22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self- control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
The Greek word for passions here means experiences we have suffered that result in affections of the mind. It also means passionate desires, so the experiences we have endured affect our minds and result in passionate desires for things. It makes me think about how many of us have had experiences of grief and loss in our life which have resulted in our obsession with finding and holding onto something which will make us feel better. Of course, some of us have moved to the other end of the spectrum and given up hope of ever acquiring whatever we think will fix things, so the passion is gone. But beneath that hopelessness remains that desire to get our “fix”.
I never really thought about where passions and lusts come from, other than the book of James where it says our problem is that we want things we can’t have. But do our “passions” stem from negative experiences we have lived through, and from which we are still somehow trying to escape? Are passions man-made attempts to get something to make us feel better?
Then we are told to compare our passions/affections/lusts to the fruit of the Spirit. I used to think this passage was meant to show us how depraved our desires were compared to the fruit, but now I am not so sure. Maybe it is meant to show us the difference in the origins of our passionate desires compared to the fruit.
Where does the fruit of the spirit come from? The Spirit of God. How do we get it? Solely by abiding in the vine, staying connected to Jesus by faith and through the indwelling of His Spirit in us. When we get what we need by remaining in Him, we have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self control.
Where do the works of the flesh come from? The flesh responding to it’s inability to get what it thinks it needs. It has experienced loss and it cannot obtain what is wants, and that affects the mind negatively, reacting with sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing and anything similar (vs. 19-20).
When we are focused on what we think we have missed but deserve to have, we do whatever we can to GET for ourselves. We are selfishly concerned with ourselves. But when we feel we have our needs met, we can focus on GIVING to others unselfishly. The works of the flesh come from us fighting with others to meet our own perceived needs. The fruit of the Spirit comes from us accepting from Christ whatever He offers to us as a means of meeting our needs so we are free to give to others. These are two very different outlooks!
So if you feel you are caught in the grip of passions, ask yourself if you are trying to meet your own needs instead of trusting Christ to meet them. Tell Him You want to rely upon and rest in His provisions for your life, and ask Him to show you how to stop fighting for what only He can give.