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Galatians 5:16-26                                                        14-15 October, 2017

by Pastor Michael Dutschke

I took a picture of our back garden a couple of days ago.   It’s looking quite good, don’t you think?  I doesn’t look any like it did 3 ½ years ago when we bought our house.  Then the back garden was full of overgrown shrubs.  Now it has 8 fruit trees and lots of flowers.  Our apricot tree is ready to bear fruit. 

Who gets the most credit for this apricot tree bearing fruit?  Gina, my wife, who planted it and pruned it?  Myself, who prepared the ground originally, and weeded around it?  Or God, who made the tree?  I won’t get into a debate about the source of fruit from the apricot tree in the Dutschke’s garden, but will talk today about a different sort of fruit.  The fruit of the Holy Spirit from the garden of your heart.

This is the second week of a series of sermons focusing on the Holy Spirit.  How well do you know him?  The “Shy member of the Trinity” is how He is sometimes referred as.  You may know him well already.  You may not.  During this series I hope you will get to know him better, what He’s up to, how He works, and what happens when He gets to do what He has been sent to do. Last week we looked at His Name, His Address and His Job description, given by the Father.  Today we will focus on one of the things from his job description: - To produce fruit in the garden of your heart.

In the book of Galatians is a list of the fruit that the Holy Spirit is busy producing in your heart, and the heart of everyone – especially the heart of every follower of Jesus.  I include a definition that I found in the study notes of my Bible.

But the fruit of the spirit is:  (what He is a work producing)

  • Love – sacrificial, unmerited deeds to help a needy person.
  • Joy – an inner happiness not dependent on outward circumstances.
  • Peace – harmony in all relationships
  • Forbearance – putting up with others, even when one is severely tried.
  • Kindness – doing thoughtful deeds for others.
  • Goodness – showing generosity to others.
  • Faithfulness – trustworthiness and reliability
  • Gentleness – meekness and humility
  • Self-control – victory over sinful desires

Good fruit – don’t you think?  I’d love a good crop of that fruit being produced out of the garden on my heart.  That is what the Holy Spirit is at work producing in your heart.  How is he fairing?  Ask the people you live with – or people who know you well.  They will probably give you and honest answer!

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is not the only thing that can grow and come from the garden of your heart, is it?  Out of your heart can also grow, what Paul describe as “The acts of the flesh”.

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.

Galatians 5:19-21

Paul goes on to say that there is conflict in the garden of your heart. 

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. Galatians 5:17.

As I studied this passage, I was drawn to how Paul tackled this topic.

Firstly, he gives a “description” of what is going on in our hearts.  It is like he is saying, “Be aware, just in case you aren’t.”  At the start of this section, Paul simplifies the fruit of a person’s life when the Spirit is at work, in contrast to when the desires of our human nature are at work.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13. 

There is a stark contrast between the focus of the “Flesh” – What can I get for me?, and the focus of the  Spirit – What can I give to others.

Secondly, he gives a “prescription” of what we are called to do - our part in tending the garden of our own heart. 

1)       “Walk with the Spirit. 

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. Galatians 5:16.

2)       “Keep in step with the Spirit. 

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.Galatians 5:25

You and I cannot produce good fruit in our lives.  Only the Holy Spirit can do that.  Only HS can. Cooperate with him).  That includes cooperating with him in “weed” control.  What about the “flesh” though, which is in conflict with the Spirit?  Paul tells us to “Kill it”

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.Galatians 5:24 

Crucify =  Destroy its power utterly. The nature of the figure implying that the destruction is attended with intense pain.

What does that look like practically?  How does the Holy Spirit do this?  How does he go about it? 

Simo Zweck, is someone who has seen first hand what happens when the Holy Spirit is given an opportunity to do His work in the garden of someone’s heart.  And I am talking about hearts that don’t seem to be producing much of this type of fruit.  Simo has just graduated from the Living Free program at Norton Summit.  The Living Free program is for men who have been unable to overcome their addictions by themselves.  The undertake a 12 month rehab program.

I first met Simo in March this year when he participated in the “Men, Created for Adventure” course we ran at Bridgewater. As I got to know Simo, he shared some of his journey with me, including his time at Teen Challenge.  I learnt a lot, and was inspired as I heard Simo talk about what God (the Holy Spirit) has done in his life and also what Simo has seen God do in the lives of other many other men in the program.

I wanted to tell a couple of stories that Simo had told me, and so I rang him up to make sure I had the stories correct.  He actually was tending a garden at the time I rang him up, and as he shared some of the stories, I asked Simo if he would be willing for me to share some of those stories, which he graciously agreed to.

When I asked him about what was going on in his life (and the garden of his heart) when he entered the program, he said that he could identify with everyone one of the things on the list of the “acts of the flesh” from Galatians 5:19-21.  He also said that when someone first enters the program, one thing that is pretty much standard, is that they are very self centred and selfish. 

Using the imagery of a garden, it sounded like a lot of weeds were growing in the gardens of their hearts and no real sign of good fruit. 

In the Living Free program, the men are not allowed any drugs, alcohol or cigarettes.  Along with other activities, they also are required to:

-        go to devotions every morning,

-        take part in a Bible Study every day, and

-       attend a worship service every Friday night at the centre.

Along with this, the staff and volunteers are all active Christians. 

All these activities are places through which the Holy Spirit does his work.  And Simo says that eventually the fruit of the Holy Spirit starts to show in the men’s lives.  He did say that it is not a quick turn around, usually taking 6 months before a man’s heart starts showing a change. 

By the end of the 12 month program, most men are displaying a lot of “Holy Spirit’ fruit in their lives, which is a wonderful thing.  In many ways, they are nothing like the men they were when they started the program.  Simo recognised that change in his heart.  As the Holy Spirit started changing him, he knew he was becoming a new person.  His name is actually Simon, but he decided to change his name to Simo.  He wanted a new name because he was becoming a new person.

What a wonderful testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit who is constantly working to produce fruit in the lives of everyone.

AMEN

 

Pastor's Message