"Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, that I may honor you." Psalms 86:11 NLT
The Psalmist expresses a spiritual truth that is difficult for us to truly understand--we are only able to really honor God through the Holy Spirit working in us and through us. Our natural and learned behaviors tend to be more focused toward self and are completely inadequate. It is only by surrendering ourselves, completely to the power and control of God that we are able to think and live in ways that bring honor to God.
In this verse, the writer acknowledges that he can only have a pure heart with the help of God. No matter how good our intentions, or how hard we try, we are unable to please God in our own power. The world teaches us to be strong and independent, to do for ourselves so we don't have to rely on anyone else. And that's fine, if we want to be worldly. But, God has a better plan for us. In order to live in God's plan for us we must surrender everything we are to God. He will make our heart pure and focused on His will.
Let's see what the Apostle Paul had to say about this very topic in the book of Romans:
"Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Romans 8:8-9 NIV
Paul says we cannot please God if we are controlled by the sinful nature and to be controlled by the Spirit we must have the Spirit living in us. It is only through the Spirit working in us and through us that we are able to please God and honor him.
But, the LORD says, "the last will be first, and the first will be last" (Matthew 20:16 NIV). In other words, "If you want to succeed and honor God with your life you must first, surrender your life to God." Once you surrender completely to God you will begin to experience the power of God, through the Holy Spirit, helping you in every part of your life. You will begin to see the Fruits of the Spirit growing in your life as you grow in your relationship with God.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
This brings us back around to the beginning of our opening verse: "Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, that I may honor you" (Psalms 86:11 NLT). The Fruit of the Spirit is God teaching us His ways of living. As we surrender ourselves to Him and He makes our heart pure, He begins to change us on the inside, to teach us how to live a life that will honor Him. He is not just giving us knowledge, the Spirit is changing us on the inside and as a result of the inward change the Fruit of the Spirit begin to flow out of our life. We begin to love as God loves. We have the joy of God. We have a greater peace than we could have had before. We begin to be more and more patient as we trust in God for our lives. Eventually, we are living a life overflowing with all the Fruit of the Spirit. It is the natural process of surrendering everything to God and receiving His gift of a pure heart that desires to honor Him in everything.
God is honored when the Fruit of the Spirit is growing and flowing in our lives.