The Holy Spirit part 3
What the Holy Spirit Produces In Our Lives
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 14, 2009



This is our third week in our message series taking a look at the Holy Spirit and His role in the life of every Christ-follower. So far we’ve talked about how the Holy Spirit is not a force, not a power… the Holy Spirit is a person, the third person of the Trinity. Therefore the Holy Spirit is God, co-equal with God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ.

We’ve talked about how the Holy Spirit is vital in the life of every Christ-follower. It’s the Holy Spirit who calls us. It’s the Holy Spirit who saves us. It’s the Holy Spirit who cleanses us from sin. It’s the Holy Spirit who guides us day to day. It’s the Holy Spirit that enables us live the Christian life. It’s the Holy Spirit who empowers us to tell others about Jesus and bring them to God. It’s the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us, makes up for our inadequacies, and presents us as pure before a Holy God. It’s the Holy Spirit who gives us the assurance of a future home in Heaven. The Holy Spirit is vital to the life of every Christ-follower, from start to finish.

But as we saw last week, not every Christ-follower is filled with the Holy Spirit. Now, what is the filling of the Holy Spirit? Well, we defined that as having the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life so strongly that it’s palpable, and your response to His presence is to trust Him, to obey Him, to live in fellowship with Him, and to allow Him to work in your life making you more like Jesus. It’s basically allowing the Holy Spirit to have full control and full reign in your life.

And when that is a reality in your life, you can experience such an indescribable joy, and love and purpose in life that you’ve never experienced before. That is God’s plan for you. That’s God’s plan for every person on this planet.

But as we saw, that’s not a reality for everyone. First of all, there are those who are still living apart from God, they haven’t entered into relationship with Him – maybe they’ve never really considered Him or maybe they’ve outright rejected Him – but they’re living apart from God and therefore apart from the Holy Spirit.

But we also saw that just because someone has decided to become a Christ-follower does not mean that they experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Understand this: every believer has all of the Holy Spirit, but you only have the fullness of the Holy Spirit when He has all of you. To be filled with the Spirit you have to be emptied of self. If you want to experience the filling of the Holy Spirit and all the power and purpose and passion that comes with it, then it means you need to trust Him and give Him full reign in your life, allowing Him to lead you, to guide you, to change you, and make you the person you were meant to be.

That is the normal Christian life. That is the way it’s meant to be. That kind of Spirit-filled life is not reserved for just a few super-Christians; it’s for each and every one of us. It’s the normal Christian life. But unfortunately, many believers never experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit because they refuse to give up control, and as a result they continue to live under the power of sin even after coming to Jesus. They still struggle everyday to live lives that are good and pure and pleasing to God, but they try to do it on their own strength. So it’s a constant battle, and they are left living under the power and the influence of their sinful desires and sinful impulses. Oh, they may have their moments and they may do some very good things, but they still fall far short of the standard of God. They try with all their strength to be a good person, but they still have lustful thoughts, they still harbour bitterness and anger, they still experience envy and jealousy, they still covet what others have… and they realize that they still fall short of the letter of the law and live with a constant sense of defeat and guilt.

Now let me ask you, what kind of life is that? That sounds to me like a very unsatisfying, very frustrating, very ineffective life. A person like that may actually be happier – not better off, but happier – if they had never come to Christ in the first place.

“Without the filling of the Holy Spirit, the Christian life will be reduced to legalism and grinding self-effort which will ultimately be self-defeating.”
~ William Lane Craig

Listen, you and I can never live up to the Christian ethical standard on our own. Because not only are you responsible for your actions, but even your thoughts. And we all fail at some point.

And that’s why the presence of the Holy Spirit is so crucial. That’s why just before He left Jesus told His followers…

Acts 1:8 (NLT)
“…You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”

The Holy Spirit makes up for our inadequacies. He covers our sinfulness. He doesn’t excuse it, but He covers it. He allows us to experience the grace and forgiveness of God instead of living in defeat and guilt. And He empowers us to live the Christian life, not just by controlling what we do and think but by changing who we are – making us holy, making us more like Jesus.

I already gave you a quote from William Lane Craig, from a seminar series I’ve been listening to on my iPod. He also said…

“Being disciples of Christ isn’t just a matter of what we do – it’s a matter of who we are. And the key to that is the fullness of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives…”
~ William Lane Craig

That right there is the evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit: not just that our actions change, but that we change. The evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit is not that you have some emotional experience and it’s not that you demonstrate any spiritual gifts – it’s the change that happens within you. That’s what spiritual growth is all about… becoming more like Jesus, becoming Christ-like in our character… in our motivations. And that’s what we’re going to talk about for the rest of our time this morning.

In what ways do we become more like Jesus? What are the changes that they Holy Spirit makes in our lives? What are the qualities or the characteristics that the Holy Spirit instills in us that empower and enable us to live the normal Christian life?

Well, to discover what they are, let’s go back to the passage Jim read for us earlier this morning from Galatians 5. Paul starts out in verses here by contrasting the spirit-filled life with what he calls the desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT)
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.

So those are the desires of the flesh. That’s the human nature we are all born into. We lean toward those things. We’re tempted by those things. We’re controlled by those things. But Paul says that’s our sinful nature. In contrast, he says this…

Galatians 5:16, 22-23 (NLT)
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves… But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

So this is the evidence of the Holy Spirit. The person who is walking in the Spirit will not exhibit the works of the flesh – the sinful nature – but will more and more every day exhibit these qualities or characteristics.

VIDEO – Do You Have It?

Now, let me ask you: Who, more than anyone else, exhibited these kinds of qualities? Jesus. So that’s why we say as the Holy Spirit forms these qualities within us, we become more and more like Jesus. We become Christ-like.

This is what we understand to be spiritual growth. It’s not about how you dress, it’s not about pretending you have it all together, it’s not about putting on some façade of superiority… it’s about becoming more and more like Jesus as these qualities take root in your life.


The Development of the Fruit of the Spirit is…

A.    The Work of the Holy Spirit

It’s nothing we achieve on our own; it’s what the Holy Spirit accomplishes in our lives. But we participate by yielding to Him, allowing Him to do His work, and by partnering with Him as these qualities become expressed outwardly in our everyday relationships.

Galatians 5:22 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives…

You don’t develop the fruit of the Spirit by trying harder; it’s developed when you trust more. It’s developed only when you allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.

Now, that doesn’t mean that if a person is not a Christ-follower then they can’t exhibit any of these qualities. Because they can. Hey, I take Nate to a daycare where the people who work there are very loving, they’re very patient, they’re very gentle. I have no idea where they stand in their relationship with God, but I still entrust my kid to them!

We are all created in the image of God, so it makes sense that it’s possible for all of us – whether we know God or we’re far from God – to exhibit these qualities at least to some extent.

But it’s only through the filling fo the Holy Spirit that these qualities can find their full expression. It’s only through the filling of the Holy Spirit that these qualities can come as the natural outflow of the transformation within us instead of as something we impose upon ourselves.

When the Holy Spirit is in our lives, then the fruit of the Spirit will naturally follow. Emile Wolfaardt put it this way…

“If a man is filled with anger, than anger controls his life.
If a man is filled with greed, then greed dominates his life.
If a man is filled with lust, then lust governs his life.
If a man is filled with love, then love influences all he does.
And if a man is filled with the Holy Spirit, he is controlled by the Spirit - it is, if you will, ‘control by consent.’”
~ Emile Wolfaardt

So the question is, “Who’s in control?” Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to be in control and do His work in your life?


B.    What every person desires

I read this week about an extensive survey that was conducted by a leading polling agency. The key question was this: What are you looking for most in life?

Of course, you might expect to receive a variety of answers to that question. Good job, success at your career, family, a large nest egg. But when the results were compiled, the analysts were surprised. Because the top three things that people wanted in life were love, joy, and peace. Sound familiar? That’s the first three qualities in the Fruit of the Spirit!
[Greg Laurie, Highway to Heaven, http://www.wnd.com/index.php/www.ecbt.org/index.php/index.php?fa=PAGE.printable&pageId=73825]

Isn’t it amazing how the Holy Spirit produces within us exactly what we want in life? When you look at this list [PowerPoint], how appealing is that?

Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!


C.    The result, not the cause, of being a Christian

This is important. Because a lot of people get this mixed up. A lot of people think that in order to be a Christian you have to be loving, you have to be a good person, you have to be self-controlled, you have to have all of these qualities. And that’s what makes you a Christian.

But that’s simply not true. You become a Christian not because of anything you do or anything you are; you become a Christian solely by the grace of God in response to your faith. We’re Christians because we believe in Jesus, period.

Ephesians 2:5, 8-9 (NLT)
It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! … God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Acts 15:11 (NLT)
“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

The Fruit of the Spirit does not make you a Christian. It’s the evidence that you are a Christian, but it’s not what makes you a Christian.

So if you’re here this morning and you’re counting on your good works to earn you salvation… if you think that’s what God’s looking for… then you’d rethink that. Because while being a good person is a noble aspiration and may help you get along better with your neighbour and make you an upstanding citizen in our society, it will do absolutely nothing to earn you salvation. Because no matter how good you are, you can never be good enough. It is only through the grace of God in response to your faith that you can receive the forgiveness of God and experience the life He offers.

So if that’s where you’re at this morning, why not even right now make the choice to place your faith in Jesus. Trust Him for your salvation and stop trying to earn it. Decide to follow Him from here on out, and then allow Him to make you an even better person as the Holy Spirit produces the Fruit of the Spirit in your life.


And that bring us right to this next point. You do not become a Christ-follower by developing the Fruit of the Spirit in your life, however once you are a Christ-follower it is to be expected that the Fruit of the Spirit will develop.

D.    Expected of every Christ-follower

In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus uses the example of a good tree and a bad tree to show us that if the Holy Spirit is truly part of our lives, then the fruit of the Spirit will be the natural and expected outflow.

Matthew 7:16-17, 20 (NIV)
“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. …Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

So the Fruit of the Spirit is not optional for the Christ-follower; it’s expected. If you are truly following Jesus, and if you are yielding to the work and leadership of the Holy Spirit, then you’re going to see the evidence of that in the fruit of the Spirit.


E.    All or Nothing

It’s not like a buffet… “I’ll have a little love, a little joy, I’ll come back for patience, and I’ll pass on the self-control.” No, as a Christ-follower, every one of these qualities should be growing in your life.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

In fact, let me point something out to you. You’ll notice that the word is “fruit”, not “fruits.” It’s a singular word, not plural. The single fruit of the spirit is all of these qualities. The FRUIT of the Spirit is… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Actually, I’ve also read that in the original Greek that this passage was written in, the sentence structure allows for there to be a colon after the word love. In other words, the Fruit of the Spirit would be Love, and then the definition of this kind of love would be joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Dr. Bill Bright, who died a few years ago, was a tremendous man of God. And in his book simply called The Holy Spirit, he built on this very idea. He stated that there is really only one fruit of the Spirit...Love. And this love is manifested in our attitudes and our actions in a variety of ways:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, and it is manifested in joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control: joy is love’s strength, peace is love’s security, patience is love’s endurance, kindness is love’s conduct, goodness is love’s character, faithfulness is love’s confidence, gentleness is love’s humility, self-control is love’s victory.”
~ Bill Bright
[quotation not confirmed – may be a quote from the “Open Bible”]


F.    Progressive

In other words, you’re never going to reach the point where there’s no more room for improvement, there’s no more potential for the Fruit of the Spirit to grow… you’ve attained all there is to attain, you’ve made it.

No, you’ll never get to that point. The development of the Fruit of the Spirit in your life is progressive, and it will continue to develop in your life all through this life.

But what you will notice is that you will progress. What you will notice is that the scales will tip more and more away from what Paul called the works of the flesh and toward the fruit of the Spirit in your life.

So, are you growing as a believer? Are you producing this kind of fruit? Is this more evident now than, say, a year ago? Six months ago? Are you progressing?

Because it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a life-long process that we go through. And that’s the beautiful thing about being a Christ-follower; God always has more for us every day. But, there will come a day when His work is complete.

Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.


Now, I want to finish up by addressing this question:


What prevents the Fruit of the Spirit from developing in us?


Well, way back on the night of March 29, 1848, an incredible thing happened: Niagara Falls completely stopped flowing. The over 600,000 gallons of water per second that usually rushed over the Falls stopped. Of course, nobody knew what was going on at first and there was some widespread panic. But eventually they tracked down the cause.

The cause of this event began along the shores of Lake Erie near the city of Buffalo. For several days, the wind had been blowing to the east over Lake Erie, driving much of its ice flow down river. But then the winds suddenly shifted to the west, driving the lake water west and causing the lake’s ice to break up and dam the river. And the result was that the Niagara River stopped flowing for almost 30 hours until the ice shifted again and the dam broke up.”

So what is it that dams up the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives? What is it that holds Him back, that prevents His grace from flowing over us and producing the Fruit of the Spirit? I think there are two possible answers to that…

1.    We are not 100% devoted

We may believe in Jesus, we may have decided to follow Him, but we are still holding on to some areas of our lives. We have not placed everything we have and everything we are under the leadership of Christ.

You may be familiar with the story Jesus told about the farmer who went out into the field to scatter some seeds. Jesus talked about how the seeds fell on different types of soil and how each type of soil represented the different levels of receptivity in our hearts. We’re not going to talk about all of them this morning, but I do want to look at what Jesus said about the seed that fell among the thorns.

Mark 4:18-19 (NLT)
“The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.”

You see here that Jesus identifies three reasons why people may see no fruit produced in their lives. First, they’re preoccupied with the worries, the pressures, the anxieties of this world. They don’t completely trust God in those areas. Second, they’re pursuing wealth. They’ve been consumed by materialism and that holds them back from being fully devoted. And third, Jesus just says there are other things… whether that’s career, or family, or hobbies or any other activity that the person just sees as being more appealing, more important than pursuing God. Whatever it is, they’re not 100% devoted, and that prevents them from producing fruit.


2.    We are relying on self-effort

We’ve already talked about this. But a lot of people think they can do it on their own. Oh, they may be completely sold out to Christ, but they think it all depends upon them. They don’t need the Holy Spirit; they can do it themselves. They don’t need the work of God, they don’t need the power of Christ, they’re self-reliant. But Jesus addressed that very thing when He said…

John 15:4-5 (NLT)
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”


If you are a Christ-follower, but you don’t see the ever-increasing presence of the Fruit of the Spirit in your life, why is that? Is there an area of your life that you’re holding onto? Is there something you refuse to let go of? Is there an area you want to control for yourself? Then I’d encourage you right now to just pray to God and invite Him to take full control. And I know, that’s easier said than done. But ask Him to help you with that. He knows it’s a difficult thing to do, to give up full control. But He also knows that it’s well worth it. And He’s there to help you with it.

Or if you’re relying on your own strength, what’s it going to take for you to realize that it’s impossible for you to live the Christian life on your own? That it doesn’t depend on your self-effort? That it depends on the work and power of the Holy Spirit in your life? If you’ve been trying it on your own, then right now, why don’t you repent of that, tell God you’re sorry for leaving Him out and trying to go it alone, and instead invite Him to take the lead.

In fact, let me lead you in prayer…


 

 

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