The Fruit of The Spirit

16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy,d drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (ESV)

With this article I am challenging the standard interpretation of Galatians, which is essentially “the fruit of being filled with the Holy Spirit in your life is…”

Most evangelical Christians claim this verse, and use it to measure the effectiveness of someone’s walk with the Lord. The various groups have differing views as to the work of the Holy Spirit and how that is accomplished; but that is not the focus of this article.

The focus here is on the context of the letter written by Paul to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The letter itself is written to combat the idea that one must perform certain things in order to be right with God. In this particular case, it is specifically about a requirement that Christians should follow certain Jewish traditions, especially circumcision. Paul writes that not only are they not necessary, but they are also detrimental to the believer’s walk with God. The issue becomes one of works vs faith, and Paul is totally on the side of faith for righteousness.

In the section under consideration, Paul is bringing his discourse to a close with a summary of the results one can expect in life. Living by the dictates of the flesh produces one kind of life and living by the dictates of the spirit produce another.

QUESTION: Where is the Holy Spirit mentioned in this letter, or in this passage?

The New Living Translation follows the implication of the other versions and translates it “Holy Spirit.” King James capitalizes the word “Spirit” as do most of the other translations.

First of all, the word “holy” does not show up in the manuscripts in this passage. So, to say “Holy Spirit” is an interpretation. Secondly, since the word “holy” does not appear, then capitalizing the word “spirit” to make it seem to be God’s Spirit is also an interpretation. Thirdly, most of the manuscript evidence available for larger portions of the New Testament were written in the uncial style, which is all capital letters. This is especially true for the evidence that was available for the King James translators. In other words, there is no evidence for the use of special capitalization to denote Deity (or a proper pronoun) as we do in modern English.

Therefore, this begs the question: was the writer talking of the Holy Spirit, or man’s spirit? Or, was he writing about the outcome of a particular kind of focus in life?

Plainly, Paul was speaking of a life devoted to the spiritual aspects rather than the physical appetites.

When fully comprehended, this will change not only your understanding of the passage, but also your focus in life and how you judge others. (Please don’t comment about how we are not supposed to judge. You will only reveal that you missed the point entirely.)

So… what does a life focused on the spirit look like?

Please post your comments below.

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Compassion, the sequel

John 5:2-9 ~ Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

I mentioned in a previous post that there is a difference between human and divine compassion. This passage illustrates that point for us.

Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by suffering or misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the pain or remove its cause. (Random House Dictionary)

As compassionate humans, we want everyone to be healed. You’ve probably heard something along the lines of, “Whenever we all come into the fullness of the Spirit we will go into the hospitals and get everybody healed!! Glory to God!!”

While that may seem to be a noble desire, is it in line with the will of God?

Sure, there are verses that would seem to indicate that it is God’s will for all to be healed. Yet, we each know from our own experience that (if nothing else) we are not walking in that reality.

Could it be that our compassion is human-based?

I’m not saying that it is wrong to have compassion. It is a necessary feeling. But, I do believe that like everything else, there is something higher,  more valuable and beneficial, more powerful than human anything.

When any of our gifts, talents, abilities, emotions are infused with spiritual reality, they become more powerful than a simply human trait (John 15:5).

However, many in this day are wanting more than to simply have the Spirit join them in their endeavors. These are the ones who, like Jesus, desire to only say and do what they see their Father do. They want the genesis of their efforts to be in Him and Him alone; not any part from their own strength.

With that in mind, let’s look once again at the passage before us.

There were a multitude of sick people at the Pool of Bethesda. Jesus could have healed them all. He didn’t.

He walked up to the one whom the Spirit directed, and healed him.

That is divine compassion in operation. That is divine compassion without the human element messing things up.

It requires that we learn to be led by the Spirit, not by our desires or emotions (Galatians 5:16; Romans 8:14).

NOTE: Writing the possible ramifications of this would be entirely too controversial, because each of us is on a different plane. Let the Spirit speak to you about the truth, or lack thereof, of these thoughts.

Seeking Love

Ac 5:3-4
But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.     KJV

It is so easy, when we operate from our fallen nature, to try to make things appear a certain way so as to make ourselves look good. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to look good in the eyes of the apostles and the others in the church.

One can only surmise why they did this.

Could it be that they were afraid that the Lord wouldn’t/couldn’t meet their needs if they got rid of everything?

Could it be that they thought “the preacher doesn’t need this much money?”

Whatever the reason, they tried to make it appear different from what it was. They tried to make it look as if they had sacrificed all. But, they didn’t.

Total and complete integrity in everything we do and say is the only way to live life abundantly and without fear.

We may think we are getting over on someone, but the truth is that we have not lied to men, but to God. Whether it is a bald-faced lie, or just not revealing the whole truth, a lie is a lie; and the only one we truly hurt is ourself.

When we live a life that is a lie, everything around us is messed up. People cannot love us for who we are, because they do not know who we are. We have kept that from them with our deceitfulness.

And without love, our world falls apart.

When we do not feel loved for who we are, we continue in a downward spiral of trying to make things look better so that they will love us. Yet it never happens. And so the lies continue.

Be open. Be real. Be who you truly are. Don’t try to look better than you are.

Only then will you experience the love you so desperately seek.

Constantly Renewed

Tit 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;              KJV

We all know that there is no benefit in any of our ‘works’ to try to make us right with God. We cannot pray enough or hard enough. We can’t cry enough or loud enough. We cannot help enough people out of their misery. We cannot give enough money to enough charities. There is absolutely nothing that we can do in our own strength that will please God enough to take away the sentence of death that we carry in our bodies.

Having that sense of death, and knowing that there is no way out, should cause us to fall on our face before God and cry, “Mercy!”

That mercy is given in the form and name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When we receive Jesus as our Savior, we are washed. It is called here “regeneration.”

What is regeneration?

When a tree has a limb broken off and a new one grows in its place, that is regeneration. When a tree is cut down, and new one comes forth from the stump, that is regenration.

When your old self was crucified with Christ, and the new you came forth in true righteousness and holiness, that is regeneration.

We are saved by that regeneration.

We are also saved by the ‘renewing of the Holy Ghost.’

That is not a ‘one-shot deal’ though. Notice that it is renewing of the Holy Ghost. It is an ongoing process.

Many claim to have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. That may very well be. But, there is more to it than that.

I was baptized in water, but I am not still wet. There is a continual renewal that must be taking place in my life.

How about you? Are you being continually filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)?

What does that look like for you? What do you do?

I Did It My Way

Isa 53:6
 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.                 KJV

Is this not a description of today’s society? Have we not turned each one to his own way? Have we not bought into the modern philosophy of complete and total independence? Do we not simply do that which is right in our own eyes? (Judges 17:6)

“Not me, preacher! I’m a believer!”

That’s good; but is He the Lord of what you do? Where you go? What you say? What you think?

If we were all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, would there be such mixed up diversity in the Body of Christ?

It is time for each one of us to repent, to admit that we have not followed the Lord with total abandon, and to commit ourselves to doing nothing but what we see Him do; to say nothing but what we hear Him say.

We are but sheep. And, like sheep, we have gone astray following the ways and philosophies of the world.

But God has provided a remedy. That remedy is Jesus. He has taken on Himself the waywardness of our minds. He has become sin for us. We can stand under His covering for our iniquity.

Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your heart. Acknowledge that there is a better way. Commit yourself once again to the Lord to be led by His Holy Spirit. Cast down your own imagination and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. Bring every thought captive to the mind of Christ.