Scriptures

Complete Study Of The Fruit Of The Spirit

Introduction

Before one can understand

‘the fruit of the Spirit,’

one must understand the context of Galatians 5 where ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is revealed. In this chapter, Paul exhorts Christians not to allow their liberty to degenerate into a

‘yoke of bondage.’

Some individuals in the Galatian church had ‘fallen from grace’ because they sought to be ‘justified by the law.’ The Judaizing teachers were binding the old law upon the church and, by such, had hindered some in obeying the truth, Galatians 5:7. These false teachers of Judaism were troubling the church, Galatians 5:12.

However, as Christians, we have been called to liberty, liberty from the old law, from sin, and from the bondage of sin. Thus, Paul exhorts, ‘do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh,’ Galatians 5:13.

One reason we ought not to use our liberty as a license to sin is because ‘we walk in the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:16. To ‘walk in the Spirit’ means to walk according to the Spirit’s teaching through His sword ‘which is the word of God,’ Ephesians 6:17.

This is the same as being ‘led by the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18, and it is the opposite of walking after the flesh. The Spirit and the flesh are at odds, Galatians 5:17. They are in constant conflict. They are opposed to one another.

To further illustrate this conflict, Paul contrasts ‘the works of the flesh,’ Galatians 5:19-21 with ‘the fruit of the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:22-23. In verse 16 of Galatians 5, Paul commands, ‘Walk in the Spirit.’ Let’s be sure, there are certain results of walking in the Spirit. There is the benefit of not fulfilling the lust of the flesh, Galatians 5:16.

The same thought is declared by David in Psalm 119:11,

‘I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.’

When we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, it will protect us against the fiery darts of Satan. Jesus knew this lesson when He was tempted of the devil, Matthew 4. Jesus guarded Himself from each temptation by the Word of God. He answered the tempter’s temptation with

‘it is written,’ Matthew 4:4+7+10

Also, if we ‘walk in the Spirit’, we are ‘not under the law,’ Galatians 5:18. ‘The law’ in this verse is the Mosaic Law. Earlier in this chapter, we are told Christ is become of no effect unto those who justify themselves by ‘the law,’ Galatians 5:4. To return to the Mosaic law is to abandon the law of Christ and is to fall from grace. Some believe this means we are not under any law.

However, we are under ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ which frees us from ‘the law of sin and death,’ Romans 8:2. We are to ‘fulfil the law of Christ’ by bearing one another’s burdens, Galatians 6:2. And, we are to look into ‘the perfect law of liberty.’ James 1:25.

Also, consider this, since

‘sin is the transgression of the law,’ 1 John 3:4

to say we aren’t under law is to say we haven’t nor cannot sin. Clearly, we are under law, the law of Christ, but we are not under ‘the law’, the Law of Moses. Further, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ results from walking in the Spirit.

Again, when we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ will be seen within us. The qualities of ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ will characterise us. The Spirit will produce these qualities within us by the Word He has inspired.

‘The fruit of the Spirit’ is the produce of the Spirit

In other words, it is the product that is produced by the Spirit’s influence. ‘The fruit of the Spirit’ isn’t a Christian nor the fruit of a Christian which some have mistakenly taught. In fact, the fruit of a Christian is more than just a Christian.

It is true that in the natural world, mankind, animals, and plants produce after their kind. Christians should also produce after their kind, and in this sense, the fruit of a Christian is another Christian.

However, Christians produce other fruit besides Christians. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught,

‘Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20

Within the context, Jesus is speaking concerning false teachers who come ‘in sheep’s clothing’ but inwardly are ‘ravening wolves,’ Matthew 7:15.

To illustrate how we can know a false teacher, He taught a good tree produces good fruit, whereas an evil tree produces evil fruit.

Is the only fruit of a false teacher, other false teachers? Of course not! False teachers cause division, false hope, and disillusionment to only name a few. So, it is with Christians. Christians should evangelise, but there are other fruits which they should bear, and one such fruit is the fruit of the Spirit.

Since the fruit of the Spirit is the produce of the Spirit, then how does the Spirit produce the qualities of

‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’

in Christians today? The Spirit influences Christians today by the Spirit inspired Word. Peter wrote,

‘For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ 2 Peter 1:21

It is this Word that will make us

‘wise for salvation,’ 2 Timothy 3:15

and

‘it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes,’ Romans 1:16

It provides us with

‘everything we need for a godly life,’ 2 Peter 1:3

Thus, nothing else is needed for it is all sufficient and will produce the right fruit.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught that a sower sowed seed by the way side, upon a rock, among thorns, and on good ground, Luke 8:5-8. Later, Jesus told us what the seed represents. He said,

‘The seed is the word of God,’ Luke 8:11

So, the Word was sown in the hearts of men, but sadly the hearts of some men were like the soil of the way side, the rock, and the thorny ground.

Thankfully, when the Word of God is sown in other men whose hearts are like the soil of the good ground, it

‘brings forth fruit with patience,’

that is with constant perseverance, Luke 8:15.

What is the fruit of the Spirit?

It is what the Word provides and produces in the good soil of a person’s heart.

Contrasted to the Spirit produced fruit, ‘the works of the flesh’ are ‘the unfruitful works of darkness,’ Ephesians 5:9+11. In other words, ‘the works of the flesh’ don’t yield a valuable or desirable fruit. The works of the flesh are the evil fruit of the evil tree. They bring forth no blessings and no real benefits.

Please take careful note that unlike the plural ‘acts of the flesh,’ ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is singular. ‘Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ aren’t separate fruits but are characteristics or attributes of the singular ‘fruit of the Spirit.’

Besides these nine characteristics, Paul adds

‘all goodness and righteousness and truth’ in Ephesians 5:9

Thus, giving us a total of eleven attributes of the fruit of the Spirit all of which are virtues of the highest moral and spiritual qualities.

These qualities or characteristics will be manifested in the lives of those

‘who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit’, Romans 8:1+4 / Galatians 5:16

Like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1, if ‘the fruit of the Spirit’

‘be in you, and abound, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 2 Peter 1:8

In contrast, if they aren’t manifested in our lives, then we aren’t being ‘led of (or ‘by’) the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18 / Romans 8:14. And again, like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1:5-7, if they are lacking, then we are ‘near-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 2 Peter 1:9. Thus, the proof of the tree is in the fruit.

Jesus said,

‘the tree is known by his fruit’, Matthew 12:33

And,

‘Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20

So, let us determine to always ‘walk after the Spirit’ by following His Word in order that we may manifest these marvellous traits, the fruit of the Spirit.

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.’

Furthermore, it is characterised by,

‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’. Galatians 5:22-23

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 stands in the heights because it directly stems from God. John wrote,

‘And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.’ 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. ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ 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 which says,

‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.’

When asked ‘which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said,

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Matthew 22:36-39

From this, 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. John wrote,

‘God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.’ 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. ‘We are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is the first commandment.’ 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 emotin. 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 5:12, and our brethren, 1 John 4:20.

In fact, love should be a distinctive mark of God’s people. Jesus taught,

‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ John 13:35

This is a serious matter! John in his epistle wrote,

‘Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.’ 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,

‘After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church’.

A general principle is stated. 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+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. John wrote,

‘this is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ 1 John 4:9-10

His love should, first, motivate us to love Him.

‘We love him, because he first loved us.’ 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.

‘For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through 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

The singular fruit of the Spirit is characterised by

‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’, Galatians 5:22-23

These aren’t different fruits but various characteristics of the same fruit.

As one would describe an apple or an orange, he would begin with the most prevalent characteristics, those that stand out above the others. So it is with the fruit of the Spirit. The characteristic that stands out the most is love and then ‘joy’.

‘Joy’ 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+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 exhorts,

‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,’ 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,

‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.’ 1 Peter 4:12-13

Notice how this idea is further expounded upon in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. In the last Beatitude, Jesus said,

‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.’ Matthew 5:11

Blessings or happiness, joy, promised to the persecuted? Yes!

Jesus explains in the next verse,

Matthew 5:12 ‘Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’

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 said,

‘I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.’ John 15:11

Jesus knew that true joy comes by keeping the commandments of God. 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 wrote,

‘Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.’ Psalm 1:1-2

Again, in Psalm 112:1, he wrote,

‘Praise the LORD. Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.’

Surely, we would agree with David when he said,

‘The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.’ 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. Jesus said the first and great commandment is

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. Matthew 22:36-38

Next on God’s chain of priority is others second. Again, Jesus said,

‘and the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 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,

‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’

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.

‘For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’. Romans 14:17

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15:13

Peace

As we study the fruit of the Spirit, we need to be constantly reminded that it is a singular fruit with many characteristics. The fruit of the Spirit is described by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 which says.

‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.’

In this part of our study, we are concerned with ‘peace,’ the third characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit.

From the very beginning of the Lord’s ministry, we learn about peace. In the Beatitudes, Jesus said,

‘blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God’, Matthew 5:9

This statement 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 prophesied the Messiah would be

‘the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,’ 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 wrote,

‘They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.’ Isaiah 2:4

Further, Isaiah described the peaceful nature of the recipients of the Gospel, the citizens of the Messianic kingdom, the church. He wrote,

‘The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.’ 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. Jesus said,

‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ 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.

Jesus said,

‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,’ John 14:27

Notice in this statement, 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.

‘But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.’ 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+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’. Paul wrote,

‘Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you,’ 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.

Long-suffering

A fourth characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering. 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. David, the Psalmist wrote,

‘But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.’ 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.

Peter wrote,

‘The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering towards, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’. 2 Peter 3:9

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.

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. Peter wrote,

‘to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water.’ 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?

One day, God will send forth His Son and

‘Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.’ 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, Jesus said,

‘And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?’ Luke 18:7

The word translated ‘bear long’ 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. He wrote,

‘Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?’ 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.

‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’ James 1:17

Those good and perfect gifts 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. In 1 Timothy 1:16, Paul wrote,

‘But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.’

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!

‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ Romans 5:8

‘While we were yet sinners,’ 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.’

‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ 1 John 3:1

Since God and Christ are longsuffering, it is only natural that their servants be longsuffering. To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote,

‘As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.’ 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.

‘Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.’ 1 John 4:11

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.

With this application, consider Colossians 3:12-13

‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’

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.

Gentleness

The fruit of the Spirit has many attributes. Just as an orange has attributes like round, orange, and sweet, the fruit of the Spirit has the attributes of ‘love, joy, peace’. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul gave the fifth attribute of the fruit of the Spirit, ‘gentleness’.

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.

Paul wrote,

‘Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?’ Romans 2:4

The word ‘goodness’ is the same as ‘gentleness’ in the original language. God is rich in goodness!

‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.’ James 1:17

and

‘in him we live, and move, and have our being.’ 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. In Ephesians 2:7, Paul wrote,

‘That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.’

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.

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. After reminding us what we were, he wrote,

‘But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared.’

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. Again, to the Christians in Rome, Paul wrote,

‘consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.’ 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.’ Hebrew 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. Certainly, we hear the kind and gentle voice of Jesus when he said,

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’. 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. Paul wrote,

‘Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’ Colossians 4:6

Wise Solomon of old wrote,

‘Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones’. Proverbs 16:24

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. To the Christians in Colossae he wrote,

‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ Colossians 3:12-13

Goodness

The next description or sixth attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is ‘goodness’. 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.

In John 2:13-17, we read that on the Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem

‘and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting.’

Consequently, He made a scourge, drove them out, poured out their money, and overturned their tables.

Upon seeing this, His disciples remembered Psalm 69:9 which says,

‘for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.’

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. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,

‘For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 5:20

To follow after the Scribes and Pharisees was and is a very serious matter for their ways will lead one to destruction.

Jesus, on the other hand, desires

‘all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.’ 1 Timothy 2:4

as clearly revealed by the fact 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!’ Mathew 23:13.

A final illustration to help in our understanding of ‘goodness’ is found in Hebrews 12:6,

‘the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’

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.

a. Romans 15:14

‘I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.’

b. Ephesians 5:9

‘(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth).’

c. 2 Thessalonians 1:11

‘With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.’

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. Concerning the children of promise, Isaac and Jacob, Paul wrote in Romans 9:11,

‘Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand.’

The action of Isaac and Jacob, whether good or evil, didn’t influence God’s choice.

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.

Also, in 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul writes,

‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.’

Remember this verse is talking about judgement 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.

Similarly, Jesus said,

‘Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.’ 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! Remember Jesus said,

‘there is none good but one, that is, God’ Mark 10:18

‘For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,’ Romans 3:23

Doing good doesn’t take away or ‘balance the scale’ concerning sin.

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

‘Faithfulness’ is the seventh attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. Along with ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness’, there is ‘faith’, all describing the singular 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 says,

‘You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.’ 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. When Paul was in Philippi, he and Silas were beaten and imprisoned. After the miracle of the earthquake, the jailhouse doors were opened, and

‘everyone’s chains were broken,’ the Jailer asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ Acts 16:19-30

Paul answered,

‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.’ Acts 16:31

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.’

Because

‘Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message,’ Romans 10:17

their faith was being increased by the word spoken to them.

Then Acts 16:33 says,

‘At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptised.’

Why did the Jailor and his family wash their stripes?

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.

For this reason, James says.

James 2:18 ‘But someone will say, ‘you have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.’

James 2:20 ‘You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?’

James 2:22 ‘You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.’

James 2:24 ‘You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.’

James 2:26 ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.’

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. Hebrews 11:1 says,

‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’

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 wrote,

‘That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.’

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’.

Paul wrote in Titus 2:10,

‘to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive.’

The word translated ‘fully trusted’ in this verse 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.

Luke records,

‘And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith’, Acts 6:7

They were obedient to a scheme of belief or system of faith. Nearing the end of his life, Paul wrote,

‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith’. 2 Timothy 4:7

Again, Paul kept a system of belief, the Word of God. Finally, Jude wrote we

‘should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,’ Jude 3

Similarly, Paul said,

‘I am set for the defence of the gospel’, Philippians 1:17

To defend the Gospel and to earnestly contend for the faith is the same concept.

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 for

‘faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.’ 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, ‘Increase our faith’. Luke 17:5.

Meekness

The fruit of the Spirit is the produce the Spirit yields in the heart of men. By the Spirit’s influence through the Spirit inspired Word, man is instructed in such characteristics as ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,’ and meekness, Galatians 5:22-23.

In this part of our study, we are concerned with ‘meekness’, 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,

‘blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth,’ Matthew 5:5

Paul informed the young evangelist Timothy to flee covetousness

‘and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, 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 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,

‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.’

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. He said,

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ 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 which says,

‘with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.’

Finally, notice the connection in Colossians 3:12. Paul, writing to the church at Colossae, said,

‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ 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. Therefore, James wrote,

‘But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favour to the humble.’ 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 ‘Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.’

2 Timothy 2:24-25 ‘And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.’

1 Peter 3:15 ‘But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.’

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 when He declared,

‘For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me’. John 6:38

Also, this attitude is displayed in His prayer on the Mount of Olives,

‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’, 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,

‘Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.’ 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. Number 12:3 says,

‘Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.’

He was meek because he humbled himself and submitted to the will of God.

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.

‘Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD’s anger’. Zephaniah 2:3

Temperance

Remember the fruit of the Spirit is the singular fruit produced by living according to the Spirit’s inspired instructions, the Bible. This singular fruit is characterised by ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’.

These aren’t separate or different fruits but are varying qualities of the same fruit. The ninth and final quality of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 is ‘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.

Listen to the words of Paul. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 he writes,

‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.’

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 this text

1. Christians must ‘run to win’. Paul wrote, ‘Run in such a way as to get the prize.’

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.

Wise Solomon wrote,

‘For as he thinks in his heart, so is he’, Proverbs 23:7

Everything a person does goes back to a heart action, Matthew 15:17-19. If a person controls his heart, the way he thinks, then he will also be in control of his body.

For this reason, we can see why David wrote a man is blessed when

‘whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.’ Psalm 1:2

And why Jesus said,

‘blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God’. Matthew 5:8

In Philippians 4:8, Paul gave a prescription for good mental health. He wrote,

‘Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’

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.

‘Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.’ Romans 6:12-13

In order to accomplish this, 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

Solomon wrote,

‘Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.’ Proverbs 21:23

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.’

Not only is ‘temperance’ 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. Faith is the most fundamental, and we build upon faith with virtue, upon virtue with knowledge, then with temperance, then patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and upon brotherly kindness with love. 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.

When Paul taught Felix concerning faith in Christ,

‘he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,’ Acts 24:25

Notice temperance came 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!

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ 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’.

The Fruit Of The Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23  

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."

Psalm 37:4

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