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September introduction: the Vine, and the fruits of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is not a coconut, as one children’s Sunday school song puts it. I’m sure you all know that! But it’s a fun song for memorizing the list of nine virtues that Paul mentions. You are probably also familiar with the topic of the fruit of the Spirit to some extent. But this month we’ll meditate more deeply on Galatians 5:16-25. We look forward to exploring some of the lesser-known Old Testament background on the fruit of the Spirit as well as the background to Paul’s exhortation to “walk by the Spirit.”

We’ll also see how it connects with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Who is the True Vine and the Last Adam, Who has been raised from the dead and gives the promised Spirit of life to His people (John 15:1; 1 Corinthians 15:45).

My prayer is that through this study we will come to better understand the Bible’s teaching on the fruit of the Spirit and marvel at the unity of the whole Bible on this topic. Even more, it is my prayer that we will actually grow in the fruit of the Spirit during this study; that we will be equipped to grow in maturity in Christ throughout the Christian life for the glory of God and the good of others. As Jesus put it, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).

Also, on Sundays throughout this month we’ll be meditating on Hebrews 10:19-25 and how it calls us to worship God.

September 1 – Walk by the Spirit: freedom in Christ

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16  

Scripture reading: Galatians 3:13-14; 4:4-7; 5:16-18

Why does Paul say walk by the Spirit? Why not, “live by the Spirit” or “seek the Spirit”? It’s because Paul pictures the great redemptive event of the Old Testament, namely the exodus. Remember that Israel was in bondage to Egypt and the Pharaoh. That bondage was a picture of our bondage to the curse of the law, the power of sin and the tyranny of the devil. As Paul says earlier in Galatians, “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed…Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods” (Galatians 3:23; 4:8).

You see, Christ set us free from those things by being born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law so that we might no longer be slaves but sons (Galatians 4:4-7). Paul’s point is that when we look to Christ by faith, we are freed from the bondage of the curse of the law, justified in God’s sight and are adopted as God’s own dear children. And so, we have the greatest freedom of all in Christ that the exodus of Israel foreshadowed.

What does this have to do with the exhortation to “walk by the Spirit”? We’ll answer that in tomorrow’s devotional. For now, rest and rejoice in the remarkable freedom that you have in Christ by grace alone through faith alone.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God for the freedom you have in Christ from the curse of the law, the power of sin, and the tyranny of the devil. You’ve gone from slavery to sonship, from wrath to riches!

Rev. Brian Cochran has been serving Redeemer Reformation Church in Regina, Saskatchewan since 2010. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.

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