Series: Maintaining this hope
Paul to the Galatians…the fruits of Spiritual union
Last week we read how Paul told the Galatians that the way of the flesh and the way of the Spirit are contrary and hostile to each other, so he told them that they need to live their lives by the Spirit so that they would not fulfill the desires of their flesh.
“(16) But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. (17) For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Then we read a list of examples of living in the flesh and ended in Titus who further reveals that these same truths are what the Spirit of grace teaches us and that if we walk in the flesh we no not please God and in fact, we deny Him.
Titus helps us here when he says, “(15) All is pure to those who are pure. But to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their minds and consciences are corrupted. (16) They profess to know God but with their deeds they deny him, since they are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good deed. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. (12) It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, (13) as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. (14) He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good. (15) So communicate these things with the sort of exhortation or rebuke that carries full authority. Don’t let anyone look down on you.” ~ Titus 1:15-16; 2:11-15
This week we are looking at the fruit of the Spirit…
Fruit or proof of union with the Spirit
Now I like the way the Weymouth translation begins this verse, it says, “The Spirit on the other hand, brings a harvest of love, joy, peace.”
…and that is the meaning here.
I have often pressed the idea that this is not the fruit of the Spirit – meaning the fruit the Spirit bears, because the Spirit doesn’t bear fruit…we do. I have always maintained that this is the fruit of our reborn human spirit. However, I feel the need to augment that statement with the involvement of the Spirit of God, Who I was not in any way meaning to slight, I just wanted to make it clear that WE are the ones bearing the fruit.
I often point out that quite naturally the Menorah of the tabernacle, was a picture of this truth and a rather complete one at that in that every member within the Godhead is there represented in Their respective roles in our fruit bearing. The base which supports the entire structure is the Father, the center staff represents Jesus as the Vine, the oil flowing from the center staff into the branches is the Spirit and WE are the branches. If you will remember, the branches on the Menorah had fruit. Specifically almond clusters and pomegranates. As such it is not surprising to learn that the pomegranate was a symbol of fertility and righteousness and almonds were a symbol of God’s favor (among other things). The entire Menorah was all of ONE PIECE of GOLD – making the branches members of the family of God. The Father is the One Who sent and directed the Son, the Son in living, dying and rising again brought grace, truth, union with God and GAVE the Spirit to us. We as branches shooting forth out of Jesus bear fruit by two things – our UNION with the Vine and the LIFE which flows through Him to, in and through us which is the Spirit. We are to ABIDE in our vine, but LIVE by the Spirit.
“(22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
It is only fitting that Paul begins with love. In this word is seen the former statement of not being under the law. For love guides and governs itself – it needs no law to do so. Barclay has some useful insights on this first mentioned fruit or product of our union with Christ through the Spirit.
“Agape has to do with the mind: it is not simply an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts; it is a principle by which we deliberately live.” It “means unconquerable benevolence. It means that no matter what a man may do to us by way of insult or injury or humiliation – we will never seek anything else but his highest good. It is therefore a feeling of the mind as much as the heart; it concerns the will as much as the emotions. It describes the deliberate effort – which we can make only with the help of God – never to seek anything but the best even for those who seek the worst for us.” (Barclay)
We are told that this love is spread abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit within us…and it may be in this way that my thoughts of this being the fruits of our reborn human spirits – brought to a reality through the direct influence and intervention of the Holy Spirit – MUCH like Praying in the spirit is “Our spirit BY the Holy Spirit praying”….so the fruit of the spirit is the outward expression of the new nature of the tree of our spirit, make effective and able to be outwardly expressed – winning the fight as it were against the influence of the flesh and thus giving outward expression to the inward reality of being made new “Now all things are of God.”
This would also agree with my understanding of 1Jn. 3:9. I am not typically a fan of the J.B. Phillips translation, but in this case I believe it offers some advantages to others in the way it words this passage. I found it interesting to discover that someone I greatly admire does in fact like this translation and that is Os Guiness, 1Jn 3:7-10, “(7-10)You, my children, are younger than I am, and I don’t want you to be taken in by any clever talk just here. The man who lives a consistently good life is a good man, as surely as God is good. But the man whose life is habitually sinful is spiritually a son of the devil, for the devil is behind all sin, as he always has been. Now the Son of God came to earth with the express purpose of liquidating the devil’s activities. The man who is really God’s son does not practice sin, for God’s nature is in him, for good, and such a heredity is incapable of sin. (10) 10 Here we have a clear indication as to who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil. The man who does not lead a good life is no son of God, nor is the man who fails to love his brother.”
If we belong to Christ there WILL BE fruit produced from our union with Him. If we are united with Him but remain unfruitful, we are cast off as branches.
If you remember Paul’s letter was addressing heresy and the division it was causing among them. He told them to not bite and devour one another, but rather live in the Spirit and bear fruit consistent with your union with Him.
John 15:4-8, “(4) Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you Me. (5) “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me – and I in him – bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. (6) If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up. (7) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. (8) My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples.”
Matt. 7:12-29, “(12) In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets. (13) “Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. (14) How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it! (15) “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. (16) You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? (17) In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. (18) A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. (19) Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (20) So then, you will recognize them by their fruit. (21) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. (22) On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many powerful deeds in your name?’ (23) Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’ (24) “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. (25) The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because its foundation had been laid on rock. (26) Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. (27) The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed – it was utterly destroyed!” (28) When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed by his teaching, (29) because he taught them like one who had authority, not like their experts in the law.”
THIS IS the message of the Gospel. We have been invited and called into living union with God. Which is to come to know God, trust Him, yielding to His work within us. God EXPECTS fruit borne from that union.
Heb. 6:7-12, “(7) For land which has drunk in the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sakes, indeed, it is tilled, has a share in God’s blessing. (8) But if it only yields a mass of thorns and briers, it is considered worthless, and is in danger of being cursed, and in the end will be destroyed by fire. (9) But we, even while we speak in this tone, have a happier conviction concerning you, my dearly-loved friends–a conviction of things which point towards salvation. (10) For God is not unjust so that He is unmindful of your labour and of the love which you have manifested towards Himself in having rendered services to His people and in still rendering them. (11) But we long for each of you to continue to manifest the same earnestness, with a view to your enjoying fulness of hope to the very End; (12) so that you may not become half-hearted, but be imitators of those who through faith and patient endurance are now heirs to the promises.”
Php. 2:12-16, “(12) So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, (13) for the One bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of His good pleasure – is God. (14) Do everything without grumbling or arguing, (15) so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world (16) by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.”
“(24) Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.
(26) Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another.”
Of course Paul ends this section with this warning because it is what he began this whole section with. Heresy had come into the church and people had begun to take sides and fight, and Paul told them they needed to live by the Spirit and so produce fruit from the union with Him.
But he first says that everyone who belongs to Christ have crucified the flesh. If this is true, why tell them to not fulfill the desires of the flesh? Well, he was referring to the fact that when they initially came to Christ Jesus and were baptised as a sign of dying to who they were before they met Christ and were now rising to new life they did so by faith and declaration, but it still needed to be lived out. This is what we often call the salvation of the Soul. Paul addressed this AND walking by the Spirit in Romans 6 & 8.
Rom 6:1-14, “(1) What should we say then? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may multiply? (2) Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (3) Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? (4) Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. (5) For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. (6) For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, (7) since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. (8) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, (9) because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, no longer dies. Death no longer rules over Him. (10) For in that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in that He lives, He lives to God. (11) So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (12) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. (13) And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. (14) For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.”
Rom. 8:1-14, “(1) Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, (2) because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (3) What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, (4) in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (5) For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. (6) For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. (7) For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. (8) Those whose lives are in the flesh are unable to please God. (9) You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (10) Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (11) And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you. (12) So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, (13) for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (14) All those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.”
So we walk in the Spirit by acknowledging the inner promptings He gives us in our day to day life. Every time you choose to side with your flesh over the voice of the Holy Spirit the harder your heart gets and the harder it becomes to walk in the spirit to the point where you rarely (if ever) hear His prompting at all. THAT is a dangerous place and is mere inches away from the awful state described at least 3 or 4 times above, of being cast out as a branch.
You cannot cast out a branch, that was never a branch to begin with…such has no connection with the vine and therefore nothing to be cast away from. So this serves as a sobering warning for those who believe they can live a cavalier life, showing little concern over their relationship with God their vine and still be safe. This is in truth a relationship and relationships go both ways. It is NOT just God’s investment into us, but our committed response to His investment.
We must remember that in the end, we are told that Jesus does not ask us what we believed, He will ask us what we did. Were our actions born out of our union with Him – did we conduct our lives in compliance and in step with the Spirit He gave us, or did we live as mere unchanged people?