This year our theme at Grace is Cultivating Fruit: fruit of the Spirit brings fruit that remains.
And I'd like to introduce the theme by going to Galatians 5 and asking, "How do we grow spiritually?"
Does it come from resolve? I mean that's what most people do at the beginning of January, right? Make resolutions? Some have probably already given up on their resolutions.
Maybe you were going to lose weight and you thought "If I can drop a pound every two weeks, I'll be 25 pounds lighter next Christmas." But thanks to leftover Christmas candy, you've already gained five pounds.
Maybe you were going to read the Bible through this year. Just a couple chapters a day. But instead of being to Joseph, you're still in the Garden of Eden.
Maybe there was a bad habit, you were going to drop. But you've found yourself already going back.
This morning I would contend that resolve is not the answer. That more resolve, more resolutions, more rules or lists, or determination are not what we need. Instead we need to walk in the Spirit. Because the way that we grow spiritually is by the Spirit.
It's not by the law. That's been the whole theme of Paul's letter to the Galatians. Some Jewish Christians felt that just believing in Christ's work on the cross and receiving His Spirit in you, wasn't enough.
They said, "Well, what about all the rules that we had in Judaism. What about the kosher foods to eat, and festivals to keep and circumcision."
They said, "if we don't have all those rules and do's and don'ts, we'll be just like the pagans."
And so they wanted a Christianity that was Christ plus the Mosaic law.
But Christ plus anything is not Christianity, it's not biblical, it's not the gospel. When you add anything to Christ (even the Mosaic law, as good as that was) you lose the gospel.
The gospel is Christ alone. He is the only way of salvation. Not Christ plus works. Not Christ plus good deeds. Not Christ plus a church. Christ alone is the way the truth and the life. No one gets into God's heaven, except through Him.
So in today's passage, we'll see that the way to keep from falling to your flesh is not to put yourself under the Law but instead to be led by the Spirit.