As believers we have no obligation to satisfy the flesh and its sinful, selfish desires. In Gethsemane (which means “oil press”) Jesus was in great agony, feeling the pressure of what was going to take place in the next hours of His life.
He was praying so hard that His sweat became like drops of blood and He said to the Heavenly Father, “If you are willing, remove this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done.” Jesus was not trying to get out of doing the Father's will, but He was expressing His true feelings from His soul. He was dreading what was going to happen, but He said not my will but yours. Jesus was not troubled in His spirit but in His soul and the Heavenly Father sent an angel to strengthen Him.
When we remain peaceful in our spirits and don't give in to our troubled souls, then our Heavenly Father will strengthen us. Jesus was teaching us by example that God's grace is sufficient for us in our greatest times of need. Jesus knew that by going to the cross He would bring glory, honour, praise and worship to the Father. He knew and understood that being the incorruptible seed meant that He must fall into the ground and die in order to bring forth fruit. Jesus was explaining that resurrection life comes out of losing our lives and receiving His abundant life.
Jesus said in John 12:24-25 that a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies in order for it to bear much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to eternal life. The life we are to give up is the soul (psuche) or natural life that tells us that we can live without God. The life we gain in Christ is zoe, the everlasting life by living in God. Jesus was teaching us that we must despise our natural life in order to pursue a godly life – a life that will make us fruitful and glorify our Heavenly Father. To hate one's life we must love Jesus more than ourselves and more than anyone else in our life. He is to be more loved and valuable to us than anyone or anything else for that matter. Jesus is to be our treasure to have and to hold. Just as a bride and bridegroom do not consider it a sacrifice to give up their former lives for each other, then we should not consider it a great sacrifice either for our Bridegroom, Jesus.
We, the seed, must be willing to die to self and be buried, hidden in Christ, or we will never be fruitful. We need to be broken and helpless, keeping our eyes and thoughts off of the appearance of the seed, for the seed must die in order to change and take on the likeness of Christ. When we choose to understand the life of a dying seed, we are being obedient to Jesus’ teaching of denying ourselves by taking up our cross and following Him. As it clearly says in Mark 8:34-35, whoever gives up his life for Jesus’ sake and the Gospel will save it.
Fruit is the resurrection life that comes forth from a seed that has yielded completely to the process of death to self. Galatians 5:22-25 is describing a life that has died to its own selfish desires and interests and has surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ by giving up all claims and rights to one's own agenda. We must understand that the fruit of the Spirit brings forth more fruit and not miracles, signs and wonders - they are not the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Holy Spirit, the work which His presence accomplishes within us, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (humility), self control. There is no law against fruitfulness. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh, the godless human nature, with its passions by living in the Holy Spirit.
We are not delivered from the works of flesh by the laying on of hands, but we are only delivered by crucifying the flesh. As it says in Romans 5:3 the pressures and afflictions of tribulations, hardship, and sufferings produce the fruit of patience and perseverance. Wouldn’t it be nice if the laying on of hands imparted the fruit of the Spirit into our lives? Yes, but that’s not how it works. The spiritual law of death needs to be embraced by following Jesus daily so that we will experience His resurrection life and power in our lives.
- Pastor Carol McLean