"For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh." Romans 7:18
"There is no one who does good, there is not even one." Romans 3:12
Have you ever felt like this about yourself? Like you just can't seem to get things right? You keep falling into the same trap of temptation. You can't seem to do one thing good.
In this season of my life, I am on a mission to understand and possess the fruits of the Spirit. I don't want to react out of my flesh as much as I do. I know it's not only destructive to me, but there will be lasting bad fruit in my kids' lives. Of course I will not be 100% "Spirit reacting" all of the time, but if I focus on it, making it my main aim, I will do much more good than if I give up and believe it's pointless.
One of the first steps in cultivating the fruit of the Spirit is abiding in Christ. In John 15, Jesus calls himself "the true vine" and only as we "abide in him" are we able to bear spiritual fruit.
It is only as we walk by the Spirit that we are able to show forth Christ in our lives, and God gives us the grace to do this AS WE ABIDE in Christ.
Abiding is defined as continued fellowship with the Lord and being submissive to his will. It is a constant contact with Jesus.
How can we abide?
1. Spending time in God's Word. The words of Christ should have a reigning position in our heart. We don't go to our logic, opinions, or experience to make decisions or draw conclusions. We plant God's word in our heart and it becomes our pattern of thinking.
2. Spending time in prayer. One believer explained it as "regular, daily, unhurried, secret lingerings in prayer." This is hard to do because it is such a time consuming commitment, but something that is so worth it. It is a goal to continue to reach for. For me, I'm not nearly where I want to be in my prayer life, but I'm on a path to grow. I read books about it, I practice, I remember that every day is different, I try new ways to pray. Overall, my heart desires to be completely connected with the Holy Spirit through prayer. I will keep learning, growing, and reaching for this connection probably for the rest of my life. It is not a logical or legalistic motive, but a heart longing in my spirit.
3. Obeying God's commands. Making choices that honor God and his word. "If you keep my commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:10). In keeping his Father's commands and desires, Jesus stayed close to his father's heart. When we stay close to God's heart, it is easy to walk in obedience because we know him and his love and we want to obey his will over our own. Spiritual fruit can never be produced except by yielding to the Holy Spirit.
How do you know when you are walking by the flesh or by the Spirit? When we walk by the Spirit, we will not carry out the deeds of the flesh and we can have victory over it, meaning we don't give into our fleshly desires.
It is as we walk by the Spirit - abiding in Christ through consistant time in his word and prayer, and obeying God's commands - that the Holy Spirit produces His fruit in our lives.