A Scriptural Study Newsletter edited by Elder Vernon Johnson

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

 

 

 


Fruit of the Spirit – Living and Growing in the Nine Biblical Attributes Part 2

The seventh fruit is Faith (faithfulness)- In Isaiah 25:1 “O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.” And in Ephesians 3:16-17 Paul prays that That Lord “would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.”

The word “faithful” means to be loyal, to be full of faith or trust; to firmly and resolutely stick with a person, group, cause, belief, or idea, without wavering. We show our faithfulness in our witness and declaring the truth of God’s will. It should be understood that it is impossible for anyone that lives in the flesh to have faith, or to have the fruit of faith, especially when we are talking about it in relation to having faith in God. In Eph. 2:8, 9 Paul says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” And he says again in Titus 3:5, 6 “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; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
Let’s have a quick little English lesson here. Work according to Webster is to be engaged in physical or mental activity in order to achieve a purpose or result. And also Webster informs us that a work, any work is a verb. And a verb is a word that is used to describe an action, state, or occurrence. Any work or action that is a verb is a work.

Paul says that salvation comes by “grace through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” It starts with grace and flows through faith. But whose faith is he talking about? Well it’s certainly not speaking of the faith that is said to be ours for he says “that” this faith is “not of yourselves.” And so again we ask if it’s not our faith then whose faith is it? Seeing that it is the “it is the gift of God,” given to us “not of works” as in being a verb requiring action “lest any man should boast,” then it most certainly is the faith that God that has in His Son.

Concerning the fruit of faith Paul says in Rom 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” And He tells us in 2 Thess. 3:2 that “all men have not faith.” Therefore we can know that the gift of the fruit of faith is not given to all but to whom the Holy Spirit chooses to give it to. And so if you do not have faith or the fruit of faith it is impossible to get faith in order to believe in God or to please Him for in Heb. 11:6 we learn that “without faith it is impossible to please Him.” And the only ones who have faith or the fruit of faith are already born again children of God.
In Prov. 14:5 we find that that “A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.” As we live and grow in the fruit of faith we are able to overcome the flesh through the power of the living Christ that dwells in us. And in this is an overcomer to which Jesus says Rev 2:7 “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (see also Rev. 2:1, 17 and 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:7).

In living and growing in the fruit of faith we are faithful to help one another as in 3 John 1:5, 6, “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well.” And when we are faithful in doing the duties that God has called us to do as in Neh 13:13 “And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren.” And this is true even when we consider the lesser matters of life as in Luke 16:10-12, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?”

It is through the living and growing in fruit of faith that we have the eye of faith that enables us; despite the storms of life that surround us to “ walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). And when the mountains of trouble and distress come along if we live and grow in the fruit of faith, which Jesus says is “as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
The fruit of faith displays in us the character of the Spirit of God in us; this no doubt is at least a part of what is meant that we are made in the image of God.

The eighth fruit is Meekness- In Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” And then we see in Ephesians 4:2 “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” In Matthew 11:29, 30, Jesus links meekness with lowliness saying “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In our modern way of thinking meekness is associated with weakness, being timid, spiritless, broken and wimpish. But nothing could be further from the truth! The true meaning of the word literally means to have power that is under full control. It refers to the ability of having a calm temper of mind that is not easily provoked.

Both Moses in Numbers 12:3 and Jesus are said to be “meek.” And not a single one of these words applies to either of them. Do these words describe King David the warrior king, and man that was after the heart of God? Or for that matter what about the Apostle Paul who faced dangerous and painful persecutions? No, and when we understand the biblical meaning of meekness it is easy to see why these men were indeed meek.

The fruit of meekness is a fruit of the Spirit, and an attribute of the Lord Jesus Christ, who we are told in Col. 1:16 “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

The understanding of this truth concerning meekness is very important to our being in a true and faithful witness to His glory, grace and mercy. Indeed it is that fruit of meekness that determines how much peace and contentment that we have in our lives and how well we do during our times of trial.

In Matthew 5:5 Jesus says “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Contrast this with the world’s view of “blessed are the strong, who can hold their own.” The world favors more conspicuous and so-called heroic virtues. They favor those who are fiercely competitive, aggressive and assertive are the ones who receive recognition, admiration and reward. They uphold those who seem to end up on top of the pile, possessing the most and best despite other obvious and perhaps even offensive flaws in their character?

The fruit of meekness like all of the other fruit of the Spirit is impossible to have unless it is given to us by God. As we live and grow in the fruit of meekness we are able to have a just and lowly estimate of ourselves. And by it we have the attitude of being poor in spirit. The fruit of meekness reveals to us that there is a vast difference between ourselves and what He is. Paul puts it this way in Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” While pride destroys self and others, meekness serves to build up.

This means that although we are meek we are not to take everything “lying down.” Notice Moses in Exodus 32:25-28 who although he was meek did not hesitate to order the execution of about three thousand of the idolaters who worshipped the Golden Calf while he was with God on the mountain.

Against evil this meek man was as stern as steel. How a meek man reacts depends upon what he discerns God's will is for him within his circumstances. The fruit of meekness sets his mind on God's purpose and not his own comfort, ambition or reputation, he will offer stern resistance to evil in defense of God yet react with patience, kindness and gentleness when others attack him.

Jesus is our great example of meekness. He made a whip and with stern and vehement energy, overturned the tables and drove the livestock, the sellers and moneychangers from the temple because they had turned God's house into a common bazaar by their sacrilege.

He went forward in true meekness and met the twisted, intellectual, carnal reasoning of the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. And yet in Matthew 12:19-20 we read “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory.”

And Peter writes “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

When we live and grow in the fruit of meekness we may bitterly feel the wrongs done against us. But because of the fruit of meekness we are no longer thinking of ourselves so our meekness prevents us from venting hateful savage and vindictive anger that seeks to “get even.” Instead we are filled with pity for the one who is the perpetrator. Just like when Jesus cried out in Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

The blessing of the fruit of meekness is that we have a strong bulwark against self-righteousness and intolerant and critical judgment of others. And yet neither does it excuse or condone sin. Rather, a meek person understands it more clearly, thus his judgment is tempered, avoiding reacting more harshly than is necessary.

The ninth fruit is Temperance (self-control) - 2 Peter 1:5-7, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” Paul says in Phil. 4:5 that we are to “Let your moderation” or self-control “be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”

Temperance which is literally self-control is to assert power over or the management of one's own desires, lusts, emotions, and feelings, and related behaviors, by way of one's determination or will. It is through the fruit of temperance that God given ability to tell ourselves “no” and to make it stick. It gives us the ability to direct our own behavior and harness our energies.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 Paul speaks about the discipline that is required to run in a marathon race. The fruit of temperance is about moderation and control. And living and growing in the fruit of temperance speaks of developing one’s personal self-control. We think of it when we put our focus on a worthwhile goal and steadily work to achieve it.

We live in the fruit of temperance as in Hebrews 12:1 while we strive to shed “every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” as we are “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” Living in the fruit of temperance is nothing less than spiritual discipline. Discipline in regular prayer, manner of living. Living in the fruit of the Spirit is somewhat like the exercise of your natural muscles so that you are able to endure in the race; you exercise the spiritual muscles of self-control. And the more you live in the fruit of temperance the easier it is to say “no” to sinful lusts and to keep your eyes on “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

We are told by those who are of the world that temperance is equal to being “inhibited,” or being held back and repressed, which is something we all work must “free” ourselves from. But the issue is not about being inhibited, but being set actually be set free. And our freedom is in knowing who has the mastery. Who has the control? And in knowing what the goal is?

If we are to not only have the fruit of the Spirit, but to live and grow in the Spirit as the disciples of Christ, then we must understand that there are some things in life that will certainly throw us off course, and will cause us to go down the wrong path. When this happens the things that are actually are unimportant seem to become overly important. The enjoyable becomes addicting and ends up making us its slave. We do things simply because they’re there. And our hearts are drawn away from our first love, betraying the one who love us, which is Jesus. The fruit of temperance allows us to focus our attention on His voice.

The fruit of temperance or self-control is not about not doing; but about doing. When a situation comes along the fruit of temperance allows us to pause and take a good look at it, to figure out what is needed, and when and how to resolve the situation. And then it allows us to move forward and to take the correct action.

How do we know if we are not living in the fruit of temperance? The answer is when we find ourselves either “jumping the gun” too quickly or by procrastinating. The fruit of temperance or self-control is given to us by the Spirit, and it is grown by practice. Not in just those things that are out of control, but in all parts of our everyday life. For example, if we have a lack of temperance or self-control with food, temperance allows us to disciple ourselves to say “no” and to bring it under control.

Temperance is not an “I’ll try it for a while and see how it works” thing. It requires nothing less than our overall attention to discipline, starting out with your weakest areas, because it is your weakest areas that will ultimately affect your strongest. And the fruit of temperance is not something that affects are seems immediately, but are viewed over time.

Can we work to live and grow in the fruit of temperance alone? The answer is no. But you are not called to go it alone. God the Holy Ghost is there with us, and we have the benefit of the help of our brothers and sisters in the faith. I am an advocate for mentorship. A mentor is a trusted wise, godly and faithful friend and teacher who we can call upon to hold us accountable for our actions. This help because we know that there is someone else who is paying attention to our actions. And because we aware that we are accountable we are aware of the consequences of our actions. And the other person can alert us as to when our temperance or self-control is at its worst, which is important because that’s the time when we are least likely to think of it.

Elder Thomas McDonald


Primitive Baptist