What Are You Producing? #2 of 2

When we live in the flesh or out of carnality, what is produced out of our actions is not life-giving, nor is it life receiving. Instead, it ends in destruction, for they shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. 

However, there is a way of life that makes you come alive, indeed, come alive. 

Here’s what Paul says, 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22 -23

As one man said, this is not a list of virtues to keep so that you will not do the vices listed before. 

Most of our mindset when reading this text is to think. Don’t do these things (the vices). Instead, do these things (the virtues). In either case, the emphasis was on what you should not do and what you should do instead. That is definitely not what Paul is talking about here. Paul is not saying, “Don’t try to obey all the rules in the Old Testament law; here is a much easier set of rules to obey instead.” That would be to replace one wrong attitude with another one. Paul is not talking about rules at all.

Look at the metaphor Paul uses, fruit! All those attributes he wrote are wrapped up in a singular fruit—the fruit of the Spirit. 

Fruit is a natural product of our lives because we walk in, are led by, and live in the Spirit. If a tree is alive, it will bear fruit. That is the nature of being a living tree! Fruit is what you get when a tree has life within it. Does a dead tree produce fruit? It has many of the characteristics of a tree, but if it’s not producing, it is a dead tree. Read John 15 (the True Vine). 

The Greek word translated “fruit” refers to the natural product of a living thing. Paul used “fruit” to help us understand the development of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside every believer. The fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit, not by the Christian. The Greek word is singular, showing that “fruit” is a unified whole, not independent characteristics. As we grow and mature in Christ, all the attributes of Christ will be manifested in our lives.

Here are the attributes of Christ that we will show. 

Love – true love is a choice and not a feeling. Jesus chose to love me; even when I was unlovable, He loved. (1 John 4:7-8)

Joy – the Greek word translated as “joy” in Galatians 5 means “gladness and delight” – It’s a feeling of gladness based on our circumstances. Some would say happiness which is based on happenings. Sadly, the world’s joy cannot last because it is based on fleeting, physical circumstances. But the joy of the Lord is established in our spiritual, eternal circumstances (John 15:4-11; Romans 15:13) 

Peace – for many, peace is the absence of conflict. However, we are always at war as believers, so peace has to mean more than just that. We have peace with God (Romans 5:1), meaning our broken relationship has been restored. We are at peace now! Once, we were lacking; currently, we lack no-thing; we are at peace because in Christ we’re complete. (Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27; Philippians 4:4-9; Judges 6:24; Romans 8:6; James 3:18; Job 22:21-22; 2 Thessalonians 3:16)

Longsuffering – the word in Greek means to be “long-tempered” or patient. Some would say the people who are longsuffering are pushovers, weak, or meek. But, on the contrary, this shows strong character, boldness, and willingness not to make hasty or rash decisions. (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 1:11-12; Romans 5:3-4)

Kindness & Goodness – these two are so closely related that I have combined them. Together, they give us the concept that we must not only possess Christlike goodness, but we also must show it by the actions we take towards others. Titus 3:4 shows us precisely this concept. It was God’s kindness and goodness in action. He was full of goodness but was kind enough to show it to every person. Thus, God demonstrates (Romans 5:8). I love that it was not a one-time thing; He continues to demonstrate this to us. Jesus was selfless, compassionate, and merciful in extending His love to us; that’s kindness. He was pure, holy, and righteous; that’s godliness or goodness! (Exodus 34:6; Mark 10:18; James 1:17; Matthew 7:11; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 4:32; Luke 6:35; Colossians 3:12-13) 

Faithfulness – To be “faithful” is to be reliable or trustworthy. Are we reliable when it comes to walking with Jesus? For example, Adam had a morning appointment with God, he missed it, and God went looking for Adam. Do you keep your appointments with God, or is God out looking for you too? Once we were faithful to our carnal man, are we now devoted to walking in, being led by, and living in the Spirit? 

2 Thessalonians 1:4 We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.  

What will your life tell? ( 1 Corinthians 4:2; Hebrews 10:23; Revelation 2:10; Matthew 25:21) 

Gentleness is the grace of the soul; it is living in humility. Many mistake humility as weakness. Gentleness is equal to meekness; it is strength under control. Paul even said in writing to Timothy that he would correct his adversaries with gentleness (2 Timothy 2:25). Paul further taught that we should restore those who have been caught in sin through a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1). Gentleness isn’t self-seeking or self-absorbed; it’s quite the opposite. It is necessary to keep the body of Christ in a place of harmony and unity(Ephesians 4:2). (Philippians 4:5; Psalm 18:35; 1 Timothy 6:11-12) 

Self-Control – the only possible way to have the control to abstain from the works of the flesh is to be led by the Spirit.  It is not enough to run from something; you must be running towards something. You can run towards God by being led by the Spirit. As you are running towards God, drawing nearer to Him, every step takes you further from the “works of the flesh”! Saying yes to the Spirit is a hard no to the flesh! (Proverbs 25:28; Romans 7:18; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Timothy 3:2-3; Titus 2:11-12)

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

 The New King James Version. (1982). (Tt 2:11–14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 The New King James Version. (1982). (2 Pe 1:5–11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

What are You Producing? #1 of 2

There are two lists mentioned in Galatians 5:19-22. One is a list that reveals to us what living a life in the flesh produces. The other is what life produces when you are led by, walking in, and living in the Spirit of God. 

Paul says clearly, the works of the flesh are evident. So we don’t need too much investigation to see what’s happening in our lives. Instead, we need to notice what we are producing. 

When we indulge in our flesh, we aren’t speaking merely about the physical body; we include our thought life, emotions, will, desires, and feelings. When that indulgence takes place, the ramifications are noticeable. 

Here is what our flesh produces. 

Adultery means voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not their spouse. (Hebrews 13:4; Proverbs 6:32; 1 Corinthians 6:18; Matthew 19:9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Romans 7:2-3)

Fornication means illicit sexual conduct. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10,13, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4; Matthew 15:19; Matthew 19:9; Jude 1:4; 1 John 2:3-4) 

Uncleanness usually infers the absence of spiritual purity and holiness. (2 Corinthians 7:1; Matthew 5:28; Ephesians 5:4; Mark 7:7)

Lewdness means to have indecency, using obscenity, vulgar sexual character, or behavior. (Romans 13:13; Jude 1:4; Mark 7:22; 1 Peter 4:3

Idolatry means abandoning God for another. All sin is a form of idolatry because, no matter what kind of sin a person commits, they always place the other things above God. (1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 John 5:21; Colossians 3:5; Isaiah 45:20; Galatians 4:8; Revelation 9:20)

Sorcery is an attempt to bypass the wisdom and power of God using spells, divination, speaking to spirits, incantations to conjure occult power. (2 Chronicles 33:6; Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Malachi 3:5; Revelation 18:23; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15; James 3:15-17; 1 John 4:4) 

Hatred is the intense dislike or having ill will toward a person. It includes opposing them, detesting, despising, with an individual. (1 John 4:20; 1 John 2:9; PRoverbs 10:12; Matthew 6:15; Proverbs 26:24-26; 1 John 2:11; Proverbs 10:18; Proverbs 20:22; James 4:1-17; Leviticus 19:17) 

Contentions are the hostile separation of one from another, disputes, an altercation arising from combative attitude or disposition. (Proverbs 6:14; Proverbs 10:12; Proverbs 13:10; Proverbs 15:18; Proverbs 18:6; Proverbs 21:9; Proverbs 22:10; Acts 15:39; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Ephesians 4:31; 1 Timothy 3:3; James 3:16

Jealousies is to be resentfully envious of someone who has something that you believe is rightfully yours. (1 Corinthians 3:3; Galatians 5:20,26; Proverbs 27:4; 2 Corinthians 12:20) 

Outbursts of wrath speak to the rage of humanity, passionate anger that is boiling up, subsides, and then rekindles again. (Colossians 3:8; Luke 4:28; Acts 19:28; Romans 2:8; Ephesians 4:31)

Selfish ambitions can be understood as “motivation to elevate oneself or to put one’s interests before another’s.” It is a self-above-others approach. Although the word Paul used gives a meaning of being contentious, the King James Version renders the word often as strife. We can also have vain conceit or excessive pride that is misguided. It’s the elevated sense of self-importance. (Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Corinthians 10:24; 1 Corinthians 13:4-5; James 3:16; Proverbs 18:2)

Dissensions mean a disagreement that leads to discord, contention, conflict, friction, and hostility. (Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10-11; Titus 3:9; Proverbs 26:20; Proverbs 6:16-19; 2 Timothy 2:14; 1 Timothy 1:3-4; Proverbs 20:3; Proverbs 3:30) 

Heresies are beliefs or practices which explicitly undermine the gospel. The Greek word means a self-chosen opinion understood later as self-chosen doctrines that didn’t originate from God! (2 Peter 2:1-22; Titus 3:10; 1 John 4:1; 2 Corinthians 11:4; 2 John 1:10; Galatians 1:7)

Envy a feeling of discontent and ill will because of another’s advantages, possessions, etc.; resentful dislike of another who has something that one desires. (Proverbs 14:30; Ecclesiastes 4:4; Matthew 27:18; MArk 7:21-22; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 3:3; Philippians 2:3; Colossians 3:5; James 3:14 ) 

Murders are the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another. Jesus used three words in Matthew 5:22 to describe murder within; each word defined is progressively worse than the previous. The three words are anger, raca, fool. (Deuteronomy 19:11; Matthew 5:21; Matthew 15:19; Revelation 9:21)

Drunkenness to be intoxicated, overwhelmed, and overpowered by liquor to the extreme that reasoning of the individual is impaired. Inebriated to the extent that speech is slurred and staggered in their walking. (Luke 21:34; Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:3) 

Revelries are the participation in wild parties, noisy drunken celebration, engaging in self-indulgence. (2 Peter 2:13; Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:3) 

These are the workings of flesh and carnality. As you peruse the news, social media, or observe the world we live in, we see the working of flesh. We, as the children of God, should not be producing these works. Instead, the fruit of the Spirit should be pervasive in our lives. 

 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22 -23

Curing legalism and license

The cure for the great extremes.

Traditionally the two extremes are legalism and license. The book of Galatians is the explanation of the cure for dealing with these two extremes. 

Legalism is what was brought into the church at Galatia by those that had adhered to the Law. They did not think that it was enough for these Gentiles to put their faith in Jesus. They said that if these Gentiles wanted the blessings and the promises that God had made to Abraham, then they must join the people of Abraham by becoming Jewish proselytes. Proselytes were Gentiles who converted to the Jewish faith by being circumcised and observing the law of Moses. 

In other words, they agreed that these Galatians had an experience, but they lacked something. In order to be like them and accepted by them, they must do more. In the minds of the law keepers, Christ was not enough. 

The temptation is to then swing in the opposite direction of legalism and believe we have a license. That is the other extreme. For certain, according to Galatians 5:1, we have been set free. Because of that freedom, we shouldn’t give in to those desiring to base their or our righteousness on acquiring a Jewish identity. Paul said, “stand firm”! 

However, in our rejection of legalism, that is not a permission slip to indulge in “the flesh”. Flesh speaks to more than just the physical body. Flesh covers the emotions, will, desires, and motives as well as the physical. Paul states in Galatians 5:13, “do not use your liberty (freedom) as an opportunity for the flesh”. 

The next line is the cure, “but through LOVE serve one another.”

The cure for legalism and license is love. Love allows for us to walk with God and be in relationship with Him, without legalism. Equally true, love allows us to walk in freedom properly without displaying selfishness. 

Love is the appropriate response to one another and to God. This allows us to respond in faith and obedience to God’s law. Paul is reiterating what Jesus quoted out of the Law. 

Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. 

 Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Le 19:18). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

This is what Jesus called the second greatest commandment. The greatest commandment is Deuteronomy 6:5.

5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. 

 Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Dt 6:5). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Paul even explained this to the church in Rome. 

8 Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. 9 For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. 

 Tyndale House Publishers. (2015). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ro 13:8–10). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

For certain, Christ set us free! That freedom, while it releases us from one kind of slavery (submitting to the law), actually puts us into a very different kind of slavery for Christ’s sake—submitting to one another by serving one another humbly in love.

Notice that love is the head of the list in the attributes of the “fruit” of the spirit. 

For the law enforcer and the law rejector, the issue is love! 

Walk In the Spirit!

Galatians 5:16-25 NKJV

The Fruit of Spirit makes you come alive!
Paul lists out what walking in the flesh and the evidence of that walk. Walking in the flesh is the natural state of every man who is not walking in the Spirit. The natural man lusts against the spiritual man. In other words, the natural man has no desire to make a change and wars against the Spirit, which would create the change.
Flesh and the works of it are overcome by walking in the Spirit. Not only are we to walk in the Spirit, but we are also to be led by the Spirit and live by the Spirit. The Spirit of God allows us to make the changes away from the list of vices that Paul listed out as the works of the flesh.
Living with the ramifications of our flesh is work, and work is hard, tiring, and often overwhelming. Living in the vices that Paul listed out is exhausting. Living with jealousy, wrath, envy, and dissension constantly has to be exhausting.
However, if we walk, become led by, and live in the Spirit, automatically then there is the production of the fruit of Spirit. That fruit is the character of Jesus Christ. It is only produced in you by the Spirit. The man doesn’t produce the fruit; the Spirit produces the fruit. We simply must walk in the Spirit. The fruit is a byproduct of that walk.
It is who you are walking with that will change your character, life, and destiny. Walk in the Spirit.