The War of Holiness Part 3

God, Man, and Society Part 1

Introduction

In the Great Commandment of Matthew 22, we are taught to understand the importance of man’s relationship to God, and man’s relationship to man, and that man’s relationship to man is important to God, is prescribed by God and that we are called to relate to our fellow man, individually as neighbors, and corporately as society, according to certain specific principles laid down by God in His Word.

Many in history have understood this, and many in history have gotten confused, misguided and mistaken. Such errors have led many into obscure cults, self-imposed segregation from society, and at times an overwhelming (?) self-absorption.

I know of no one, today, who remains unconcerned about our world, nation, economy, personal security. Such concerns, regardless of beliefs, are together the universal common denominator of mankind, in our society and elsewhere. However, what people everywhere are struggling with is the question of what to do about such concerns. Among many of the leaders of our great nation are men and women who are Christian believers, we have large churches led by Christian believers, we have Christian people, or at least who profess such beliefs, in policy-making positions here and in numerous — not all – nations around the globe. Yet, it is undeniable that the voices of these Christian policy makers are dim in the address of such concerns from a policy perspective. As these voices dim, since power abhors a vacuum, we face the reality that so-called progressive thought is mounting a direct assault on Christianity. And we wonder why progressive thought threatens Christianity. It is because progressive thought embraces a virtually-unlimited governmental power and a no-holds-barred morality. Making the State larger, more intrusive in the lives of people, and making it more powerful as against the lives and rights and privileges of its citizens, requires a severe re-reading of the Word of God, indeed the redefinition of God Himself. But we know that our God, our Jesus, is the same yesterday, today and forever. He will not be remade, He will not be redefined. He will not be put in the box of those in power who think they are truly in control. They are not truly in control. Christianity itself puts limits on government and establishes moral boundaries. Consequently, we have the grim reality that, through the work of malicious, or misguided, or double-minded policy-makers, the light of Christ is dimming in the world, and in the policies of the governments of the world and our own nation. This is more than sad; it is sin in the world, the nation, the church and individual lives. It is the foundation today for a heart cry from II Chronicles 7:14, not just for our nation’s land, but for the land of the world!

One of the painful and deeply misguided teachings in the church for centuries has been what is called the “two-kingdom” analysis of God, man and society. It was first taught by St. Augustine (circa 400 AD), who taught that the church was the spiritual City of God, to be distinguished from the material City of Man. This teaching carried through the church for centuries, and even found favor with Martin Luther (circa 1525 AD). With attribution to Gary DeMar, in the Foreword to the republication in 2009 of The Establishment and Limits of Civil Government, an exposition of Romans 13: 1-7, “Two-kingdon social theory teaches that ‘heavenly things’ are directed exclusively by God’s redemptive grace through Spiritual Revelation while ‘earthly things’ are formulated by God’s common grace through Natural Revelation. In this ideal but naïve world, believers and unbelievers, because they are created in the image of God, can work together to construct society using common-ground features found in Natural Revelation and guided by reason. As long as most people believed in God, such a world was theoretically possible since Natural Revelation was interpreted, either consciously or unconsciously, by Special Revelation, the Bible.”

This at least theoretical compatibility of the two kingdoms perished in 1859, the nasty by-product of Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species, as evolution killed Special Revelation, the privilege of common grace, Natural Revelation, and the belief that there is a common humanity created in the image of God. Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually-fulfilled nihilist, living beyond “good and evil” (the title of Nietzsche’s first book, published in 1886).

As Francis Shaeffer has described it, nature – that which is known through reason – began to “eat up grace,” which is known through Spiritual, or Special, Revelation. Following Darwin’s lead, many leading theologians and Christian publishers by the end of WWII began to dismiss the possibility of Special or Spiritual Revelation in a material and evolving cosmos. Darwin unleashed modern day aetheistic science and created Modern Man in its image. Schaeffer has described Modern Man, not made in the image of God and not privileged by Special, or Spiritual Revelation: “If the unsaved man was consistent he would be an atheist in religion, an irrationalist in philosophy (including a complete uncertainty concerning ‘natural laws’), and completely a-moral in the widest sense.” The modern atheist and principal antagonist to the principle of Intelligent Design of the Universe, Richard Dawkins, asserts that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” In reality, Darwin, Richard Dawkins and other like-minded souls have rendered irrelevant the two-kingdom approach to God, man and society. This means we have experienced in my lifetime a real shift in worldview thinking.

Let us consider, again with attribution to Pastor DeMar as noted above, two examples, the Joker from Batman and Adolf Hitler:

  1. The Joker from Batman (The film, The Dark Knight, 2008): Bruce Wayne (Christopher Bale) tells Alfred (Michael Cain) that criminals are “not complicated,” we just need to find out what The Joker wants. You see, in a world where there is general agreement of an acknowledged universal moral order, the actions of criminals always made sense. Even criminals knew they were wrong. The Joker is different, now. He operates from a different point of view, even an anti-point of view. Alfred tells Bruce that “some men just want to watch the world burn.” When Batman tried to beat the Joker into telling his plans, the Joker cackled with glee at the pain and taunted Batman: “you have nothing to frighten me with.” You see, the Joker lives in a world that (thank you Nietzsche and Darwin) is beyond good and evil. He does not, cannot, fear God; rather he denies the existence of God. Why should the Joker fear that which he does not believe exists? There cannot be a two-kingdom approach to God, man and society for Modern Man who lives – in America and elsewhere – in the Joker’s world.
  2. Adolph Hitler: Hitler used the two-kingdom approach to Christian analysis of God, man and society to his great political advantage. As explained by Richard Demarest in 1982, in his study of General Revelation, “A Majority within the state church (known as the ‘German Christians’) unwittingly or otherwise embraced the new national religion, founded not on the Word of God but on the divine will allegedly embedded in the natural order. Emerging from this fatal exchange came a semi-Christian natural religion (some would say a new paganism) in which the church became a servile instrument of Nazi policy . . . .!” In other words, Hitler knew he could get away with a lot of his oppressive policies because a majority of German Christians did not believe that it was permissible, in God’s view, to bring the Bible to bear in realms they considered to be outside the reach of its limited jurisdiction. Politics was considered to be official neutral territory – a sort of religiously demilitarized zone. They held to these principles of Augustine and Luther, and the “theologians” and accepted a complete misreading of Romans 13: 1-7; and related Scripture, to conclude that those who happened to be in political power were God’s ministers, regardless of the good or evil of their policies, and that such political ministers, and such governmental policies, were off-limits, beyond the limited jurisdiction of God and the church, to call any of them into accountability.

As explained by Richard V. Pierard, “German Lutherans made a strong bifurcation between the realm of public and private concerns . . . . Religion was the domain of the inner personal life, while the institutional and external, the public, so to speak, belonged to the worldly power. Redemption was exclusively the province of the church, while the law, determinative for external conduct of human affairs, was solely the province of the state. Religion was a private matter that concerned itself with the personal and moral development of the individual. The external order – nature, scientific knowledge, statecraft – operated on the basis of its own internal logic and discernable laws.” (1978).

In the Hitlerian experience, while Christians might oppose Nazi policies on a personal level, they were conditioned by the public education system, the government, and even the German Church itself, to believe that not only were they impotent, but that they were specifically instructed by the Bible to avoid any effort to alter or oppose the policies of the government.

From the Hitlerian experience, the progressives in America have been emboldened. We hear the steady cry now of separation of church and state, and are told that this so-called constitutional provision requires the silence and paralysis of the church in its voice, vote and feet on all social and political – so-called “external” issues, and that – in a great perversion of the Bible and the Constitution, only those progressive pastors and churches who are supportive of the politically powerful and their anti-Chritian point of view, may speak freely from the pulpit!

Where the Christian culture has gone wrong – and allowed the world and the nation to go wrong with it – is it getting stuck in salvation and in not choosing to believe that Jesus is – and should be – Lord of all life. Schaeffer figured it out; Paul McQuire ( a syndicated talk show host from California) who has thus quoted Schaeffer figured it out; Gary DeMar figured it out, and it is time for everyone to figure it out. In our church we have been preaching growth, maturity, obedience, self-discipline because we figured it out. In all of life it is the Lord’s way, by His grace and power and authority, or no way.

Yes, in the relationship of God, man and society, we have Matthew 22:21 (Jesus says, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”) and we have Romans 13 (in part, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. . . . “) In America, if we have a Caesar it is our Constitution, and that is based on the inalienable rights with which we have been endowed by our Creator God. And our Constitution recognizes its limits and assures the right of the voting people to

  1. express their grievances and to assemble for such purposes;
  2. vote out corrupt and oath-breaking officials;
  3. change existing laws – bad policy – through the legislative process.

As we will see in days and messages to come, there is no proper two-kingdom approach to the relationship of God, man and society; there is only a one-kingdom approach and God will ultimately make it so in the New Jerusalem, but we should be mindful, meantime, of our responsibility to treat every word and act as an act of war in the War of Holiness, and to try to make II Chronicles 7:14 the heart cry of every citizen of the world!

End Note 1: II Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

The War of Holiness Part 2

On June 7, we received Part I of this message, The War of Holiness. We were reminded that God has called us, (2 Tim 1: 8-10) with a holy calling, to holiness in Christ Jesus, and it is our responses to this call which divides, and has always divided, the world. This division of the world, on a public and a private scale is warring, war-like, and a real war – The War of Holiness!

In brief review, Hebrews 7:26 provides God’s definition of holiness, a description of Jesus as High Priest, of whom it was there said, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners . . . .” The definition of holiness: “harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” The War of Holiness is over our choices. In accepting God’s holy calling, we are challenged by the worldly and satanic forces of personality, persuasion, manipulation, money and physical force, and we are challenged throughout our lives:

  1. to make an initial choice to accept the Holy Calling of God;
  2. to know and understand this Holy Calling of God;
  3. to make, continually and continuing, holy choices in the decisions of our lives, knowing that every breath, every word, every deed, every plan, is an act of war, one way or the other, in the way of holiness.

And 2 Tim 1:8-10 calls us, in this Holy Calling, not to be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, and to share in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, for his purpose and by the grace given us in Christ Jesus.

On this occasion to celebrate fathers, Father’s Day, I am reminded of this War of Holiness, this holy calling by God, because God has called us men to be priests, prophets and kings over our families and households; he has called us to be the leaders of our families and households, and this War of Holiness challenges men at every turn and place. God’s holy calling is for men

  1. to nurture the faith to accept the calling, that initial choice;
  2. to execute the self-discipline to study, read, meditate, pray and communicate with God, so as to know and understand this Holy Calling;
  3. to muster the will and the courage, in faith, to make, continually, and continuing, holy choices in the decisions of our lives, and as affecting the lives of our families and our households.

Let’s talk about manly leadership in these three areas.

First, God’s Holy Calling goes back a ways: It is described in Leviticus 20:26 (“And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.”), speaking of the Hebrew descendants of Abraham. And the rest of mankind is given the opportunity, by faith, to be grafted into that bloodstock by the ministry of reconciliation in the Blood of Jesus (see Romans 11:13-20). And to Jew and Gentile alike, this Holy Calling (Romans 12:1) is to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, as our reasonable service to Him. In accepting this Holy Calling, we hear the cry of Jesus as He started His earthly ministry (Matthew 4:17), “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand;” we remember the invitation of Jesus (John 3:16-18 and Revelation 20:6), that because of God’s love, those who believe in Jesus shall have everlasting life; and that we shall reign and rule with Christ.

Second, in knowing and understanding this Holy Calling of God, we have to really grasp the magnitude of the Blood of Jesus: Colossians 1: 21-23 (“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight – and if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard . . . .”). Men struggle with their weaknesses and their strengths, their passions and their lazinesses: the manifestations are in failures to love and honor God by obedience to His commands, and by failure of our families by failing to make or to sustain commitment, addictions, selfishness, criminality, violence and abuse, unforgiveness, refusing to be accountable or to accept responsibility, and even by simple failures like coarse language, humor. That struggle, that battle, alienates us from God and from our families and makes us God’s enemies in our minds, as we try to justify such failures and foolishness. That struggle is the War of Holiness! In this struggle, we need accountability, with our families, with other men, with our church members, and with the Holy Spirit. In Hebrews 3: 12-14, the importance of that accountability is clarified, so that we hold on to our salvation (just like it mentioned in Colossians 1:21-23: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today’, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end . . . (and not rebel).” In the great consistency of the Holy Scripture, this message is sealed in Revelation 22:11, “. . . he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”

Third, in living our lives, men, we learn from God how to live them and we just have to choose to do it right: to love God with all that we are (and thereby to obey Him) and to love our families more than ourselves (and there by to serve them). God has shown us this way to live, to win the War of Holiness, in two special scriptures, one in Ephesians and one in Colossians. In Ephesians, 5:25-28, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife, loves himself.” And in Colosssians 3:12-17, “Therefore as the elect of God, holy and believed, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering” (sounds like the Sermon on the Mount and the fruit of the Spirit!!); “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another . . . but above all these things, put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called, in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do, in word or deed” (all Acts of War in the War of Holiness), “do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Today, I am speaking to fathers, especially, and to young men who, God willing, shall become fathers, and to mothers, and wives, and young women who seek to become mothers. To the women not married, know what you are looking for, what God has planned for you in a husband and father. To the men not married, know what God has planned for you in being a husband and father.

I speak to all of you on this Father’s Day 2009: God has called you to the bond of perfection – love – which produces obedience to God’s will, and service to those around us, especially our families, our wives and children! You understand the Holy Calling now, and you need to continue to study it and talk to the Holy Spirit, and read the Word, and pray, and talk to your family and your accountability partners, and accept correction from any of these worthy sources (that is what accountability is for – repentance). In your repentance, as a way of life, choose to fit your life, continually and courageously, into the definition of holiness, in the model of Jesus Christ, as one who is “harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” If you’re going to be a Christian, you’ve got to act like Christ – Amen?!

The War of Holiness Part 1

God has called us to holiness in Christ Jesus, and it is the response to this call which divides the world. That division, on a public and personal scale, is warring, war-like and real war: it is The War of Holiness. If profoundly affects all of us because of the power of choice which God obligated us to exercise, knowing that with every breath we are choosing God or not; God or self; God or Satan. That process of choosing is the battlefield, and there is fought The War of Holiness. It is fought universally on a personal scale and the public effects of that War of Holiness are manifest in every aspect and component of world and national and state and local public affairs and issues.

For example, there would today be no important conflict in the Middle East except for Judaism. There would be no plan of democracy and its principles of religious freedom and freedom of expression and self-defense and equality, except for the Christian foundations of democracy. Think about it: Without these religious influences, the world would not be a safe place, particularly, but it would find its functional equilibrium in balances of power, greed and deceit, in the payment of taxes and tribute, and sexual manipulations, on a personal and public scale. Those who achieved power through force, as in China, and attained massive economic power, would no longer want to have wars and resulting instabilities, but would want to have peace and stability for more economic prosperity. So, in that equilibrium the false peace would be stability. Indeed for many decades there has been a shadowy international group seeking exactly such false peace, the Tri-Lateralists, but they see it as a true peace due to their personal choices of disbelief in God Almighty and His redemptive plan for peace with mankind through Jesus Christ.

But since we still have the Jews and us Christians, all of those tensions are manifest in all of the world today, and are reflected in the political, financial, and personal issues facing everyone. But, if you removed God and His selection of the Jews as His chosen people, and also removed the in-grafted Christians, from the world, and left the world to its own devices, it would seek and find a certain worldly stability and equilibrium, which it could muster by force of personality, persuasion, money and physical force, and it would look like a peace, but would be a false peace. Only through Jesus can we know God and be reconciled to Him, and in that way we will have an opportunity, and attendant choices, to be holy, and only in holiness will we have true peace. That true peace is personal, and it does not matter what wars and forces and false peace may rage and tempt and deceive around us, if we have true peace in Jesus Christ.

The reality, and the struggle, for the Jews has been achieving holiness through obedience to the lengthy laws prescribed by God, and they found, and God already knew, they couldn’t do it, but they keep trying. As God knew, only through the blood sacrifice of Jesus, could there be sufficient atonement for mankind’s sin to bring mankind to holiness, a state of peace, true peace, in which mankind would not be at war with God, in enmity with Him! Being in any kind of war is difficult and uncertain of outcome, at best, but being at war with God is impossible ever to win!

Because of Satan, and his demons, and his followers, and our power of choice, we are engaged in The War of Holiness, as we are tempted and deceived and trained and educated to be unholy. Yes, these are times — between the Garden and the New Jerusalem – that try the souls of men, and God intended it that way, so he would know that the bride He loves, and whom He has called, in fact has chosen Him and loves Him, setting aside all others, in faithful respect and obedience.

Let’s put this in a definitional context: I believe that Hebrews 7:26 provides God’s definition of “holiness:” The paradigm of “holiness” is Jesus, Himself, the true “High Priest,” of whom this is said, “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners . . . .” That is the definition of holiness: “harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” We are at war, in The War of Holiness, over whether we are going to make choices to be harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Jesus also gave us such a definitional picture in The Sermon on the Mount: Who shall be comforted, filled, obtain mercy, see God, be called sons of God, and receive the kingdom of heaven as an inheritance? The answer: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.

The War of Holiness is a war about holiness, and it is based at the individual level (kind of like the Marine Corps motto, “Every Marine is a rifleman”), but it also functions corporately, like a military unit, in groups of people. The War of Holiness is a war against Satan and selfishness, waged in each person, and to win The War of Holiness requires you

  1. to know the Calling of God,
  2. to make an initial choice to accept the Calling of God,
  3. to make continuing choices in how you live.

Winning the War of Holiness has this incredible result, that mankind without Jesus Christ cannot attain, despite their forces of personality, persuasion, money and physical force: True Peace! True Peace, because winners of The War of Holiness are comforted, filled, have obtained mercy, are called sons of God, and live in the hope of the certainty of the kingdom of heaven as an inheritance.

The Calling of God is like God’s call not for a draft of service, but like a voluntary enlistment: Here is the calling, 2 Tim 1: 8-10, “Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus, before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and mortality to light through the Gospel.”

This calling, and its promises from the Sermon on the Mount, and all of Scripture, is affirmed in Ephesians 1: 3-6, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

If you do not accept that choosing and calling of God, that holy calling to holiness, then you are on the wrong side, the losing side, in The War of Holiness, and your choices have eternal consequences, so choose wisely, initially in your life, and with every breath thereafter!

Let us pray for our initial and continuing, daily, choices in The War of Holiness!

Hungry for the Fruit

Who here has ever felt like they hated someone? (Love) Ever been sad or depressed? (Joy) Ever felt a little anxiety? (Peace) Have any of us ever been impatient or violent? (Long-suffering / gentleness) Who here has ever said or done something that was hurtful? (Goodness) Anybody other than me ever wondered whether God really exists? (Faith) Anybody ever let their abilities make them proud, or feel like doing something that was asked of them wasn’t “their job?” (Meekness) Anybody ever felt a little bit of anger? Anybody here (other then me) ever lost control? (Temperance / self-control).

Anybody want to take a guess what God thinks about it when we do these things? Turn to Galatians 5 please.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off! For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 5

So how to we get love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control? Is there some secret? Does the Holy Spirit come down on us and we suddenly won’t ever lose our temper again? I wish it did, then I wouldn’t lose my temper, or get mad or any of the other things I do that I hate. However, it doesn’t work that way. So how does it work?

Let’s examine what Paul says in verse 22. Why does Paul use the word fruit? What is the one thing that is common to all fruit? It grows, it doesn’t just appear on the end of the branch, fully manifest, to walk up and take and eat. There is a process, a natural course that all things take toward maturity. And here’s the key: everyone SEES the growth. The fruit of the Spirit is the character of a Christian, it’s what everyone sees. This is what the world calls us hypocrites by. How many of us have said something bitter or hurtful to someone that was not a Christian, or someone who saw us as a Christian? How many times has someone seen us lose our temper, or yell, or be depressed or sad?

We (the Church) and we (the individuals) must also be careful not to be definitive on what our character is to be. There are other passages that define our “fruit” in addition to Galatians.

In 1 Corinthians 13, in the midst of Paul’s description of the gifts of the Spirit, there is a section on love. While not directly about “fruit,” it is about what springs from love, and it is in much the same vein. Please turn to verses 3-13.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:3-13

According to verses 4-8, love

  • suffers long;
  • is kind;
  • does not envy (ou zeloo);
  • does not parade itself (ou perereupmai);
  • does not get ‘puffed up’ (ou phusioutai);
  • does not behave rudely;
  • is not provoked;
  • does not think evilly, nor rejoice in sin;
  • rejoices in the truth;
  • bears all things;
  • believes all things;
  • hopes all things;
  • endures all things.

In Philippians Paul begins to tell us how we are to get to be the men and women of God we are supposed to be. Please turn to Philippians 4:8-9.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9

Paul advises us to think on things that are

  • true;
  • noble, or worthy of high esteem (semnos);
  • just;
  • pure;
  • lovely (prosphiles);
  • of good report (euphemos);
  • of any virtue, or excellence (arete);
  • worthy of praise(epainos).

In Colossians 3:12-16, the church members are told to put on (wear) these things:

  • tender mercies;
  • kindness;
  • humility or self-smallness (tapeinophrasune);
  • a heart of compassion (oiktirmos);
  • gentleness;
  • patience.

Christ says in Mathew 7:15-20 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

So are you known by your fruit? Is it bitter fruit, or good fruit?

Let’s talk about how we get these things, this “fruit.” MJ Young said, “if you want to see the fruit grow in your own life, you have to expect the fertilizer.”

Ouch…

I asked God to come into my life; when I did that, my biggest stronghold (definitely not my only stronghold) was rebellion against authority. Anybody else have that issue? Anyway, He promptly put me in jobs that had the most unfair, evil, difficult people on the planet to deal with. Pray for patience, and what does God do? Kerry? Pray for God to teach us to Love one another and how do you think He is going to teach that? Probably put the most unlovable, mean spirited, bitter person He knows we can deal with in our lives. When we learn to love that person, we will have learned something about love. Want joy in your life, expect your life to be filled with hardship and heartache. God wants to build our character, not give us character.

So, are you hungry for the Fruit?

Let’s pray.