Galatians 5 is best known for verses 22 and 23 where we are taught about the fruit of the spirit. (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) I remember studying the book of Galatians when I was taking theological courses at the Christian University where I received a Bachelor’s degree. What stood out to me then was how encouraging chapter 5 was.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23
Today, many years later, this chapter is not as much encouraging as it is extremely challenging. Because the word is alive, as I read this passage there are many convictions and heart piercing revelations that can only be resolved in prayer, journaling and in community.
Paul is talking about the freedom we have as Believers and how this freedom, because of who we are as new creatures in Christ but still in struggle with the flesh, we are tempted and do use the freedom as an opportunity to sin. I don’t think many believers use freedom to sin in such a bold way, it’s more insidious. It happens over time. Knowing we are forgiven and having freedom in Christ, we let little things slip here and there. (yeast v. 9) This behavior is so connected to the fruit of the spirit as being the resolution. (the only thing that matters is faith working through love v. 6)
I struggle with self control and consistency. I love to plan and start things, but it’s a very difficult thing for me to continue over the long haul, especially if I get a new idea in my head. It’s taken a long time to train myself to be consistent and to stick with things to the end. But I still struggle. Like having freedom As an example, CrossFit and eating right are difficult to keep up with consistency, especially now that I CrossFit at home.
A few nights ago I was eating some pizza and drinking a coke. These are two items I should never be eating. But there I was cheating on my Ketogenic diet. Again. After weeks of eating right and CrossFit 4-5 times a week. It happened over the course of 3 days, each day I let this and that slip until I was enjoying an amazing combo on the couch as I watched television.
Frustrated with myself again I thought about what I need to do to change this behavior. I am stuck at a certain fitness level, and a certain weight, and I want to improve and make progress. This led me to remember Galatians 5 and the fruit of the spirit. I want self control. I want consistency. How can I get these things? How can I have the fruit of the spirit?
Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another.Galatians 5: 24-26
Galatians 5:24-26. We have been crucified with Christ means that this is not a moral issue. This means that there is nothing we can do to have the fruit of the spirit or please Him in anyway. We have the fruit of the spirit because of Christ and there is no looking at it in any other way. Without Jesus, without the resurrection, there is not hope. John Piper puts it this way.
Christ has taken possession of our soul. Our old self has been dealt a mortal wound and stripped of its power to have dominion. The Christian life, the fruit of the Spirit, is a constant reckoning of the flesh as dead (piling stones on its tomb) and a constant relying on the present Spirit of Christ to produce love, joy, and peace within. The difference between the Christian life and popular American morality is that Christians will not take one step unless the hand of Christ holds the hand that wields the sword of righteousness.John Piper
That’s the power involved in changing. The actual work of changing is also summed up well by John Piper.
Now Paul, in Galatians 5:25, draws an inference from how our new life in Christ began: if it began by the Spirit, then all our subsequent life ought to be carried out by the Spirit (see Galatians 3:1–5). If it was by the free and sovereign power of the Spirit that our new spiritual life came into being, then the way that new life should be lived is by that same free and sovereign power. “Walk by the Spirit” means do what you do each day by the Spirit; live your life in all its details from waking up in the morning until going to sleep at night by the enabling power of the Spirit.John Piper
John Piper describes 5 things involved in walking with the spirit here. This is a great read that lists practical steps for walking in the spirit.
This is the answer for me and my frustration with self control. Self control is a fruit of the spirit and the fruit of the spirit belongs to those who are crucified with Christ and given new life. Growing in the fruit of the sprit requires daily walking in the spirit and this is only possible with the enabling help if Jesus. We are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling in Phil 2:12, so it’s not a new concept to me that there is a daily element for growth, but it is a good reminder.
Forming habits is not an easy thing, but it’s necessary. There is no moving forward, no growth possible, no changing, no being able to serve and love others unless we are willing to grow and work hard at doing so. I just started using the Full Focus Planner to help clarify my goals and establish habits and routines. If you are struggling with consistency, self control, or
$struggle_here, like I am, it might be a good idea to start writing down some of your goals and work on creating habits to move you from where you are to where you want to be.