The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

“The Holy Spirit is the only sufficient means of true mortification. Mortification is a gift of the Crucified, Risen, Ascended Christ, and is mediated through the Spirit. He works in three ways. He causes the heart to abound in grace and in the fruit of the Spirit. The antidote to corruption is being filled with the Spirit. But He also acts in a real physical efficiency on the root and habit of sin, for the weakening, destroying, and taking it away.” Sinclair Ferguson

Self-control (ἐγκράτεια; enkrateia) means to actively exercise complete control over one’s desires and actions. This pursuit is a cooperative effort by the believer in Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. In other words, self-control is to make one’s heart (intellect; emotions; will) obedient to the Word of God.

I Corinthians 9:25-27 says, “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

The Apostle Paul saw the importance of exercising self-control in his personal walk in Christ. He knew that it only took one, unguarded moment to undermine a lifetime of ministry and service.

Proverbs 4:23-27 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”

Self-control involves guarding what you say. It also means guarding what you look at or gaze upon. Additionally, it means considering where you are going and what you plan on doing when you arrive at your destination. Self-control means to turn away from evil.

Dr. R. C. Sproul says, “Basically, to have self-control means that we behave in a manner appropriate to the given situation. It means we defer when it is appropriate to defer. It means we speak when we need to speak. It means that we control our tempers and do not blow up every time things do not go our way. It means that we ignore the minor mistakes of others instead of trying to prove that we are always right.”

However, self-control also means that we stand for the truth of God at all times. Dr. Sproul comments that, “When we seek to practice self-control in our lives, we must take care that we do not become wimps. Jonathan Edwards offers helpful advice by saying that when it comes to matters of truth and integrity, we cannot yield to other people. If someone is teaching rank heresy, for example, exercising self-control and behaving in a manner appropriate to the situation means that we call attention to the matter and stand up for the truth.

Are you a person who displays self-control? What are your strong areas regarding this Fruit of the Spirit?  What are your weak-points? Ask God to reveal to you the areas of your life where your self-control is strong and the areas in which you need His strength to become more self-controlled.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

“The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.” Puritan John Owen

Mortification, if you have not already surmised, is not only the elimination of sin in the believer’s life but also the fostering of Christ-like qualities. Today, we examine the fruit of gentleness.

 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6

Here are but three Scripture references which address the subject of gentleness. They specifically, and respectively, speak of the believer’s attitude, speech and behavior. Gentleness is not only appropriate toward fellow believers in Christ, but also toward unbelievers.

Gentleness (πραΰτης; prautes) is defined as meekness and mildness. It is not being harsh with other people, not only in our attitude but also in our actions.

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Gentleness (prautēs) marks a person who is submissive to God’s Word (cf. James 1:21) and who is considerate of others when discipline is needed (cf. “gently” in Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:25; “gentle” in 1 Cor. 4:21; Eph. 4:2; “gentleness” in Col. 3:12; 1 Peter 3:16).”

I certainly learned to be gentle in spirit and behavior in raising a daughter who possesses a sensitive personality which can be easily hurt. I learned that a soft voice and a pleasant face goes a long way to foster gentleness, even when discipline was required by a father towards a daughter. It is also no coincidence that my daughter’s husband constantly displays a gentle spirit.

The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Corinthian Church, asked, “What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness” (I Corinthians 4:21)? He knew the church was in need of spiritual correction in a number of areas. However, he also understood that such discipline and correction was to be done in a spirit of gentleness.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “When we speak of a gentle person we are not speaking of someone who is reticent or fearful. Rather, the biblical view of gentleness presupposes strength. No one who has ever walked the earth has had absolute power except our Lord Jesus who is the very God of the universe. However, Jesus did not exercise His strength in an abrasive manner or use it to bully others. Rather, He tempered His strength with gentleness. He stood for truth when it was appropriate, but He also gave grace to sinners like the woman at the well when they were repentant (John 4:1–45). Such should not surprise us, for it is in God’s nature to be merciful with those whom He calls to Himself.”

Resolve today, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to display a spirit of gentleness to those with whom you come into contact and conversation. May your gentle spirit be evidenced by all.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!   

The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

The key verse in the Book of Habakkuk is 2:4 which says, “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” This verse is restated three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38) to not only refer to the basis of our relationship with God but also the believer’s perseverance in that relationship.

In explaining Romans 1:17, Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Paul intends to prove that it has always been God’s way to justify sinners by grace on the basis of faith alone. God established Abraham as a pattern of faith (Rom. 4:22–25Gal. 3:6–7) and thus calls him the father of all who believe (Rom. 4:11, 16). Elsewhere, Paul uses this same phrase to argue that no one has ever been declared righteous before God except by faith alone (Gal. 3:11) and that true faith will demonstrate itself in action (Phil. 2:12–13). This expression emphasizes that true faith is not a single event, but a way of life—it endures. That endurance is called the perseverance of the saints (cf. Col. 1:22–23Heb. 3:12–14). One central theme of the story of Job is that no matter what Satan does, saving faith cannot be destroyed.”

God calls the believer in Christ to live a life of faithfulness. Faithfulness (πίστις; pistis) in this context, and in harmony with the definition of faith, means to be a person who trusts in, depends upon, is committed to and honors and worships the Lord Jesus Christ by grace alone in His person and work. Additionally, it also means to be an individual who is trustworthy, dependable, committed and honorable.

A faithful person is a person of integrity. He is an undivided individual. What they say is what they do. What they do verifies what they say. It is a person upon whom you can trust, depend, commit to and honor.

A faithful individual is a blessing when they are your husband, wife, son, daughter, father or mother. What a joy to have grandparents who are known by their faithfulness.

Proverbs 3:3-4 says, Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” Do you want to leave a legacy of favor and good success? Do you want to be remembered as a successful man? Then be a man of faithfulness.

Consider the faithful legacy of Onesiphorus. Is he unfamiliar to you? I’m sure he is to many. However, he was a man one could trust, depend, commit to and who was honorable. This is what the Apostle Paul had to say about Onesiphorus in 2 Timothy 1:15-18.

“You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me—may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.”

Paul knew the pain of unfaithful people like Phygelus and Hermogenes. They were among the many who proved to be unfaithful not only to Paul but also to the gospel.

However, Onesiphorus was one of the few who proved to be faithful. He refreshed Paul while the apostle was in prison. He was not ashamed to be seen with Paul. He also earnestly searched to find Paul upon arriving in the City of Rome. Onesiphorus had also served the Lord in Ephesus. He demonstrated to the apostle and to the church that he embodied faithfulness.

Are you known by your faithfulness to the Lord and to others? Are you striving to not only live, but also leave, that kind of legacy? What a heritage to leave for those who follow is a life of faithfulness.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!    

The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Goodness means to be morally righteous and virtuous. The Greek word for goodness (ἀγαθωσύνη; agathosyne) means to have a generous spirit towards others. It means reaching out to people and being generous to them even when such generosity is not deserved.

Romans 12:9 says, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”

Psalm 34:14 says, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

In commenting on Romans 12:9, Dr. R .C. Sproul writes, “The Apostle likely has several ideas in mind here. First, in doing good to those who hate us, we keep ourselves from being corrupted by the world and its way of doing things, and so we grow in our sanctification. We will be tempted to love the world and its sinful approach to reality, which is why John tells us not to love the world or the things of the world (1 John 2:15). As we do good when others hate us, we are not conformed to the pattern of this world; instead, we evidence the transformation that the Holy Spirit is working in us (Rom. 12:2).”

“Second, doing good to those who do evil against us can bring about the end of their evil. This does not always occur, but as we saw in Romans 12:20, people who have done wrong are often shamed when we do not repay them in kind, and they stop mistreating us. The Holy Spirit can even work in this to bring about the repentance and conversion of our foes.”

Dr. Sproul concludes by saying, “Finally, in doing good to those who hate us, we show forth the character of our Savior before the world. He loved those who hated Him so much that He gave up His life to save them. We cannot atone for sin, but we can imitate His love for His enemies by loving our foes, thereby pointing them to Christ Himself.”

Theologian John Murray writes in his commentary Romans, “By well-doing we are to be the instruments of quenching the animosity and the ill-doing of those who persecute and maltreat us.”

How may you be generously good to someone today? It may be in the generosity of a kind word of encouragement. It may be in the giving of a kind or generous statement in the midst of criticism. Practice God’s goodness today.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Mortifying sin is not only getting rid of our sinful behavior but also putting into practice godly behavior. This is the basis for believers to evidence the Fruit of the Spirit. This is the basis for believers to evidence the fruit of kindness.

Ephesians 4:32 says, ““Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” The statement “be kind” is an imperative statement. It is a command. It is not a request from God but rather a divine directive from God.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, Ephesians 4:32 describes another of these habits and dispositions — the practice of kindness and forgiveness. Such a calling is not optional but rather is integral to our salvation. Jesus, after all, says that our forgiveness of others is tied directly to God’s pardoning of our sins (Matt. 6:14–15). Certainly our Savior does not mean that we merit divine forgiveness by extending grace to those who offend us. Forgiveness is God’s gift, and we can do nothing to earn it (Eph. 2:8–9). Nevertheless, those whom the Lord forgives understand the depth of their depravity and that they are wholly undeserving of His mercy. They realize that if the perfect Creator forgives them, then they, who are imperfect people, can do no less.”

Kindness (χρηστότης; chrestotes) means to provide something beneficial for someone. Synonyms include compassion, gentleness, thoughtfulness and helpfulness. Self-sacrificial love of the will, as addressed in I Corinthians 13:4, is a love that acts kindly towards others. Colossians 3:12 directs believers to put on kindness.

Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “Kindness (chrēstotēs) is benevolence in action such as God demonstrated toward men. Since God is kind toward sinners (cf. Rom. 2:4; Eph. 2:7) a Christian should display the same virtue (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6; Col. 3:12).”

A story is told that despite his busy schedule during the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln often visited the hospitals to cheer the wounded. On one occasion he saw a young fellow who was near death. “Is there anything I can do for you?” asked the compassionate President. “Please write a letter to my mother,” came the reply. Unrecognized by the soldier, the Chief Executive sat down and wrote as the youth told him what to say.

The letter read, “My Dearest Mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won’t recover. Don’t sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and father. Kiss Mary and John for me.” The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and then added this postscript: “Written for your son by Abraham Lincoln.”

Asking to see the note, the soldier was astonished to discover who had shown him such kindness. “Are you really our President?” he asked. “Yes,” was the quiet answer. “Now, is there anything else I can do?” The lad feebly replied, “Will you please hold my hand? I think it would help to see me through to the end.” The tall, gaunt man granted his request, offering warm words of encouragement until death stole in with the dawn.

We may never become President of the United States, we may never suffer a mortal wound while serving in the military, but we can be kind to one another.

In what ways can you be kind to others today? Put you kindness into action.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!                                                                                            

 

LORD’S DAY 25, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 25 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional addresses the subject of the Sacraments, or Ordinances, of the Church.

Q. It is through faith alone that we share in Christ and all his benefits: where then does that faith come from?

A. The Holy Spirit produces it in our hearts1 by the preaching of the holy gospel,2 and confirms it by the use of the holy sacraments.3

1 John 3:51 Cor. 2:10-14Eph. 2:8.
2 Rom. 10:171 Pet. 1:23-25.
3 Matt. 28:19-201 Cor. 10:16.

Q. What are sacraments?

A. Sacraments are visible, holy signs and seals. They were instituted by God so that by our use of them he might make us understand more clearly the promise of the gospel, and seal that promise.1 And this is God’s gospel promise: to grant us forgiveness of sins and eternal life by grace because of Christ’s one sacrifice accomplished on the cross.2

1 Gen. 17:11Deut. 30:6Rom. 4:11.
2 Matt. 26:27-28Acts 2:38Heb. 10:10.

Q. Are both the word and the sacraments then intended to focus our faith on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as the only ground of our salvation?

A. Yes! In the gospel the Holy Spirit teaches us and by the holy sacraments confirms that our entire salvation rests on Christ’s one sacrifice for us on the cross.1

1 Rom. 6:31 Cor. 11:26Gal. 3:27.

Q. How many sacraments did Christ institute in the New Testament?

A. Two: holy baptism and the holy supper.1

1 Matt. 28:19-201 Cor. 11:23-26.

May truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit: Patience.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Perhaps you can identify with the following quotes regarding the subject of personal patience. I know I sure can.

“I am not a patient man and never have been. I do not like to wait or be kept waiting. But it’s not like I want to be this way. I cannot become patient fast enough. I really want this fruit of the Holy Spirit to be more readily observable in my life. I just want it to be observable right now.”

“We are told that we live in a culture that is consumed by consumerism. Madison Avenue daily feeds our instant gratification, which is not merely a weakness; it is an addiction in our time. The epidemic of credit-card indebtedness bears witness to this malady. We want our luxuries, our pleasures, and our niceties, and we want them now. The antiquated virtue by which stewardship capitalism had its impetus was the principle of “delayed gratification.” One postponed immediate consumption in favor of investing for future growth. By that principle, many prospered—but not without the necessary exercise of patience.”

“When the Bible speaks of patience, particularly as one of the fruits of the Spirit, and as one of the characteristics of love, it speaks of it as a virtue that goes far beyond the mere ability to await some future gain. It involves more than the rest or peace of the soul that trusts in God’s perfect timing. The patience that is in view here focuses more on interpersonal relationships with other people. It is the patience of longsuffering and of forbearing in the midst of personal injury. This is the most difficult patience of all.

Have you ever encountered someone, let’s use the workplace for example, towards whom you had to be patient? I’m sure you have. I know I have. It may be a person who is just hard to like and oftentimes hard to work with. Hopefully, we’re not that particular person to other people. 

Don’t you often wish you could just let loose and let that person in question know how you really feel? Don’t you often want to tell that person what you really think of their behavior, laziness and general poor attitude? Don’t you get frustrated when they criticize you and get in your face when all you want is to be left alone to do your job?

This is when and where the fruit of patience comes into focus. This is where our true spiritual maturity is tested and evaluated. Are we truly able to patiently endure trials and sufferings, at whatever level they occur, as a testimony of our faith and trust in the LORD?

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “If we look at the triad of virtues underscored in the New Testament—faith, hope, and love—we see that each one of these virtues contains within it the necessary ingredient of patience. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that love suffers long. This longsuffering, forbearing patience is to be the Christian’s reflection of the character of God. It is part of God’s character to be slow to anger and quick to be merciful. Part of the incomprehensibility of God in terms of my own relationship with Him is this: I cannot fathom how a holy God has been able to put up with me marring His creation to the degree I have for three score and five years. For me to live another day requires a continuation of God’s gracious patience with my sin. The bare and simple question is this, “How can He put up with me?” The mystery is compounded when we add to the patience of God not only His patience with me but His patience with you, and you, and you, and you—multiplied exponentially throughout the whole world. It becomes even more difficult to fathom when we see a sinless Being more patient with sinful beings than sinful beings are with each other.

In our quest to mortify sin, think of the times and circumstances when you tend to become impatient. Can you think of some? We all can. Repent of them and ask God to not only cleanse and forgive you of the sin of impatience but also to strengthen you, by the Holy Spirit, to become a more patient person. Be patient, it will happen. 

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!   

 

The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit: Peace.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

One of my favorite passages from The Epistle to the Romans is Romans 5:1 which says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The peace (εἰρήνην; eirenen) of which the Apostle Paul speaks is a tranquility and a freedom from worry. This freedom from worry is regarding our status with the One, True, Holy God of the universe. There is no more enmity or strife between the believer and God.

Why?  It is because the believer in Christ has been justified by grace alone, through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. The phrase “justified by faith” is a shorthand statement including both grace and Jesus Christ.

To be justified (Δικαιωθέντες; dikaiothentes) means that God has declared the sinner righteous before Him. The sinner’s guilt has been removed and God has set him free from the penalty of sin: hell. This justification is through the God-given instrument of faith. Faith is trust in, dependence upon, commitment to and honor and worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What does Romans 5:1 have to do with Galatians 5:22 and the Fruit of the Spirit of peace? Plenty! For you see the peace of which the Apostle Paul speaks of regarding our peace with God is also related to the peace from God the Holy Spirit.

The spiritual fruit of peace (εἰρήνη; eirene) is also a freedom from worry and a tranquility of one’s soul. However, in Galatians 5:22 the peace mentioned refers to how the believer in Christ, who has peace with God by virtue of their justification by faith, is able to have peace while navigating through the storms of living in a sinful and fallen world.

Peace comes from Christ (John 14:27). It is a blessed quietness even in the face of the harshest circumstances. God’s peace defies human understanding (Philippians 4:7).  

Dr. John MacArthur writes that peace is, “The inner calm that results from confidence in one’s saving relationship with Christ. The verb form denotes binding together and is reflected in the expression “having it all together.” Like joy, peace is not related to one’s circumstances (John 14:27Rom. 8:28Phil. 4:6–7, 9).”

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, In defeating the world, Jesus has also granted us true peace. We are on God’s side in Christ, for He has reconciled us to the Father, and the defeat of God’s enemies on the cross is the defeat of our enemies. Furthermore, since our war with God has ended, we can live at peace with others as far as it depends on us (Rom. 12:18). We can rest peacefully in this evil world because we have already won the victory.”

What areas of your life are the most peaceful? Home? Church? Work? Where do find the greatest adversaries of peace? Home? Church? Work? Remember that peace, true and lasting peace, is rooted and grounded in the love that God has shown you in the Lord Jesus Christ. Be truly at peace today.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit: Joy.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

What exactly is joy? Joy is often used as a synonym for happiness. Happiness is a spirit of delight and glee which is determined by favorable circumstances and situations. As a feeling, joy is experienced when a person has success, good fortune and well-being.

For example, the Bible sets forth the example of joy when the shepherd found his lost sheep (Mt 18:13). The multitude felt joy when Jesus healed a Jewish woman whom Satan had bound for 18 years (Luke 13:17). The disciples returned to Jerusalem rejoicing after Jesus’ ascension (Luke 24:52). The church at Antioch were joyful when its members heard the Jerusalem Council’s decision that they did not have to be circumcised to keep God’s law (Acts 15:31). The Apostle Paul mentioned his joy in hearing about the obedience of the Roman Christians (Rom 16:19). He also wrote to the Corinthians that love does not rejoice in wrong but rejoices in the right. See I Corinthians 13:6; 1 Samuel 2:1; 11:9; 18:6; 2 Samuel 6:12; 1 Kings 1:40; Esther 9:17–22).

However, joy (χαρά; chara) is also an action or a behavior regardless of one’s circumstances. Joy is a contentment in spirit regardless of whatever circumstances we face. There is a joy that Scripture commands. This is a gladness that can be displayed regardless of how the Christian feels. Joy is divinely provided peace in the midst of the storms of life.

Proverbs 5:18 tells the reader to rejoice in the wife of his youth, without reference to what she may be like. Christ instructed his disciples to rejoice when they were persecuted, reviled, and slandered (Matthew 5:11–12). The apostle Paul commanded continuous rejoicing (Phil 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16). James said Christians are to count it all joy when they fall into various testing’s because such testings’ produce endurance (James 1:2). Joy in adverse circumstances is possible only as a fruit of the Holy Spirit, who is present in every Christian (Romans 8:9).

One of the great thieves of joy is anxiety or worry. This is an apprehension and fear of one’s circumstances. It is also sin.

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” This is a command from God. Believers are to continually demonstrate joy and gladness in their lives. However, this joy is not rooted in one’s circumstances but rather in the Lord. He and He alone is the source of the believer’s joy.

Dr. John MacArthur writes that joy is, “A happiness based on unchanging divine promises and eternal spiritual realities. It is the sense of well-being experienced by one who knows all is well between himself and the Lord (1 Pet. 1:8). Joy is not the result of favorable circumstances, and even occurs when those circumstances are the most painful and severe (John 16:20–22). Joy is a gift from God, and as such, believers are not to manufacture it but to delight in the blessing they already possess (Rom. 14:17).”  

One of the ways believers in Christ can rejoice in the Lord is to recall and remember all the ways the Lord has been faithful in their lives. In other words, to count their many blessings. In what ways has the Lord brought joy into your life? 

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

The Mortification of Sin: The Fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

In contrast to the works of the flesh, documented by the Apostle Paul, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The word fruit (καρπὸς; karpos) means in this context a spiritual harvest or obedient deeds. It is also important to note that the word fruit is singular, meaning that the fruit of the Holy Spirit should be viewed as a collective whole. These nine spiritual qualities are a unity which should be found in each believer the Holy Spirit controls.

The nine qualities listed are also sourced and originated solely by the Holy Spirit. This fruit is not produced by the believer, but rather by the Holy Spirit working through the believer who is in union with Christ (John 15:1-8).

Dr. John MacArthur writes that the fruit of the Spirit are, “Godly attitudes that characterize the lives of only those who belong to God by faith in Christ and possess the Spirit of God. The Spirit produces fruit, which consists of nine characteristics or attitudes that are inextricably linked with each and are commanded of believers throughout the NT.

The mortification of sin is not just about abolishing the works of the flesh, but also manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. Both disciplines are necessary. A believer who just eliminates the negative, without pursuing the positive, fails to understand what true spirituality is in Christ.

The list may be divided into three specific categories. The first three virtues address habits of the mind, or one’s thinking, rooted and grounded in the Lord and His Word.

Please notice that the fruit are all in total prefaced by the present, active state of being verb “is.” This is what the believer in Christ is to be along with what he/she is to do.

The first fruit is love (ἀγάπη; agape). This is a self-sacrificial love of the will. This is the same type of love God has for fallen sinners (John 3:16) and that believers are to have towards one another (I John 4:7-11).

The character of agape love is found in the I Corinthians 13:1-8a. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”

Dr. MacArthur adds that, “One of several Greek words for love, agape is the love of choice, referring not to an emotional affection, physical attraction, or a familial bond, but to respect, devotion, and affection that leads to willing, self-sacrificial service (John 15:13Rom. 5:81 John 3:16–17).

 Self-sacrificial agape love is the foundation for all the remaining fruit. If agape love is absent from the believer’s life, there is no possible way the other eight fruit will be evidenced by the believer. In fact, the absence of agape love may be an indication the individual in question is not a believer in Christ at all.

Is agape love evident in your life as a believer in union with Christ? Can you think of any circumstances, or people, of which you find it difficult to demonstrate self-sacrificial love of the will? If so, ask God to give you the discipline and determination to demonstrate such a love in the places, and toward the people, who need it most.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!