Sunday August 21, 2016 | Seth McCoy
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
As we continue our summer series on the Holy Spirit, this week Seth explains the role of the Holy Spirit in producing fruit that serves as evidence of a follower’s life in the Kingdom. As a way of understanding the fruits described in Galatians 6, a description and function of the soul is first explored. We use our will not to grit our way into a Jesus looking life, but rather to surrender our life, in order to gain the life the God promises. Our job is to surrender. The Holy Spirit's job is to produce the fruit in us.
The bible affirms that there is a kind of fruit that is to be present in follower of Jesus’ life because of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. In order to understand the nature of that fruit, it is important to start with how the Bible talks about our soul. It is surely one of the most important things we’ve been given, and the scripture has much to say about how it functions and what its role is in our relationship with God.
Jesus put great value on our soul. He said in Mark 8 “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” So what is the soul? We can think of the soul as a series of concentric circles.A center component of our human life is our will. It represents one of the most important aspects of our humanness, our ability to choose. This is the human will. Scripture also uses heart and spirit to describe this portion of our essence. The human will was created with one purpose, to choose God above all else. In the Garden of Eden there was one tree that represented a yes to what God had for humans, and one tree that represented a no, a lack of trust, a choice not to surrender. Humans chose to use our will against God’s purposes.
If we think of the will as the inner circle, the next concentric circle in what makes us, us, is our mind. Our mind represents all our thoughts and our emotions or feelings. Our mind was designed to think and process in a way that aligns with God, but in reality our minds are a mess. We have thoughts, desires, impulses that are all over the place. The next concentric circle would be our body. This is the primary place in which the will and mind demonstrate what they’re about. The will and mind often get played out through the body. Our bodies are filled with all kinds of appetites and behaviors. We see in our body that our mind is not strong enough to control a mind that is deceived and depraved.
The last concentric ring represents the relationships we’re in and the larger society we’re a part of. Others’ lives are affected by the way we manage our will, mind, & body. In other words, my choices matter to those around me. We want to live a life of integrity where my body follows through on the commitments my will and mind were designed for and hopefully put forth in order to positively affect the relationships around me in a Kingdom way. But unfortunately we have an integration problem. We have a soul problem.
Jesus lives a fully integrated life. His will is fully surrendered to His father, and He only thinks and does what the Father does. But for us, there are other things we want. As James says, we have a double mind and are unstable in all we do because of it. We often don’t have our will, mind, & body set on the “one” thing Jesus talked about. We want to be surrendered to God, but we also want to go after selfish gain. We are fractured and disintegrated.
Sometimes what happens as a way to cognitively deal with the difference between who we actually are and who we want to be, or mislead ourselves into thinking we are, is we live out of a different identity in different circumstances or settings. Just like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we create one identity for one purpose (in our case following God) and another identity for another (pursuing darkness and selfish ambitions). When the soul loses its ability to hold our life together, it leads to death. This is why the bible says we need our souls saved. But it’s not this one-time event that completely and permanently crucifies the flesh. The bible says we must pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus. There is a spiritual battle going on for each human soul.
We’re not completely one tree or the other; it takes time for salvation to work through us. We have all kinds of branches that need pruned, and some that just need cut off all together so they don’t lead the whole tree to death. It’s helpful and necessary to have people around us to help us identity which branches aren’t surrendered to God. Seth closed with a surfing analogy. Just as with surfing I’m not able to, and it’s not my job, to create the waves, rather I just do my best to ride them as they come. So also it’s not my job to produce the fruit of the Spirit as that’s all by grace. My job is to ride the waves as they come and create the type of person who has put to death the works of the flesh so that it becomes more natural to live out of the Spirit than it has been to live out of the flesh.