"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
The Christian is to bear fruit unto God (Rom. 7:4; Jno. 15:4-8). Just as a seed planted in the soil brings forth a harvest, God’s word, the incorruptible seed, is planted into good and honest hearts and bears the fruit of obedient faith (1 Pet. 1:22-23; Lk. 8:15). Having had the word of God planted in his heart, the Christian’s life is to reflect the nature of that seed. So, as the Christian obeys God’s word he is bearing the fruit that word produces. This is described as being “led by the Spirit” of God (who revealed the seed that is planted in the Christian’s heart) in Galatians 5:16-24 (v. 18). There, the fruit of the Spirit (which is the natural out-cropping of the word of God in the Christian’s life) is described. Over the next few weeks we will study the fruit of the Spirit and how we can better bear this fruit in our lives.
Before looking at the specifics of this fruit it will be worthwhile for us to note that we all bear some kind of fruit in our lives. This is apparent from recognizing that we either “walk in the Spirit” or we “fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). It is up to us to decide the fruit we will bear in our lives.
The flesh desires those things which are against and contrary to the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). The works of the flesh are antagonistic to the fruit of the Spirit. As we consider the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:19-23 it is apparent they stand as opposites to each other. Look closer and you will see the striking contrast more clearly: Love vs. fornication; joy vs. revelries; peace vs. enmities; longsuffering vs. outbursts of wrath; kindness vs. envy; goodness vs. uncleanness; faithfulness vs. idolatry; meekness vs. strife; self-control vs. lasciviousness. We cannot serve two masters, and it is clear who should be our Master (Matt. 6:24).
Also see that “the fruit of the Spirit” suggests the collective nature of this produce. These virtues are a unit, each part combining to make up the fruit or harvest of the Christian’s life. As the seed, core, peel and stem are the parts of the fruit we call an “apple”, the items in Galatians 5:22-23 combine to give us a description of the fruit borne in our lives when we “walk (are led, and live) in the Spirit” (i.e., when we live by the Spirit-revealed word, Gal. 5:16, 18 and 25).
By exploring the possibilities and wonders of the fruit of the Spirit we intend to help us bear it in our lives. This is achieved as we plant the word of God in the soil of our hearts and let it transform our lives through our obedient faith. Let us always remember that “every tree is known by its own fruit” (Lk. 6:44).
It’s that time of year again, when millions make New Year’s resolutions – with many breaking them within the first week of the New Year. Resolutions are not bad. Making goals is a helpful way to achieve the improvements we wish to make in our lives. They need to be realistic and possible. Here are a few suggestions to be in 2005 that are within the reach of every Christian.
I will be more resolute in my faith. Resolutions made without a firm determination to succeed will only lead to discouragement. For example, how many folks resolve to loss weight but have no strategy to help them achieve their goal? Similarly, the Christian who resolves to improve his spiritual life must have a determined heart of faith. In Christ there is victory (1 Cor. 15:57; 1 Jno. 5:4). “Set your mind on things above” and in Christ you will successfully “press toward the goal” (Phil. 3:14).
I will be more prayerful. Prayer is the Christian’s lifeline. With it we petition our heavenly Father, the God of all power, to attend to our lives (as well as the lives of others). Through prayer we thank our loving Father for His generous love toward us. Prayer works (Jas. 5:16). What a wonderful thing it would be for every Christian to resolve to be more prayerful each day; more dependent on the power and presence of God. Don’t forget to pray (1 Ths. 5:17).
I will be more studious of God’s word. Jesus said that the truth sets us free from sin when we know it (Jno. 8:32). Are we still “people of the book” or have we become a people without the book? God’s people “are destroyed for lack of knowledge”, while diligent study of God’s word reaps immediate and eternal results (Hos. 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:15). Why not resolve to know more of the Bible by December 31, 2005 than you do January 1, 2005?
I will be a teacher of the gospel. Without someone preaching the gospel, the lost will not hear it, believe it and call on the name of the Lord to be saved (Rom. 10:13-14). But, preachers must be sent (Rom.10:15). (And, please remember that preaching – proclaiming the good news of salvation – does not only occur behind a pulpit.) We can send ourselves and we can send others (Acts 8:4; 11:22). God’s wisdom and power is at work saving souls when the gospel is taught (1 Cor. 1:21; 2 Tim. 2:2). Who, will say with Isaiah, “Here am I! Send me” (Isa. 6:8)?
I will be more obedient to Christ. Every Christian who desires to please the Lord in all things wants to obey Him more completely and dutifully each day. Our commitment to obeying Christ is motivated by our faith, hope and love (2 Cor. 5:7-9; Col. 1:23; 1 Jno. 5:4). Half-hearted obedience must become a thing of the past as we resolve to “give our best to the Master.” These are the ones Jesus will save (Heb. 5:8-9; 10:35-39).
Feel free to add to this list. You know yourself better than anyone else
(except or course, for God). So, make a spiritual resolution for 2005. And
may the Lord keep you in His blessings as you keep it.
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA