith is real because it produced the fruit of the Spirit.

Let’s look at nine characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit and their definition according to the Bible. Because oftentimes the Bible’s definition is different from the world. And by the way, I am ripping this off from Timothy Keller with no shame.

  1. Love. It means to serve a person for their good, not for what the person brings you. Its opposite is fear: self-protection and abusing people. Its counterfeit is selfish affection, where you treat a person well because of how that person makes you feel about yourself.
  2. Joy. A delight in God for the sheer beauty and worth of who he is. Its opposite is hopelessness. Its counterfeit is happiness that is based on experiencing blessings, not the Blesser, causing mood swings based on circumstances.
  3. Peace. It is confidence and rest in the wisdom and control of God, rather than in your own. Its opposite is anxiety and worry. The counterfeit of peace is indifference, not caring about something.
  4. Patience. An ability to face trouble without blowing up. Its opposite is resentment toward God and others. Its counterfeit is cynicism.
  5. Kindness. An ability to serve others practically in a way that makes you vulnerable, which comes from having a deep inner security. Its opposite is envy, which leaves you unable to rejoice in another’s joy. Its counterfeit is manipulative good deeds, doing good for others so you can congratulate yourself and feel you are “good enough” for others or God.
  6. Goodness. Being the same person in every situation (integrity). Its opposite is hypocrisy. Its counterfeit is to be truthful but not loving; getting things off your chest just to make yourself feel or look better.
  7. Faithfulness. To be utterly reliable and true to your word (loyalty). Its opposite is to be an opportunist, a friend only in good times. Its counterfeit is to be loving but not truthful, so you are never willing to confront or challenge.
  8. Gentleness. It is humility. The opposite is to be superior or self-absorbed. Its counterfeit is inferiority.
  9. Self-control. The ability to pursue the important over the urgent. Its opposite is to be always impulsive or uncontrolled. Its surprising counterfeit is willpower, which is based on pride, the need to feel in control.

Now, how many of you looked at this list and thought, “I have that one and that one, but I don’t have this one and this one”? For many years, that is how I read these verses. I read these verses and looked at what I have and what I don’t have and told myself to start working on those that I don’t have. “I’m okay here, I’m not so okay there, I definitely need some work here, and I didn’t even know this one is on the list. Dang!” But that is not what Paul is saying at all. Look at the verse more carefully. Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is…” Then he gives us a list of nine different things. So, the subject is singular, and the predicate is plural. And our English teacher says, “Paul, you can’t do that. That is not the right grammar.” Did the English Bible make a grammatical mistake when they translated it from Greek? No. In Greek, it is even more obvious. Paul is not talking about nine different fruits. He is talking about a singular fruit. In other words, it is impossible to separate these nine characteristics. They come together in a single package called the fruit of the Spirit and they are inseparable. We cannot have one and not the other. It doesn’t matter how many we score out of nine. It is all or nothing.

Let me give you an example: self-control. We can’t separate self-control from the other fruit of the Spirit. A lot of people say they have self-control. But we can’t have real self-control without joy. The reason we don’t have self-control is because we don’t have joy. We feel discontent. Let me tell you a well-known fact. The average guy doesn’t cry as much as the average woman. We learned early on to control our tears. But do you know how most little boys learned to control their tears? Ladies, this shouldn’t surprise you, since a lot of you do it to us. The way we learned to control our tears is because when we cried as little boys, someone came along and said, “You’re a boy. Don’t act like a girl.” That gave us self-control. But how does it work? By making us feel superior to the girls. That is self-control without humility and that is not self-control. Do you know what that is? Pride. Most guys learned not to cry not because they learned self-control but because of pride. That’s not the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit always grows together. They are one.

Let me give you another example: peace. What is peace? It means we are not anxious; we are not worried. But we can be extremely proud and seem to be at peace. But that’s not real peace. The only reason we have peace is because things are going well for us. We are saying, “The reason I am at peace is because I have everything under control. I have a good job. I have a good house. I married a good person.” But that peace is a counterfeit peace. It is only a matter of time before it falls apart. But real peace is different. Real peace is based on humility. Real peace acknowledges God’s sovereign wisdom and says, “God, you know what I need. You know what’s best for me. I don’t. And I know I can trust you. You are my good Father and you are in control. So, I don’t have to worry.” Real peace is the peace that passes all understanding and constant. Real peace is always connected to the other fruit of the Spirit.

It is also important for us to differentiate between natural temperament and the fruit of the Spirit. There is a huge difference between the two. Temperament is self-driven while fruit of the Spirit is Spirit-driven. Let me use my life as an example. Being raised as a pastor’s kid, some things come naturally to me. Recently, Nate started to take pictures of our services and he took lots of pictures of me when I was preaching. And when I looked at those pictures, my reaction was, “Gosh, why does my expression look exactly the same every week?” The constant smiling ‘sipit’ face. Now, why did I do that? Is it because I’m a joyful person? No. The reason why I have a constant smiling ‘sipit’ face is because I did not want anyone to know my struggle. As a pastor’s kid, I couldn’t look like I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. I learned to look fine in front of people, which leads to another temperament. I was a good kid. Was it because I was a kind person on the inside? No. I was good simply because I didn’t want people to know my trash. And the best way to cover it up is by being good. So, my goodness was actually very selfish. Can you see what happened? Temperament has a self-centred core. We are doing it for our own sake. But the fruit of the Spirit is different. The fruit of the Spirit has God at its core. We are producing the fruit because of who God is in our lives. Listen. When we operate in the Spirit operating system, our self-centred system has been replaced by a God-centred system. We no longer do things for our own sake but for God’s sake. And the nine characteristics grow together. We can’t just be kind and good but not faithful. Because all the reality of God has replaced our desires of the flesh.

So, this is a warning for all of us. We need to be very careful of becoming busy for God but not bearing fruit. It is very easy for us to become very religious and never become Christians. Many great pastors in the past were already pastors before they became Christians. Martin Luther and John Wesley are the two classic examples. They were busy doing good and serving God, but they were not growing in God. They were already a pastor for years before they experienced the saving grace of Christ. Do not equate ministries and things we do for God as the fruit of the Spirit. We know we are Christians not by how busy we are for God but by the fruit of the Spirit. So, my question tonight is, can you see the growth of the fruit of the Spirit in you? Be honest with yourself. Yes, growth is gradual, but growth is inevitable. If you have been a Christian for years and you don’t see the fruit of the Spirit growing in you, then you have yet to put your faith in Jesus’ perfect work. You still rely on your own works for your salvation. And don’t take it lightly. What is at stake is your eternal life. Then the next question is, how do you develop the fruit of the Spirit? And this is important. Because it is very easy to turn the fruit of the Spirit into a list of things you must train yourself to do. So, you rely on your own strength and willpower to produce the fruit of the Spirit. Do you know what that is? Legalism. And that’s what Paul is strongly against throughout Galatians. Fruit, by definition, is not something you can manufacture on your own; it is something produced in you. That is why it is called the fruit of the Spirit and not the work of the Spirit. So, how is the fruit of the Spirit produced in you?



Activating the Spirit

Galatians 5:24-25 – 24 And 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 keep in step with the Spirit.

There are three components on how to activate the Spirit. The first component is to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires. What does Paul mean by it? One thing we know it can’t mean is that Christians are those who no longer struggle with the desire of the flesh. It can’t mean that. That’s why Paul mentioned earlier that the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh. So, the Christian’s life is a battlefield: a battle between two desires. But listen. Paul does not believe in a battle of equal force between the Spirit and flesh. That’s not the reality of Christian life. Our battle against sin is a battle against enemies that have been defeated. The battle has been won. Yes, the enemy will continue to resist and try to overtake us, but in Jesus, we have already won. Our flesh with its passion and desires has been crucified together with Jesus at the cross. It is a completed action. When Jesus died, our flesh operating system died together with him. And when he is resurrected, we are given a new operating system, the Spirit operating system. So, to crucify the flesh is to say, “God, my heart thinks I need to have this thing, or else I am nobody. But to think and live like this is to forget who I am in you. I have died to that old desire and now those things no longer have power over me. My old desire has died, and I am going to make sure it remains dead. Every time my old desire shows signs of life, I am going to put it to death. I am going to pound the nail a little deeper to the cross.” This is the first component.

The second component is to remember we belong to Christ. Friends, I pray that we will never get over the wonder of knowing that we belong to Christ. Every system in this world tells us that if we want something, we have to earn it. No pain, no gain. Every other religion tells us that if we want to be right with God, if we want to belong to God, we have to perform. We crucify our flesh in order to belong. Flesh Operating System wants us to be under the law and rely on our own strength and performance to earn a place of belonging. But the gospel is different. The gospel tells us that we already belong to Christ. F.O.S. says, “Because I do, therefore I am.” S.O.S. says, “Because I am, therefore I do.” We are already loved and accepted by God. There is nothing we can do to make us more loved and accepted by God. Because of our faith in Jesus, Christ is already ours and we are already his. And there is nothing in the universe that can undo our belonging to Christ. This is the second component.

The third component is to keep in step with the Spirit. The word ‘in step’ is a military word. It means to stay in formation. The Holy Spirit is a person, and we need to actively keep in step with him. What does it mean to keep in step with the Spirit? Galatians 5:17 – For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Paul says that just like the flesh has over-desire, the Spirit also has a strong desire. What is it that the Spirit longs for? In John 16, Jesus says that the Spirit longs to glorify Jesus to us. He wants to tell us the beauty and the greatness of Jesus. If Jesus is the bridegroom and we are the bride, the Holy Spirit is the best man and the maid of honour. The Spirit is always saying to us, “Look how beautiful Jesus is. Look how dazzling he is.” The Holy Spirit’s strong desire is to show us Jesus and make us look more like Jesus. And if we are Christians, if the Holy Spirit lives in us, this is what we want most as well. So, the way we keep in step with the Spirit, the way we develop the fruit of the Spirit is by remembering the truth of the gospel and living accordingly. If we have crucified the flesh (which we have), we must leave it nailed to the cross. And if we live by the Spirit (which we do) then we must keep in step with the Spirit. We must continue to gaze on Jesus and his beauty. And as we do so, the Holy Spirit will help us to see Jesus more beautiful than all the things that our flesh desires. To the degree we see the beauty of Jesus, to that degree we will be free from our over-desires. And we will see the fruit of the Spirit gradually growing in us. Let’s pray.



Discussion questions:

  1. What struck you the most from this sermon?
  2. Inside every Christian, there are two conflicting desires (Spirit and flesh). Give some implications of this truth.
  3. Explain the problem of ‘epithumia.’ Can you see it play out in your life? Give examples.
  4. What does it mean to bear the fruit of the Spirit? How is it different from its counterfeit?
  5. How do you activate the Spirit operating system?
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