Led by the Spirit - Gospel in Life

Led by the Spirit

Tim Keller |  May 11, 2008

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  • Fruit of the Spirit
  • Discipleship and Spiritual Growth
  • The Holy Spirit
Galatians 5:16-26
RS 202-06


We’re in a series on Christian practices. Beliefs don’t automatically produce a changed life. Beliefs have to be turned into changed character through Christian practices, through spiritual disciplines.

We’re going to look now at a Christian practice that never stands on its own. Rather, it happens within the other practices. When we get to Galatians 6:1, it says Christians shouldn’t hold one another accountable without examining themselves. But what are we examining ourselves for? The answer is here in Galatians 5. We’re supposed to be examining ourselves in order to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, spiritual fruit. Otherwise, the Christian practices can just become mechanical.

It’s important to say, “What are we doing in our Christian practices?” We’re supposed to examine, look for, and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Let’s look at this very famous passage under three headings: 1) the necessity of spiritual fruit, 2) the cultivation of spiritual fruit, and 3) the root of the spiritual fruit.

Understanding Galatians 5:16–26

Believing in God’s love isn’t enough to change who you are. You can still act selfishly or worry a lot even if you believe strongly. To truly change, you need to start living out your faith by doing things that Christians are called to do. This isn’t just about going through the motions—it’s about growing in the things of the Spirit, like love, joy, peace, and so on. To grow in these things, we need to examine ourselves and aim for real change, not just outward actions.

1. Why it’s important to grow in the Spirit

Being “led by the Spirit” means that God’s Spirit lives in you. We measure our faith by how much we grow in things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But real growth isn’t just about doing religious stuff—it’s about being made new by God’s Spirit and learning to be both gentle and bold.

2. How to grow in the Spirit

To grow in the Spirit, we need to fight against our sinful nature, which can lead us to do things that are wrong, like being sexually immoral or impure. Sometimes, we can fall into the trap of trying to make ourselves feel good by doing things that we shouldn’t. But the good news is that if we belong to Jesus, we’ve already won the fight against our sinful nature. In the Christian faith, we act based on who we are in Christ, not the other way around.

3. Where the Spirit’s growth comes from

We were meant to have a life full of good things, but our selfish actions messed that up. But God’s Spirit in us and the growth of good things in us show that there’s a future where everything’s going to be better. This hope comes from what Jesus did for us on the cross—he took our punishment on himself, showing that we belong to him. And if we give up our sinful nature, he promises to heal us and change us for the better.



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July Book Offer

Reading Galatians Can Change Your Life!

Galatians is a powerful book that shows how people can think they know the gospel but are actually losing touch with it. In this study of the book of Galatians, Dr. Keller helps you understand how this short book in the New Testament can transform your life.