Ok so in my last post, I wrote about the armor of God. Talk about some spiritual warfare after that yall. Good gravy. If you write about how to defeat the devil using the armor of God, warning, you will be tested on how much you believe that and are wanting to put that into practice.
Anyway, in the chest piece of righteousness last post, it hit home with me that these elements of righteousness that it is protecting are the fruit of the spirit, the foundational elements. Incidentally, I JUST talked about this in discipleship yesterday morning. What’s up God moving.
The fruit of the Spirit are characteristics that the Holy Spirit produces in us and that we strive to live by as sold old Christians. They are character elements that reflect God in us. They are images of God we seek to portray. These are like the undergarments to everything else we don in striving after Christlikeness. These have to be the foundational pieces for everything else to fit properly. You wouldn’t put a t-shirt on over your coat, or you wouldn’t put on underwear over your pants. We can’t put on the armor of God or the weapons in our arsenal without first putting these on. A soldier is as only strong as character beneath the man. Jesus set the example for how to live these out and that’s what we are running hard after.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is not law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-25
We are in an inward spiritual battle with ourselves. It gets to where it kind of feels like the image below.
The girl who disciples me (shout out to Brom if you’re reading this!) pointed out around v.17 that the sinful nature goes against what’s inside of us. We can’t ride the fence, we’re going to be pulled one way or another. Nobody truthfully wants to live life like v. 19-21 describe. We have an inclination toward sin because of our human-ness, but we have a greater longing in us drawing us toward God. C.S. Lewis referred to this as a “God-shaped hole”. Genesis 1 tells us we were created by God. A creator usually doesn’t create something just for the heck of it and I confidently say that God didn’t either. I think deep down, we know that. We seek to fill that hole with the world and with these sinful nature things that Galatians hits on until we realize that God is what we need.
We were created with purpose and design. A design that follows these attributes the Bible lays out. So before we get deeper, lets take a glance at what each of these really mean. First off, one thing you should learn is that this text was originally written in Hebrew. In the English language, when we list things, it is typically ordered least important to most important, but in Hebrew they would list most important to least important, so keep that in mind while reading off this list.
Love: (really hard to define by the way-probably the most complex word in the English language and to wrap our puny brains around) according to the Google given definition, it is an intense feeling of deep affection
Joy: feeling of great pleasure and happiness
Peace: freedom from disturbance; tranquility
Patience: capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset
Kindness: quality or state of being friendly, generous and considerate
Goodness: the quality of being good (righteous)
Faithfulness: quality of being faithful
Gentleness: gentle, mildness of manners or disposition
Self-control: ability to control oneself, in particular emotions and desires or expression of them in one’s behavior
I recently just read this passage paired with 1 Corinthians 13 and Psalm 139, as well as watched Matt Chandler’s podcast “A Beautiful Design: In the Beginning.” All these paired together have really grown and re-molded my views of the fruit of the Spirit in the last few days. 1 Corinthians 12 and Galatians 5 really play into reach other. The way the Bible says to do love in 1 Corinthians is a reflection of who God is and characteristics of Him. God is all of the elements the passage discusses. Love could be in reference to a person (Jesus) or the action of the things it states love is. If we are striving for Christlikeness, we need to be striving to, in the verb-form of the word, practice each of these, and in the noun sense, embody them. Each of them can be categorized under a fruit of the Spirit as well I feel. Its like the fruits are the bold faced headings and 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 are the sub-points beneath those. The fruits, as already stated, are also Godly traits we are striving to acquire and that the Holy Spirit produces in is. (Side note: We cannot change our heart. We cannot change the root of our behavior. We can temporarily change out behavior. The only way for real change is surrender to Jesus Christ.) Through the Holy Spirit taking root in our lives, being able to love like 1 Corinthians 13 says and live a life shining the fruits is made possible. Austin Wadlow, the college pastor at First Baptist Church of Denton’s college ministry, Overflow, made the point once that fruit bearing involves cross bearing. That has stuck with me since I listened to that sermon online. We need to bear our cross, take it Jesus-only then can we bear these fruits. Psalm 139 tells us that God knows our inner working , knows our heart-He created us, knit us together. Matt Chandler showed again through Genesis 1, that we are created. We are created with an intricate design and for a specific purpose. The chapters in 1 Corinthians and Galatians that we’ve been talking about shed a little more insight to this created design and how these characteristics are needed for His purpose for us.
I guess the big thing we can learn from 1 Corinthians 13 and Galatians 5 is that love needs to be the foundation. Love for God. Love for Christ. Love of the cross. Love for others. It’s the first of the fruits listed. It’s a little bit of a recurring theme in the Bible (sarcasm intended). 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 says, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angles, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” What I really gathered from this is that, gifts and moments to use them will come, but if love isn’t the foundation, its all pointless. If Jesus had just died on the cross not out of unconditional, sacrificial love for us, the significance of the cross and our salvation would not be what they are.
I know this post is a little all over the place and hits on a few things. Initially I came into this post wanting to hit on the fruit of the Spirit being the foundational elements we need to put on, but God showed me more while I was studying and digging in. The fruits are necessity to learn and should be harvested in your life via the Holy Spirit, but so much more important than that is the importance of love. Love needs to be put on. I think realizing who you were created by, His purpose and design, His sacrifice, and seeing that in your life makes the big scary “L” words easier to grasp. Like paper won’t stick to paper without glue or like a frame on a wall wont stay up without a nail, nothing we try to put on will stay without realizing the love and grace that we have been shown and in turn showing that same love and grace to the world. There is SO much more that can be said about this love and grace, but being that this post is already over 1500 words, I will spare you and save that for another time. Here’s the main point I’m praying hits home with y’all: The ultimate outfit of the day staple we should strive to sport everyday, underneath the armor of God, underneath our every action, every word, every thought, should be love. See how God shows us how He is each of the things in 1 Corinthians and Galatians and how we find these things in and through Christ.