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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No Earthly Good

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

The actual logic of Paul’s argumentation here would suggest that this passage begin with “SINCE you have been raised…”

Nonetheless, there is a sequential conditional element present here that must be considered: We died, we were raised, act like it.

I am still trying to learn what it means to “seek the things which are above;” to “seek first the kingdom of God…” (Matt. 6:33)

How do I “set my mind on things above” without coming across as a flake, or ‘super-spiritual?’ I have not been able to straddle the middle road that keeps me from being “so heavenly-minded that I am no earthly good.”

After years of trying–and discovering to my chagrin that I had become so earthly-minded that I was no heavenly good–I am about ready to give up trying. The only way I can be of any good to this realm is by way of the heavenly.

I see a world crushed under the weight of its current problems–economic, health, mental, social, and spiritual–and I see a Church poorly equipped to speak to these problems. I am a part of that Church.

My mind is on the things of the earth–poverty, sickness, disease, corruption, wickedness in every place. I see the devastation in Haiti, and am ashamed of the untimely and insensitive remarks of some of our church leaders.

“Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?” (Jeremiah 8:22)

I have failed in this. Maybe it is because I have not learned what it means to “put off…put on”, as Paul admonishes us in this chapter. I am to put off the deeds of the flesh, the things that I had no problem doing before I knew the Lord (or rather was known by Him). Thought I had done that. And then some ugly thing rears its head to let me know how far from His perfection I am.

I am to put on a compassionate heart, kindness and humility, meekness and patience (v.12). Thought I had done that. And then I find myself entertaining some judgmental thought toward someone when I have no idea the burdens they might be bearing, and I realize how far from His perfection I am.

The only reality I am left with is that “I have died, and my life is hidden with Christ in God.” When that fully penetrates my mind, maybe I will become a little more earthly good.

NOTE: This is the third in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Colossians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter three of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.

LOVE Demonstrates

Rom. 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

How do we demonstrate our love for those who have offended us?

Most of us generally wait until the offending party repents and apologizes. Then we demonstrate our love for them.

God’s love was demonstrated long before I ever thought about being sorry, apologizing, or repenting.

How great a love is that?!?

Can we demonstrate love to those who offend us? to those who do us harm? to those who do us dirty?

HOW can we demonstrate love to those types of people in our lives?

God Said, NO!

I asked God to take away my habit.
God said, No.
It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, No.
His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, No.

Patience is a byproduct of tribulations;
it isn’t granted, it is learned.

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, No.
I give you blessings;
Happiness is up to you..
 
I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, No.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, No.
You must grow on your own,
but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, No.
I will give you life,
so that you may enjoy all things.

I asked God to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me.
God said…Ahhhh,
finally you have the idea.

Dark & Empty

Genesis 1:2  Now the earth was without shape and empty, and darkness was over the surface of the watery deep, but the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water.

This earth (me) seems to be without shape and very empty at this time. Darkness covers the deep waters of my soul. But, I am confident that the Spirit of God is moving in my life even though circumstances appear contradictory.

How do I know that? I continue to cause pain for those I love.

I’m trying to learn to love as Jesus loved, but it eludes me.

Maybe I am becoming a threat to the kingdom of darkness. Maybe that is why I am experiencing these things. Otherwise, I would not be concerned about it one way or the other. But, such is not the case.

I am concerned. I hurt deeply when I seem to be the cause of someone’s pain. In those times I am ready (once again–as many times in the past) to throw in the towel. To call it quits. I think will never be an example of a good follower of the Lord. Therefore, I try to assume that I am becoming a threat to the devil’s domain. However, that helps not at all.

Despair.

What a dark enemy of the soul.

Love is Key

I received this letter March 9, and feel that it echoes many of the things I’ve been hearing around the blogosphere. I have copied it in its entirety. (I wanted to scan it and simply insert it into this post, but I couldn’t make that happen. So, I’ve had time to practice my typing skills yet again. I take full responsibility for any misspelled words, dangling modifiers, palpitating participles, and typos. All bold and italicized words in the letter are in the original)

Love Perfected

I have walked in this Kingdom message for many years and it seems to me that the longer I walk the more apparent the division in the Body of Christ becomes. We see little groups here and there that may agree on most things, but as a whole there seems to be division in even some basic doctrinal beliefs. We expect there to be division in the 1500 or so Christian denominations and sects, but I have been amazed that those who claim to be the overcoming sons of the Living God are also divided in many areas.

My heart has asked over and over, “How will the watchmen ever see eye to eye?” It has been my assumption that f we are anywhere near the time of the unveiling of the sons, shouldn’t the more mature ones be speaking the same things as it also says in  I Cor. 1:10?

However, recently the Lord has given me some understanding that has changed the way I see this. I heard the Lord say that He is not perfecting “doctrine” in us at this present time, although he has and is giving such great light in this hour. He is now perfecting “Love” in us. Even if we have all knowledge, faith, etc. it profits nothing without love. Just knowing the great mysteries of God and speaking them is not enough to bring us to that ‘perfect man’ we are called to be.

Yet, how do I manifest this love to another? This love must go beyond compassion in dealing with those God has placed in our lives with whom we must interrelate.. We have gotten very religious with our ‘I love you brother’ and words are easy to say. In seeking to understand another person we will listen with an open, non-judgmental heart, and then validate him as a person. It does not necessarily mean that we will see things the same way. They may even believe doctrinal elements that you consider to be heresy, but God loves them as much as he loves you. He may not see clearly yet, but every person needs validating. Also, I am coming to understand that we are stewards (managers) of God’s ‘multi-faceted grace.’(I Peter 4:10)  Multi-faceted means one grace with many facets. There are 6.5 billion people on this earth and each person needs grace in diverse areas. No two people are alike. Remember, we are steward/managers of His grace. I am not talking about God giving these people grace, for they already have His grace. It is grace that I must give. The homosexual needs grace in his area. The harlot another, the alcoholic another. That doesn’t mean I agree with his lifestyle, but I validate him as a person that God loves and can receive him as he is.

I dare say that most people have, to some degree or another, a deep feeling of unworthiness and inadequacy. What we as God’s people have done in the past is confirm those very feelings in one another in word or attitude. Love does just the opposite. It esteems another better than ourselves. It has been said that knowing I am loved just as I am, unconditionally, gives me the power to change.

What we have called love in the past has fallen woefully short of what God has called us to. What we have loved has been our doctrines, our ministry, our church, and we will go to any measure to defend any of these, even if it means to leave others wounded along the way and invalidate other brethren in the Lord, if they do not see things exactly as we do.

The past two years God has been dealing in every area in my life, leaving no stone unturned concerning this unconditional love. He has gone into every dark corner and crevice of my being searching out any last vestige of superficial love, where any traces of prejudice and bigotry might remain and is shining His spot light of Truth upon it. Love must not just be words anymore brethren but in actions and deed.

I have also wondered how it would be possible in a lifetime to learn enough knowledge of God to rule and reign with Christ as the scriptures say in the Book of Revelation. Rev. 12:5 says that the manchild will be caught up to God and to His throne to rule all nations. I believe we are at the threshold for the body to be changed from mortal to immortal and I am seeing that this love is the key.

My heart has been given fresh hope with the insight about being perfected in Love. I saw in the spirit as God perfects His love in us, then that Love which we are will flow out to all that is needed to bring deliverance to a groaning world. The two words ‘caught up’ mean ‘to be seized upon.’ The action is not on our part but on the One doing the seizing. I believe that we will be drawn into that realm of dominion in a moment and be given unlearned knowledge. I have known in a moment things by the spirit that I had not learned in the natural.

So, I am no longer waiting for the watchmen to see eye to eye. I believe God is not as concerned about getting our doctrine straight as He is about getting our hearts right with one another. He is causing us to see each one through His eyes. Then when that Love is perfected in us we shall know as we are known.

Betty Houk
newdaymin@coxnet
Phoenix, AZ

Challenging Forgiveness

Colossians 3:13    bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others. (NET)

Could it be that the reason we have such difficulty with forgiving others is that we are not totally aware of what we have been forgiven?

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” – {Luke 7:47 ESV}
Was she forgiven because she loved? Or, did she love because she was forgiven?

Forgiveness is a challenge for many. We demand justice; whether that be in the form of an apology or retribution, something must be done.

Does it? Why?

Why do we not rather suffer the injury, bear with the slight, forgive the offense? Why do we choose to nurture the hurt?

I have yet to completely deal with this problem in myself, though I have made much progress. It is the one problem I continue to encounter in others as I listen to their complaints (about whatever) in their life.

What is your experience of dealing with the offense from another–especially a loved one?