Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.
— Psalm 51:12
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit, what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
— Galatians 5:16–25
Most of us are aware of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We know that if we cultivate our relationship with God, it will produce those things in us.
But there is another part of this scripture in Galatians that we rarely discuss. Prior to the fruit of the Spirit is a list called the acts of the flesh. If you can see your life as producing fruit, this is what your life will look like if you are in the flesh: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
Both the fruit of the Spirit and the acts of the flesh reveal a simple truth. The choices you make are producing the fruit of your life. David’s broken heart in Psalm 51 is the product of his sin. He is living in the reality of his choices, which produced sexual immorality, hatred, discord, death, and grief. He is a broken man.
But we can learn from the example here. David’s response is to confess and repent. He saw the fruit of what his sin had caused, and he confessed, sought forgiveness, and lived differently.
Are you experiencing things in your life that are contrary to the Spirit? Envy, fits of rage, selfishness? Here is the good news: like David, you can identify the source of those things in your life and repent. You can choose to stop living in the flesh in those areas and start living in the Spirit. When you do, you will find that God will restore the joy that has been missing.