For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8 NASB)
What does it mean to sow to the flesh or sow to the Spirit? Think about this in the natural. When you sow seed whether that seed be for fruit, vegetables or grain, you take the seed of the plant you wish to grow, which is actually a part of the plant itself and put it in the ground so that it can reproduce itself. Then you tend it carefully, watering, weeding and keeping the scavengers and pests away and miraculously it grows! So what is the seed of the flesh? It is the flesh itself, whether that be the thoughts and imaginations of the flesh or the acts of the flesh. Jesus made it clear that even desires of the heart can be sin, they don’t have to be acted upon (Matthew 5:28). Anything that is of the flesh, however small or hidden will reproduce itself – and remember that we hide seeds in the ground before they flourish into plants. Flesh will beget flesh as much as the seed of a man planted in his wife will beget a human being. Other fleshly seeds will also produce after their own kind. The seed of gluttony will produce more flesh – fat! The seed of anger will produce outbursts of wrath. The seed of lust will produce adultery or worse, rape or pornography. Not only that but the seeds of flesh also produce strongholds, otherwise called addictions. Such is the ugly yield of sin, it ensures its own survival by creating a need in the host to continue to sow the seed. It is never ending and the fruit of the flesh is listed in scripture. But these are only some of them, the list is practically endless.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)
So what about the Spirit. Lets not think upon these ugly sinful seeds for too long, they will of themselves even produce depression and weakness if we consider them for too long. This is also why Scripture tells us that ‘bad company corrupts good morals’. If we are walking in the Spirit, allowing the Spirit to have His way in our lives, we will reap the things of the Spirit. Sowing to the Spirit has the very same physical outcome as sowing to the flesh does. We produce marvelous, glorious fruit, and the final outcome is eternal life. Praise God! The fruit of the Spirit is also listed by Paul in Galatians 5; they are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, meekness and self control. These fruit are the outworking of the seed of the Holy Spirit and remember that fruit itself contains seed. The fruit will bear more fruit after its own kind and against such there is no law. So instead of becoming a violent, ugly, wicked, venal and godless human being bound for destruction you will steadily become more Christlike so that there will be rivers of living water flowing from your midst. The water speaks of the Holy Spirit and everything that is of the Spirit begets that of the Spirit. It can be no other way. The Spirit does NOT produce anything of the enemy or of the flesh. So next time you are concerned that something you see in another human being does not seem to be Christlike, it very probably isn’t. The Spirit doesn’t produce discord, hate, fear, gossip, slander, arrogance or abuse no matter how often the person goes to church or lifts their hands to praise God. Jesus told us we will know the false Christians by their fruit! (Matthew 7:16)
Seeds are so small and a very small amount of sin can affect our whole lives. Sin causes us to become unclean, and Jesus likened sin to leaven, or yeast. (Galatians 5:9) I remember learning about yeast when I did Home Economics at High School. I remember the teacher showing us a rather waxy greyish unassuming and rather ugly substance which smelled a lot like raisins and looked like clay. You mixed the yeast with sugar so that it had something to feed off, then added water and then let it bubble so that the yeast activated. Then you added it to the flour and mixed it together in a dough and allowed it to stand so that the yeast could work through the dough. When you came to knead the dough it was almost bubbly because the yeast had produced gases which were a result of the ‘live’ nature of the substance. Sin is not a dead thing which just sits there. It is alive, it grows, it works through our lives and it affects us wholly. Only a tiny amount, a thought flitting through your mind, which then lingers and seems so innocent but so tantalising which then works on you. It works on your feelings, your mind and then finally your will and before you know it you have acted upon that little thought, that seed of the flesh and you have sinned. If you fail in one part of the law you have failed in the whole and if you live in the flesh you are under the law. Any small infraction of the law becomes the weight of the guilt of transgressing the whole of the law. The whole is now affected, the whole of the law, the whole of your person, body soul and spirit. A seed of the flesh will produce more of itself and remember whatever you sow multiplies exponentially. One seed can produce a hundred of itself and each of those a hundred more, in the same way that a flea infestation will take over your house if you allow one flea to reproduce.
Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from the infestation of sin, from the fruit of our flesh. But it is up to us to choose to sow the seed of the Spirit, not the seed of the flesh. When you partake of the fruit of the Spirit, that fruit takes root in you and begins to produce more of itself. Remember you are merely the ground in which the seed is being produced, the work of the Spirit in us is of Himself, not of us. The seed of the Spirit is sown in good ground, the new nature, and produces more of Himself and we grow more Christlike. It is the greatest and most wonderful miracle of all of God’s miracles, and He does this because of His own greatest sacrifice, His own Son who said of himself..
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal
In these verses He was exhorting his followers to die to their flesh and allow their flesh to be crucified as He himself did so that they might produce much seed in the Spirit. This is a principle in God which has almost been lost in this day and age. So few men preach about the need to walk in the Spirit and few understand that unless they do they will reap of the flesh increasingly and reap more of it than they would have imagined. We are so good at putting religious guises upon our works that many immature Christians are not able to recognise that which is sown to the flesh and that which is sown to the Spirit.
I myself am only beginning to understand this principle. What does it mean to sow to the Spirit? Begin the day with worship and prayer and you will find yourself wanting to focus more and more on the Spirit. You will experience peace and joy and grow in the love of God. Throughout the day you will want to remind yourself of that peace and will look for opportunities to take a few minutes here and there to pray and worship God. Unwholesome thoughts of fear, anxiety, anger and pride will be held at bay. You will be focusing entirely on Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit, you will be remembering Scripture more and more, singing songs of praise and encouragement which the Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance as your mind is renewed and your heart cleansed you will find yourself seeing the whole world in a new light. THIS is reaping the Spirit!
As Romans 12:1-2 tells us, if we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, that is, we die to the flesh and put on Christ instead, sowing to the Spirit and not to the flesh and if we do not conform to the world, in other words if we make our declaration of allegiance to Jesus Christ and not the ruler of this world, we will be transformed. Our minds will be renewed and when our minds are renewed we will be able to know the will of God towards us. It is an amazing process really. We sow to the Spirit, we work with the Spirit, we allow the seed of the Spirit to take root in us, we tend it carefully pouring on the water of the Spirit to nourish the work of the Spirit so that our hearts and mind might be renewed as the Spirit is allowed to take over our lives in the same way that a field of grain is allowed to sprout and grow tall. Then all who pass by will see the field of grain and be able to partake of the nourishment of the bread of life.
But I must warn you. When the Holy Spirit begins to take root in your life and bears fruit, you will be changed. You will begin to even notice a change in your ‘inward parts’. It is both exciting and freeing but it is also a challenge to your flesh which will not just lie down and die, it will want to raise itself up again and fight what is going on, this new life which is being birthed and nurtured. Expect to have to fight with your old desires, the old thoughts and the old behaviours because they will want to have dominance again, and of course satan and his cronies will be there to aid the flesh every step of the way. The flesh that was sown in our old natures will still have consequences. The old crop will still be there waving in the breeze along with its seed. It must be allowed to wither so that there is no more ability to sprout into more plants. Stand strong, fight the good fight, endure to the end and you will have the crown of life. Not only are we farmers, we are soldiers. We must have one hand upon the Sword of the Spirit as we work in the field and nurture the fruit. We must be prepared to chase away the scavengers, the crows which want to come and destroy the crop.
May the Lord of the harvest find a white field full of the fruit of the Spirit when He examines the works of your life!