The Fruit of the Spirit?

fruit of the spirit evidenceGalatians 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 

I’ve come to the conclusion after comparing the works of the flesh (wrath, strife, envying, fornication, etc.), with the fruits of the spirit, that walking after the Spirit is a MUCH better way to live the Christian life! It’s a great life when there’s joy. It’s good where there’s peace. It’s Christ-honoring when there’s love. It’s Christ-evident when I’m longsuffering to others as He is with us. Why would I choose to live otherwise?

fruit level.pngI believe many Christians forfeit the “better”, Spirit led life, for a cheap alternative. And why? Why would we substitute the rich fruit of the Spirit for anything else? We’d be wise to ask, “is my conversation (manner of life) becoming of a life marked by the Spirit’s fruit?” Do people see joy in my life, or wrath? Do they see peace, or strife? Do they see meekness, or variance and emulations? Do we possess gentleness, or do we provoke. Do they see temperance and long-suffering, or hatred? The two lists simply can’t compare.

After contrasting the lists, Paul exhorts us once more: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit“. Are we walking in the Spirit today? The evidence of the Spirit’s fruit will answer that question for me. Let’s choose the Spirit-filled, Spirit-led life.

Abba, Father

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Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

abba fatherThis chapter is rich in doctrine, and a tremendous encouragement as we realize our position – as Gentiles (though now, sons) – in Christ. We see that God (the Father) sent the Spirit (The Holy Spirit) of His Son (Jesus Christ) into our hearts (what a great picture of the trinity in one verse). And though we were servants, because of God’s goodness, we have been made sons.

As sons, we have the Spirit of Jesus Christ within us, crying and testifying of our relationship to the Father, with and for us. We know that the Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are the sons of God. Romans tells us that the Spirit helps our infirmities, and makes intercession for us when we don’t even have the words to say. But here, we see that the Spirit simply utters “Father, Father” on our behalf. Today, I thank the Lord that I have a rich position as a son and an heir with Christ. And with this, I have access to the Holy Spirit, through Whom I have access to the Father. Spiritually, I’m a rich man, and thank the Lord for it!

Who hath bewitched you?

11817949 - young boy reading excited in an old bookGalatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

When someone starts talking differently, we ask, “who have you been listening to?” When someone starts acting differently, we ask, “who have you been hanging around?” When someone begins to change their position, their doctrine, or beliefs, we ask, “who have you been reading,” or “who has been influencing you?”

This is what Paul asked the Galatians. There had obviously been a shift in belief, which led to a change in behavior. When Paul realized this, he didn’t ask “what”, but “who” hath bewitched you. The word bewitched means: To fascinate; to gain an ascendancy over by charms or incantation; or, to cast a spell over. The thing about bewitched people is that, many times they don’t realize that they’re being bewitched. They don’t see that they’ve been “fascinated” or “maligned” by someone until they’re already caught up in it, and they’ve begun to change.

This morning, might we take an honest evaluation of our lives and ask if we’ve allowed ourselves to be bewitched. Maybe we’ve been bewitched by Hollywood entertainment and the corruption that it spews out. Maybe we’ve been bewitched by those who give their lives to materialism instead of eternal investments. Maybe it’s a financial podcast or blog that has gotten our hearts set on “that which will burn”, instead of “on things above”. Maybe it’s another preacher, teacher, or philosiphizer that’s captivating and communicative, as in the Galatians’ case, that’s changing us. Maybe it’s a book, a blog, a sermon, or a Youtube channel that would influence us.

We must be oh, so careful not to be fascinated or caught up with people who would influence us to become something we really don’t want to become. Let’s realize the power of influence. Let’s be careful with the books we read, the sermons we listen to, the media we take in, and the people we’re around. For those we allow to influence us today determine who we are tomorrow.

I am crucified with Christ.

take-me-to-the-cross-1Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

This morning I am reminded that the greatest way to live the Christian life is to live crucified with Christ. He not only brought my spirit to life, but He can be my very life itself (Christ liveth in me). When I do this, it’s “not I” – not my flesh, or my old man, or my natural sinful self, “but Christ” – His Spirit, and His leading, and His living, living in and through me. This is how I want to live!

We are reminded, however, that this is a daily process. Paul also said in 1 Cor 15:31, “I die daily.” Might we reckon ourselves dead, die daily, and allow Christ to live through us, even today.

Marriage and the Gospel

Came across this quote today. Good thoughts. Might we have Christ-honoring marriages. 

“Christ-likeness may be especially important in our marriages because marriage is such a powerful way to display the gospel and the glory of God. It is the first place people will look to see if we really believe what we say we believe. Someone can have a dynamic speaking gift, or generously give to anyone in need, or appear to know a lot of Scripture, but if they have a terrible marriage, it raises questions. How can he treat his wife that way? Why is she so disrespectful to her husband? They obviously do not believe what they claim to believe. It should burden us deeply that many of our marriages paint the gospel in a bad light. Can you imagine if the divorce rate among Christians was next to nothing? What an incredible way to cry out to the world that we are different! We have the mind of Christ, we have the power of the Holy Spirit, we choose to die to ourselves and love and forgive even when things get difficult. This would turn heads. This is what God wants for us as His people.”

They Glorified God

12-ways-to-glorify-god-at-workGalatians 1:23-24 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.

Rebuke. Chasten. Marvel. Paul’s heart was heavy as he wrote this epistle to the Galatian churches. He wondered how they could have been so soon removed from the faith of the Gospel. He knew that they had allowed men to pervert their doctrine and view of Christ and the Gospel. He wrote for the purpose that he might, if by any chance, convince the Galatians to return to the true doctrine of the Gospel.

Paul takes time in the first chapter to give his credentials for writing and preaching. He writes of his conversion. He writes of his call by the Lord Himself. He writes of His Gospel that he preached – one not after man, but after God. He then makes a case for his honesty and sincerity, again, to the end that he might get them to return to the Lord. Those who serve in ministry have been here. We’ve written these kinds of letters. We’ve had these kind of meetings. We can relate with some of Paul’s heart.

However, the verse that sticks out this morning is one that is slipped in at the end of the chapter. It doesn’t have to do so much with his convincing them, but it has everything to do with his ministry. He says the brethren “that he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.” Is not that the purpose of our lives? We can persuade men. We can cry over the lost. We can do the work of the ministry. But ultimately, our life’s purpose is the glory of God. If we were saved out of a life of sin, we ought to give tribute to the grace of God that led us to repentance. This brings glory to God. If we were sheltered from a life of sin, as we point others to Christ, we ought to point them to that same grace that works in our lives. This will bring glory to God. Today, let us seek how we can bring glory to His name through, in (through) us. For, Romans 11:36 reminds us that For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

No Pleasure 

Ezekiel 33:11 “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God , I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways…”

He’s not willing that any should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance. 

Every Knee Shall Bow

 Life-Eternity_zps6fcc10d3 Romans 14:10-12 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Two simple thoughts come to mind as I read this passage. These are truths that I would do well to keep before me as I run my race here below:

  1. We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. If we understood the magnitude of that day and that event, I believe we’d live differently here below. As the psalmist said, “Lord, help me to number my days, that I might apply my heart to wisdom”. Might I live with eternity on my eyes today. If I do, I’ll be willing to part with the frivolous, the insignificant, and worthless in light of eternity, and live for those things of eternal value.
  2. Every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess to God. This point in heaven when every knee bows is a big deal in Jesus eyes and in the writers of the new Testament. If this even is so significant, we’d do well to learn to apply this here, and now. How is my prayer life? How is my worship? How is my confession of Him and to Him? Do I bow before Him as I ought and as He deserves?

Let us keep eternity in mind today.

Love is the fulfilling of the law.

god-is-loveRomans 13:7-10 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Jesus Christ came to fulfill and finish the law. But what is the fulfilling of the law? If Romans 13 is correct, the Bible says “love” is the fulfilling of the law. 1 Cor 13 tells us that we can have every other part of the law, but if we’re lacking this part of it, we are and have nothing. In this chapter’s context, Paul is talking about government officials, and those who would impose tribute, or custom. If I’m reading correctly, this chapter talks about our relationship with the unsaved, and those who live around us and above us in this present world. Again, might we take a firm stand, without condoning sin in the least, but remember what the law is all about -loving people as we love ourselves. This is how people will know we’re the children of God.

Abhor. Cleave. Bless. Overcome.

woman-caught-in-adulteryRomans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 17-21 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

I have heard people say, “I’d rather side with people who hate sin and sinners than those that accept them”. Now, besides the fact that I think that theology is a little skewed, my question is, why do you have to side with either? Why is this even a talking point? Why would we include so much of this type of rhetoric in our preaching? Why do some movements talk/preach so much about who should be put to death under a “righteous government?”How is that relevant to us or the people we lead? When push comes to shove, it would seem that we have to choose, and are either “holy”, or “accepting of sin”. I don’t buy it. I think Jesus, as well as Scripture as a whole, teaches that we can have a biblical, Christ-like balance. We can live right, while loving sinners and pointing them to Christ and Christ-likeness.

The verse above (Rom 12:9) tells us to abhor evil. We’re to hate sin like Jesus did. Jesus “hated iniquity”. We’re to hate adultery. It tears the God-ordained institution of marriage apart. It creates broken homes, broken children and broken hearts. It brings a man with great potential to a “piece of bread”. It’s horrible. We’re to hate it. We’re to hate homosexuality. Nature itself teaches us it’s wrong and unnatural. It has indoctrinated and polluted this generation. It has feminized our men and our culture. It has messed with God’s institution of marriage as between only a man and a woman. It’s been the cause of much abuse and harm of many innocents. It’s a vile lifestyle. It’s an abomination to God. We’re to hate it. We’re to hate corruption and injustice. It causes thousands to die of starvation. It causes wars, tears families apart, is deceitful, and is not becoming of “doing justly and loving mercy”. We’re to hate it. I believe God hated it and expressed it in both the Old and New Testaments. And the list can surely go on for a long, long time. We’re to hate sin as He hates sin. After all, it’s sin that nailed Him to the cross.

At the same time, we’re told to “cleave to that which is good”. We’re told to bless them that persecute us. We’re taught to love mercy. We’re taught to love our enemies. We’re commanded to pray for them that despitefully use us (it’s one thing when someone uses us under the radar or behind our back. It’s another thing when they use us, walk over us, and then spit on the ground and walk away). We’re to pray for them, not seeking vengeance. Jesus left us a perfect example of loving sinners when He forgave the woman at the well (a known, current adulterer). He loved and refused to condemn the lady brought to be stoned (a known, current fornicator). He used Mary Magdalene, and other ladies who others wouldn’t touch with a long pole. He blessed them, spoke well to them, forgave them and we see them, after His resurrection and ascension, part of and praying with the disciples. Jesus was known as a “friend of sinners”. Does this mean He condoned their sin? NO! He hated it. But this didn’t stop him from seeing past their sin, to lovingly drawing them in for the sake of their souls.

Today, let’s just be like Jesus. I don’t buy that we have to choose between being holy and loving sin. I believe that, like Him, we can hate that which is evil (the sin), while loving the sinner. He was full of grace and truth. Might we seek to be of that same Spirit in our preaching and in our living.