Recently I've been preaching through Galatians with my church. I was reminded again while preaching through Galatians 5 of the fruit of the Spirit. Interesting enough is the fact that it does not say fruits, as in plural, but fruit. The Spirit of God in the life of the believer produces such fruit. Of course our sinful flesh is still present as well and we often fight against the work of the Spirit. That's why Paul says in Galatians 5:16, "Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." The key to not gratifying the desires of the flesh is to walk by and yield to the Holy Spirit who dwells within everyone who believes.
And while it is true that "fruit" is singular in Galatians 5:22, it is also, I think, appropriate to evaluate your life as a Christian in light of this. It's appropriate to ask yourself if you truly love God and neighbor the way the Spirit leads. It's right to evaluate whether or not you have true joy in the Lord above all things. And the list goes on.
One, however, that I think it's easy not to focus much on is self-control. Maybe this is only true in my own life. I have come under much conviction as of late over my lack of control. And I've made every excuse under the sun for it! However, a lack of self-control is not simply a reflection upon my sinful desires, but also a reflection of rebellion against the work of the Spirit of God in my own life.
One very clear example of this is based on my lack of self-control when it comes to food. I blogged yesterday that I am trying to refocus and get this under control (you can read it here). I stated yesterday that my eating habits have been sinful in that gluttony has been a part of the issue. Yet, I think it's also sinful in that it also reveals a lack of self-control. According to my understanding of Galatians 5 a lack of self-contol shows that I am gratifying the desires of my flesh. And this is sin.
There are many other examples I could point to in my own life. The truth is I realize more and more how wicked my heart is apart from the work of Christ. However, there is good news. The good news is that because Christ Jesus died for my sins they are forgiven. Completely forgiven. Nothing held against me since I am in Christ. And, because God is so unbelievably gracious, He has given me His Holy Spirit who helps lead and guide me. The battle against a lack of self-control is a Spiritual battle. It takes prayer and trust and leaning upon the Spirit.