Posts Tagged 'Galatians'

Panic Podcast: The Gospel in Galatians, Part 5

Good morning, gang. It’s almost the long weekend, but you still have to get through today, so grab your Bibles and turn to Galatians 6.

 

 

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Panic Podcast: The Gospel in Galatians, Part 4

Good Friday morning! It’s almost the weekend, can you believe it? We made it through another week; thanks for making mine a little better. Let’s not waste any time, because we’re in the fifth chapter of Galatians, and it’s a powerful chapter. God bless you, and may He change your life with this study.

 

 

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Panic Podcast: The Gospel in Galatians, Part 3

Good morning, saints! Another week is coming to a close and I hope you’ve had a good one. The Lord is good, so look back over the week and thank Him for all that He’s done for you.

Today’s study in Galatians covers the latter part of chapter 3 and chapter 4. It’s pretty deep stuff, so say a prayer as we begin.

 

 

If the Lord so moves you, toss a few shekels into our virtual offering plate as it passes by.

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Law and Grace

the-Law-and-Grace1

A huge chunk of the Old Testament is taken up with teachings on the Law. When we read books like Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, we are reading about the Law. As Christians, we dismiss the Law. Yet we shouldn’t. The Law was given to Israel by God; it came from the very heart of God. It may not apply to Christians, but we certainly should know about the Law. Jesus Himself was known to have said things like this:

Don’t misunderstand why I have come—it isn’t to cancel the laws of Moses and the warnings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them and to make them all come true. (Matthew 5:17 TLB)

As Christians, we would rather talk about grace. Most of us have been taught that the Old Testament is all about Law while the New Testament is all about grace. That’s partly true, but partly wrong. In the Old Testament, the Law is prominent but grace is there, lurking in the background. In the New Testament, grace is obvious but the Law is still there, in the shadows.

Is there a conflict between the Law and grace? Does grace nullify the Law completely? Since the Law is present in the New Testament, Christians should try to understand why it’s there and resolve the tension that may exist between the Law and grace.

Galatians 5:1 – 11

Paul was probably the greatest theologian who ever lived. He was probably the greatest thinker in history. He possessed a towering intellect, and yet he never divorced doctrine from life. He always sought to integrate the two, doctrine and life, so that doctrine could actually change a life. Typical of Paul, his letters followed a pattern. First, he would put forth some heavy duty doctrinal ideas. Reading these parts of his letters requires patience and sometimes a dictionary. He uses big words to teach his big ideas. Thankfully, though, he always followed his purely intellectual teachings with a “how-to” section. In other words, first he would tell you how you should live, then he would show you how to live. Galatians 5 begins Paul’s showing you how to live.

So Christ has made us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get all tied up again in the chains of slavery to Jewish laws and ceremonies. (Galatians 5:1 TLB)

This verse represents Paul’s summation of what preceded it, namely, that the Law brings slavery but faith brings freedom. Another translation of this verse goes like this:

Plant your feet firmly therefore within the freedom that Christ has won for us, and do not let yourselves be caught again in the shackles of slavery. (JBP)

Or, maybe you prefer this translation:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (NIV)

Well, no matter which version you prefer, the idea Paul is advancing is best summed up like this:

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? (Galatians 3:1 NIV)

That’s pretty strong language! The “bewitching” took the form of some false teaching that had infiltrated the church. These Galatians had once been heathens, in bondage to heathenism. Upon hearing the Gospel, they exchanged their bondage to heathenism for Christ’s free grace. But this new-fangled false teaching said that while faith in Christ was important, it wasn’t enough. If you wanted to be saved, you needed Jesus and the Law of Moses. That’s how false teaching works, by the way. There’s usually an element of truth in it. The false teachers, Judaizers by name, made a career out of following Paul and the apostles around, slipping into churches they founded, and teaching their perversion of the Gospel. For them, salvation was Jesus + the Law.

Paul’s point of contention with the Galatians was that it was totally crazy of them to give up the wonderful freedom they had found in Christ, to go back into having to obey a bunch of burdensome regulations. It was Christ who had set them free from their slavery to sin. They couldn’t set themselves free.

This is an important point to make note of. We cannot set ourselves free, either from the Law (in the case of Israelites) or from sin (in the case of the Galatians and us). Only Christ can do that. However, there is a definite sense of co-operation. That is, we must co-operate with the Holy Spirit in living the Christian life in freedom. Even though Christ lives in us, we must determine to keep standing firm in the freedom Christ has won for us.

The thing the Judaizers were trying to get the Galatians to practice in order to secure salvation was circumcision. This incensed Paul.

Listen to me, for this is serious: if you are counting on circumcision and keeping the Jewish laws to make you right with God, then Christ cannot save you. I’ll say it again. Anyone trying to find favor with God by being circumcised must always obey every other Jewish law or perish. (Galatians 5:2, 3 TLB)

Keeping part of the Jewish Law meant keeping all of it. It’s as if Paul were saying, “You think it was rough being in bondage to sin. Wait till you try obeying the Jewish Laws!” No wonder he called them “foolish.” And Paul would know! He was a strict observer of the Jewish Law until Christ set him free.

It was so serious to add anything to Christ’s gift of free grace, Paul adds this:

Christ is useless to you if you are counting on clearing your debt to God by keeping those laws; you are lost from God’s grace. (Galatians 5:4 TLB)

In the strongest language possible, Paul says the consequences of seeking salvation beyond the simple Gospel are dire indeed. They would literally lose God’s grace because Christ would have nothing to do with them. It’s not that God would abandon them, it’s that they would abandon God. Turning to the Law, or anything else, for salvation after having experienced Christ’s free grace is fatal.

If anyone sins deliberately by rejecting the Savior after knowing the truth of forgiveness, this sin is not covered by Christ’s death; there is no way to get rid of it. There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible punishment of God’s awful anger, which will consume all his enemies. (Hebrews 10:26, 27 TLB)

Why so dire? E.M. Bounds offers a bit of wisdom that goes a long way toward ansering that question:

All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them, and all His plans of death to self in them. But men’s plans ignore the offense of the cross or despise it. Men’s plans have no profound, stern or self-immolating denial in them. Their gain is of the world.

He’s absolutely correct. Seeking salvation through any means other than the supernatural means provided for by Christ through the Cross is not profound at all and it elevates man to an unnatural height far beyond the place assigned him by his God. Not only that, it devalues Christ and God’s grace.

John 1:14 – 17

This group of verses is remarkable in it’s implications as far as God’s grace toward sinful man is concerned.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

What kind of person could ever minimize what happened in the above paragraph? What kind of hard heart could disregard that kind of grace? Leon Morris comments:

God’s grace to His people is continuous and is never exhausted. Grace knows no interruption and no limit. In contrast to the Law, it stresses the dynamic character of the Christian life. “Grace” means an ever-deepening experience of the presence and the blessing of God.

To give that up and simply walk away from it takes a special kind of cold, hard heart. No wonder Paul’s warning to the Galatians was so stark!

God the Father literally gave sinful man all He had when He gave His only Son to make a way of salvation. To accept God’s grace through a relationship with Jesus Christ is to become part of His family – that’s how close we become to God through Jesus. Lee Strobel makes this clear when he wrote –

Believing the right things about Jesus isn’t enough. You’re not adopted as God’s child until you confess and turn away from your wrong doing and receive the freely offered gift of forgiveness and eternal life that Jesus purchased with His death on the cross. Until that, you’ll always be on the outside looking in.

Ephesians 1:3 – 10

This passage is perhaps the most profound in all of Scripture concerning salvation. In it, Paul shows us how God laid the plan for our salvation long before He actually created the material universe.

The source of all blessings

How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every blessing in heaven because we belong to Christ. (Ephesians 1:3 TLB)

In the Greek, it’s simply “blessing,” in the singular. Paul doesn’t distinguish between material or spiritual blessings. All those things that benefit us in some way come from God simply because we belong to Christ. That’s important to note. It’s not out of love for us, although God does love us. It’s not out of obligation or even compassion. God blesses us because we belong to Christ.

To be “in Christ” denotes a kind of “union of persons.” It’s Paul’s way of describing a relationship so close there really are no words to adequately describe it.

Salvation enacted before time

Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us; he decided then to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault—we who stand before him covered with his love. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to! Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favor that he has poured out upon us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. (Ephesians 1:4 – 6 TLB)

Election is a Biblical doctrine no matter how hard it may be to understand. God chose us. Salvation is always HIS initiative. Our salvation is so important to God, He began His initiative before the creation of the universe! When a sinner responds to that initiative, that sinner becomes part of “the elect,” a group of believers God knew would become part of His great family. One scholar put it this way –

This new people, the church, is not the result of a hasty, temporal expedient, but is a part of God’s eternal purpose…

And part of that eternal purpose is to take a man, corrupt and covered in the filth of sin, and clean him up, re-creating and re-making him into someone holy. This happens when God’s grace is operating in his heart. At that moment, that redeemed sinner is made part of God’s family. Paul uses the term “adoption,” and without delving into the deep theological significance behind it, let’s just say that only God the Father is able to take a person estranged from Him and in an instant make him part of His family. The person can’t do that. He can’t make himself part of God’s family. This is wholly a work of God.

So overflowing is his kindness toward us that he took away all our sins through the blood of his Son, by whom we are saved; and he has showered down upon us the richness of his grace—for how well he understands us and knows what is best for us at all times. (Ephesians 1:7, 8 TLB)

Our adoption was purchased through the death of Christ. It was that sacrifice that resulted in the forgiveness of our sins. The idea of the “blood” of Christ is significant. It shows how valuable we really are to God! We are equal in value to Him as His Son is.

Again, the words of Hebrews 10:26, 27 ring in our ears –

If anyone sins deliberately by rejecting the Savior after knowing the truth of forgiveness, this sin is not covered by Christ’s death; there is no way to get rid of it. There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible punishment of God’s awful anger, which will consume all his enemies. (Hebrews 10:26, 27 TLB)

Considering what God did for us, in us, and to us, we can understand how serious a thing it is to willfully turn your back on Christ’s salvation. This isn’t merely backsliding referred to here; it’s a selling out of your soul to the world. It’s apostasy. No wonder Paul called the Galatians “foolish” when they were just contemplating messing up God’s perfect plan of salvation.

Anointed for Service

Galatians 1:11—17

Understanding this section of Paul’s letter to the Galatians hinges on verse 10, which serves as a kind of transition.   In the first nine verses of this letter, Paul stated his reason for writing it, now he turns his attention to his first main point, the Gospel.  But verse 10 connects this first main point to his reason for writing the letter—

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.  (1:10)

He had been accused of being a “man pleaser” by his opponents and with verse 11 Paul launches into an explanation of the Gospel and where it really came from.

1.  The Gospel came from God, verses 1, 2

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

Many so-called gospels were floating around during Paul’s day.  Each “gospel” claimed to be the “only” gospel.  Some of Paul’s opponents asked, “There may be only one gospel, but how do we know Paul’s is the right one?”  Paul’s answer to this is to stress the supernatural origin of the Gospel he received from Jesus Christ.  The fact is, the Gospel Paul preached was not his own; he was not preaching words designed to please anybody.

Paul denies three obvious sources of his gospel:

  • It was not written or made up by any man;
  • He did not receive it from any man.  In other words, he is not merely parroting what he was taught;
  • He was not taught it like a student would be taught something.  While most of us learn the Gospel this way, Paul says he did not.

Paul’s amazing claim was that he received the Gospel through a special revelation from Jesus Christ Himself.  This is not referring to a “general” revelation, like through preaching, but rather to a special and personal revelation.  In other words, he was taught the Gospel by Jesus just like all the other apostles were.

2.  Before Christ:  zealous opposition, verse 13, 14

For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.  I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

Paul reminds his friends in Galatia that they knew all about him.  Indeed, Paul was well-known in Christian circles as Saul, the persecutor of Christians.  But he was also well-known as a strict adherent to the Jewish faith.  He refers to his Jewish faith his former “way of life.”  His faith was not merely an outward exercise; it was the way in which he lived.

In this very brief autobiographical section, Paul describes two particular points of his past. First, he hated anything to do with Christianity and was committed to persecuting the Christian church.  Second, he was a zealous Jew.  The Greek words translated “extremely”are kath hyperbolen, meaning “to an extraordinary degree” or “beyond measure.”  So Paul is painting a picture of one absolutely sold out and committed to his beliefs; he was what we would refer to as a “fanatic” in every sense of the word.  This fact alone makes the next verse so startling.

3.  Anointed from birth, verse 15a

But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace…

This verse startles us because it is so unexpected.  We may expect Paul to write something like this:  “As I was persecuting the church, God suddenly and miraculously called me.”  But no, he says God “set him apart” before he began to zealously persecute the church.  This statement reflects what the prophet Jeremiah wrote—

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.  (Jeremiah 1:5)

The Greek word Paul used for “set me apart” is aphorizo and actually means two things:  “separated from” and “separated to.”   As Paul used it here, it refers to his special appointment or commission to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  God appointed Paul to do this at his birth.  The KJV makes this verse even more startling—

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace…

That first phrase, “when it pleased God” means that God wanted Paul; it was God’s will to, according to 16, send this man Paul to the Gentiles.

This verse begs the question:  Would God have chosen Paul as a baby if He knew what kind of man Paul would grow up to become? The answer is a loud YES.  God makes no mistakes.  Of course this verse is referring to God’s sovereign choice, but it also reveals much about the character of God.

First, the words, “who separated me” and “called me by his grace” reveal not only the sovereignty of God, to do what He wants in choosing people we may not to choose, but they also demonstrate God’s incredible love and mercy.  We could easily picture God choosing a man sympathetic to Jesus Christ’s message as the one destined to carry it to the Gentiles, but Paul?  A man confirmed enemy to the Gospel?

Second, the most powerful thought of all:  God did not wait until Paul proved his worth to the kingdom or proved his faithfulness to Christ’s Kingdom before appointing him to a specific task within that kingdom.  From the moment of Paul’s birth, God had a plan for Paul’s life and God was never discouraged from that plan by Paul’s momentary behavior.  What a marvelous and comforting thought!  It adds meaning to what Paul would write to the Ephesians—

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.  (Ephesians 1:11)

Third, we have in this verse not only God’s effectual call of salvation through sanctification, but we also see the assignment of a very specific task and a call to complete surrender to God; what Hendriksen refers to as “plenary apostleship.”  Regardless of anything else Paul may engage in, God had called him to make fulfilling His will the most important thing in Paul’s life.

So we have in Paul’s anointing and appointing an illustration of God’s grace, for if God’s grace could transform a man who lived to wipe out the message of the Cross into man who fearlessly preached the message of the Cross, how much more can grace change us?  Paul’s stainless career as a Jewish student and teacher of the law, in fact, only served to make God’s grace stand out ever more.

4.  The primary purpose of Paul’s calling, verse 16a

To reveal his Son in me.

The KJV brilliantly exposes why God’s grace was demonstrated so graphically in Paul’s life:  to reveal Christ in him.  If God had called Paul to take the Gospel to the Gentiles, the purpose of that calling was also to highlight something about God:  he could be gracious enough to use a man like Paul to graciously save people like the Gentiles.

Everything about our salvation should point to the graciousness of God.  Indirectly, then, Paul’s call—and our calling—was not just to be saved, not just to a specific task to be performed within the Body of Christ, but also to a life of consecration and dedication whereby the image of Christ was to be so totally engraved upon his heart that the world, when it looked at Paul, would see it.  So it should be with us.  When Christ comes into our hearts, we are created anew; we may look the same, we walk the same, we may talk the same, but Somebody new lives inside.  When people look at us, do the see Jesus?

Another question this may prompt is this:  Can we separate God’s calling to salvation from His calling to a specific task? Perhaps Peter answered this question in his first letter—

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  (1 Peter 2:9)

The answer, then, is no.  God calls us to be saved, so that we may be engaged in His work, so that He may be seen and glorified in us.

Conclusion

Paul’s life-changing experience with Christ became the motivating factor in everything he did and it was the focal point of his life.  Today, the Christian needs a comparable point of reference in their lives.  While Paul’s experience with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus was truly unique, it illustrates the need for a personal encounter with the risen Lord in the life of all men.  Christ’s presence in a life is the spiritual reality so many people are looking for today.  We may try many other things:  meditation, good works, church attendance, etc. to create that spiritual reality, but what we need is a confrontation with Christ.  One does not “ooze into” Christianity, as Paul Little observed.

An encounter with the risen Lord is the beginning of a new life in every man—a transformed life begins with that encounter.  When Jesus Christ meets a person where they live, He remakes them and they are able to say, “I was once blind, but now I see.”

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

Living Victoriously

Galatians 5:16-26

5:16-18 – Here is my advice. Live your whole life in the Spirit and you will not satisfy the desires of your lower nature. For the whole energy of the lower nature is set against the Spirit, while the whole power of the Spirit is contrary to the lower nature. Here is the conflict, and that is why you are not free to do what you want to do. But if you follow the leading of the Spirit, you stand clear of the Law.

5:19-21 – The activities of the lower nature are obvious. Here is a list: sexual immorality, impurity of mind, sensuality, worship of false gods, witchcraft, hatred, quarrelling, jealousy, bad temper, rivalry, factions, party-spirit, envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like that. I solemnly assure you, as I did before, that those who indulge in such things will never inherit God’s kingdom.

5:22-25 – The Spirit however, produces in human life fruits such as these: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, tolerance and self-control – and no law exists against any of them. Those who belong to Christ have crucified their old nature with all that it loved and lusted for. If our lives are centred in the Spirit, let us be guided by the Spirit.

5:26 – Let us not be ambitious for our own reputations, for that only means making each other jealous. (JBP)

Almost all believers have heard that God wants His children to live victorious Christian lives. The question is: How do we do that? Romans 8 and Galatians 5 show us how. Victorious living isn’t possible to accomplish apart from the enabling of the Holy Spirit. French Arlington once wrote:

Romans 8:14 says believers are led by the Spirit. The Spirit manifests the Christian life in us as we are led by Him. He inspires our hearts and minds to do what is good and right. As we allow ourselves to be led by Him, He adorns our lives with graces that identify us as God’s children.

Galatians 5:16 says believers walk in the Spirit. It is similar to being led by the Spirit, but in the New Testament, walking emphasizes a way of life. As we walk in the power of the Spirit, we march in line with Him and walk the steps that the Spirit walks. As we follow the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit flourishes in our lives.

Galatians deals primarily with freedom in Christ. But up until this point in the letter, he has not defined freedom in practical terms. With these verses, he does so, showing that only one who depends on the Holy Spirit is truly free, and that freedom is not the same things as license. Indeed, the Christian concept of freedom is service, both to God and to man and expresses itself the fruit of the Spirit, which is contrasted with the works of the flesh in verses 14 and 15.

Paul’s greatest desire with these verses is to give a complete picture of the Christian life. To view the Christian life as simply a way to live freely and do what one pleases is wrong. But so is a life lived merely serving others with no thought behind the actions. Christian freedom, according to Paul, is a freedom to serve God and others as motivated by love (verse 6). True Christianity resembles a long, narrow bridge over a place where two polluted streams meet: the stream of legalism and the stream of libertinism. The believer must never lose his balance, lest he fall into the refined rules and regulations of man or into the gross, excessive vices of sin.

1. A remedy for evil, verses 16, 17

In the previous verses, Paul listed some things that are far too common among Christians: biting, devouring, and destroying. The solution is living by the Spirit; once a person lives by the Spirit, he will gradually cease to gratify the desires of the flesh. It is the Spirit alone who can keep the believer free.

Verse 16 clearly implies that there is a conflict or struggle between Spirit and the flesh, between the believer’s new nature and his old, sinful nature. Two Greek terms are used in verse 16.

  • Sarx. The NIV has translated it as “sinful nature,” but it’s exact translation is “flesh.” Generally, it refers to the body of a man, his material self. When used in the NT, especially by Paul, it came to mean man as a fallen being, who is capable of great acts of selfishness and evil. It is often used in connection with another Greek word, psychikos, to denote the limitations of being human, both in body, thought, and morality. In other words, man as sarx in totally incapable of knowing God apart from a special revelation and a redemption that removes the barrier of sin. Legalism is what appeals to the sarx, because rules and regulations are designed by the sarx. Libertinism also is attractive to the sarx, because it gratifies that part of man’s nature.
  • Pneuma. This word is almost always translated “spirit,” but originally meant “wind.” In time, the word came to refer to the spirit of a man, his conscience, or the incorporeal part of a man. It also refers to angels, demons, and the Holy Spirit. It is the latter mean that Paul emphasizes in verse 16. The Holy Spirit is not naturally in a man; He takes up residence after a man becomes born again.

So, Paul tells the Galatians that it is the Spirit who makes it possible for the believer to live in victory over sin, but only to the degree that that same believer “lives by the Spirit,” or as some translations put it, “walks by the Spirit.” The Greek word, peripateite, really means “to walk” and is written in the present tense, indicated a continuous action and a continuous need. It is also an imperative, which demonstrates it is the believer himself who chooses to walk by the Spirit or not.

The last clause of verse 17 is illuminating: They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. This phrase has come to mean different things, depending on you interpret it.

  • The sinful nature keeps you from doing the good you want to to;
  • The Spirit keeps you from doing the evil you are tempted to do;
  • Each nature hinders the desires of the other.

So which is the correct way to understand this? The parallel passage is found in Romans 7:15-16,

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.

In view of this, it seems likely the first option is the correct one, especially in light of verse 18, which is all about victory through the Spirit.

In view of verses like Romans 6:6, there are those who say there is no real conflict between the old and new natures. The suggestion is that the “old man” or our old natures, have been forever eliminated, yet we know by our own experiences that is simply not true. We understand that as the believer grows in grace, his old nature becomes increasingly powerless, but it can never be completely eliminated in this life. Indeed, the Christian will forever need to live dependent upon God’s grace. Which is the way it should be.

2. Works of the flesh, verses 19-21

Paul now shows us how the spirit and the flesh are in conflict by listing the works of the flesh and contrasting them with the fruit, or the works, of the Spirit. Paul probably listed these vices because these were ones that the Galatians were having particular problems with. Without spending a lot of time on these sins, we note that they are divided into four categories:

  1. Sins that violate sexual morality
  2. Sins from the religious world
  3. Sins against other human beings (social sins)
  4. Pagan sins

Paul, with a pastor’s heart, tells his readers that anybody who continues to indulge in their former sinful habits cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.

3. Fruit of the Spirit, verses 22-23

Over against these sins is a new way of life: living the produces the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is the good that expels the evil from one’s life (Hendriksen). Paul is not talking about the gifts of the Spirit, which are temporary and extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit that come upon believers from time to time. He is speaking about special endowments given to every single believer. The fruit of the Spirit includes:

Love. The word is agape, and is the highest form of love. It is the kind of love that God loves us with. Because the Spirit of God dwells within believers, believers are able to love with God’s love.
Joy. The Greek is chara, and it corresponds to the what all the world wants: happiness. Joy, though, unlike happiness, is permanent. Happiness depends on outward circumstances, joy does not.
Peace. The Greek eirene is roughly the same as the more familiar shalom. But it means so much more than just peace, even though that is an accurate translation. It is God’s gift to man, so that makes it very special. That gift was made possible by the work of Christ on the Cross, which put man at peace with God and also with other believers. Even though this peace is given to man, it is something believers are to strive for, according to 1 Peter 3:11. Just how important is peace? It is mentioned in every NT book, for a total of 80 times.
Patience is the ability to put up with others. This is the idea of “longsuffering,” an attribute of divine quality. We read about in Joel 2:13, Return to the LORD your God,for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Kindness best describes the way God acts towards man. It is slightly difficult to define, but when we read in the Bible that “God is good,” we get a hint of what Paul is saying here. God is good toward man, even though man doesn’t deserve it. That is now how we are to treat others.
Goodness (agathosune) is sort of like kindness, and equally hard to define. The primary idea here is that a person treated well whether or not it is reciprocated.
Faithfulness is a trait we want in everybody we have dealings with. Simply put, it means that a person is trustworthy and dependable. It is a description of the character of a person who would die for his faith, Rev. 2:10; 3:14.
Gentleness describes a person who is in control of himself so much that he never gets angry at the wrong time, only at the right time.
Self-control is, to me, a most interesting word. In the Greek it looks like enkrateia, and is the quality that gives the believer victory of fleshly desires. William Barclay, of enkrateia, wrote this: [It]is a great quality which comes to a m an when Christ is in his heart, that quality which makes him able to live and to walk in the world, and yet to keep his garments spotless.

When Paul says there is no law against the fruit of the Spirit, Paul is contrasting that notion with the notion that the Law was given to restrain evil. But the fruit of the Spirit is not evil, therefore the Law is powerless against it.

4. Two Keys to Victory, verses 24-26

Paul has made it clear that the war between the flesh and Spirit is unending and unrelenting. The key to victory is found in two things, which Paul outlines in these remaining verses:

First, Paul tells his readers that they had been crucified with Christ. In modern language, we might say something like: Be what you are. Be in practice what you are in principle.

Second, Paul reminds the believers that while their old natures are dead to sin, they are made alive by the Spirit. Another way to read verse 25 would be like this:

If the source of life is the Spirit, then the Spirit must be allowed to direct our steps, so that we make progress, advancing, step by step, toward the goal of perfect consecration to the Lord. (Hendriksen)


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