Gospel Character

By Pastor Jōn Whiteway, November 29, 2020

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The Battlers

  1. THE

The flesh glorifies and adores and yearns for all kinds of created things and conditions and people and wants to be its own savior and lord.

  1. THE

The Spirit glorifies and adores and yearns for Jesus and speaks of the beauty and greatness and sufficiency of Christ.

The Battlefield

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

THE FLESH v.19-21

Notice they are not all actions; attitudes are just as much over-desires of our sinful nature.

THE SPIRIT v.22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

To be “led by the Spirit” (v 18) is to change, and be changed, to be the people we want to be. The Spirit-fuelled development of Christ- like character is liberating, because it brings us closer to being the people we were designed to be, the people our Spirit-renewed hearts want us to be.

  1. Agape = love. It means to serve a person for their good and intrinsic value, not for what the person brings you. Its opposite is fear: self-protection and abusing people. Its counterfeit (a fake version) is selfish affection, where you are attracted to someone and treat them well because of how they make you feel about yourself.
  1. Chara = joy, a delight in God for the sheer beauty and worth of who He is. Its opposite is hopelessness or despair, and its counterfeit is an elation that is based on experiencing blessings, not the Blesser, causing mood swings based on circumstances.
  1. Irene = peace, meaning a confidence and rest in the wisdom and control of God, rather than in your own. It replaces anxiety and worry. The fake version of peace is indifference, apathy, not caring about something.
  1. Makrothumia = patience, an ability to face trouble without blow- ing up or hitting out. Its opposite is resentment toward God and others, and its counterfeits are cynicism or lack of care: This is too small to care about.
  1. Chrestotes = kindness, which is an ability to serve others practically in a way which makes me vulnerable, which comes from having a deep inner security. Its opposite is envy, which leaves me unable to rejoice in another’s joy. And its fake alternative is manipulative good deeds, doing good for others so I can congratulate myself and feel I am “good enough” for others or for God.
  1. Agathosune = goodness, integrity; being the same person in every situation, rather than a phony or a hypocrite. This is not the same as being always truthful but not always loving; getting things off your chest just to make yourself feel or look better.
  1. Pistis = faithfulness, loyalty, courage, to be utterly reliable and true to your word. Its opposite is to be an opportunist, a friend only in good times. And its counterfeit is to be loving but not truthful, so that you are never willing to confront or challenge.
  1. Prautas = gentleness, humility, self-forgetfulness. The opposite is to be superior or self-absorbed. Humility is not the same as inferiority.
  1. Egkrateia = self-control, the ability to pursue the important over the urgent, rather than to be always impulsive or uncontrolled. The slightly surprising counterfeit is a willpower which is based on pride, the need to feel in control.

Our Battleplan

24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.


Rest in Christ’s life and victory ascribed to us.

  1. FIGHT
  1. : we are crucified with Christ but we also crucify our flesh daily.
  2. : not simply the giving up of behaviors but the growth of fruit.
  3. : more than simple obedience, but not less than simple obedience.

Lord, my heart thinks that I must have this thing, otherwise I have no value. It is a pseudo-savior. But to think and feel and live like this is to forget what I mean to you, how you see me in Christ. By your Spirit, I will reflect on your love for me in Him until this thing loses its attractive power over my soul.


  1. Examine yourself. How can you see the fruit of the Spirit growing in your life?
  2. Do you have natural characteristics which could be confused with the fruit of the Spirit?
  3. What are the idols which need identifying and dismantling in your life? How can you replace them with Christ?