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Good works are the fruit of faith

Galatians 5:16-24

Pastor David Ernst

14th Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Sep 21, 2014 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Our text for today is the epistle, Galatians 5:16-24. It speaks of the way of the Spirit, the work of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit.

We sang "Justificados, pues, por fe." Why? Because this song says we are justified in the sight of God by faith in Jesus Christ. Only by faith in Jesus Christ, not by any good works we do. Works can not justify us because we are totally condemned by the Law of God and we can not change our own condition. But because of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, we can through faith in Christ be justified in the eyes of God. Justification means being made holy. We are clean in God's eyes.

So, apart from our works, Christ has done everything for us on the cross. Now we are justified by faith. We receive this faith through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit creates faith in our hearts in the sacrament of baptism. We can not have faith in Christ without the Holy Spirit. Faith does not depend on our decision, but in the action of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is active in the preaching of the Law and Gospel of God. When we hear the Word and believe it, it is because the Spirit touches our hearts and creates faith in us. Baptism is the sign, the seal of this faith that the Spirit creates in us. In baptism we receive the faith, salvation, justification in Christ by God's promise and the application of water as God commanded.

However, the work of the Holy Spirit is also the sanctification of our lives. Sanctification means to kept holy or clean. Who has not cleaned a room and when it is very clean, very nice, we do not want a parade of people to mess up the room again. We want to keep the room clean. God has cleansed our lives through baptism, a spiritual washing. He does not want anyone to mess up our lives again. So the Spirit is active to keep our lives holy.

In what ways can a life cleansed by God be soiled again? Our epistle speaks of the works of the flesh. What's is the flesh? The dying body. This physical body will die. Our life in this world is brief. The works of the flesh, the sinful nature, that remain in us are: "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulatons, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing and such like. "

It's a long list, yet Paul says there is much more. Is adultery and fornication today? If there. Uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, etc., etc. If there. They are the fruits of the flesh, human nature, without the Holy Spirit. The selfish nature always looks after its own interest and the result is all these things.

Why idolatry? We can understand adultery, drunkenness and carousing as the fruits of the flesh, but in what way is idolatry a fruit of the flesh? Idolatry is the worship of false gods, idols that are always the images of our own desires. A false god is the image of evil desires, so idolatry is also a fruit of the sinful nature.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

No law against patience. Where is written one should not be patient? Patience is always a good thing. So also are peace, love, joy, tolerance, gentleness and the rest. They are the fruits of the Spirit that do not exist in an environment of those other desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh.

So, of course, inside of we who believe in Jesus Christ, there is a struggle between the desires of the flesh and the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is always fighting for us against the flesh, with the power to overcome our nature. This is sanctification.

St. Paul says in other parts of the New Testament that sanctification is like a refiner's fire, burning the ore of gold or silver, destroying impurities and leaving pure gold or pure silver. This purification is the work of the Holy Spirit.

"They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. "

This does not imply that this kind of thing: Some churches teach that Christ died on the cross to erase the condemnation of original sin, but now we must do good works to merit God's love. This is not correct. We never deserve God's love, but we always have the love of God for Christ's sake. No amount of good works can justify us in the eyes of God.

But good works are the fruits of the Spirit living in our hearts. When we receive the Spirit in baptism, God makes us members of the church, the body of Christ. We have the Spirit active in our lives, but we can always reject the Spirit because God does not destroy our human will. The Spirit touches the heart and very gently guides us on the right track.

We can resist the Spirit, but if we remain in faith and prayer, the Spirit will never abandon us. Through the Word and the sacraments, the Spirit always triumphs over sin, purifying us for the time when we enter the presence of God forever. We will rise from the dead to live with Christ forever. The Spirit prepares us for that day.

Our Gospel for today (Luke 17:11-19) says Christ cleansed 10 lepers. According to the laws of Israel, they went to the Temple to be declared healthy by the priests. Only one returned to thank Christ for restoring your health and worshiped Him for His mercy. God has not healed of the leprosy, but from sin, both original sin and actual sins. Our response should be to God for his mercy by showing God's love to others. Many times, like lepers, people forget God's mercy, but there is always someone who responds to mercy with mercy, because the Word of God has the power to change our hearts.

So we give thanks for the power of the Holy Spirit, for the gift of faith, and the sanctification or cleansing of our lives. The peace that passes all understanding be with each of you forever. Amen.

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