Monday, June 22, 2015

The Holy Spirit's work in the fruitful Christian life

Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

Today we consider Galatians 5 and the Holy Spirit's work in the fruitful Christian life. Throughout Galatians and other letters written by the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit's ministry in the life of the believer is closely connected to the fruit borne by the Christian. Undeniably the explicit mention of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 is tied to key ministries of the Spirit in the Christian life. Let the reader note three such works of the Spirit:

1. The sealing of the Spirit protects our fruitfulness. 
Galatians 5:5 "For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness." Unless we are exercising our eagerness for Christ through the Spirit, our eagerness, our fruit, will wither. The particular ministry of the Spirit highlighted here in Galatians 5:5 is described by the ministry of sealing. Ephesians 1:12-14 explains - "to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory." So the sealing of the Spirit protects our fruitfulness, but notice a second work of the Spirit in relationship to the fruitful Christian life...

2. Leading of the Spirit to desire fruitfulness. 
Three times in Galatians 5 we are encouraged to be led by the Spirit. Galatians 5:16 states - "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." Galatians 5:18 notes - "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law." Then Galatians 5:25 mentions - "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." In the Christian walk we are going to be led by one of two things: either the Spirit or the flesh. Either one is accompanied by "desires" of some sort. The realm of our desires hitched to the human will is what older Christian writers refer to as the "affections". When the Spirit is leading me, I will desire what is godly. What I know I "ought to do" will turn into "what I want to do". Only the Spirit can take an "I have-to" and turn it into a genuine "I want-to". Thus the Spirit's sealing preserves me in my fruit-bearing and the Spirit's leading causes me to desire such. Now let's take a look at one more work or ministry of the Spirit as it relates to the fruitful Christian life, namely....

3. Filling of the Spirit produces spiritual fruit
When we consider Galatians 5:22-23, we can say it is similar in thought and topic to two other passages that speak of what is called the "filling of the Holy Spirit". Ephesians 5:18 tells us - "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit." When we talk about the "filling of the Spirit", we mean the Spirit's enabling, empowering and emboldoning of the Christian. Power and moral excellence are included in what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Additionally, the filling of the Spirit of God is a repeated, post-conversion reality that is commanded. Henceforth the Spirit-filled life is not optional nor only for a select few super-saints. Colossians 3:16 is another text that speaks of being filled with the Spirit by way of the the scriptures - "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God." 

So how do we know that the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 is related to what we just read about in Ephesians and Colossians? Notice what Paul states in Galatians 5:25-26 "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another." Only the Christian who is repeatedly filled with the Spirit and the Word will want to walk by the Spirit and not be concerned with being boastful and challenging others. Thus the Spirit's work of filling is what enables Christians to truly bear the fruit and partake of what is listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Galatians 5:22-23 describes and pictures what the Spirit-filled life looks like in action.

Closing thoughts
Today we briefly considers the Holy Spirit's work or ministry in the fruitful Christian life. We looked at three of the Spirit's ministries in Galatians 5:

1. The Spirit's sealing preserves our fruitfulness

2. The Spirit's leading causes us to desire fruitfulness

3. The Spirit's filling produces fruitfulness

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