We believe that when we accept Jesus as our Savior the Holy Spirit dwells in us and begins to work in our lives. But how can we be sure this is really happening? One key portion of scripture that deals with this question is found in Galatians 5:16-25. There Paul gives a nice easy to understand summary of what should be evident in our lives and what should not, if we are living a spirit filled life pleasing to God.
One quick look at the “do not list” and many Christians might begin to question their spirituality. Let’s see we have “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies”. (Galatians 5:19-21) Some of these are big ones that most would gasped, if they found a Christian participating in, such as sexual immorality, idolatry, sorcery, orgies, and even drunkenness, but how about some of the others. Take fits of anger for example. Does this mean that if occasionally I get angry I am not a Christian? Paul refers to these elements as “works of the flesh.” The Holy Spirit should not lead us to “fits of Anger.” Yet I am sure every Christian has had a few at least. The same goes for enmity, strife, jealousy, rivalries, dissensions, divisions and envy.
Paul also explained what should be evident if the Holy Spirit is in our lives. We should then bear the fruit of the spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.(Galatians 5:22-23) However once again just about every last self professing Christian I know, including myself, has at times lacked for at least one of these most desirable attributes. Does this mean we do not have the Holy Spirit because we’ve lost our patience at the Wal-Mart checkout line?
The Apostles John and Paul have come to our rescue in explaining this apparent conflict. John first establishes that there is sin in all of us. (1 John 1:7-10) Paul then makes it clear why we still have sin. He reminds us that we are still living in our flesh. He states “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” (Romans 7:18) They both explain that we do not want to live by the flesh, but our desire should be to live by the Holy Spirit or as John explains the light of Jesus. (1 John 1:7, Galatians 5:16) Therefore a Christian should not live a life of sin as he is trying to live by the spirit. However he cannot completely escape his flesh. He is therefore tempted and may at times fail. But when we fail it should be rare and is always followed by sincere repentance. It should never be a game where we tell ourselves without remorse, “let us do this evil today and tomorrow we can repent.” No, we should sincerely engage in a constant struggle to live a life that pleases God. (Ephesians 6:12, Hebrews 12:3-4, Galatians 5:17) Since it is referred to as a struggle in these passages, we know that the temptations are real and the fall is possible; but Jesus knowing this to be a constant possibility taught his disciples to pray on a regular basis asking for forgiveness. The phrase from the “Our Father”, “Forgive our trespasses” reveals that Jesus knew his disciple could fail at times.
We know the Holy Spirit is working in our lives not because we are perfect but because we now have a sincere desire not to sin and our desire is to please God more than pleasing ourselves. The fruit of the Holy Spirit becomes more evident in our lives, but unfortunately we can still fail. John summed it up best with these words, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)
- Practice The Fruits of The Spirit… (jesusavesisrael.org)
- Strength For Today… (jesusavesisrael.org)
- Living By The Flesh Or The Spirit? (respondinginfaith.com)
- The cost of discipleship (belovedchild1.wordpress.com)
- I Can’t Wait for Spring (romans916blog.wordpress.com)
- Flesh vs Spirit (freedomarc.wordpress.com)
- The Fruit of the Spirit (theresaboudreau.wordpress.com)
- What are the works of the flesh? (altruistico.wordpress.com)