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The Fruit of the Spirit

Abundant Living

Galatians 5:22, 23

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

You know, something has made a great impression on me recently:  the tremendous emptiness that exists in this world of ours, the world that has forgotten God.  You can go to the grocery store, drug store or anywhere you might be, and it is obvious.  What I have seen has caused me to “see” as I have “not seen” before.

It seems that people are searching for something to ease the pain of the “emptiness” that they feel inside.  You see, God’s intention for man was that he might find life, and find it more abundantly, and this life was to be found in God, Himself!

He created each of us that we may know the possibilities and potential that are in us, as we are related to God.  Unfortunately, for so many in our world, people have rebelled against God’s plan for their own plan and what has happened in their lives is that they have set out on a journey without God, and it has ended in despair.

I heard someone say that the middle-class American worships his work. They “work” at their play and “play” at their worship, and as a result, their meaning and values are distorted.  We were created to find our real meaning in God and when we reject that, we destroy the only real meaning to life.

If one views life apart from God, he only finds emptiness.  The works of the flesh are simply outward expressions of an inward emptiness.  The fruit of the spirit and the works of the flesh are the only two alternatives for mankind today.  Man can live his life according to the principles of the Word of God and let Jesus Christ be the center of his life and let the Spirit of God be seen in him or he can live his life as though God does not exist.

Ephesians 2:1-3

1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.  3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 

That’s life apart from Christ.

Romans 8:8

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

John 6:63 (Jesus speaking)

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Romans 7:18

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

There are so many Christians who have never once been told that there’s a struggle and they go through life wondering what’s wrong with me.  The teaching of the Word of God is for the benefit of presenting God’s Word to the believer, to help him mature in the Christian life and help him to know how to deal with the problems of life that come daily to us.  Sometimes the world just simply doesn’t understand the Christian and thinks they are out of sync with the world.  Jesus tells us in His Word that we are a “peculiar people, a treasure unto Him” (Exodus 19:5).

Reverend A. W. Toser wrote in one of his books that the real Christian is an odd human being anyway.

The real Christian feels supreme love for the One he has never seen.  He talks often with Someone he can’t see.  He expects to go to Heaven on the virtues of Somebody else.   He empties himself in order to be filled.  He admits he is wrong, so he can be declared right.  He is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is poorest, happiest when he feels the worst.  He “dies” so he can “live”.  He forsakes in order to have.  He gives away so he can keep.  He sees the invisible, hears the inaudible and knows that which passeth knowledge. His Name is Jesus—the One he has never seen.

Now when you understand how rare the Christian is, do you have any problem understanding why he is out of sync with everything that goes on and why that part of him is constantly struggling with the other part of him which is the flesh?

God has given to us the instructions in His Word that we need in order to deal with this matter in our own life. We can be just as holy as we want to be.  You see from the opportunities for growth and development, we become responsible for the defeat in our lives, because we do not expose ourselves to the opportunities God gives us to mature and grow.  It’s true in our relationship to prayer and how often we read His Word.  Sometimes we are prone to feed the old nature and the new nature is being starved to death.

The flesh and the works of the flesh are the expression of a man’s life trying to find meaning apart from God.  When you look down the list of all the world has to offer, you understand what Paul is trying to say, especially as he uses it to introduce the Fruit of the Spirit.

Paul said to the Galatians that a man who seeks to find meaning apart from God will find himself involved in the following things:

Galatians 5:19-21

19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, 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.

Our world is running wild in that direction.  The devil is trying to keep people so busy that they won’t think about that void, that emptiness in their lives. As a result, the nights turn into days and days into weeks and weeks into months, and people are reveling in all types of sin and wasting their lives.

There is good news.  God has something better.  He wants to bring such meaning into our lives that our days will not be wasted.  He wants to give us all the Fruit of the Spirit, so that our lives can be fruitful and productive and so that Jesus Christ will be Lord of our lives.

Now we’ve been studying the works of the flesh. We pointed out that what was involved with the works of the flesh was nothing more or less than the attempt on the part of people outside of God, to find meaning in life.

I’m so glad that there is another alternative and it is summarized in the beautiful words of Galatians 5 which tell of the “fruit of the Spirit.”  As we study, we’re going to deal with the first in the cluster of the fruit: love.

Love is the foundational attribute of the “fruit” and though the fruit cannot be separated, as the works of the flesh are, they stand or fall together.  Fruit comes together in one package, but love is the portrait of Jesus Christ, living in you.

God in Heaven desires more than we know to take each person and fill that void and to present Jesus Christ in all of His beauty.   God wants Jesus Christ to be seen in us and beginning with the fruit, LOVE, we will see how God exhibits that Himself and how He now makes that available.

Now, the Bible teaches us a great deal about the concept of love and I don’t think that there is anything in the world that is more confused than the concept of love,  for you see, God’s love is a special kind of self-giving.  It is a love that comes from and is rooted in God.  It is totally “selfless” love.  It delights in giving.  Agape love gives and expects nothing in return.

Now, there are some reasons why LOVE is first.  There is no accident in the presenting of God’s Word.  Nothing is accidental.  Love is always first.  Love is the priority commandment given to every believer.

Matthew 22:35-40 (Jesus speaking, verses 37-40)

35Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Love is the perfect gift.

1 Corinthians 13:13

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Charity, LOVE, is first.  Paul is saying that these three… faith, hope and charity are great, but LOVE is the greatest.

Colossians 3:14

And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

Paul uses the picture of a person getting dressed and he’s saying you can wear anything but the most important thing to put on is love.

1 Peter 4:8

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

Love is the first fruit for it is the proof of your sonship.  How do people know who you are? Are you known by what you say?  The Bible says that at the day of judgment, there will be men who come to the Lord and say, “Lord, Lord, have we not done wonderful things in your name?” and the Lord is going to say, “Depart from me.  I never knew you.”  It won’t be how we act. Work can be deceiving.  The Bible teaches there is only one way to know for sure that a person is a Christian.

John 13:35 (Jesus speaking)

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The proof of our Sonship is love.  As you read and study, you will see that love is on a pinnacle by itself, that it has been established as the fundamental and foundational virtue of the Christian life.

1 Corinthians 13:1

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

You can listen to any great speaker, but if they don’t have love, they cannot reach the heart of men because his words are valueless and meaningless.  Love is greater than any prophecy.

1 Corinthians 13:2

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

1 Corinthians 13:3

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Galatians 5:6

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Without the love of Christ in our faith we are empty in terms of our usefulness to God.  Great faith, apart from the love of God, proves useless.  Love must fill all that we do.

The Roman Emperors used to provide bread for the people and circuses for their entertainment.  Looking at it from the outward appearances, you would say the Romans were loving but as you study history you discover that they did it for one purpose only, and that was to somehow control the masses of the people over which they had responsibility.  There was no love in it at all.

1 Corinthians 13:4

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

1 Corinthians 13:8

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away.

Whatever we have in our lives that is a part of the Fruit of the Spirit, is made obvious by love, for it is the fundamental virtue of the Christian experience and we are commanded in 1 Corinthians 14:1

 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

There are at least 14 references to the Holy Spirit in Galatians.  When we believe on Christ, the Spirit comes to dwell within us.  It is the Holy Spirit in the heart who gives assurance of salvation, and it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to live for Christ and glorify Him.

The Holy Spirit is not simply a Divine influence.  He is a Divine Person just as are the Father and the Son.  What God the Father planned for you and God the Son purchased for you on the cross, God the Spirit personalizes for you and applies to your life and mine as we yield to Him.

The amazing thing about LOVE is that it takes the place of all the laws God ever gave. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” solves every problem in human relations.

Author: Nannie Mae Jordan
(Transcribed by Joyce Carter   Transcribed and Formatted by Jerry Knight)


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