THE FRUIT, THE GIFTS, AND THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
In the chart, THE SPIRITUALS, we noted that the Holy Spirit comes to produce the character or the personality of Jesus in our lives. Remember, our theme is that we have a complete perfect salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. God does not leave it to happenstance for us to express the character of Jesus Christ, but He gives to us the Holy Spirit. As we live in union with Christ, the Holy Spirit will produce His fruit, the character of Jesus Christ, in us.
There is a difference in the bestowing of the fruit of the Spirit and of the gifts of the Spirit. Fruit depends on the goodness of the individual; a gift depends on the goodness of the giver. Jesus and the Holy Spirit bestow their gifts on whomsoever they will. However, we are not given fruit. We bear fruit. As we live in union with Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit, the Spirit reproduces Christ in us. Therefore, in the day of judgment, by what will we be judged? By how many gifts we have? No, but by the fruit we bear. Near the close of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them... Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you (Matt 7:22-23).
Even if we possess several gifts, if we do not bear fruit, we will be rejected by Christ. Fruit is the result of a union of a believer with Christ, and we will be known by the fruit we bear. If the tree is good, its fruit will be good. If you saw me under an apple tree and heard me praying, "Oh, God, do not let my little apple tree have cherries this year. Please let my little apple tree bear apples," you would wonder about my sanity. You would think that I was acting very strangely, praying for an apple tree to have apples and not some other kind of fruit. You would probably say, "Hey, preacher, if you just give that little apple tree half a chance, it will produce apples." Right? Isn't it just as strange for Christians to pray, "Oh, Lord, please let me bear the fruit of the Spirit"? If you live in a right relationship with God, you will produce fruit; you will express the character of Jesus Christ.
God will express the fruit of the Spirit through me, if I will let Him. However, if I have prejudice in my heart, I may hinder the work of God. Consider the experience of the Apostle Peter. God gave him three visions on the housetop. In each of the three visions, God said, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common" (Acts 10:15). Three times God affirmed this to Peter. As a result of the visions, Peter went to the house of Cornelius and spoke to the Gentiles. While he preached, the Holy Spirit fell on them, and Peter rejoiced because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles. Later he went to Jerusalem where certain leaders of the church confronted him for going in to the Gentiles and eating with them. Peter's defense was that God had given the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles; therefore, how could he withstand God? As a result, the leaders glorified God because the Gentiles had received eternal life (Acts 10:10-11:1-18). Peter then went to Antioch, and what happened? He would not eat with the Gentiles. Either because of fear or his old prejudice, he refused to eat with the Gentiles, and Barnabas was carried away with the dissimulation. But, did not Peter have three visions? Yes, God gave him three visions. Did he not preach to the Gentiles and see the Holy Spirit fall on them? Yes, he did that. Did he not justify what he did before the elders in the church at Jerusalem? Yes, he did that. However, when he got to Antioch, fear gripped his heart, or prejudice arose again, and he forgot all about God's love. He forgot all about visions. He forgot all about God's Word. He let fear or prejudice grip him, thus the love of God would not flow through him. It is not always easy to allow the Spirit to express the character of Christ through us. However, if we live in union with God, Christ will be produced in us. The Spirit of God will reproduce the nature of Christ. And love, which is the first facet of the fruit of the spirit, will find expression in our lives.
THE NINE FACETS OF THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law
Since fruit is a singular word, some say there is just one fruit--love--and all other qualities are just facets of love. Others say that all nine facets make up the one fruit of the Spirit. Maybe one reason that Paul uses the singular word, fruit, is that every Christian should have all nine characteristics of the fruit; therefore, one may not say you have the fruit of love while I have the fruit of joy. Every child of God should express all of the character traits of Christ, not just a special one. Just as a tree will produce fruit after its own nature, so the child of God, will produce the fruit of the Spirit after his nature, the nature of Jesus Christ.
The first facet of the fruit of the Spirit is love, which is the greatest because God is love. God's very nature and God's very essence is love. "God so loved the world that He gave Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son." This is the love that God Himself bestowed upon individuals who were unworthy of His love, who were not desirous of His love, who were sinners, but whom God loved anyway. This kind of love cannot fail, nor can it be defeated, because it does not ask anything in return. It does not even ask if it may love, it just loves. You cannot stop God from loving you, nor can you keep God's children from loving you.
Three Greek words for love are used in scripture--agapao, phileo, and storge. Agapao is God's love. In the letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes an eloquent expression of this kind of love:
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth (I Cor 13:4-8).
Phileo is the kind of love that finds some value or some intrinsic worth in someone or some thing, so that a strong affection for the object is expressed. These two kinds of love are contrasted in a conversation between Jesus and Peter:
LOVEST THOU ME?
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [agapao] thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love [phileo] thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest [agapao] thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love [phileo] thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas lovest [phileo] thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest [phileo] thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love [phileo] thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my Sheep (John 21:15-17).
In the third appearance of Jesus after His resurrection, Jesus asked Peter a question, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agapao) thou me more than these?" and Peter answered, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee." Jesus used agapao in the first two questions, and Peter used phileo in his answers. Finally, in the last question Jesus uses phileo. Jesus said unto him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (phileo) thou me?" Peter is grieved but he never affirms a love that he is not sure he has. I have to admire Peter for that. Many of us affirm a strong love for God, but we fail to express that love. At that moment, Peter could only say that he had a strong affection for Jesus. Later, he reached that highest love and could say to those in trials,
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8).
I think that Peter eventually could have answered Jesus, "agapao--I love you," but at that moment, he wasn't ready.
Another lesson that I learned from this conversation was that I should love the giver of the gift more than I love the gift. Jesus had given Peter one of the greatest catches of fish he had ever known--he could not get all the fish in the boat. Then Jesus asked Peter the question, "Lovest thou me more than these?" In other words, "Peter do you love me more than you love the great catch I have given you?" This is an age-old question, and it is the question that underlies the discussion between God and Satan over Job. As God was telling Satan of Job's good qualities, Satan challenged Job's character by saying,
Does Job fear God for nought? (Job 1:9).
In other words, Satan suggested to God that Job only served Him for the blessings God had given him, but that Job would curse Him if he was no longer blessed. After suffering every trial and temptation that Satan could devise against him, Job's love stood secure and he said,
The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).
Job loved God more than he loved the things God had blessed him with. Today, Satan is still challenging God about His children with the same accusation, and many fail the test.
After Jesus had fed the 5,000 men and their families, they followed Him, and He began to teach them about the bread of God. Finally, He said,
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you" (John 6:53).
Jesus did not want them to follow him for the miracles or the loaves and fishes, but He wanted them to be one with Him. However, the people said that this was a hard saying, and they went back and walked no more with Him. Turning to the disciples Jesus asked, "Will ye also go away?" Peter answered,
Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou has the words of eternal life (John 6:60-68).
As long as Jesus fed the multitude, they were content to follow Him; however, when He asked them to eat His flesh and drink His blood, to be one with Him, they turned away from Him. "Lovest thou me more than these?" is the fundamental question.
Storge speaks of familial love, a love of family. Storge is used with "philos" in Paul's letter to the Romans:
Be kindly affectioned one to another (Rom. 12:10).
Another Greek word for love not used in the scripture is eros, from which we get the term erotic love, the kind of love that wants to possess someone, to manipulate them, and to use them for its own pleasure.
FAITH IS ENERGIZED BY LOVE
So agape love is the first facet of the fruit of the Spirit. We have seen the depths of it, the quality of it, and the power of it as we have read Paul's words. This love is powerful because it is this kind of love that energizes faith. Sometimes we wonder why our faith does not work. Paul says,
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love (Gal. 5:6).
If your faith is not working, you need to examine your "love life." Faith is energized by love. Years ago I became rather distressed because I did not think God was saving and healing as many people as I thought He should. So I began to earnestly seek the Lord and started praying, "God, why are you not saving the people?" "Why are you not healing the people?" "I want you to have mercy on them." Seemingly, the Spirit brought a hush over my soul, and He whispered, "I have already had mercy. Now, I want you to have mercy." As I meditated upon those words, I realized that God has already done His part in the salvation and healing of people. If I would begin to love people, and if I would begin to have mercy on people, they would be saved. It was that simple. It is easy to place the responsibility on God and say, "God why do You not save them?" But God answers, "Why do you not love them?" I have found that if I want people to be saved, the best way to get them saved is to start loving them. When I want people to be healed, the best way to see them healed is to start loving them. When I desire people to be blessed, the best way to bless them is to start loving them. When I started loving them, things started happening: faith is energized by love. Faith is energized by love.
Paul emphasizes this truth in his discourse on love:
...and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing (I Cor. 13:2).
Faith without love may hinder the work of God. If some people had the faith to move a mountain, I wonder whose yard they would put it in?
PRAY THE LORD OF THE HARVEST
We have often heard it said that if you cannot go to the mission field, you can send someone. However, that is not exactly what Jesus said. Jesus said,
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest
Why did Jesus say for us to pray that He would send forth labourers? He knew that if we prayed, we would probably be the first to volunteer to go. It is true. I challenge any of you to start praying about the needs of any place in the world. If you are sincere, love will arise in your heart for that place, and you will be the first to go. You will go. Why? Because faith is energized by love. The moment you start loving a nation, loving a people, loving a person, loving the sick, loving the homeless, loving the lost--when you begin loving, your faith will be energized,
and God will begin to save, to heal, to work miracles through you. Love is very powerful because it energizes faith.
LOVE AND HOLINESS OF LIFE
Love will keep God's words and God's commandments. Jesus said,
If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (John 14:23).
One night a little phrase came bubbling into my consciousness:
If I do, I did; He does!
Remember the lawyer who came to Jesus tempting him and saying:
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matt 22:35-40).
Jesus is telling His disciples that if they love Him, they will keep His words (commandments). And if they keep His words, they love Him! Therefore, if I do (If I love Him), I did keep His commandments, because His commandments are that I love Him. And If I keep His commandments by loving Him, He does dwell in my heart.
John later says that Jesus gave us a new commandment to replace one of the two that were under the Law. We are not to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, but by the new commandment, Jesus commands "That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another"(John 13:34-35). Therefore, If I do (love God and love Jesus), I have kept His commandment; He does (dwell in my heart).
Paul says that love is the fulfilling of the law,
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
and love is the bond that ties all things together into a perfect whole:
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness ( Col 3:14).
Have you ever tried to quit a habit? The more you think about giving it up, the more you desire it? The more you want to overcome something, the more powerful it seems to become. However, there is a way to holiness of life, and that way is to fall so completely in love with Jesus, that nothing else matters. If you fall in love with Jesus Christ, completely and totally, nothing else will matter. One day I fell in love with Jesus, and nothing else mattered. My heart's desire was to please Him. My heart cried, "Lord I love you."
If you are struggling to live a holy life, if you are fighting against sin, if you are trying to commit yourself to God, fall in love with Jesus. If anyone loves and worships Him, Jesus promises that
My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him (John 14:21-23).
GOD COMMITS HIMSELF TO LOVE
Love will bring intimacy with Jesus and the Father. Faith will give us the things of God, but love will give us God Himself. God does not necessarily commit Himself to faith, but He commits himself to love. Faith will bring the gift; love will bring the giver. Faith will bring the healing; love will bring the healer. Faith will bring a blessing; love will bring the one who blesses. John made an interesting observation about Jesus at the Passover in Jerusalem, when many were believing in His name after seeing the miracles that he did. John said,
But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men (John 2:23-24).
Jesus did not commit himself to them even though they believed, but He has promised to commit himself to us if we love. If you want Jesus to abide with you, love Him. Jesus is the reward of love.
John was called the disciple whom Jesus loved. He was always very near Christ. At the cross, as Jesus was dying, He said to John,
Behold thy mother! (John 19:26-27).
Jesus committed his mother to the care of John because He knew that John loved Him.
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