Fruit of the Spirit
Greetings precious people. In todayís article I would like for us to continue to look at the subject of the fruit of the Spirit as revealed in Godís Word, the Bible. In Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." The fruit of the Spirit is in contrast with the fruit of the flesh. Which is found in the preceding verses, Galatians 5:19-21, "Now the works (fruits) 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."
Last time we looked at the fruit of Love. Now letís look at Joy. Joy is defined as cheerfulness, gladness, full of joy, and a calm delight. This Joy that comes to the believer is not dependent upon circumstance, situation, or things. Actually it is inspire of any of these. Listen to what Jesus said to His disciples. In John 15:11, "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full." John 16:22, "Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you." John 16:24, "Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."
These promises of Joy that Jesus gives take on a greater signifigance when we realize the context of which He spoke them. John chapter 12 through 17 all takes place the night in which Jesus would be betrayed by Judas and crucified the next day. He had told His disciples of this and that He was going to die, that as His enemies hated Him these enemies would also hate them. This would certainly not the kind of circumstance and situation that would cause one to be full of joy. Yet Jesus clearly told them of a Joy that would be theirs as His children.
Let me ask you dear ones, do you know this kind of Joy in your life today? Is the Joy that you have and experienced dependent upon things, feelings, experiences, or others?
For the Christian, Joy is such an important part of oneís life. Listen to what Godís Word says in Nehamiah 8:10, "Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
It is the Joy of the Lord that gives strength to face the daily trials and difficulties. Can any argue that this life has its share of trials and difficulties? Some certainly have more than others, but we do all have our troubles. But it is the Joy of the Lord that is given to the child of God that enables him or her to get through it all with that quiet calmness.
It is certain that the person who does not have Jesus lacks this Joy and never will experience it apart from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But tragically, there are many Christians that lack having this Joy in their lives. For some it is because they are seeking to obtain the Joy that only Jesus can give from the world or like King David, there is unrepented sin in their life. After David had committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba, conspired and killed her husband Uriah, attempted to cover his sin refusing to confess his sin and repent, he lost the Joy that was his in the salvation of the Lord. Listen to portions of two Psalms that David wrote during this time in his life. In Psalm 32:3-4, "When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer." Psalm 51:11-12, "Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit."
This was one of the worst times in Davidís life. He felt like he was all dried up inside. He had no joy at all. Godís hand was heavy upon him. Do you know why David was experiencing this? There is a twofold reason. First, David refused to confess and repent of his sin. He chose to hold onto his sin and try to hide it as though it never happened. In other words, David brought this on himself. He had no one to blame but himself for his sin and the affects that it brought. Secondly, Godís hand was heavy upon David because God loved David. Now some may hear that and say, "What kind of love is this?" it is a great love. A love that knows and desires what is best for a person no matter what the cost. God knew that as long as David kept silent about his sin, he could have no fellowship with God. God would not allow it, for God is Holy. If we are to come before God, then we too must be made holy which only occurs by the Grace of God through His forgiveness and cleansing of our sin. Davidís sin acted as a barrier between he and God. As long as that sin went unconfessed and unrepented, David could not be close to God and enjoy the Joy that was his as a child of God.
Now you may say of yourself, "Well Iím living in sin and I donít feel nothing like David expressed." This may be for one of two reasons. One, your not a child of God. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:5-8, "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons." Anytime a person is living in willful blatant sin and not experiencing the discipline of God, it is very questionable whether or not that person is even a child of God in the first place.
The other reason that a person is not feeling the discipline of God as they are living in sin, is because they have hardened their heart so much to God that they cannot feel Godís hand on their life. In Hebrews 3:7-15, "Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.' " 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, while it is said: "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
God so wants His children to have great Joy in their lives. Do you have His Joy in your life today? If not, you can. First you must become one of His children if you are not already. You can become one of His by, agreeing with God that you are a lost sinner and you can do nothing to save yourself. Repent (turn away from, have a change of heart and change of mind) of your sin. Turn to Jesus Christ in faith for the forgiveness of your sin and the salvation of your soul. God will begin to give you this wonderful joy.
If you are a child of God already and are not experiencing His Joy then ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal any and all sin that is in your life then confess and repent of it. Listen to what David experienced after he did this. In Psalm 32:1-2, "Blessed (happy) is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed (happy) is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit." Psalm 32:5, "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin."
Next time we will look at other fruit of the Spirit. Until then may the Lord richly bless you my beloved.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine