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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
We’re presently studying Galatians chapter 5, which deals with the spiritual life.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
This verse is one of the most important verses in the New Testament re: the true Believer’s new life in Christ Jesus. In fact, this command is the central concept in Paul’s ethical appeal since the Galatians’ new life began with the Spirit:
Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:3)
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)
Our Apostle Paul wants the Galatians to know the only way they can continue to walk by the Spirit is by relying on the power of the Spirit. Their only other option is to carry out the desire of the flesh. Paul contrasted the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit in Galatians 5:17: For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Some folks fail to understand the struggle Paul speaks of here is a normal part of the true Believer’s life. It has been said, “Without struggle or conflict, there can be no spiritual growth.” Walking by the Spirit does not come naturally, and it’s not easy. And that’s the thing; unfortunately, some people don’t like hearing messages that fail to guarantee their problems will be taken care of as long as they follow a given formula. But God’s Word does not contain this promise. He said the struggle between the Spirit and the flesh is continual and inevitable (5:17); But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh (5:16).
Please open your Bible at Galatians 5:22-23.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Before we continue, we need to understand what our Apostle Paul meant by “fruit.” The Koine Greek word for “fruit” is Karpos (kar-pos), Noun, Masculine, Strong’s Greek #2590, meaning: the result, or outcome, and it can mean fruit, i.e. apples, pears, grapes, etc.
Keep a bookmark here, and turn with me to Romans 1:13; I want y’all to see something.
And I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented thus far) in order that I might obtain some (what) fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the gentiles.
Paul was not saying he wanted to visit this church in Rome to obtain some type of fruit such as apples, pears, or whatever from the Believer’s there. He wanted to see some measurable, spiritual growth in their lives. Paul’s talking about spiritual fruit. How do we know this? This is what the book says; flip on over to Romans 15:28:
Romans 15:28: Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this (what) fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain.
Keep your bookmark in Galatians, we’re going back there, but now let’s look at a verse in Philippians 4:17: Not that I see the gift itself, but I seek for the profit (Karpos) which increases to your account. The “fruit” Paul’s referring to here is a financial gift.
Let’s all turn to Philippians 11:1: having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. So, the fruit Paul mentions here is no different, as these folks were filled with the fruit of righteousness, which is the “fruit” of Christ’s work in their lives as New Age saints.
Putting all this information together, Paul’s saying the result the Spirit produces in the true Believer is Christlikeness. Biblically speaking, fruit is not something we find hanging on a tree branch, but it is related to, derived from, or characteristic of living things, i.e. it is the product of the inner, spirit-driven life. As I mentioned in the previous lesson, some folks believe present sanctification is based on their own efforts, But that’s not what this book says. Good fruit is: “The Christlike life which is produced by the power of the Spirit through us as we abide in Christ.”
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5).
This is the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to His own (the nation of Israel), however it’s certainly applicable for us, His Church, today. The Lord wanted justice and righteousness from Israel (Isaiah 5:7). Justice is how we treat our fellow man, or the way we deal with one another. Righteousness is living our lives in conformity to God’s established laws. These are the fruit God is looking for, and they are produced through us as we abide in Christ.
Please note these are not the “fruits of the Spirit,” plural, but they are the “fruit” of the Spirit- singular. The 9 fruit of the Spirit are like a cluster of grapes all flowing from the grapevine. Paul is not speaking of a series of fruits that would be shared around, so one Believer has one, and another Believer has another, and so on. He is referring to a cluster, such that all the qualities are to be manifested in each true Believer or that’s how we we’ll recognize them as fellow Believer’s in Christ Jesus – by their fruit (Matthew 7:16).
The other thing I want you to take note of is Paul called what issues from our flesh “deeds” (5:19), but he said what issues from the Holy Spirit is called “fruit” (5:22). This contrast is consistent with Paul’s emphasis throughout the letter. He repeatedly contrasted working and trusting. There’s such a difference between the two.
Now let’s look at these 9 Christlike, character qualities. And we all would do well to remember this is what your life will look like if you are walking by the Spirit.
Love - you shouldn’t be surprised to find love holding the top spot on this list. Remember Paul dedicated an entire chapter to (agape) love in his first letter to the Corinthians writing in part: “But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). And: “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8a). But most recently, love has been the focus of his moral appeal to the Galatian churches: “love is the expression of faith” (5:6); “serve one another in love” (5:13); and “Love fulfills the Law” (5:14). Love precedes all the other moral qualities on this list because without the sacrificial love of Christ working in and through us, it just doesn’t work – all these moral qualities flow from the wellspring of (agape) love.
Our culture has grown a bit careless re: its usage of the word love, meaning over time they’ve reduced it to a feeling – something a person “falls into and out of.” The world takes it a step further equating it with “lust” or “sex;” they’ll talk about sleeping with someone or making love and not in a marriage relationship, which trivializes it even further. Passionate love, the kind of love you express when you are deeply in love with another individual, in the Koine Greek language is Eros. This word describes erotic, sensual love; however, that kind of love is not even mentioned in the Bible, though it is a common form of love today.
The word love used here by Paul is not the Koine Greek word Phileo the kind of love that describes affection, friendship, a feeling of warmth or closeness toward another. The city of Philadelphia gets its nick-name from this Greek word - the city of brotherly love. This too is well-known form of love, but once again, it’s not what is mentioned here in verse 22.
In this verse as in all of Scripture, love isn’t static it’s an action word – Paul reminds us love is a verb. The Lord Jesus Christ didn’t just talk about His love for humanity; He showed us how much He loved us (Romans 5:6-9). Paul used the Koine Greek word Agape (love). This word was rarely used in Greek literature prior to the N.T. In the New Testament, the word Agape took on a special meaning by the early church. Agape became the response to someone who is unworthy of love. This concept of love was derived from the cross specifically. God loved the world and gave His Son for it. It is a love that proceeds from the nature of the one bestowing the gift, rather than the worth of the person who is being loved. It is the only word ever used to describe God’s love. It is a decision you make and a commitment you have put in motion to treat another person with concern, with care, with thoughtfulness, and to work for his or her best interests. That’s what love is, and this is what Paul is talking about.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
If a Believer does not exhibit Agape (love), he or she is nothing. That’s Paul’s message. The loveless person produces nothing, is nothing, and gains nothing. That’s how important love is in your life and mine.
If you’re thinking I’m misreading Paul’s message, turn with me in your Bible to a familiar Bible passage Mark 12:28-31: And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
Jesus Christ said, the greatest commandment is to love and Paul said the same thing in Romans 13:8, although he put it a bit differently:
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
The Apostle Peter put it this way:
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
These verses, and others, all “say the same thing” folks they’re saying love is absolute. Above everything else, we are called to love God and one another, and based on what we’ve learned it’s more than a feeling,” right? Scripture says love is a verb. The Lord said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word…” (John 14:23a). Is this possible? Not if we’re acting in the flesh. We can only love as we walk by the Spirit.
Hopefully, you’re starting to see how important it is to trust and walk by the Spirit.
Joy is from the Koine Greek word Chara, which means: a deep-seated gladness regardless of one’s circumstances. Anyone can be happy about good circumstances, i.e. the phone call informing you that you were accepted to the college of your choice, the new-born child is healthy, and the mother is doing well, your job application was accepted, and you start your new job on Monday morning, etc. But the reality of joy is it marks the life of a true Believer even when facing difficulties (those annoying day-to-day struggles) and trials.
I’m reminded of our Apostle Paul’s comment to the church in Philippi written from a prison cell in Rome. What’s missing is any hint of anger, complaint, or fear re: his current circumstances. Instead, the whole letter is permeated with a sense of joy in the Lord. Paul’s focus is on God and the end game, folks. Again and again he reminds the Philippian Believers, who were themselves facing difficult times, “to rejoice in the Lord.” Paul could do this because he experienced this joy personally; how so? He sang while manacled in a dark, prison cell.
And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; (Acts 16:23-25)
This is an example of Paul, walking by the Spirit. By the way, how many of you know we are commanded to have joy?
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
When the mature Believer is fully aware their sins are forgiven, and their enmity with God has been removed, and that subject will never come up again, and you’re resting in these promises of God because you believe what God has said; joy ought to be visible in your life even in the worst circumstances. Yes, we will experience times of heartache and sadness in our lives, but the Believer has something the unbeliever does not, Christ Jesus living in you (2 Corinthians 13:5), and having the firstfruits of the Spirit, we eagerly await for our adoption as sons and daughters, the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:22-25).
Peace is the Koine Greek word Eirene, which means: “an inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances.” This peace is a tranquility of mind based on a right relationship with God, through faith, in Christ Jesus (John 14:6). It has nothing to do with circumstances. You experience peace when nothing ruffles you, because you know God has everything under control and everything between you and God is right.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful (Colossians 3:15).
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts – When you spend your time fretting over a problem, does it go away or does it seem to grow bigger, while bringing on acid indigestion, a headache, and sleeplessness, due to stress? Instead, try focusing on God’s Word and allowing the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. This perfect peace that “surpasses all human understanding” only comes when you fix your mind on the promises of God. Why, because peace won’t come from pleasant, temporary circumstances, nice events, or good things that occur in your life or those nice things others do for you. These things are temporary at best. You must learn to discipline yourself on God’s presence in your life and His Word. Believe me; Satan intends to steal your peace, unless you do something about it.
Remember, the Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of your eternal hope, dwells within you right now. One of His functions is to help you understand the Bible, which should be your most precious material possession. I’m not saying erect a shrine around it, folks. I am saying those who follow Christ feast on God’s Word daily (Ephesians 5:26). What's more, they believe what it says and obey; not only does it guide you it is the anchor in your life.
Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble (Psalm 119:165; 119:105).
Patience is translated from the Koine Greek word Makrothumeo, as it’s used in the N.T. it’s a word that almost on every occasion conveys the idea of having the capacity to be harmed or injured without “getting even” or seeking revenge. It is used with regard to people and not circumstances. Today people would say, “That person has a long fuse.” The patient individual is able to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person and yet not be upset or angry. You may say, “It is a word which is used of the man or woman who is wronged in some way and who is capable of avenging themselves but chooses not to do it.”
In the Greek culture it was considered a virtue to refuse to tolerate insult or injury and to strike back in retaliation for the slightest offense. In other words, in Paul’s day, the Greeks considered vengeance a virtue and our society today mimics that attitude – truth be told. Our heroes are Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, or Jason Stratham, i.e. the roles they portray on the movie screen because they strike back at the slightest provocation and always come out on top. In our culture, just as in the Greek culture of Paul’s day, patience is a sign of meekness/weakness. But God said the Believer who walks by the Spirit has patience.
And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; (Colossians 3:12).
Kindness is the next word on the list and it comes from the Greek word Chrestotes, which means: "to show oneself useful, to act benevolently: - be kind." The New Testament has much to say about the kindness of God, and, as His children, our Apostle Paul said we are to imitate Him: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; (Ephesians 5:1).
"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men (Luke 6:35).
Here the Greek word Chrestos, is translated: "kind," and in Romans 2:4 the same word is translated as "good" in the NKJV.
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:4 - NKJV)
Kindness and goodness are so closely related they are often used interchangeably. We are to be kind to one another, we are to be good to each other, and we are to be gracious to each other (Ephesians 4:32). We see kindness put into action in the story of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan showed kindness and goodness when he responded to the needs of a stranger in distress.
Kindness manifests compassion in many different ways. It may take the form of a kind word, an invitation to lunch, an offer to help someone move on the weekend, or in witnessing to a friend about our Savior. In our cruel and unkind society, there are numerous opportunities to show the world God’s love through kindness.
Goodness is from the Koine Greek word Agathosune, which some people translate to mean generosity. Generosity may imply the giving of gifts, but it also suggests the giving of one’s time, talents, and energy to others in practical ways to demonstrate our compassion for them. Kindness and goodness describe the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and His yoke (Matthew 11:30). Together these two terms describe a positive, open, and accepting attitude toward others, especially Believers. For the Bible commands Believers to be good:
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith (Galatians 6:10).
Faithfulness comes from the Koine Greek word Pistis and is used in its Old Testament sense of loyalty and trustworthiness. The person with this quality is dependable; they keep their word, their promises, and their vows. It was usually used of God: What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? (Romans 3:3).
The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).
The Believer is to be faithful as a neighbor, friend, husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister. They are faithful to their contracts and promises. In short, they are to be a person you can trust, always.
Gentleness is from the Koine Greek word Praiotes. It’s interesting to note the KJV Bible translates this word as “meekness,” but the NASB translates it: “genteelness.” The word is used 9 times in the N.T., and admittedly it’s difficult to understand it’s meaning from its usage. The word is characterized by a submissive spirit. It was a metaphor taken from domesticated animals. Gentleness was not included in the Greek or Stoic lists of virtues, because the Greeks saw it as a weakness, remember? This human trait is uniquely Christian (1 Corinthians 4:21; 2 Corinthians 10:1; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:25; Titus 3:2). It was a term used to describe both Moses (Numbers 12:3) and the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:29, 21:5).
Gentleness is closely associated to humility. It is not weakness or spinelessness, but rather the willingness to suffer injury or rebuke instead of inflicting it. The gentile person is fully aware they are a sinner and as such is willing to suffer the burdens, trials and tribulations, others’ sins may impose upon him or her. The gentile Believer has: a submissive and teachable spirit toward God that manifests in genuine humility and consideration toward others.” By the way, we are commanded to be gentle too:
And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; (Colossians 3:12)
But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11).
Once again, to be a gentle Believer you must learn to walk by the Spirit.
Self Control is from the Koine Greek word Egkrateia. In case you haven’t noticed, permit me to point out the obvious the world is out-of-control. However, God calls the true Believers to stand against the tide by exercising self-control. This quality implies a “restraining of the passions and appetites, particularly in a moral sense.” It is a word that expresses the idea of exercising personal discipline over one’s life and lifestyle. In other words, it suggests you understand your inclination and leanings toward sin, and by the Spirit, opt to restrain them, or redirect that energy so that the life of Christ might be the pre-eminent goal in your life instead. Our Apostle Paul wrote candidly about this in his letter to the Corinthian church:
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
In a nutshell, Paul is speaking of his personal disciplining of his life, bringing his body into subjection to Christ Jesus, so that in no way would he be disqualified as a Believer.
Self-control is the direct opposite of self-indulgence. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to find God’s Word commanding Believers to exercise self-control:
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; (2 Peter 1:5-6).
Paul concludes his list by saying, “Against such things there is no law.”
Remember, Paul is directing his comments to those folks who want to go back under the Law, but he has stated: But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law (Galatians 5:18).
The Spirit produces all the qualities that fulfill the requirements of the Law:
For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” (Galatians 5:14)
There are 613 laws that make up the Mosaic Law, but not one of those laws can be cited against such character qualities. The Spirit-led life is not a life against the Law; it is a life that fulfills the Law. The way to the fulfillment of the Law is not to live under the Law like slaves, but to live by the Spirit, unto freedom in Christ Jesus, as God’s children.
The Law speaks against the deeds of the flesh. But there is no law against love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
There is a new “inner” law in the life a Believer which shows its presence by living in godliness (Romans 6:19). This is exactly the goal of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-32). Christlikeness is the goal of God for every Believer (Romans 8:28-29; Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 1:4). This is what the book says.
(To be continued)
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