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Lord's Day Liturgy

The Great Pneuma

We continue with a short series of exhortations around the theme of the fruit of the Spirit. It started with Paul’s contrast between the Spirit and the flesh. These are the two want-producing sources, and they are opposed to each other in Christians (unbelievers don’t have the Spirit so they don’t have the conflict described in Galatians 5:17).

Another point of contrast is between “works” and “fruit”; works are what the flesh does and fruit is what the Spirit produces. The terminology is interesting, but so is the number. Works are plural, fruit is not.

Perhaps we could riff off the “great shema” in Deuteronomy 6:4, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” We could call this the “great pneuma” (since pneuma transliterates the Greek word for Spirit): “the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit is one.”

There are nine attributes of the fruit, but life in the Spirit is unified. This is different from the gifts of the Spirit. A spiritual gift may have a unique mix, or be one not the other; think Peter’s distinction between serving gifts and speaking gifts (1 Peter 4:10-11). Spiritual fruit, though, doesn’t come separately.

The Spirit doesn’t produce love without self-control, there isn’t joy without goodness, there isn’t peace without faithfulness. Patience is not a spur of the moment fruit, separate from the rest. Kindness and gentleness may often apply together, but never in a way that indulges the flesh.

Spiritual fruit is integrated and thorough, just as godliness.

“Godliness is an extensive thing. It is a sacred leaven that spreads itself into the whole soul.”

Thomas Watson, The Godly Man’s Picture, 13

Don’t excuse a lack of joy because you’re patient about it. Don’t say you have peace about your lack of self-control. Don’t say that your gift is goodness, but you couldn’t possibly be expected to love.

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Lord's Day Liturgy

Fleshly Esse

When people ask me what it’s like living with my in-laws, I’ve given the same answer for the almost twenty years we’ve shared a roof. When we are all walking in the Spirit it’s great, when one of us isn’t, there are other, more applicable words than “great.” My point today isn’t to argue for generational living, my point is to remind myself, and all of us, to be walking in the Spirit.

The parts of our Lord’s Day liturgy are regularly woven together with some thread, and the color of the thread typically comes from the passage to be preached. Occasionally, though, I’ve done a short series of confession exhortations or communion meditations on another theme, and I’m starting another series again right now. I want to work through some important ideas in Galatians 5, mostly on the fruit of the Spirit, but it begins with the contrast: the works of the flesh.

The flesh has its wants. Paul refers to “the desires of the flesh” a few times, the flesh as contrasted with the desires of the Holy Spirit, and the flesh with its own set of characteristics. Those who are driven by natural desires give evidence of their fleshly esse in sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and “things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21).

The opposite is walking by the Spirit, letting the Spirit control our hearts and hands and voices. But even for Christians, where does the flesh go? It must be put to death. In Christ, we are dead to sin (Romans 6:11), and in Christ, we must kill sin.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (verse 24)

As he told the Colossians, “put to death what is earthly in you…on account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5-6). Because Jesus has died for your sin, spare not your sin. Be ruthless with the desires, the affections, the wants of your flesh.