16 But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the [g]sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. 17 For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the [h]sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. 18 But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. 19 Now the practices of the [i]sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control),20 [j]idolatry, [k]sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], 21 envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the [l]sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. Galatians 5:16-24.
There is a distinct difference between the sinful nature and the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The sinful nature only craves that which is self-centered and in opposition to God and His kingdom. Though initially at first the cravings and desires of the sinful nature feel very good and are enjoyable, in the end will lead to destruction.
The key to walking in the character and nature of Christ is following the leading of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus walked upon the earth everything He did was done at the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples that it was good that He return to the Father so that the Holy Spirit would come. For it is the Holy Spirit who lives within us when we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we become born again and become alive once again to God.
Under the Old Covenant the nation of Israel lived under the law. They had to follow the letter of the law and the Lord instituted a system of sacrifices that needed to take place to deal with the sins of the people. Because forgiveness for sins could only come at the shedding of blood and it is because life is found in the blood. When Israel sinned animals were to be sacrificed over and over again to cover the sins of the people by their shed blood. The stipulation of these sacrifices were that they were to be without spot and without blemish. This would point to the future when Jesus would come as the perfect Lamb of God to be the sacrifice for the sins of humanity for all time.
Through Jesus Christ our sins are washed away and Jesus only had to go to the cross one time. When we come to Christ our sin no longer remains because we are covered by His blood and His righteousness is placed upon us. This is why when we walk according to the Spirit that we are not to follow the law. For the Holy Spirit will lead and guide us into all righteousness and truth.
This is why the fruit of the Spirit is in essence the character of Christ. Everything described as the fruit of the Spirit is the character and nature of who Jesus is. When we come to Christ and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit the fruit and nature of who Jesus is is produced within us. We are transformed from the inside out.
In this day and age we must guard against those who distort the gospel and distort the grace of God. The grace of God does not give us a license to sin and does not give us an excuse to live in sin. There are some who so distort the grace of God and pretty much claim that sin is okay and a sinful life style is okay because we are covered by the grace of God. But this is a distortion of the grace of God because we are called to be holy because He is holy.
There are some who believe they are born again and continue to live in sin as a life style and believe they will spend all eternity in God’s kingdom. If true transformation does not take place then we need to truly ask if the person was even saved in the first place. Jesus said that people would know His disciples by the fruit in their lives. For anyone to come to Christ becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ. So if someone throughout their life fails to produce the fruit of the Spirit and are transformed then their salvation was not truly saving faith.
A decision to follow Christ is not a get out of jail free card. It is a commitment to follow Jesus Christ. It is a commitment to lay down ones life for the sake of Jesus Christ and His kingdom. God has made it very clear in His word the difference between a life led by the Holy Spirit and a life led by the sinful nature. If we are truly born again then we will have a desire within us to follow the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit.