A. The gospel and the contrast between appearance and fruit
1. The contrast between inward reality and outward appearance. People can be deceptive, pretending to be something outwardly that they are not inwardly.
2. The concept of fruit. It is organically produced over time through a process of growth.
3. We can put on a false front, but our lives will produce a characteristic harvest that cannot be faked. Example: The minister who talks about Jesus but produces discord everywhere he goes.
B. The contrast between Spirit and flesh in the epistle
1. Flesh is fallen human nature and Spirit is the Holy Spirit planted within us in baptism
2. Life “in the flesh” vs. life “in the Spirit.”
3. The false prophet pretends to be spiritual but has not experienced the inner reality of death and rebirth through the Spirit, and his life does not produce the “fruits of the Spirit.”
C. Mortification of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit
1. “If you live after the flesh, you will die; but if you, through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body you shall live.” What is means to kill the flesh?
a. remedial: confession and amendment of life, breaking habits
b. preventative: fasting and behavioral modification that keeps us from occasions of sins and give us greater strength to say no.
2. The connection between mortification and horticulture. We pull out weeds and soften the soil, we remove the bad, to makes room for the healthy growth and fruit-bearing.
3. It takes real work to produce fruit.
a. Mortification: You have to make room for self examination and confession, and you have to be willing to change your behavior.
b. Feeding the plant. You have to make time for prayer, Scripture reading and silence—the things that cause the Spirit to grow and produce fruit.
D. The false prophet’s message and our experience and destiny
1. The characteristic message of the false prophet is that you can avoid that work and still bear the fruit. He confuses the outward appearance with the organic inner reality of faith
2. We must not be content with the outward appearance. We must be willing to do the inner work of prayer. Our rule of prayer—Eucharist, Daily Office, personal prayer—when it is practiced with honestly and sincerity leads to good confessions, changed behavior and a greater ability to love from the heart—“the fruit of the Spirit.” As the work of prayer produces the fruit of the Spirit, we are assured that we belong to God and that our destiny is in his kingdom, “For you have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have receive the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father”