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Thursday, January 23, 2020

2020.01.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:22-23

Questions from the Scripture text: Which works had been aspects named here are all of a single fruit—the Spirit fruit. While the unbeliever may seem to possess one or more of these aspects, he rarely demonstrates them all superficially; and more importantly, they are neither his in the heart and nor especially aimed first at the Lord. Believers will have all, and more importantly have them first and foremost toward the Lord, and in increasing measure.
Love—wholehearted desire for the good of the object, first and foremost the desire that God would receive His due glory, and then one’s neighbor as oneself. Joy—especially flowing from love for God, because of delight in the absolute confidence that He will, indeed, receive that due glory. Peace—the resting that this God bends all things toward that glory and our good.

And how does one whose heart is ruled by love, joy, and peace act toward others? With patience—necessary, because others are sinners, and love/joy/peace means bearing long with their sin. And with kindness—that countenance, and word choice, and tone, and manner that communicates a desire for others’ good. And goodness—actions that aim to covered in Galatians 5:19-21? Whose desires are against these (cf. Galatians 5:17)? What does Galatians 5:22 call the list in these verses? How many aspects of the (singular!) fruit are named? Which aspects are conditions of the heart? Which govern relation toward others? Which govern one’s relation to himself? How do these relate to God’s laws?

Is Paul teaching against the law? That’s an important question, because those whom Christ genuinely saves, He also genuinely changes, and their hearts start to view God’s law as “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25), crying out things like, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).

The answer, of course, is that the apostle is not teaching against the law. He is teaching against the flesh—that same flesh that abuses the law to feel superior to others (Galatians 5:15), even while the flesh violates that same law in every way (Galatians 5:19-20). What the apostle is promoting is yielding ourselves up to the Spirit (Galatians 5:18) who is at war with that flesh (Galatians 5:17). And what happens when we are led by the Spirit?

He produces in us fruit. Not fruits, plural, but singular in Galatians 5:22. The nine fulfill this desire for the good of others. And faithfulness—saying what you mean, keeping your promises, fulfilling your obligations; never needing to compromise, because your wellbeing can’t be improved beyond that perfect good that the Lord is already doing you.

Finally, how does one whose heart is ruled by love, joy, and peace act toward himself? Primarily by distrusting our heart, actually. Distrusting our heart’s opinion of ourselves, and distrusting our heart’s emotions desires.

Gentleness, in many ways, is distrusting our heart’s overinflated view of ourselves. The word translated ‘gentleness’ is actually meekness. Meekness toward God: submissiveness to obey God’s Word and submissiveness to accept His providence. And meekness toward man: recognizing that any good we have is a gift, esteeming others better than ourselves, and preferring their interests to our own.

And self-control acts upon a distrust of our heart’s emotions and desires. It begins with the recognition that our feelings are not to be trusted, and that even when our desires aren’t wrong (as they often are), they constantly tend toward disproportion. So, self-control is really Scripture-control by Spirit-control. It measures feelings and desires against the Bible, and acts not according to the impulses of our hearts but according to the revealed will of God.

So, does being led by the Spirit mean that we have rejected the law? No! It means that we pursue the keeping of that law in the only possible way: by the Spirit producing His fruit in us, and our growing in all of those things that are perfectly consistent with the law of God. Against such things, there is no law.
In which aspects of the fruit of the Spirit do you find yourself weakest? Since it is the fruit of the Spirit, how can you grow in it, and Whom must you trust to produce the growth in that way?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH400 “Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me”

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