“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” – Galatians 3:3
One of my favorite stories of the late pastor Chuck Smith is from one of the pastors in the group he discipled as the Jesus Movement and Calvary Chapel first started.
This pastor said that in their weekly meetings, they would often ask pastor Chuck if there was any concern weighing on his heart that he was praying for regarding the church and especially the leaders in the church.
His response was always the same: he was most concerned that they would one day begin to work in the flesh and not in the Spirit.
Out of all of the things that he could be troubled over during this time of massive revival and spiritual transformation in people, his greatest concern was to make sure that everything he did was by the grace and leading of God’s Spirit rather than his own efforts.
We would do well to have this same healthy concern for ourselves,
especially when it comes to producing the fruit of the Spirit within our lives.
The temptation to do it on our own
When you consider the fruit of the Spirit, do you think some are easier than others?
(as a reminder, the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)
Even non-Christians who do not have the Spirit of God can be considered peaceful people.
And so on.
This is because although none of us are perfect, we are still made in God’s image and reflect pieces of Him, regardless of how broken we are.
And this brings the temptation to rely on our own “goodness” in areas we are “naturally” bent towards. Maybe you are more bent towards being joyful, or patient with people. Maybe your personality leads itself to being faithful or disciplined.
It’s easy to think that we don’t really need God to help us in those areas; we’ve got them covered.
However, God’s Word tells us that it’s impossible to truly please God without faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6) and that even our good works, without His grace, are like dirty rags (Isaiah 64:6).
I think we all see our shortcomings clearly. Maybe you are someone who grows impatient quickly, or who finds it hard to be gentle. It is easy to see that we need God’s Spirit to fill us to empower us to be those things.
But the danger is found in the things we naturally do better.
They lead us to thinking we don’t need God’s help.
They lead to a prideful heart, which God opposes above all else.
We need God’s Spirit for every part of our character
Whether a godly character trait comes “easy” or not, we need to realize our complete need for God’s Spirit to bear the fruit in our lives that only He can do.
As Jesus reminded us in John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all”.
So may we rest fully on God’s Spirit for His character to be grown in our hearts and lives, and may we never begin to try to “perfect in the flesh” what was “begun in the Spirit.”
God has started this good work in our hearts and lives; and He has promised to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)
So let us let Him do it.
“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:16
“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—” – Philippians 3:3
“Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” – Zechariah 4:6
If you missed the any of the fruits of the Spirit posts, you can check them out at the links below:
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Love
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Joy
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Peace
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Patience
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Kindness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Goodness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Faithfulness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Gentleness
The Fruit of the Spirit Is… Self-Control