Galatians 5


“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.” Galatians 5:1

Freedom in Christ

In this chapter we find Paul concluding his argument with the Judaizers that we’re saved by grace and not by some legal performance of the law.

He talks a lot about freedom, especially being free in Christ. He tells them they need to stop allowing anyone from distorting God’s grace which will ultimately turn them away from God’s grace.

In other words, God’s grace through Jesus has set us free from the burden of trying to keep law perfectly in order to be right with God, John 8:34-36.

Just before Jesus died on the cross, He said, ‘It is finished,’ John 19:30, that’s His way of saying, ‘freedom’. Freedom from the power of death, freedom from the power of sin, freedom from being justified by law. We’re free from the bondage of sin because we’re free from the bondage of justification by perfect law-keeping and meritorious works.

Christians are set free by being created in Christ to be new creatures, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Christians are set free in order to serve, Ephesians 2:10. We don’t have to obey God but we choose to obey Him and obey Him freely.

Throughout their history, the Jews had on many occasions been in either the political or national bondage of some nation. They had gone into Assyrian bondage and Babylonian bondage. They were a possessed land by the Romans even while this letter was being written.

And when Paul says, ‘do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery’ this would have been a very sensitive issue with them. He’s asking them, ‘do you Gentile Christians want to be burdened with slavery the Jews had for many years?

Paul says don’t let these people intimidate you, don’t let them make slaves of you like they are. All they’ll do is get to you be circumcised, all they’ll do is bind you to a law keeping kind of religion.

“Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again, I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.” Galatians 5:2-3

Paul doesn’t mix his words and tells them straight, if you allow yourself to be circumcised, your committing yourself to full obedience to the law. And more importantly, Christ and the grace He offers will be worth nothing at all.

These Judaizers were wanting to take part of the Old Testament law and part of the law of Christ in order to form a legal system of justification.

Paul says we can’t have it both ways, it’s either law or grace, Romans 7:1-4. It is either grace plus law, or grace in and of itself with total dependence on God to save us as a result of our obedient response to His law, James 2:9-11.

“You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.” Galatians 5:4-6

Paul says if you want to return to perfect law-keeping, to be right with God, then you have been cut off from Christ and when a person is cut off from Christ, they are cut off from the grace of Christ.

Paul is saying that anyone who would turn the law of Christ into some kind of legalised religious system to keep right with God will be lost, not saved, Galatians 2:16.

Paul goes on and says, it’s through the Spirit, as opposed to the performance of the flesh, that we wait for our final redemption to heaven. Do you know why? Paul says that no amount of meritorious work of either deeds or law will account for one being righteous before God.

What is necessary is a faith that works through love. The work that we do is produced by faith, our labour is prompted by love, 1 Thessalonians 1:3. In other words, when we finally realise that our salvation is a free gift of grace from God, we’ll quit trying to work for our salvation and start working because of our salvation.

This spiritual growth that Paul is talking about comes from the heart, not from the outside with a bunch or rules and regulations to keep us in check.

“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” Galatians 5:7-9

Now notice the word, ‘were’, it’s past tense, Paul says the Galatians started off the race great because they had the right goal in their sights. And Who was in their sight?

The crucified Christ was in their sight, Galatians 3:1. At this point, they took their eyes off Jesus and were heading on a dead-end road that would only lead to destruction.

You ask any athlete and they will tell you the worst thing you can do in a race is look behind you, you have to stay focused on the finish line.

Paul knew all too well what he was talking about and just before he died, he wrote to his young friend Timothy about it. Paul saw life as a race, not in the sense of finishing first but in terms of completing the race, 2 Timothy 4:6-8.

Paul says the Galatians started off great, they were running a good race, but something happened, someone has cut in on you. Again we can picture athletes running in a stadium and as they’re running someone cuts in on another runner.

Paul says the Galatians had been cut in on by someone who had pushed them out of their running lane. They were now headed in the wrong direction and would be disqualified if they continued on their present course.

But who was it, who cut in and hindered them in their race? It was those legalistic Judaizing teachers who had infiltrated the fellowship of the church. These teachers were diverting the churches toward their own beliefs. These legalisers were in the church and they were hindering the spiritual growth of the church, Acts 20:29-30.

Paul reminds them that God had called them through the Gospel. Paul wanted them to know that they were now being called into something where neither the calling nor the teaching originated from God.

The figurative use of leaven is sometimes used in the Bible to refer to the influence of good but here Paul uses it in terms of something bad, really bad.

He says that the influence of a few Judaizing teachers who were in the churches was actually influencing the members to follow their legalistic doctrine. And if their influence wasn’t stopped, it would flood the entire church of southern Galatia.

We know how leaven works, it’s slow but persistent and it’s the same with the influence of legalism among Christians, it’s slow but persistent.

These legalisers were putting on a show, look how often I pray, look at how often I fast, I know the Bible better than you do and they took pride in their religious performances.

Manmade rules and regulations don’t produce anything in us, whereas grace works on the heart in order to produce the fruit of the Spirit, Romans 7:4. And so, because Paul knew how the leaven of legalism works and causes so much damage to churches, he tells the Galatians to stop it from spreading.

This is exactly what Peter was condemned for when he was in Antioch. He was intimidated by legalistic brethren, and because of fear, he submitted to their influence, Galatians 2:11-14.

Now the Galatians may have started off well and slowly gone of course but Paul has some good news.

“I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.” Galatians 5:10

Notice whom Paul put his confidence in, ‘the Lord’. In other words, Paul recognised the power of the word of God and because of that power found within the Word of God, he encouraged them to stick to what God’s Word says.

What Paul is doing here is what he would eventually do with the elders of the church in Ephesus, that is, commend them to the word of God that would build them up, Acts 20:32.

Paul had confidence in the church of Galatia that they would respond to the letter he was writing. He had confidence that they would reject the influence of the legalistic teachers in their midst.

You see, legalistic religion arises in the church only when other Christians don’t know their Bibles well enough to see the difference between Bible and opinion, or Bible and traditions.

Notice the warning Paul gives to those false teachers, he says, ‘they have a penalty to pay’. Anyone who leads the sheep astray and gets them to follow them, by intimidating the sheep to believe that his opinion or interpretation is the only and correct opinion or interpretation.

Those who would steal the sheep of God in that way will receive their just judgment. And what is their judgment? Their judgment will be destruction from the presence of God, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

Those who cause trouble in the church with their divisive opinions and legal demands will be troubled by God in the end. That’s one reason why all preachers and teachers must be very cautious about how and what they teach, James 3:1.

“Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case, the offence of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” Galatians 5:11-12

Now, what exactly were these legalisers saying about Paul? They were saying that Paul was still preaching the need for circumcision.

And to bring this accusation to a halt, Paul simply asks them a rhetorical question, if he were preaching the doctrine of getting right with God by works, then why was he being persecuted by those who were teaching the same thing?

Paul says the offence of the cross is that we must reject the notion that we can save ourselves by the outward religious things that we do. This is exactly what these legalistic Jewish Christians were struggling with. Instead of relying on the cross for salvation, they were relying on their own religious system.

The Greek word for ‘stumbling block’ used in 1 Corinthians 1:23, is the word, ‘skandelon’, it its where we get our word ‘scandal’ from. The whole idea of a crucified God was scandalous to the Jews, and they would regularly persecute anyone who thought that salvation comes by grace and faith and not human works.

Paul says these teachers were agitators, who continually caused tension in the church. And because they were causing such disturbance in the church, Paul used a graphic words here in order to explain what should happen.

He said, ‘I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!’ In other words, he wished that there would be a slip of the circumcision knife and that they would mutilate or emasculate themselves.

According to the law, these people wouldn’t be permitted to enter the assembly of the Lord, Deuteronomy 23:1. The word, ‘emasculate’ is the word ‘apokopto’ which means to amputate, mutilate, to castrate.

In other words, they must be ‘cut off’ from the fellowship of the church, in order that their leaven stops spreading among the faithful. They must be cut off in order to restore peace and harmony among those who trust in the grace of the cross.

These are the kind of people Paul writes about to the church in Rome, Romans 16:17-18. These are the kind of people whom John writes about, 2 John 9-10. In other words, these legalistic Judaizers were going beyond what was written, 1 Corinthians 4:6.

Paul got fighting mad when people start to add or take away from the Gospel of salvation. He got fighting mad when he saw people cutting in on those faithful Christians who were running a good race. He got fighting mad because these legalists were stealing souls and leading them to destruction.

Life By The Spirit

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Galatians 5:13-15

Paul reminds the Galatians that they have been rescued by God out of the bondage of legal justification.

They’re now free from trying to be right with God through law-keeping and meritorious deeds, which also implies that they shouldn’t allow anyone else to come along and put the shackles of law-keeping that Jesus removed from them, back on them.

Paul knew all too well, that some Christians would take advantage of their freedom from the law as an excuse to sin. He knew all too well that some Christians would sin in order to supposedly increase the grace of God in their lives, Romans 6:1. We know this was a problem for the early church, Jude 4.

As Christians, we have been set free from trying to be right with God through law-keeping, but we aren’t free from the law of Christ, 1 Corinthians 8:9 / Romans 6:1-2 / 1 Peter 2:16.

As Christians, we’re not under the Old Testament laws but we’re still under the law of Christ. We obey God and His commandments not because we have to but because we want to.

And we want to please God because of His grace, it’s His grace that motivates us to do things. It’s our love for God that motivates us to submit to His will and His ways. Paul is saying, grace doesn’t produce a license to sin.

Paul says, the very foundation upon which law stands is love, in other words, law governs our interaction with one another. Loving our neighbour motivates us to act in a lawful manner, whether it be in our relationships with one another as a church or with society as a whole.

Paul says the problem with legalism is that everyone ends up ‘biting and devouring each other.’ Instead of loving each other, the church ends up divided because everyone’s having a go at each other, James 4:1-2.

The devil will use anything he can to destroy the Christian, even if that means using Christians to cause division. No wonder Paul says, ‘watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.’ Paul knew where this legalistic mindset would end up, it would be disastrous.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires, what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:16-18

Now how do we walk by the Spirit? If we live in a spiritual manner, then we’re living in the way the Holy Spirit wants us to live. And how do we know how He wants us to live? We have to read the Word, the Bible, Hebrews 4:12.

We wouldn’t even know that the Holy Spirit existed if He didn’t reveal Himself to us through the Word. Likewise, Christians wouldn’t have a clue about how to live godly lives if we didn’t have the Bible.

Paul says, the legalist is motivated by the flesh but the free Christian is motivated by grace and he says, the life that is directed by the Spirit is opposed to the life that has been given over to fulfil the desires of the flesh. In other words, we all have a choice to make, will we live to please God or will we live to please ourselves?

And Paul knew all too well what he meant when he talked about this choice and he understood that it takes self-discipline to please God, 1 Corinthians 9:27. In other words, it’s all too easy to live life to satisfy our own desires but it takes time and self-discipline to live our lives in a way that pleases God.

And so, Paul says, Christians aren’t only to ‘walk by the Spirit’ but must be ‘led by the Spirit’. The word ‘led’ is interesting because it carries with it the idea of being driven, Paul is saying, through God’s Word, we need to let the Holy Spirit lead us.

Paul is contrasting a life led by the Spirit and a life led by the flesh. These legalists were focusing so much on being right with God through law-keeping, that the whole emphasis ended up being on the flesh and performance. But those who seek a spiritual relationship with God will seek God’s direction through the inspired word of God.

When Paul says, ‘you are not under the law,’ the word, ‘the’ isn’t in the original Greek text, it should read ‘not under law’. What difference does that make? It helps understand that Paul isn’t just talking about the Law of Moses, but law in general, any law.

His point is that anyone who’s trying to be right with God, through any kind of legal requirement is still under bondage. But those who trust in the grace of God for their salvation and have faith in Christ and what He did at Calvary are not under bondage.

James says if a person breaks one law, they are guilty of breaking all the law, James 2:10. But in contrast, the real Christian will depend solely upon God, for their salvation. Why?

Because they know that they can’t keep the law perfectly, they know they will mess with us and fail, and they see their need for grace. In other words, perfect law-keeping demands obedience to law but grace motivates obedience to law.

We’re still under law but it’s God’s New Testament law, James calls it a law of liberty, James 1:25. Later James tells us that we will be judges by the law which gives us freedom, James 2:12. The point is your free from the Old Testament way of being right with God through law-keeping.

Acts Of The Flesh

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

Paul says these acts of the flesh are obvious, they are no longer hidden from society today but encouraged in society.


Note that KJV has adulterers first. Adulterers, ‘moichos’ were those who, practised unlawful intercourse with the spouse of someone else. These were the Christians who broke their marriage vows to stay faithful to their husbands or wives by having sexual intercourse with anyone else other than their husband or wife, Matthew 5:27-28 / Matthew 5:32 / Mark 10:11. Anyone who practices adultery won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


The sexually immoral, ‘pornos’, are those people who practice illicit sexual intercourse, this refers to all sexual sin, Galatians 5:19-21 / Ephesians 5:4-5 / Revelation 21:8.

The people who practice this sin think only of themselves, they only think only about fulfilling their own sexual desires and pleasures, Matthew 5:32 / Matthew 19:9 / Acts 15:20 / Acts 15:29 / 1 Corinthians 5:1 / Ephesians 5:3 / Colossians 3:5 / 1 Thessalonians 4:3. Anyone who practices sexual immorality won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Impurity, ‘akatharsia’, are those who live an impure life. These were the Christians whose hearts and minds were filled with filth, Titus 1:15. In the Old Testament, they would be classed as being ceremonially unclean before God, Leviticus 7:19-21. Anyone with an impure heart or mind won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Debauchery, ‘aselgeia’, are those who have immoral conduct or practice harmful things or do offensive things. There were the Christians who selfishly thought about themselves and didn’t care if they offended others by their actions or by the way they dressed.

This would include sexual dancing, drunkenness and sexual immorality, 2 Corinthians 12:21 / Ephesians 4:19 / 1 Peter 4:3. Anyone who practises debauchery won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Idolaters, ‘eidololatres’ were simply those who worshipped idols. These were the Christians who created their own religion and their deities in order to fulfil their own desires, 1 Corinthians 10:14 / Colossians 3:5 / 1 Peter 4:3 / Revelation 21:8 / Revelation 22:15. Anyone who practices idolatry won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Witchcraft, ‘pharmakeia’, were those who used drugs to put people under their influence. Later they became known as witches, sorcerers, wizards and witch-doctors.

These were the Christians who falsely attempted to exercise spiritual power over someone in order to control them by fear, no wonder God condemns the practice of witchcraft, Exodus 7:11 / Exodus 7:22 / Leviticus 20:6-7 / Deuteronomy 18:9-22 / Isaiah 47:9 / Isaiah 47:12 / Revelation 21:8. Anyone who practices witchcraft won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Hatred, ‘echthra’, were those who wanted to harm others for no apparent reason. These were the Christians who were intent that others would get hurt in some way. They are the ones who would manipulate others against someone else, out of hatred, Titus 3:3 / 1 John 3:15. Anyone who practices hatred won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Discord, ‘eris’, were those loved and caused division amongst God’s people. These were the Christian who didn’t really love their neighbours as themselves, Mark 12:31.

They were the kind of Christians who would happily split a church over matters of opinion, in turn, other Christians are told to stay away from them, Titus 3:9-11 / Romans 2:8 / 1 Corinthians 11:16. Anyone who practices discord won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Jealousy, ‘zelos’, were those who wanted what others possessed. These were the Christians who couldn’t bring themselves to give honour and respect where honour and respect were due, they couldn’t bring themselves to rejoice with those who rejoiced, Romans 12:15. Anyone who practices jealousy won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Fits of rage, ‘thumos’, were those who couldn’t control their anger. These were the Christians who would throw themselves a temper tantrums when they didn’t get their own way, they would often get out of control. Anyone who doesn’t control their anger won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Selfish ambition, ‘eritheia’, were those who wanted all the praise for what they were doing. These were the Christians who wanted public acknowledgement for their achievements, again it was all about ‘me’, ‘myself’ and ‘I’. This was certainly a problem in the Ephesian church, Ephesians 4:17 / Ephesians 6:12. Anyone who possesses a spirit of selfish ambition won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Dissension, ‘dichostasia’, were those who would argue over opinions. These were the Christian who would rather create division in the church, rather than unity, over non-salvation issues, Acts 15:1 / Acts 15:25. Anyone who causes dissensions won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Factions, ‘hairesis’, were those who taught beyond what God taught in His Word, 1 Corinthians 4:6 / 2 John 9-10. These were the Christians who taught anything to recruit people to their traditions or opinions, Galatians 4:17 / Galatians 6:12.

The reason these people won’t inherit life is because they caused a lot of division in the church over their traditions and opinions. Anyone who causes factions in the church won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Envy, ‘phthonos’, were those Christians who felt uncomfortable with what other people have, or with other people because of who they were.

These were the Christians who didn’t like anyone when they had more possessions than them and they didn’t like anyone who was in a higher position of power, Proverbs 14:30 / Matthew 27:18 / 1 Timothy 6:4 / Titus 3:3 / 1 Peter 2:1. Anyone who is envious of others or what others have won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Drunkenness, ‘methe’, were those Christians who loved alcohol more than God. These were the Christians who loved alcohol so much it affected their behaviour and they lost control of their senses, 1 Corinthians 11:21 / 1 Timothy 3:3 / 1 Timothy 3:8. Anyone who loses control through drinking alcohol won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Orgies, ‘komos’, are those Christians who are involved in ungodly sexual relations with others. These were the Christians who enjoyed having sex with many people at the same whilst enjoying a banquet afterwards, this was very popular in idol worship. Anyone who gets involved in orgies won’t inherit the kingdom of God.


Paul’s list of sins here in Galatians are sins of the flesh but his list isn’t exhaustive, as he says and ‘the like’. This simply means that any sin which concerns the flesh will cost someone their salvation. Anyone who gets involved in any kind of sin of the flesh won’t inherit the kingdom of God, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 / Ephesians 5:3-5 / Revelation 21:8 / Revelation 22:15.

And to contrast the acts of the flesh, Paul goes on to speak about the fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

Now notice that Paul speaks about the ‘fruit’ of the Spirit, not the ‘fruits’. In other words, there is one fruit that produces nine attributes in the Christian life.

And the reason we have nine attributes is because during the miraculous age in the New Testament, there were nine miraculous gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, but the nine miraculous gifts were temporary, while these nine attributes of the Spirit are permanent.

Paul is saying that those who have turned from depending on themselves for salvation, have turned to depend on the direction of God. In other words, the fruit of the Spirit is brought forth in the lives of those who seek direction from God for moral attitudes and behaviour.

Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit is the proof that we are Christians and notice the first characteristic of the Christian who is living the Christian life, it’s love.

The fruit of the Spirit is the product that the Spirit produces by or through the Word which the Spirit has given us. This singular ‘fruit’ is contrasted to the multiple facets of ‘the works of the flesh.’

These aren’t separate fruits but are characteristics of the one ‘fruit of the Spirit.’ A person may speak about a juicy red apple. We recognize juicy and red are characteristics of this apple. These characteristics describe this fruit.

Thus, the same is true with ‘the fruit of the Spirit’, and the first descriptive characteristic which Paul ascribes to this marvellous fruit is ‘love.’


As Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit, he begins with the most prevalent characteristic. It stands loftily above the others. Love, ‘agape’, stands in the heights because it directly stems from God, 1 John 4:16. Furthermore, love stands exalted because all the other traits of this beautiful fruit stem from this first attribute, ‘love’.

In Koine Greek of the first century, there were four different words for ‘love’. The word used in Galatians 5:22 is ‘agape.’ This love is a sacrificial love that seeks the highest good for its object. It is more than just mere emotions and affections for it is projected from the intellect.

While mere emotions and affections are extinguished because of hatred, sin, and wickedness, this love is willing to give of itself, Romans 5:8.

Thus, it is a love not simply of words and tongue, but of deeds and truth, 1 John 3:18. The best definition of this word is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

From Matthew 22:36-39, we learn there are ‘three proper recipients of love’.

1. We are to love ‘God’. ‘We love him, because he first loved us.’ 1 John 4:19.

Earlier in the same chapter, John explained how God manifested His love towards us, 1 John 4:9. Certainly this isn’t the only way God demonstrates His love. He has given us life, breath, and our very beings. We are because of Him.

He has also given us His word that we might know how to gain eternal life and how to live a happy and fulfilled life in this world. Because God has given us so much, and because we are fully dependent upon Him, we should love Him above all else, Mark 12:29-30.

In this context, the heart is the centre of our emotions. Love is an emotion and our love to God should reflect our deepest emotion. The soul is a person’s spiritual nature, his inner being, his self. Our love to God should stem from our inner most being.

The mind is the centre of our intellect. Though love is an emotion, it is more than just an emotion. Our love toward God is actions based upon our knowledge of God and His will.

Finally, the strength is a person’s physical being. Our bodies are used in our various expressions of love, and in expressing our love to God, we use ‘the fruit of our lips’ to offer the sacrifice of praise, Hebrews 13:15, our holy hands are lifted up in prayer, 1 Timothy 2:8, and our feet takes us into all the world to preach the Gospel, Matthew 28:18-19 / Romans 10:15. All in all, Jesus commands all mankind to love God with our entire being.

2. We are to love our ‘neighbour’.

One of the most obvious question that arises is ‘Who is my neighbour?’ To answer this question, Jesus told the story of the Samaritan, which incidentally Jesus or the Bible never calls ‘good’, who helped a man who fell into the hands of thieves and was left half dead, Luke 10:29-37. While lying there, a priest and a Levite saw him but passed him by on the other side.

Thankfully, a benevolent Samaritan saw him, helped him, and provided for him. To answer the question, Jesus asked a very pointed question in Luke 10:36, ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’

And the answer was in Luke 10:37 ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ In the end, we learn that a neighbour was one who showed mercy. In application, Jesus said, ‘Go, and do likewise.’

Thus, a neighbour would include our enemies, Matthew 5:44, our fellow man, Ephesians 5:1-2, and our brethren, 1 John 4:20.

In fact, love should be a distinctive mark of God’s people, John 13:35. This is a serious matter! 1 John 4:8. In context, John is writing about our love one for another and makes this application, ‘Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another’. 1 John 4:11.

3. Finally, we are to ‘love ourselves’.

Though some have placed too much emphasis here, the principle is still taught. Certainly, we must be on guard not to love ourselves more than we should and not to love ourselves above others, Philippians 2:3-4. Nevertheless, we cannot love our neighbour as ourselves without loving ourselves.

In Ephesians 5:29, Paul wrote a general principle, generally speaking, a person doesn’t hate his own body. Paul applies this general principle to marriage. Men ought to love their wives as their own bodies, Ephesians 5:28 / Ephesians 5:33, and the man who neglects his wife, neglects himself.

Instead of hating one’s own body, a person nourishes and cherishes it. The word ‘nourish’ means to nurture or bring it up. This is the same word translated ‘nurture’ in Ephesians 6:4. The word ‘cherish’ means to warm or keep warm, to foster with tender care. Thus, we should love ourselves by nourishing and cherishing ourselves.

1. Love is the great ‘motivator’.

Because of God’s love, He sent His Son to this world and to die for our sins. 1 John 4:19.

2. His love should motivate us to ‘obey Him’.

Jesus said, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments,’ John 14:15. Furthermore, Paul wrote that a working faith is to be motivated by love, Galatians 5:6. In fact, anything that a person does, if it isn’t motivated by love, it is empty profitless to oneself, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

The greatest expression of love is for ‘a man lay down his life for his friends,’ John 15:13. Surely, we all realise that Jesus was speaking about His own sacrifice for us.

Now, listen to the application, ‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.’ 1 John 3:16. ‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.’


Joy, ‘chara’ is delight or to experience great pleasure. It is the opposite of weeping, lamenting, and sorrow, John 16:20-22. Some synonyms of joy are gladness and rejoicing. From the accusation made against Jesus, Matthew 11:19, we know that he was a man of joy.

He was, in many ways, a man of sorrow, yet, ‘for the joy that was set before him,’ He ‘endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ Hebrews 12:2. The anticipated joy of being exalted to the right hand of God helped the Lord to overcome the sorrows He endured.

Because Christians are followers of Christ, we need His joy, a joy that will help us endure the trials of this life. When Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, they were undergoing persecution and were suffering for Christ’s sake, Philippians 1:28-30.

Thus, Paul exhorts, ‘Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord,’ Philippians 3:1, and ‘Rejoice in the Lord always: and again, I say, Rejoice,’ Philippians 4:4. How could they rejoice when they were suffering? In the same way, Jesus rejoiced.

By pressing ‘toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ and by looking to their reward in heaven, Philippians 3:14 / Philippians 3:20, they could rejoice.

The anticipated joy of being with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit throughout all eternity will help us to overcome the sorrows inflicted upon us by the trials of this life.

Yes, joy can lift us above trials and tribulation, James 1:2. How can this be? How can we have joy while enduring various kinds of trials? Because true joy is independent of external forces. Externals can bring joy and sorrow, but they are usually short lived.

Many of the Hebrew Christians had lost property, and, yet, they joyfully accepted it because they knew that they had ‘in heaven a better and an enduring substance,’ Hebrews 10:34. Paul and Silas could rejoice through prayer and song with their feet in stocks in the inner prison of Philippi because they had true joy.

It is for this reason, Peter could exhort remind his readers to rejoice, no matter how thing got, 1 Peter 4:12-13. Notice how this idea is further expounded upon in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:11. Blessings or happiness, joy, promised to the persecuted? Yes! Matthew 5:12.

The anticipated joy of heaven brings great joy to those who are persecuted for Christ’s sake. So, when the trials of life seem to get us down, let us remember the heavenly reward which will bring us great joy.

After exhorting the disciples to keep His word, Jesus knew that true joy comes by keeping the commandments of God, John 15:11. Thus, He exhorted His disciples to obey the commandments of God in order to have joy. ‘Joy’, therefore, is a natural outgrowth of keeping God’s commandments.

David knew this, all too well, Psalm 1:1-2 / Psalm 112:1 / Psalm 19:8.

Keep in mind, in order to properly obey God, one must know His will. In John 15, Jesus first instructed His disciples, then He told them the benefits of obedience, ‘that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.’ John 15:11.

In the first of seven beatitudes of Revelation, John pronounced a three-fold blessing upon the reader, the hearer, and those who keep those things which are written, Revelation 1:3.

Instruction comes before obedience. In John’s introduction of his first epistle, he said he wrote those things ‘that your joy may be full’, 1 John 1:4. Again, instruction comes first, obedience follows, and joy results.

The Book of Acts is sometimes called ‘the book of joy’ because within its pages we find the joy of obedience. After the church was established on the marvellous day of Pentecost, the disciples ‘did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,’ Acts 2:46.

After the Ethiopian eunuch confessed and was baptised, ‘he went on his way rejoicing.’ Acts 8:39. After the Philippian Jailor repented and was baptised, ‘he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house,’ Acts 16:34.

Also, within the pages of Acts, we find the joy of being persecuted. After the apostles were beaten and brought before the Sanhedrin, they were told not to ‘speak in the name of Jesus.’

However, the apostles ‘rejoiced’ because ‘they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name’ and ‘ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ,’ Acts 5:40-42.

Joy also comes when priorities are properly set. Many have probably seen the acrostic for JOY. Jesus first, others second, and yourself last. This simple acrostic illustrates the importance of properly set priorities.

When priorities are mixed or confused, the result is tragedy and sorrow, but when kept, they bring a harvest of joy. Properly set priorities begin with putting Jesus first, Matthew 22:36-38.

Next on God’s chain of priority is others second, Matthew 22:39. In application Paul exhorted the Christians in Philippi to have the mind of Christ by esteeming others ‘better than themselves’ and looking ‘on the things of others,’ Philippians 2:3-5. By putting others before ourselves, we place ourselves last. This is the golden rule of Luke 6:31.

With these thoughts, let us heed the admonition to rejoice by following Christ’s example of overcoming suffering, by obeying God’s commandments, and by setting our priorities in order, Romans 14:17 / Romans 15:13.


Peace, ‘eirene’ is the third characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit. From the very beginning of the Lord’s ministry, we learn about peace, Matthew 5:9.

Jesus’ words would have been shocking to the Jews of Jesus’ day because they were looking for a Messiah who would marshal a great army and lead them to world domination.

However, they, like the Premillennialists of our day, misunderstood the very nature of the Messiah and His kingdom, Isaiah 9:6-7. In an earlier prophecy, Isaiah described the peaceable nature of the Messianic kingdom in that citizens of that kingdom will turn instruments of war into instruments of peace, Isaiah 2:4.

Further, Isaiah described the peaceful nature of the recipients of the Gospel, the citizens of the Messianic kingdom, the church, Isaiah 11:6-8.

In each example of Isaiah’s description, the animals are natural enemies, and, yet, they live in harmony. There are no signs of hostility nor enmity. Such peace can be found in the kingdom of God.

During Jesus’ ministry, he called twelve men to be His apostles. Within this group, there were those who would be enemies had they not been followers of Jesus. Matthew was a ‘publican’ or ‘tax collector’ for the Roman Empire, Matthew 10:3.

Simon was a Zealot, and a Zealot was opposed to paying taxes to the pagan emperor of Rome. Yet, despite their political differences, they were united soldiers and disciples of ‘the Prince of Peace.’ Isaiah 9:6 This, then, stands as a wonderful example of this peaceable nature of citizens of the kingdom as prophesied by Isaiah.

Another example is found in Romans 14. In context, Paul is dealing with eating meats, that is meats which were clean or unclean according to Old Testament law. The church in Rome was composed of both Jews and Gentiles. According to the law, the Jews could only eat meats which were clean.

However, the Gentiles could eat any meat, clean or unclean. It made no difference to them. Of course, the old law was taken ‘out of the way’ and nailed to the cross, Colossians 2:14 / Romans 7:1-4, but because of conscience, many Jews couldn’t eat unclean meat.

Apparently, some Gentiles insisted on eating such meat even though it violated their brothers’ consciences. To solve the problem, Paul charges them to ‘follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another,’ Romans 14:19. Why?

Because ‘the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,’ Romans 14:17. Rather than offending a fellow Christian, Christians ought to seek for peace in matters of conscience.

A casual glance into the New Testament reveals that peace is promised to the followers of God, John 16:33. To some, however, this brings up a contradiction for Jesus also said, ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword,’ Matthew 10:34. So, what does Jesus mean?

Within the pages of Scripture, there are three types of peace.

1. There is the absence of hostility or having no enmity. Generally, when people call for peace, this is what they mean. They are looking for a time when there will be no wars or no fighting.

2. The second type of peace is tranquillity which is freedom from disturbance or a calm feeling.

3. The final peace is reconciliation. When two persons who have been at odds with one another are brought together, they have peace or reconciliation.

Notice in John 14:27, Jesus refers to two types of peace, the peace the world gives and the peace that He gives. The world seeks for peace, but what is meant is they seek for the absence of hostility, no enmity.

The peace that Jesus promises isn’t necessarily the absence of hostility, it is as Paul describes, ‘the peace of God, which passes all understanding,’ Philippians 4:7.

The Christians in Philippi very much understood this peace because they saw it demonstrated in Paul and Silas when the Gospel was first preached in the city of Philippi. Paul and Silas were beaten and cast into prison.

Did they enjoy the world’s peace, the absence of hostility? Of course not, they had been beaten. Did they enjoy the peace of Christ? Yes, and that peace was demonstrated in their praying and singing praises unto God, Acts 16:22-25.

Christ’s peace is tranquillity of mind, but it is more than just that. It is having peace with God. By ‘peace with God,’ we mean harmony or reconciliation with God.

In fact, the second type of peace, tranquillity of mind, stems from the third type of peace, reconciliation that is, being reconciled unto God. The demonstration of such reconciliation is what ‘passes understanding.’

When a person obtains reconciliation or peace with God, he or she will have peace or tranquillity of mind, the peace that passes understanding.

From an earthly standpoint, what Paul and Silas did while in the Philippian jail rises above our thoughts. It doesn’t make earthly sense to rejoice in suffering, but this is what Paul and Silas did, and this is what Peter exhorts us to do, 1 Peter 4:13.

How can I have the peace Jesus promised? The short answer is by being reconciled to God. We are reconciled by or through the blood of the cross of Jesus, Colossians 1:20-22 / Ephesians 2:13-16.

We come into contact with the cleansing blood of Christ when we are obedient to the Gospel plan of salvation by believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, John 8:24, confessing that faith, Romans 10:9-10, repenting of our sins, Luke 13:3 / Luke 13:5, and being baptised into His death, Romans 6:3-5.

Reconciliation, however, is more than just obedience to the Gospel. We must emulate the ‘God of Peace’ and the ‘Prince of Peace’. 2 Corinthians 13:11.

We must also follow ‘the Gospel of peace’, Romans 10:15 / Ephesians 6:15 and live in the peaceable kingdom of the Lord. Let us, therefore, ‘seek peace, and pursue it,’ 1 Peter 3:11, so ‘the God of peace’ will be with us. Romans 15:33.


A fourth characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is patience, ‘makrothumia’. Some have defined the term as ‘long on suffering.’ Certainly, this is an easy way to remember the basic concept. A couple of synonyms of ‘longsuffering’ are forbearance and patience.

W.E. Vine wrote, ‘Longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy.’ Further, the concept carries with it the idea of the ‘patient enduring of evil’ and the ‘slowness of avenging injuries’.

As Vine pointed out, longsuffering is the opposite of anger. Remember in context Paul is contrasting ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ with ‘the works of the flesh.’ This contrast is readily seen in longsuffering. Antonyms of longsuffering are ‘hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, and strife’ all ‘works of the flesh’. Galatians 5:19-21.

‘Hatred’ is enmity, while ‘discord’ is strife and contention. ‘Jealousy’ is indignation, and ‘fits of rage’ is fierceness or outbursts of anger. All are in contrast to and opposite of longsuffering.

In other words, and in application, a person doesn’t portray longsuffering while holding a grudge, being contentious, or exploding in anger.

Longsuffering is an attribute of God, Psalm 86:15. We can all be thankful that because of God’s compassion and graciousness, He is forbearing and patient with us. While we deserve death because of our sin and rebellion, He is longsuffering.

God isn’t indifferent about His promise of the second coming and judgment. The reason for His apparent delay is His longsuffering. God isn’t willing that any should be lost, 2 Peter 3:9.

He desires ‘all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.’ 1 Timothy 2:4. He gives mankind opportunity and time in order for all men to come to Him in repentance.

Knowing the hard-heartedness of man, it is little wonder that Peter later wrote, ‘the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation’. 2 Peter 3:15. Noah serves as an example of the longsuffering of the Lord, 1 Peter 3:20.

Just as God is longsuffering with us, He was longsuffering with Noah’s contemporaries and gave them opportunity to repent. Sadly, they didn’t, and when judgment came, only eight souls were saved! What a sad commentary on that generation.

Could this be said of our generation? John 5:28-29. God is longsuffering towards us, but His longsuffering and patience will come to an end, and judgment day will be upon us. When that great and notable day comes, where will you spend eternity? Today is the day to prepare! So, be prepared. Judgment day is coming!

In the parable of the unjust judge, Jesus taught among other principles the longsuffering of God, Luke 18:1-8. In this parable, a wicked judge eventually grants the petition of a widow who continually petitioned him.

But in contrast Jesus says God is not like that, God grants petitions but you don’t have to badger God over and over again with your petitions.

If the unjust judge will grant the petition of a persistent widow, how much more will God, the righteous Judge, grant to His own faithful servants who don’t have to continually ask Him for something?

Concerning longsuffering, the word translated ‘bear long’ in Luke 18:7, is the same original word and is usually translated ‘longsuffering’. We, like the persistent widow, continually make requests of God but oftentimes, we make requests over and over and over again but this isn’t necessary.

Many times, it’s not because we don’t believe God will grant our prayers, but because of our own weaknesses and needs, we badger God continually. In spite of such weaknesses, in spite of our failings, in spite of our lack of faith, God is longsuffering with us and grants our continual petitions.

In the midst of exposing the sin and hypocrisy of the Jews, Paul gives a ray of hope, Romans 2:4. Throughout their history, the Jews saw and experienced the goodness of God, but they continually rejected Him. Nonetheless, God was forbearing and longsuffering with them desiring their repentance.

Like so many people, they were anxious to receive God’s goodness, but they refused to be led down the road of repentance. All men have seen the riches of God’s goodness, James 1:17.

Those good and perfect gifts mention in James 1:17, should lead all men to repentance, but sadly too many are like the Jews of old and reject the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering.

Since longsuffering is an attribute of God, then we also know that Christ is longsuffering, 1 Timothy 1:16. When Paul was persecuting the church, when Paul was victimising Christians, when Paul was rejecting the truth, Jesus was provoked, but He restrained Himself showing longsuffering towards Paul.

The same could be said of us! ‘While we were yet sinners,’ Romans 5:8, while we transgressed God’s law, 1 John 3:4, while we knew to do good but didn’t, James 4:17, while we violated our own consciences, Romans 14:23, while we lived in unrighteousness, 1 John 5:17, Christ was longsuffering towards us.

We deserved death, separation from God, but instead ‘Christ died for us.’ And now we are children of God, 1 John 3:1. Since God and Christ are longsuffering, it is only natural that their servants be longsuffering, Ephesians 4:1-2. The quality of longsuffering has its foundation in love.

Paul further wrote, ‘Love is patient.’ 1 Corinthians 13:4. In other words, love is longsuffering. It keeps on suffering long. It keeps on being long-enduring. It keeps on exercising patience, forbearance, and perseverance.

If God so loved us that He is longsuffering with us, we ought also to love one another in the same way and be longsuffering with one another, 1 John 4:11 / Colossians 3:12-13.

God and Jesus are our examples of longsuffering. The Holy Spirit tells us through the Word He inspired to be longsuffering. Let us, therefore, put on longsuffering. Let us be longsuffering towards one another and towards the world. Let us have this, another characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit.


Paul now gives the fifth attribute of the fruit of the Spirit, ‘kindness’, translated ‘gentleness’ in the AV and RV. The word ‘gentleness’ comes from the Greek word ‘chrestotes’ and means goodness of the heart or kindness. It is normally associated with moral goodness.

It carries with it the idea of a ‘kindly disposition’ and is more often translated ‘goodness’ and ‘kindness’ in the King James Version. Thus, this attribute is always sweet, kind, and full of graciousness.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ Matthew 5:48. As Christians we are to imitate God, the Father. Thus, Jesus’ statement is brought home in application when we consider God’s goodness.

The word ‘goodness’ is the same as ‘gentleness’ in the original language, Romans 2:4. God is rich in goodness! James 1:17 / Acts 17:28.

God is so good to us that ‘while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’. Romans 5:8. If we have the mind-set to imitate God and live godly, then we will also be rich in goodness, gentleness.

Please notice the application Paul makes in Romans 2:2-4. God’s goodness ought to lead us to repentance! Generally, when tragedy hits, we turn to God, or, in the least, it causes us to think about our soul’s destiny. It is an illness, an accident, or a death of a loved one that causes us to consider more seriously our eternal fate.

But God’s goodness ought to do the same. His kindness shown by His supply of our daily welfare, His spiritual provisions given to us through His word, His generous care as He watches over the affairs of this world, these things ought to impel us to live as God would have us to live.

One aspect of the goodness of God emphasised in Scripture is the goodness God has shown toward us through Jesus Christ. It’s through the kindness that God has shown to us through Jesus, the Christ that we will be able to praise God throughout eternity, Ephesians 2:7.

Again, the word ‘kindness’ in this text is the same as in Galatians 5:22. Paul also makes this thought clear in Titus 3:4. Here’s the point, God showed His kindness and love toward mankind in the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ, to this world of woe and in the sacrifice and death of His Son for our sins.

Notice, also, God’s goodness and severity is contrasted in Romans 11:22. The severity of God fell upon the unbelieving Jews while the goodness of God was shown toward the Gentiles because of their faith. The conditional nature of salvation is under consideration.

As long as the Gentiles continued in faithfulness, they would see the goodness of God, but if they became unfaithful like the Jews, they would be cut off.

The same could be said of us. Jesus ‘became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.’ Hebrews 5:9. Our salvation is contingent upon our obedience to Jesus. As long as we obey, we have salvation, but when we quit obeying, we no longer have salvation.

Sadly, this was the state of affairs in Galatia. Rather than living for Jesus, some Galatian Christians turned back to the old law, and Paul assessed they were ‘fallen from grace’, Galatians 5:4.

Let us determine not to follow their example but be as John exhorted, ‘faithful unto death’ so that we may receive ‘a crown of life’. Revelation 2:10.

Another application of this verse that needs to be made concerns the way we look at God. Our view of God must be a balance between His goodness and His severity. To consider one more than the other or one above the other leaves us with a perverted view of the Almighty.

If we only believe in the goodness of God, we are lead to conclude that God will overlook all our faults no matter if we have made any attempt to change or live as He instructs.

On the other hand, if we can only see the severity of God, then we are led to believe that God is some destructive Creator who has created us to be condemned.

Both goodness and severity are characteristics of God. We can see the goodness of God in all that He has done for us, but we ought also to understand that those who will not obey God will see His severity.

Justice, equity, and righteousness demands such. It’s not fair, it’s not just, and it’s not righteous to reward both the obedient and the disobedient with the eternal glories of heaven.

Because of God’s goodness and severity, ‘they that have done good,’ will be raised ‘unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.’ John 5:29.

Not only is ‘gentleness’ a characteristic of God, Jesus’ life was characterised by it, Matthew 11:28-30. And we can see the goodness of the Lord as He received sinners, Luke 7:37-50 / John 8:1-11.

Because of Christ’s example of gentleness, Paul writing to the Christians in Corinth wrote, ‘Such people should realise that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.’ 2 Corinthians 10:1.

Paul recognised the example of Jesus. So even though he was accused of being bold while not in their presence, he wrote with all gentleness, the gentleness of Christ. What a tremendous example for us! Even in the face of opposition, Paul acted with gentleness just as the Lord had done.

There are many facets of life in which we need to show gentleness, goodness, and kindness. The tongue is one such area. As we go into the world to evangelise, we need to show kindness, Proverbs 16:24 / Colossians 4:6.

Not only should we show kindness in our words, we ought to show it in our actions. The Samaritan is a marvellous example, Luke 10:30-37. Jesus testified that he was a neighbour to the man that fell among the thieves, and then He made this application, ‘Go, and do likewise.’

Also, what was the difference between the sheep and goats of Matthew 25:31-46? The sheep did acts of kindness! They clothed the naked, visited the sick, and fed the hungry while the goats did nothing. Let us, therefore, be kind one to another, Ephesians 4:32.

Each morning as we get up from bed, one of the first things we do is put on our clothes. Just as we put on clothes, Paul exhorts us to put on some attributes and virtues. Among them is kindness, Colossians 3:12-13.


The next description or sixth attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is ‘goodness’, ‘agathosune’. In the original language, goodness is a moral quality. It is uprightness of heart and life.

Goodness is very closely associated with gentleness. Gentleness describes the kindlier quality of goodness whereas goodness describes the sterner or disciplined aspect.

Sometimes goodness is shown by gentleness, but on other occasions, it is shown by discipline. Therefore, goodness stems from a zeal for the truth which rebukes, corrects, and chastises. To illustrate this definition, consider Jesus as He cleanses the temple. Consequently, He made a scourge, drove them out, poured out their money, and overturned their tables, John 2:13-17.

Upon seeing this, His disciples remembered Psalm 69:9. Because of a zeal for God, Christ in all goodness corrected the situation in the temple.

Now remember that the Jews had to take their own animal sacrifice from their own homes, Exodus 12:5-6, but what was happening was the money merchants were selling animals at the temple which were blemished to the people coming in. in other words the sacrifices weren’t personal sacrifices any more, it was more of a convenient store.

Also, consider the denouncing of the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:13-19. To follow after the Scribes and Pharisees was and is a very serious matter for their ways will lead one to destruction, Matthew 5:20.

Jesus, on the other hand, desires ‘all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.’ 1 Timothy 2:4 clearly reveals to us that He willingly gave Himself on the cross.

Thus, because of Jesus’ zeal for truth and true righteousness, and His desire of salvation for all men, He warned, ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!’ Matthew 23:13.

A final illustration to help in our understanding of ‘goodness’ is found in Hebrews 12:6. Generally, we think about love and goodness in terms of gentleness. However, love and goodness ought also to be thought of as discipline. We as parents should understand this.

Why does the mother slap the hand of the child reaching to the top of the stove? Because she loves that child and doesn’t want any harm to come to him or her. Is this goodness? Of course it is!

Why does God discipline or chastened His children? Because ‘it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’ Hebrews 12:11. This is God’s goodness in action.

Although other forms of this word is used numerous times in Scripture, the noun form as used in Galatians 5:22 is only used four times, Romans 15:14 / Ephesians 5:9 / 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

In adjective form, this word describes being good in character and is beneficial in effect. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus, he addressed Him as, ‘Good Master’ or ‘Good Teacher,’ Mark 10:17.

Coupled with the fact of his kneeling before Jesus, he was saying Jesus was good in character and beneficial in effect as a teacher. In reply, Jesus pointedly asked, ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone’. Mark 10:18. The point Jesus made was this, by referring to Him as ‘good,’ the rich young ruler was acknowledging His divine nature.

However, there is another side to this account. The rich young ruler was obviously conceited about his own goodness. When Jesus told him to ‘keep the commandments’, Matthew 19:17, he said, ‘Master, all these have I observed from my youth,’ Mark 10:20.

Once again, the good character of Jesus is displayed. ‘Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ Mark 10:21.

In kindness, Jesus invited him to be a disciple, but in goodness, Jesus was stern and candidly pointed out his lacking. As in the fruit of the Spirit, both qualities stem from love.

Because of His love, Jesus was direct with the rich young ruler, and in so doing, He convicted him that he was really not as good as he thought. Sadly, instead of repenting, the young man went away grieved.

The opposite of goodness is evil or bad. The action of Isaac and Jacob, whether good or evil, didn’t influence God’s choice, Romans 9:11.

God’s providential plan to bless all the nations of the earth was through Abraham’s and Isaac’s seed. Isaac was blessed over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau not because they were good or bad, but because they were children of promise. Thus, through the seed of Isaac and Jacob, Christ, we, too, are children of promise.

2 Corinthians 5:10 is speaking about judgement for Christians, for the service of the Christian, it’s not talking about salvation. In the original language, the word ‘bad’ in this verse and the word ‘evil’ in Romans 9:11 are the same. It means base, wrong, or wicked and refers to a person or thing that lack those qualities they ought to possess whether in action or thoughts, John 5:28-29.

Those who are characterised by the fruit of the Spirit, ‘goodness’, will be rewarded with eternal life, and those who do evil will be rewarded with death, ‘eternal separation from God’ and damnation.

What does it mean to do good? Can a person simply do acts of kindnesses and expect to inherit eternal life? The answer is no! Mark 10:18. Doing good doesn’t take away or ‘balance the scale’ concerning sin, Romans 3:23.

Instead, the perfect blood of Christ was shed to take away sins, Matthew 26:28 / Ephesians 1:7. Therefore to have forgiveness, one must come into contact with His blood which is a true act of goodness on man’s part. In order to come into contact with the blood of Christ, one must obey the Gospel. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.


‘Faithfulness’ ‘pistis’ is the seventh attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. Though faith should not be emphasised above the other characteristics, it’s a vital and crucial topic because without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6.

However, in order to please God, we must have the right kind of faith. Not just any faith pleases God nor is this characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit.

Within the pages of the Bible, there are basically two kinds of faith, dead faith which is the faith of devils and saving faith. The faith of devils is mere belief or knowledge of facts, James 2:19.

The devils have knowledge of who God is and who God’s Son is. They also know and believe Jesus died for the sins of the world, but this is as far as their faith goes. They don’t have saving faith, and, therefore, they tremble in fear of God and His judgment.

Saving faith is belief coupled with obedience of acts of faith, Acts 16:19-31. Was Paul commanding them to merely believe? I think not. Why? Because of the following verses. In Acts 16:32, the text goes on to say, ‘Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.’ Their faith was being increased by the word spoken to them, Romans 10:17.

Why did the Jailor and his family wash their stripes? Acts 16:33. Because they were repenting of their sin of beating Paul and Silas. By washing their stripes, they were helping the heeling process, and thus correcting their sin as much as humanly possible. Also notice in this verse, they were baptised.

Finally, in Acts 16:34, we find them rejoicing. Why? Because their sins were washed away. At the point of mere belief? No, after they heard the word, repented, and were baptised.

Finally, notice the summary Luke gives by inspiration, ‘believing in God with all his house.’ Acts 16:34. Luke summarizes all that they did in the word ‘believing.’ Thus, we see saving faith includes acts of obedience, James 2:18 / James 2:20 / James 2:22 / James 2:24 / James 2:26.

Therefore, without obedient, saving faith it is impossible to please God. Now that we understand there are two kinds of faith, what is faith?

Some would point to Hebrews 11:1 for a definition of faith. However, this is more of a description of faith than a definition. From this verse, we learn some more qualities of faith.

Within faith, there is substance or a quality of confidence which helps a person to endure, and there is evidence which is proof. It is not some ‘leap in the dark’ but has its foundation in proof.

So, what is faith? The actual definition of faith is ‘firm persuasion’ or ‘firm conviction based upon being persuaded.’ However, it is used three basic ways within Scripture.

1. The word faith is used of ‘trust’.

In 1 Corinthians 2:5, Paul was speaking about trust. We should not put our trust in man’s wisdom but in the power of God. The Jews of old trusted in their own wisdom, and God lead them into captivity.

Today, rather than trusting God and preaching His Word, many draw disciples after them by the wisdom of man with good words and fair speeches, Romans 16:18. Let us grow in faith by trusting God and taking Him at His word.

2. The word faith is used of ‘trustworthiness’.

When Paul wrote to Titus, the word translated ‘fully trusted’ in Titus 2:10, could have been translated ‘faith.’ It is the same Greek word. To show ‘full trust’ is to show one’s trustworthiness, dependability, or reliability.

This is probably the specific characteristic Paul is describing in the fruit of the Spirit. When the Bible talks about the faithfulness of God, Deuteronomy 7:9 / 1 Corinthians 1:9 / 1 Corinthians 10:13, it is this characteristic.

When we read of those who are ‘faithful in Christ Jesus,’ Ephesians 1:1 / Colossians 1:2, again it is this characteristic. Please notice this application, in order to be faithful in Christ Jesus, one must have full trust. His or her life must be characterised by trustworthiness and dependability to God, His Word, and His people.

3. The word faith is used in reference to a scheme of ‘belief’.

By inspiration, this is generally designated as ‘the faith’ and refers to the Holy Scriptures by which we grow in faith, Romans 10:17 / Acts 6:7.

They were obedient to a scheme of belief or system of faith. Again, Paul kept a system of belief, the Word of God, 2 Timothy 4:7, and Jude was encouraged to contend for it, Jude 3. To defend the Gospel and to earnestly contend for the faith is the same concept, Philippians 1:17.

Notice further, Jude said, the faith ‘was once delivered unto the saints’ or ‘once for all delivered’. The Bible is the complete revelation of God. There is no place and no need for further revelation for God has given ‘unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness’. 2 Peter 1:3.

Faith isn’t some subjective leap in the dark. It’s concrete and objective. It has its foundation in the Word of God. Since without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6, let us determine now to grow in faith. How? By reading and studying God’s eternal word, Romans 10:17.

Let’s do more than just maintain this marvellous attribute of the fruit of the Spirit, let’s grow in faith so that we will not have ‘little faith’, Matthew 6:30 but will have ‘great faith’ as the centurion, Matthew 8:10 and the woman of Canaan, Matthew 15:28.

And let us be like Abraham, the father of the faithful, who was ‘not weak in faith’ but ‘was strong in faith,’ Romans 4:18-19. Therefore, like the apostles, we plead unto the Lord to, ‘increase our faith’, Luke 17:5.


Gentleness, ‘praotes’, or meekness as some translations render the word is the eighth characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit. Like the other qualities of the fruit of the Spirit, meekness mustn’t be disregarded as being unimportant.

Jesus taught this God admired virtue in the third beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:5. Paul informed the young evangelist Timothy to flee covetousness and follow after meekness,’ 1 Timothy 6:11.

Rather than adorning themselves with fancy hair-do’s, gold, and costly attire, Peter instructs ladies to adorn themselves with ‘the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,’ 1 Peter 3:4. Thus, we see the importance of meekness.

What is gentleness or meekness? Meekness is a virtue describing an inner quality of a person. It isn’t necessarily an outward quality though such temperaments express themselves by outward actions.

Meekness carries with it the idea of self-abasement and is the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-willed. Meekness also implies submission. To be truly meek, one must be submissive.

Jesus expressed this thought in John 10:27. In our culture, meekness is often portrayed as weakness and is sometimes characterised by a person who is unable to help himself.

However, Jesus is meek, but as God, He is infinitely powerful. The Greeks considered animals that were tamed as meek. The animals still had all their strength, but being tamed, their strength was under control, disciplined, and gentle. Meekness is often associated with humility.

In fact, they are so closely related only the humble heart can possess meekness. In Jesus’ invitation, notice how He joins these two qualities, Matthew 11:28-29. Because Jesus is meek and lowly in heart, Christian ought to be the same.

Thus, these two virtues are again connected in Ephesians 4:2. Finally, notice the connection in Colossians 3:12. Thus, in each of these instances, we see this close alliance between meekness and humility.

Meekness begins with a proper attitude towards self. As we stand in the presence of the almighty God, how do we view ourselves? Are we or, at least, should we be humbled by His greatness? Meekness is void of pride.

Because of our sinfulness, we have nothing of which to boast or flaunt, James 4:6. Meekness continues with a proper attitude towards others. The meek are gentle, mild, and lowly. For this reason, the meek don’t demand their own rights. Isn’t this what Paul wrote about concerning meats sacrificed to idols and a brother’s weak conscience? Romans 14:13-23.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with eating such meats, but because it may cause a brother to stumble, we ought to refrain. Rather than demanding our rights, in meekness, we abstain. Meekness also is involved in our teaching and encouragement of others.

Consider the following passages in this light, Galatians 6:1 / 2 Timothy 2:24-25 / 1 Peter 3:15.

Though there are times when it is necessary, none of us like to be severely reprimanded. With all the problems in the church at Corinth, Paul approached them ‘in love, and in the spirit of meekness,’ 1 Corinthians 4:21 and ‘by the meekness and gentleness of Christ’, 2 Corinthians 10:1. Let’s, therefore, be followers of Paul and humbly seek to instruct and correct one another in the spirit of meekness.

Meekness ultimately culminates in a proper attitude towards God. This is the attitude of Jesus, John 6:38. Also, this attitude is displayed in His prayer on the Mount of Olives, Luke 22:42. Today, all of God’s will for all mankind is declared in His inspired Word, the Bible, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 / 2 Peter 1:3.

How do we approach the Bible? Do we approach it like Jesus approached the will of the Father without dispute, resistance, and murmuring?

With these thoughts, consider the exhortation of James, James 1:21. There are many good examples of meekness within Scripture. In Genesis 13:8-9, a dissension arose between Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s. Abraham, however, didn’t want strife to come between him and his nephew, and in meekness, he gave Lot who was younger the first choice of where to feed his herds and take his family.

Abraham didn’t demand his rights of being the elder, but with meekness and without complaint, allowed Lot to take the better land.

Moses is another powerful example. The first time the word ‘meek’ is used in the Bible concerns this great man of faith, Numbers 12:3. Even though he saw himself unable to speak, in meekness he obeyed God and lead the children of Israel out of bondage.

As the writer of Hebrews records, he saw the wealth of Egypt, and what it meant to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, yet in meekness he chose the reproach of Christ. Hebrews 11:24-26.

Finally, consider the example of Jeremiah. He spoke the truth as it was a burning fire shut up in his bones, Jeremiah 20:9. Other prophets of his day were speaking smooth things, Jeremiah 30:10, but Jeremiah preached the word of God.

He became unpopular, isolated, and suffered because of his stand for the truth. Still, in meekness and submission to God, he kept on preaching and teaching the truth. Yes, he was discouraged, but no, he didn’t quit but continued to meekly serve God.

One characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is ‘meekness’. If someone was describing your characteristics, would they include meekness? All of us can grow in this tremendous virtue. So, let us cultivate a spirit of meekness, Zephaniah 2:3.


The ninth and final quality of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, ‘egkrateia.’ Some versions use the word temperance. ‘Temperance’ is self-control.

In the original language, it literally means ‘in strength,’ that is, in the realm or in the sphere of strength. It describes the virtue of a person who masters his or her desires and passions.

In writing to the Corinthians, Paul describes the temperance a person must have in order to win a race, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Truly Christians are in a race, and God intends for us to be winners. In order to win, we must have temperance.

Notice some lessons on temperance from 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

1. Christians must ‘run to win’. 1 Corinthians 9:24.

This is a winning attitude or disposition of mind. Attitude often determines the difference between winning and losing. An ‘I can’t’ attitude never could. Here is the point, Christians need to be in control of their thoughts in order to obtain an incorruptible crown.

Everything a person does goes back to a heart action, Proverbs 23:7 / Matthew 15:17-19. If a person controls his heart, the way he thinks, then he will also be in control of his body, Psalm 1:2 / Matthew 5:8.

Paul gave a prescription for good mental health in Philippians 4:8. In order to think about such things, a person must control his thoughts.

We mustn’t allow ourselves to think about falsehoods, dishonourable things, unrighteousness, impurity, things associated with hatred, and wicked reports. If we will allow such thoughts, they could consume our lives and make us bitter.

But if we think about things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, we will have ‘the peace of God, which passes all understanding.’ Philippians 4:7.

A part of disciplining one’s mind is knowing the mark and staying focused upon it. What are our desires in life? Is it material goods or is it heaven? If we desire the incorruptible crown, then heaven must be our goal.

Now that we know the mark, then let’s stay focused upon it. Rather than allowing ourselves to be distracted by the material, physical world, let’s stay focused upon the heavenly reward.

Rather than being a double minded man who is unstable in all his ways, James 1:8, let’s fix our eyes upon the crown of life, 2 Corinthians 4:18.

Let’s be like Moses who had respect unto the recompense of reward and chose Him who is invisible over the treasures of Egypt, Hebrews 11:23-27.

Though men may try, but the fact remains ‘You cannot serve both God and money,’ Matthew 6:24. Therefore, discipline your mind and stay focused upon the heavenly reward.

2. Christians must discipline their bodies and bring them into subjection in order ‘to obtain an incorruptible crown’, 1 Corinthians 9:27.

Rather than being a slave to the body, we must make our bodies servants for the Master. Our bodies were given to us to serve God, Romans 6:12-13.

In order to accomplish mastery over our bodies, we must deny ourselves, take up the cross of Christ, and follow Jesus, Matthew 16:24. Obviously, this isn’t an easy task.

In fact, to allow another to have control over us is against man’s natural way of thinking, but if we desire to have life, we must bring our bodies into subjection.

A major part of buffeting our bodies is controlling our tongues. This is a major theme in the third chapter of James. He wrote that if a man is able to control this ‘unruly evil’ James 3:8, the tongue, he ‘is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body’ James 3:2.

It almost goes without saying that many of us have brought upon ourselves a wide variety of problems because we did not ‘bite our tongues.’ Proverbs 21:23.

Not only is ‘self-control’ a quality of the fruit of the Spirit, it is also listed among the qualities of fruitfulness in 2 Peter 1:6. These qualities are built one upon another. Peter begins with faith, 2 Peter 1:5-7.

Since they build one upon another, then we can understand more about any one of these qualities by the preceding and succeeding qualities.

Since temperance is built upon knowledge, then something must be learned before a person can be temperate, and temperance is putting into practice what we have already learned. Furthermore, patience, ‘endurance’ results from temperance. Only until we learn temperance, will we learn true patience.

Notice in Acts 24:25, that temperance comes after righteousness and judgment after temperance. Righteousness is God’s gift to mankind.

Through the blood of Christ and our obedience to the Gospel, we are justified and made righteous. Temperance is man’s response to the righteousness of God.

It’s self-control in remaining or abiding in righteous living. Judgment is bringing into accountability righteousness and temperance. How did we respond to the righteousness of God?

Did we live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world? Our acceptance of the righteousness of God and our temperate abiding in righteousness will be brought into accountability, judgment.

By controlling our minds and bodies, we will be temperate in all things and will obtain that incorruptible crown. The incorruptible crown is a victory crown that will not decay nor perish. It will last forever! Hebrews 12:1-2.

The fruit of the Spirit is made up of qualities to which all men should aspire. They are qualities that need no law, need no regulation, and need no restraint.

They are godly qualities that issue from the foundational principle of love for God and for His creation. If these qualities are applied properly to our lives, they will build a good relationship with God, with family, and with friends.

Every godly person of the past was characterised by them, and every godly person of future will be characterised by them. Let us, therefore, strive in earnestness to possess the fruit of the Spirit which is ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, righteousness, and truth’.

All these characteristics are evidence of a Spirit-filled life. But Paul says, if you want to prove you’re a Christian, then let the characteristics of the Holy Spirit be visible in your life.

“Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:23

He says, “against such things, there is no law”, in other words, if we live our lives displaying the fruit of the Spirit, we don’t need any law to tell us how we should behave towards anyone.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24

Those who belong to Christ have put to death any efforts to work themselves to heaven by perfect law-keeping and meritorious deeds. In other words, anyone who is trying to be right with God through law-keeping only doesn’t belong to Christ. Christians should be trusting in God’s grace, not trusting in how well they keep the law, Romans 8:9.

Notice that Paul reminds us that the Christian has crucified the desires and passions of the flesh. Why are we to crucify those desires and passions? Because those desires and passions actually encourage us to try and live right through our own abilities, rather than depending on God’s grace.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:25-26

The Christian life is within the realm of the Spirit’s direction through the word of God and so when we live according to the direction of God’s word, we are living in the Spirit.

Morris, in his commentary, says the following.

‘To be conceited, to be sure that we are always right (even if that means that other people are always wrong!) is a perennial temptation to believers. It is easy to assume that because we are Christ’s we will always say and do the right thing. Paul is warning his readers that believers can be too confident that they are right in what they are contemplating.’

It’s clear when we have this conceited attitude, we can easily provoke others, which may lead to all kinds of divisions with the body of Christ.

Gill, in his commentary, says the following, concerning envy.

‘Their gifts and abilities, natural and spiritual; their rank and station in the world, or in the church. These were sins the Galatians very probably were subject to; and where they prevail, there is confusion, and every evil work, and are therefore to be watched and guarded against.’

Paul is calling on the Galatians to bring their lives into harmony with the direction of the Spirit.

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