The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT
Podcast Episode: The Fruit of the HOLY SPIRIT – KINDNESS #3
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, AND SELF-CONTROL. There is no law against these things.” [Galatians 5:22-23 NLT]
Living As Children Of Light
In Ephesians 4:17-27 (NLT) says, 17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy. 25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.”
Born-Again Christian believers are to be maturing in their faith and using their gifts to benefit the church (Ephesians 4:11-16). The believers in Ephesus must live no longer as the ungodly do. He insisted that the Ephesian believers abandon what had been their former way of life, not living any longer as the other ungodly around them because they were hopelessly confused, referring to the natural tendency of human beings to employ intellectual pride, rationalizations, and excuses (Romans 1:21). Their thinking was “confused” because their lives were being wasted on worthless objects (idols), untrue teachings, and immoral behavior.
This describes the unfortunate state of the unbelievers surrounding this core of believers in the church. The unbelievers had closed minds that were full of darkness, while the believers had found the light of Christ and were given His wisdom. The unbelievers were far away from the life of God, while the believers had been made one with Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. The unbelievers had shut their minds and hardened their hearts, while the believers had received access to the full knowledge of the truth and had welcomed Lord Jesus Christ into their hearts.
These unbelievers don’t care anymore about right and wrong; they have no feeling about their degenerate condition. Such people are beyond feeling either shame for their evil or hope for anything better concerning their condition before God.
The logical next step for people who have lost all conscience is that they have given themselves over to immoral ways, filled with all kinds of impurity and greed. While these terms seem strong, we must understand the culture that surrounded the believers in and around Ephesus. The temple to the goddess Artemis (the Roman name was Diana) stood in Ephesus. Artemis was the goddess of fertility in women, animals, and nature. Her temple had a hierarchy of religious personnel, including eunuch priests, young virgins, and prostitute priestesses. One month every year was devoted to ceremonies honoring Artemis. A carnival atmosphere that included concerts, feasts, athletic games, and plays created opportunities for immorality, drunkenness, and sensuality. To the Jews, worship at the temple of Artemis was extremely corrupt. Christians, as well, were not to take part in its practices. It seems familiar or related to what is going on in our country today.
In great contrast to the unbelieving Gentiles (referred to as “they” in the previous verses) stands the word you in this verse. The Ephesian believers had learned about Lord Jesus Christ from Paul himself as well as from other teachers. To know our Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest knowledge that anyone can have. That knowledge is the truth; that knowledge opposes what the evil world teaches and applauds. Therefore, what the Ephesians and the other believers were taught should make all the difference in their lifestyles.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6). This is the truth that the Ephesians heard and believed. This is the truth that brings salvation. While unbelievers live in darkness and sensuality, believers were taught a whole new manner of living, which must throw off the old evil nature and the former way of life. The “old nature” describes each person before he or she comes to know Christ. The old nature was rotten through and through, full of lust and deception (which Paul described in Ephesians 4:17-19 above). Like a cancer, the evil nature spreads and destroys. The person was enslaved to sin, bound to the world, and without hope. Those who have accepted our Lord Jesus Christ are still susceptible to temptations and the evils of the sinful nature. Paul does not distinguish between two parts or two natures within a person. The old self describes those areas of rebellion against God. We must forsake this former lifestyle. To “throw off” that old nature will take conscious, daily decisions to remove anything that supports or feeds the old self’s desires.
We cannot get rid of the old evil nature without putting on a new nature. Believers must follow with two specific actions: (1) there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes, and (2) they must display a new nature.
While we are still on this earth, we will struggle with our old way of life. Paul understood this struggle clearly (see Romans 7:14-25). In explaining these concepts, some people have wrongly given the idea that there are two selves or two equal-but-opposite poles in our life (old and new) warring against each other. This is not how the New Testament used these words. Our Lord Jesus Christ sees His people as redeemed. Transformation begins in the mind and results in renewed behavior.
How are believers to be renewed in their thoughts and attitudes? They must:
- be involved in activities that renew their minds (Philippians 4:8-9)
- desire to pattern themselves after God, not the world (Romans 12:2)
- study and apply God’s word so that it changes their behavior from within (2 Timothy 3:15-16).
This new person is created according to the likeness of God – righteous, holy, and true. We have a right relationship with God that results in right behavior, creates an aversion to sin, and prompts us to devote ourselves to His service. These qualities are “true,” meaning they cannot be faked. This is totally opposite of the old way of living characterized by sin and corruption. Finally, the new person refers not to a split in one’s personality; instead, it pictures the new direction, attitude, and mind-set away from self and toward God and His perfect will.
The general character of the new nature will lead to specific ways of acting. Because believers in the church and/or fellowship are righteous, holy, and true (Ephesians 4:24), they must put away all falsehood. This may refer to various forms of falsehood – anything that pertains to the old lifestyle and is not part of our Lord Jesus Christ’s truth. They must put on the willingness to tell the truth to their neighbor. This is a quote from Zechariah 8:16. We do this because we belong to each other. Paul stressed our mutual responsibility. Because we are all members of our Lord Jesus Christ’s body, our words and actions must not be destructive to the body. Lying to each other disrupts unity by creating conflicts and destroying trust. It tears down relationships and leads to open warfare in a church and/or fellowship. Truthfulness, however, opens the door to understanding. To maintain unity, the believers must be completely truthful with one another.
Another characteristic of the old nature that has to be put off is bad temper, or a lifestyle characterized by anger. The words, don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you, are quoted from Psalm 4:4. The Bible doesn’t tell us that we shouldn’t feel angry, but it points out that it is important to handle our anger properly. We must not indulge our angry feelings or let them lead to pride, hatred, or self-righteousness. Our Lord Jesus Christ became angry at the merchants in the Temple, but this was righteous anger and did not lead Him to sin. Believers must follow our Lord Jesus’ example. We ought to reserve our anger for when we see God dishonored or people wronged. If we get angry, we must do so without sinning. To do this, we should deal with our anger before the sun goes down.
According to Deuteronomy, sunset was the time by which wrongs against God and against others should be made right (Deuteronomy 24:13, 15). Anger that is allowed to smolder and burn over time can eventually burst into flame and give a mighty foothold to the Devil, causing people to sin as they become bitter and resentful. It is so much better to deal with the situation immediately; perhaps the previous admonition to lovingly speak the truth can solve the problem.
Let me state this again. God is kind in giving us life and its fullness to enjoy; He is tolerant and patient as He bears our ingratitude and sin. He postpones punishment in order to give people time to turn from their sin (see 2 Peter 3:15). But Paul was concerned that these Jews, overconfident in their special status with God and unwilling to repent of sin, were showing contempt for God’s blessings.
So, let me reminds ourselves again that God’s kindness is also meant to lead us to repentance, because all people need to repent!
Observation: What do these passages say to you?
Interpretation: What do these passages mean to you?
Application: How do the meaning of these passages apply to you or to your situation?
Suggested Prayer: Father God, we come into your presence in Jesus name, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you Lord Jesus Christ for Your agape love and for the Holy Spirit as our Helper and Comforter. We cling, yield, plug-in and tune-in to you Holy Spirit to help us to understand God’s Words, receive Your divine revelation, know the Truth, and obey them, in Jesus name, Amen!
God bless us, our families, and our loved ones!