A fruit is an edible product of a plant that’s designed to mature and detach from the plant for the sake of reproduction—like an apple falling from the tree.
On the other hand, a vegetable is the edible portion of a plant that isn’t specifically designed to separate from the plant for reproduction. Typically a vegetable is an edible part of a plant that typically involves leaves (lettuce), stalks (celery), roots (potatoes), bulbs (onions), or flowers (broccoli). We need to reproduce fruit in our lives and to avoid the “nots.”.
Concept of the Flesh
So how do you tell the difference in the Spirit-filled life and the fruit of living in the flesh? In Galatians 5, we have two lists—a list of NOTS and a list of fruits. The NOTS are described in Galatians 5:19-21: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like.”
The works of the flesh listed in this passage are simply the outward expressions of an inward emptiness of a life without God. Many of the occasions for the word flesh in the Bible have a spiritual meaning and describe what we’re like before Christ touches our lives. The flesh is the best that we can be apart from the grace of God. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). “The flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63), and the flesh is powerless to produce righteousness in our lives (James 1:20).
Conflict With the Flesh
In Galatians 5, Paul wrote, “The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another” (verse 17). He told the Romans, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).
When I came to Christ, I did not at that moment totally lose my flesh and totally become a spiritual being. When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, He came to live within my heart; and at that moment, the lines were drawn and the war began.
Characteristics of the Flesh
The lust of the flesh shows up primarily in sexual immorality, greedy prosperity, religiosity, independence, and debauchery. Paul said the lust of the flesh includes activities like:
Control Over the Flesh
Even as Christians we can be drawn into these snares. Our imaginations can go there even when our bodies don’t. We’ve got to always keep up our guard. We need the power of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16 does not say: “Don’t fulfill the lust of the flesh and you will walk in the Spirit.” It says: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
You and I are powerless to live the Christian life. We cannot do it on our own or by our own efforts. We need Christ to live His life through us—and He does so by His Holy Spirit. When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts; and as we grow in Christ, the Holy Spirit increasingly replicates the personality of Christ in our spirits. Jesus lives His life through us by His Holy Spirit. He does His work through us via the Spirit.
We want to produce the fruit while avoiding the NOTS. Let Jesus Christ have complete control of every part of your heart and life. Let Him fill you with His Spirit. Learn to walk in the Spirit daily, and you’ll NOT fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information on Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.
In 1 Samuel, David was fleeing from King Saul through the cavernous deserts of lower Israel. On one occasion during those desperate days when David was deeply troubled, his friend Jonathan came and “strengthened his hand in God” (1 Samuel 23:16).
But later David found himself in an even deeper hole in the town of Ziklag in 1 Samuel 30. His mentor, Samuel, was dead. David had been rejected and denied safety by the Philistines. The Amalekites had invaded his camp and kidnapped his family and those of his men. His friends were turning on him, and his loyal band of followers were ready to stone him. Saddest of all, his dear Jonathan was unable to come to him, for Jonathan was loyally preparing with his father for their final battle.
God the Promise Keeper
I cannot remember a time in my lifetime when the American mood has been so . . . pessimistic? sour? negative? fearful? I’m not sure what the right word is, but it’s not healthy.
But let’s stop for a reality check. The picture I just painted is not a pretty one, but it is reality; it’s the way the culture is feeling. But there is a different kind of reality that we, as Christians, are to embrace. And that is the reality that this world is not our home. We are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13) because our “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). But we are on this earth! And therein lies our tension as believers: living in the world while not being of the world.
We have two realities as Christian believers. So how do we keep our focus, our joy, our priorities, and our endurance in a world that seems to be doing everything it can to drag us down instead of lifting us up?Look Inward – See What You Can Do
“I almost lost my faith. But you were sent by God to save us”—are the words of an elderly Jewish man spoken to another Jew, Tuvia Bielski, in the forests of Poland in the early 1940s. Tuvia Bielski was one of four Jewish brothers living in Poland. When their town became a Jewish ghetto under the Nazis in 1941, and their parents were put to death, the Bielski brothers fled to the forests for safety—as did many other neighboring Jews. When the Soviets regained control of the area, 1,200 refugees marched out of the forest to freedom. They were able to find safety in the midst of chaos.
Do you wonder why you’re not feeling the joy Christians are supposed to experience? Maybe you’re being robbed! Dr. David Jeremiah looks at some of the things believers do that rob them of joy. He calls them “The Games Christians Play.”All Sermons by Dr. David Jeremiah