Too much of a good thing?

Snow at Safe Haven Farm in Winter 2012, Haven, KS

Too much of a good thing?

If the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23), what does a life without the Holy Spirit look like? Is it all right to live a life that is not directed by the Spirit? Well, I guess that depends on how you define “all right.” If you’re not following the Spirit, you’re following yourself. Even if you say you’re following someone else or you’re following the teachings of someone else, it still comes down to the fact that you’re doing what you want to do in spite of the fact that God has instructed you to follow Him.

So what does a life following ourselves look like?

Snow at Safe Haven Farm in Winter 2012, Haven, KS

Snow at Safe Haven Farm in Winter 2012, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Galatians 5:16-26.

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 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. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

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. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Throughout the month of May, I’ve been studying the Fruit of the Spirit, and I would like to tell you that I have a fantastic conclusion to this journey. But I don’t. And the last few days of basement floods and storms have sapped most of my strength and focus this morning, which means I’m probably going to need more coffee.

But it comes down to the fact that we all have two options in life, we are either led by the Spirit of God or we aren’t. You can’t have it both ways. And as long as you choose to follow your own path, you are subject to the Law.

No, not the law of the land like paying taxes or speed limits (although you are subject to those too). The Law Paul is talking about here is the Law of Moses. The Law of God. This is the Law that says no one is good enough to get into Heaven. No one is good enough to deserve a relationship with God. If you choose to follow your own way, if you choose to do your own thing, that’s the fact you’re going to have to face when your life is over.

But, if you choose to follow Christ, if you choose to allow the Holy Spirit to rule your life, the Law of Moses has no power over you. Why? Because choosing to follow Christ and be Spirit-led means you are living under grace. It means you’ve chosen to trust that Christ is the payment for your relationship with God, that Christ is the reason why you will get to go to heaven when your time on earth is over.

Throughout this entire study, maybe some of you have noticed the little tag phrase at the end of Galatians 5:23. “There is no law against these things!” The translation I memorized said, “Against such things there is no law” or something like that. I always wondered what that means. Because of course there’s no law against that list of nine virtues. Why would there be a law against those things? So as a child, I always took it as something that didn’t mean anything. But as I’ve gotten older and as I’ve studied the Bible more and more, I’ve learned that God never wastes words.

As a writer myself, I know the importance of clarity when you’re writing. I can’t claim that this blog is necessarily a great example because I write it so early in the morning, but I hope that other examples of my writing are clear. It’s a writer’s greatest challenge to say as much as possible in a few words as they can, using the right words and not just whatever comes off the top of their heads (like this blog always is, lol) and to do that, you can’t waste space on a page. God’s the same way. God is the best writer in history, the most amazing storyteller of all time. He never put anything in the Bible that wasn’t important.

What that little phrase means is simply that the characteristics of a life lived on your own terms are against the law. That list of vices halfway through the passage will characterize the life of someone who lives following their own star, if you will. And any one of those things in your life will make it difficult. Any one of those things, taken to extremes, can destroy you.

But the Fruit of the Spirit is different. You can’t love too much. You can’t have too much joy. You can’t have too much goodness or gentleness or meekness or kindness. None of the Fruit of the Spirit taken to extremes will hurt your life. Choosing to live a life that’s led by the Spirit exempts you from the Law of Moses, but the law of living is still a part of our human existence. And all nine of the Fruit of the Spirit can be taken to extremes in your early life without hurting you.

So make a choice. Either you’re going to live filled with the Holy Spirit or you won’t. Either you’ll let God direct your paths, or you’ll make up your own mind. God is a gentleman, and He never forces Himself on anyone. If you truly want to go your own way, He’ll let you. And, Christian, if you truly don’t want the Spirit in your life, you don’t have to ask Him–although why would you have become a follower of Christ if you didn’t?

It’s my prayer that my life demonstrates the results of Holy Spirit working in me. I want to be Spirit-filled. I want Him to be obvious in my life. I want Him to walk beside me through every moment of every day, and I want His input in my decisions. But to get there, I have to set me aside and trust Him.

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