- Overcomer Literature Trust
The Fruit of the Spirit - March 2024
“But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5 v22-23).
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THE RIGHTEOUS FRUIT.
By John Bunyan
No one can produce righteousness in themselves unless they have the root of righteousness, which is the Spirit of God, that comes to us because we have been made children of God. Therefore, the Fruit of the Spirit are the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ to the praise and glory of God. And so, we can say that those who are made righteous before God are inhabited by the Spirit of righteousness. This comes by Jesus Christ, and by our being justified before God, and made righteous through Him.
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THE EDITOR’S LETTER.
As we all embark upon another year in this fallen world, we at the Overcomer Literature Trust, pray that the God of all grace will make you strong, firm and steadfast in Him this year. That you will stay in friendship with Him, trusting Him at all times and continue to be watchful for the times are evil (Ephesians 5 v16). Yet also being excited about His move of the Holy Spirit on Earth today. Each of us must continually ask for divine help, and according to His Word He will not give us a stone if we ask for bread. Our Father in Heaven will give good gifts to those who ask Him (Matthew 7 v 9, 11).
The theme of this edition is the Fruit of the Spirit. The Lord has given us His Spirit, and by our submitting to Him we will exhibit these Fruit.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
By W H Lewis
Numbering the works of sin and the Fruit of the Spirit we have sad evidence of human depravity and of the amount of evil in our world.
Paul gave us a list of fifteen sins in his letter, such as jealousy, drunkenness, idolatry, etc, while in giving the Fruit of the Spirit he named only nine qualities of a Christian (Galatians 5 v19-23).
The Bible is richer in vocabulary to speak about sins rather than about qualities of character. If you want further proof of this, look at Romans 1 verses 29 to 31 and Second Timothy 3 verses 2 to 5, where you will find such a long list of human crimes grouped together in one sentence that it will make you out of breath to read them, while there is nowhere in the Bible listing such a number of good deeds.
As Richard Trench remarked, “I take the first letter of the alphabet and see the words affliction, agony, anguish, atheist, assassin, avarice and twenty other words in our language. We find that in the Scriptures, and in language generally, words that express crime or misery are more abundant than words that relate to goodness and happiness. Some take lightly human depravity and talk about dignity and excellence in our nature. This is a lie, for sin and misery are woven into the structure of humankind”.
Again we notice another difference in the lists given by the apostle. He says the works of the flesh are obvious, but he does not state the same of the Fruit of the Spirit. This is remarkable, for the works of the flesh are indeed very clear. For example, a murder gets attention and a whole community is thrown into excitement by it. Drunkenness also is shown on a person’s features. Hatred is often noisy and idolatry sets up its gods in public places. Even secret sins leave a trail like that of a slimy reptile to show it up.
This is not so with Christian Fruit, which are quiet, modest and unobtrusive. There may be some Christians with hearts full of love, joy, peace, meekness and gentleness who are not noticed for these things by others. Yet, if they were murderers, they would be known and their personality would be studied, along with the crime analysed. But for meekness, peacefulness and gentleness, the world cares little and little observation would be given. You see, it is not without reason that Paul says, “the acts of the flesh are obvious” (Galatians 5 v19), while he does not say the same about the qualities of the Spirit.
You will also see that Paul speaks of the results of human corruption in the plural, but of the Spirit’s work in the singular, the “works of the flesh”, and the “Fruit of the Spirit”. There is something to learn from this. Acts of evil can be done separately, but the Fruit of the Spirit go together. A person may be a murderer, for instance, yet not an alcoholic, or an idolater. But a Christian cannot have their heart filled with love without also having joy and peace. They cannot have faith and goodness without being self-controlled and gentle too.
Here we have a good test of our own Christian character. Someone may naturally have one thing that looks like a Christian characteristic, yet without any converting work of the Holy Spirit in their heart, and they will not have any other virtues. So, we see a kind temperament in those with little self-control, or integrity in those who are furiously passionate. How do we know then whether our good characteristics are only natural virtues or whether they are the Fruit of the Spirit?
The answer is, that if they are the work of God in our souls, we will have them all. The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control combined.
Christian qualities, given from God, are like the circle of a gold ring, they are a continuous, perfect circle. The ring may be dim at times, but it is pure gold and can be polished bright again, or it may be dented and bent but can be put in shape again. If you cut out a part it is no longer a ring and can be restored only by being recast or made again.
It is also seen in Paul’s writing that there is no law against any of the Fruit of the Spirit. That is, no one is able to forbid the practice of them, they approve themselves to everyone.
If a Christian’s heart is full of love to God and others, then many unbelievers will not be angry with them for showing this love. Or, if they have a peaceful spirit there will be no offence taken because of this. Forbearance, gentleness and self-control are pleasing to others too, if we practice them. We need to have hearts filled and overflowing with them.
When we come face-to-face with the world and its anger as we maintain Christian doctrine or seek to turn unbelievers from their sin, we indeed need these holy characteristics. If we have more of these Fruit in our hearts when warning sinners, we would not get so much hate, for there are many Christians who feel that they are persecuted for doing their duty of evangelism and yet get persecuted for doing this in an unchristian way. There are exceptions to this, for Jesus Christ also met with persecution. Yet His lovely character went far toward disarming His enemies and would have done so completely had not their hatred been so terrible. Furthermore, the rulers hated Him not because He was loving and meek, but because He rebuked their sins and exposed their hypocrisy.
Let us make the cultivation of these heavenly Fruit the main goal of our Christian lives. Nothing will so powerfully reflect Jesus Christ to the world. The zealous apologist may imagine themselves standing up as the great champion for truth, but very likely a humble Christian whose heart is filled with love and meekness may do far more to commend Christ to others than the apologist will. This is a way of serving Christ that is open to all.
To bring others and those of your own family to the knowledge of the truth, the answer is to live it out. You do not have to be a reformer or a critic of everyone, nor do you need to wish for the skill of someone educated and experienced to speak to them. All you need is to cultivate all the characteristics of love named in Galatians chapter 5, until they say, “what a change Christ has made in this member of our family. You were once argumentative, proud and selfish, now you are just the reverse and hardly like the same person.” And they will be ready to add, “if this is the influence of God, I wish to feel His power.”
Finally, if we do not have heavenly temperaments, then we can be sure that our advice or preaching carries no weight with others. There are no acquisitions that will so enrich and bless us and others as these precious gifts, the Fruit of the Spirit. Let us pray that our hearts will be full of them.
From ‘Sermons for the Christian Year’.
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By Matthew Henry
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4 v1)
Christians need to bear with each other, to make the best of one another and to encourage in one another the Fruit of the Spirit, not sinful passions. We find in ourselves much that is hard to forgive, and we find the same in others which is hard to forgive, yet we must forgive them as we forgive ourselves. Now without these things unity cannot be preserved. The first step towards unity is humility, without this there will be no meekness, patience or forbearance, and without these no unity. Pride and passion will break the peace, and make trouble. Humility and meekness restore the peace, and keep it. Nothing is emphasised as much in Scripture than for us to walk in Christ’s kingdom and glory. Humility is opposed to pride and we must walk in the excellent quality of meekness which makes people unwilling to be provoked and not easily offended. There is one Christ in whom all believers hope, and one heaven they are all hoping for, therefore they should be of one heart. They all believe the same great truths of Christ, and have all been admitted into the Church by one baptism with water, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4 v7).
The Spirit of God is the Spirit of love. He that does not love the image of God in His people has no saving knowledge of God. For it is God’s nature to be kind, and to give happiness. The law of God is love, and all will be happy if they obey it. The provision of the Gospel, for the forgiveness of sin, and the salvation of sinners, shows that God is love. Mystery and darkness still rest upon many things, but God has shown himself to be love and eternal happiness. Unbelief would condemn us to hopeless misery, because we break our Creator’s laws. None of our words can do justice to the astonishing love of a holy God towards sinners, whom He could justly have crushed in a moment. They all were deserving of His vengeance, and He could have created other worlds by His Word with more perfect beings if He had wanted to. Even if we searched the whole universe for love we would never find such as this. It is only found in the person and the Cross of Christ. Love exists between God and sinners, and the origin was not that we loved God, but that He freely loved us. When His love is fruitful within us, and when it is produced in us, it is said to be perfected.
From ‘Daily Readings’.
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THE BLESSINGS IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS.
By Mrs Jessie Penn-Lewis
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1 v3).
The glorious Lord reveals in His Word what He will be in our souls, in the various aspects of the heavenly life of the believer, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Love of the Spirit.
“You have stolen My heart, My sister, My bride, you have stolen My heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How delightful is your love, My sister, My bride. How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume more than any spice. Your lips drop sweetness as the honeycomb, My bride, milk and honey are under your tongue. The fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon” (Song of Solomon 4 v9-11).
The heart of Christ is satisfied. He prayed that the love with which His Father had loved Him might be in His redeemed ones (John 17 v26). The love of God is now poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, therefore the beloved of Christ can say “how much more pleasing is Your love” (v10).
The believing soul is called His “sister” because “both the One who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2 v11). She is also a member of His bride because of being joined to Him by one Spirit.
Furthermore, she is now responsive to His every call. He tells her that He is encouraged to lead her on, and to bring to fruition “every desire for goodness” and “every deed prompted by faith” (2 Thessalonians 1 v11). She is fragrant with the sweetness of His presence, and the love that fills her heart produces sweet and pure words, such as “honey” and “milk”, yes even her clothes give off a fragrance like the smell of Lebanon.
The Fruit of the Spirit.
“You are a garden locked up, My sister, My bride, you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices” (Song of Solomon 4 v12-14).
The Glorious Lord compared His redeemed to a garden enclosed for Himself alone, because she is wholly under His control, to fulfil all His pleasure and will. He has chosen and appointed her to bear fruit that will last (John 15 v16), and He sees the Fruit of the Spirit, which are precious fruits and all the “spices” now appearing (Galatians 5 v22). His Father is glorified when there is “much fruit” (John 15 v8), for “they will say, ‘this land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden’” (Ezekiel 36 v35), they shall see that the “Hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it” (Isaiah 41 v20).
The Living Waters of the Spirit.
“You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon” (Song of Solomon 4 v15).
The Beloved makes the believer an “enclosed spring”, a “sealed fountain” in His garden (4 v12), so that He may be the source of the flowing streams. He will guard the soul so that it will never be independent of Him, or able to bring forth His life at its own will. It must know that it is helpless apart from Him. He must be the ultimate controller and power within us, so that we are completely dependent upon our Creator.
The Lord now demonstrates Himself in the redeemed one, as a fountain of living water. “The water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4 v14), evermore springing up, as sealed by Him, to become “rivers of living water” (John 7 v38). From those who continuously abide in Christ will flow the rivers of His life.
When we walk in unbroken fellowship and obedience by the power of the blood the believer will have no cares about the flowing streams, for the Lord knows how to bring hearts into contact with the overflow of His life, which breaks out spontaneously from His hidden ones as they remain restful in His keeping.
The Heavenly Wind of the Spirit.
“Awake, north wind, and come, south wind. Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread everywhere” (Song of Solomon 4 v16).
The Holy Spirit is likened in Scripture to “wind” or “breath” (Ezekiel 37 v9).
The soul is already a temple of the Holy Spirit. It was the eternal Spirit who imparted to it the gift of life from above. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3 v8). It was He who purified the heart (Acts 15 v9), took possession of the soul for Christ the King, and caused it to receive Him as a Living Person. It was He who testified to the soul of the Crucified, Risen and Glorified Lord (John 15 v26), and guided the soul into all truth concerning its death with Him on Calvary’s cross, and the soul’s union with Him in His resurrection and ascension. It was He who brought the soul out of the earthly life and into the heavenly realm on the resurrection side of the Cross.
Abiding in the clear light of heaven, to clearly see the Risen Lord, means the soul is now ready for the Breath of God to move upon it, and for Him to use us as never before.
In the realm of heaven, the soul can now know the working of the Spirit in power. The Holy Spirit is a violent wind from Heaven (Acts 2 v2), that fills the soul with His fragrance. It is the Holy Spirit who causes the spices of the life of Christ to flow out in words of life as the Spirit enables.
The Attitude of the Soul.
“Let my Beloved come into His garden and taste its choice fruits” (Song of Solomon 4 v16).
This is the first recorded saying of the redeemed one since entering into rest with Christ. She has learnt the silence of love, and to be so still that He can speak. In early days she easily described her experience, every fresh revelation of Christ was talked about. A few words from Him overcame her so much that she could hardly bear them, and the experience strengthened her for future fellowship with Him.
That her Beloved should be satisfied is now her one desire, she can only respond, “let my Beloved come”. The garden is His, the precious fruits are His, and all is for Him. Her prayer has become a prayer without ceasing, “Your will be done”.
The Life Abundant.
“I have come into My garden, My sister, My bride, I have gathered My myrrh with My spice. I have eaten My honeycomb and My honey, I have drunk My wine and My milk. Eat, friends, and drink, drink your fill of love” (Song of Solomon 5 v1).
The Spirit-breathed desire of the soul gets immediate response, for the Spirit intercedes “in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8 v17).
To the expressed desire of His redeemed one that He will use what He has implanted in her, the Bridegroom gives the reply, “I have come”. He delicately accepts her reminder that all is His, for He repeats the word “My” nine times.
He appropriates the precious fruits, and without needing to ask the consent of such a surrendered soul He turns to the others around who are unsatisfied, and invites them to share with Him the abundant fruit, and to eat of the heavenly food provided. "Eat, friends, and drink, drink your fill of love”.
He will now be able to point to the fainting crowd and say to the obedient hearts “give them something to eat”.
From ‘Thy Hidden Ones’.
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“Christ is the Fruit of the Spirit. When we receive Christ into us, we have the entire Fruit of the Spirit. We often ask what the Fruit of the Spirit is. But God asks who the Fruit of the Spirit is. The Fruit of the Spirit is just Christ Himself. When we have Christ, we have the Fruit of the Spirit. If we have Christ, we have everything”. Watchman Nee
By The Editor
His love is our love and His mind is our mind in Christ Jesus. It is through His understanding and by His love that He wants to produce in us the fruit of righteousness. What fruit we have depends on whose voice we are listening to. For the Lord said, “My sheep listen to My voice, I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10 v27). When we listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, apply the truths of the Word in our lives, then the Fruit of the Spirit will be seen in us.
In Galatians 5 verses 19 to 21 Paul lists what he terms the “desires of the flesh”, which are contrary to the “Fruit of the Spirit” in verse 22. This contrast gives birth to the thought that there is a better way than simply carrying on in the flesh, as non-believers do. From the time we received Christ as our Saviour and made Him our Lord, the seed of the Spirit has begun in us the transformation of the soul. This rebirth from the old nature to the nature of God may seem slow to some, but through the constant renewing of the mind, the believer has constant access to this heavenly nature.
It is His perfect seed of the Holy Spirit, deposited into our hearts when we received by faith Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, that will develop into the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives to sanctify our souls. And just as in nature we observe good fruit growing on healthy plants and trees, so too in the life of the believer there will be good fruit because of the Word put by the Spirit into our hearts. “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1 v21).
Every believer has to make a choice each day, whether to eat the Word and invite the Holy Spirit in, which will produce the healthy Fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Or to ignore their daily duty of dedicating their lives to Him. In the Old Testament we read that “the priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering, a pleasing aroma” (Leviticus 3 v16). Because, “The fire on the altar must be kept burning, it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it” (Leviticus 6 v12). In the New Covenant we have a relationship with God through the Spirit, and we must put our lives on the altar of His love every day, and not give way to the “desires of the flesh”.
The Fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, are beautiful evidences of our rebirth as Christians and characteristics that need cultivating by our Heavenly Father. “I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Gardener” (John 15 v1), were the words of our Lord. But it was prophesied that, “‘not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.” (Zechariah 4 v6). So we must rely on the Holy Spirit to build the fruit within us, by allowing us access to our Father in Heaven.
“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being the Eternal Word and for giving me your Holy Spirit to access my Father’s Throne Room. Build in me, Holy Father, these Fruit, by which I want to be known by. I submit to your Holy Spirit and give way to His Fruit in my life. I renounce the old nature with its destructive tendencies, and I thank you for giving me the Lord Jesus as an example of how to demonstrate the Fruit in my life. I repent of all self-centred negative ways and I choose to let your Spirit alone work inside my heart to bring about your desired will, which is my transformation into the nature of Your Beloved Son Jesus Christ. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.”
The first of the Fruit of the Spirit, can be summed up in the words of John the Evangelist, “let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us, He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4 v7-11). The Greek word used here in Galatians is “agape", meaning “a love that is so profound that it knows no limits or boundaries in how far, wide, high and deep it will go to show itself to its recipient”. It is the highest form of love spoken of in the Bible, and one that is wholly self-sacrificial. It is the love that took our Lord to the Cross to die for sinful humans. And is now the love that by the Holy Spirit is deposited into the hearts of those who are born again.
This supernatural joy comes only from Holy Spirit. The Thessalonians were persecuted for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1 v6). This joy is not just human happiness, rather it is a deep joy that springs up in the believer, even at the worst of times and in the worst of situations.
This is the rest and tranquillity that the Lord Jesus referred to when He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14 v27). It is the peace that Paul experienced when in the midst of a storm at sea he said to his fellow sailors, “I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost, only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul’” (Acts 27 v22-24). When we are in what seems like a great storm, the Holy Spirit will give our hearts peace.
Forbearance, or patience, is that which is also written about in the verse, “therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3 v12). The idea here is to put on, or clothe, oneself in patience. James 5 verse 11 further adds the meaning of the word as “endurance”. This is what is needed when love comes up against obstacles, maybe an unrepentant friend, or a difficult work colleague. Someone or something that does not have an instant fix but which will require our patience, persistent prayer and the Spirit’s work. Fortunately, our Lord knew that we would need this Fruit in our daily walk with Him.
Paul uses this word in the verse “or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2 v4), and again in the verse “consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God” (Romans 11 v22). This Fruit is part of the character of our God, for He is loving and gentle. He is willing to serve others and this is the gentleness referred to in Galatians. The flesh naturally wants to look after itself, but the Spirit will prompt us to adapt to those around us, in order that He may work through us for His purposes. Let us pray that we will have this Fruit each and every day, for His glory.
“God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him” (Acts 10 v38). As all can see from this verse, our Lord Jesus was known for His deeds of kindness. The Bible shows that God’s goodness is demonstrated through action. Christ died for us and by His Spirit we will be enabled to do good works on behalf of our Heavenly Father.
This Fruit can be defined as reliable and steadfast. It describes someone who is devoted, trustworthy or dependable. Paul said, “now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4 v2). So, faithfulness is a part of the nature of who we are in Christ, just as He is faithful (1 Corinthians 1 v9). We can extend the meaning further, by adding that each of us must be believers in the Lord, who is the Eternal Word Himself. The same Greek word for faith is used both in Galatians 5 verse 22 and in the verse, “truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith” (Matthew 8 v10) when referring to the Roman Centurion whose servant was healed by the Lord Jesus. We are to be faithful in terms of our loyalty to Christ as our Saviour and to the promises of the Bible, with the help of His Holy Spirit.
This Fruit is also known as “meekness”, and means a “Godly control even in difficult circumstances”. It is in contrast to the uncontrolled outbursts of anger that the flesh is capable of, as spoken of in Galatians 5 verse 20. But by the Holy Spirit our nature has now been changed into the likeness of Christ, and we are capable of being humble, mild and calm in every situation. James reminded us that, “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1 v19).
The meaning of this word is “self-restraint”, or “temperance”. This suggests that the believer is to have control and authority over personal desires, urges, habits and passions. Thus, allowing us to live in freedom to Christ and not in slavery to the desires of human nature. Each of us must ask the Holy Spirit to show us what we need to let go of and ask for the power to follow through with His desire. This is, like all the Fruit, a truly supernatural deliverance that only a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ can produce in our lives. “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37 v4). His Spirit alone will change our desires to His desires if we trust Him.
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By Andrew Murray
“I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15 v11)
Abiding fully in Christ is a life of exquisite and overflowing happiness. As Christ gets a more complete hold of the soul, it enters into the joy of its Lord. The joy of heaven in full measure is an enduring heavenly portion. Joy is an essential characteristic of the life of the believer who fully abides in Christ, the heavenly vine.
We all know the value of joy. It is the proof that what we have really satisfies the heart. As long as duty, self-interest or other motives influence me, others cannot know what the object of our faith is really worth to me. But when He gives me joy, and they see me delight in it, they know that to me it is a treasure. Hence joy is attractive and no preaching so convincing as the sight of glad hearts. This makes gladness such a powerful part of the Christian character. There is no other proof of the reality of God’s love and blessing, which others feel the force of, as when the joy of God overcomes all the trials of life. And for the Christian’s own welfare, joy is indispensable, the joy of the Lord is our strength, patience, confidence and courage. With a heart full of joy, work cannot be a burden nor can it be depressing when God Himself is our strength and song.
The Saviour’s Joy
Jesus Christ promises us His own joy. He said “My joy”. As the whole parable refers to the life His disciples should have in Him when He had ascended to heaven, the joy is that of His resurrection life. This is clear from His other words, “I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (John 16 v22). It was only with the resurrection and its glory that the power of the never-changing life began, and only in it that the never-ending joy could rise up. With it the word that was fulfilled was, “therefore God, Your God, has set You above Your companions by anointing You with the oil of joy” (Hebrews 1 v9). The day of His crowning was the day of the gladness of His heart. That joy was from a work fully and forever completed, the joy of close relationship with the Father regained, and the joy of souls redeemed. These are the elements of His joy and by abiding in Him this can also be ours.
The believer shares fully His victory and His perfect redemption, and our faith can constantly sing His conquering song, “thanks be to God, Who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession” (2 Corinthians 2 v14). As the fruit of this, there is the joy of the secret place in the Father’s love, with nothing to disturb us if the abiding is uninterrupted (Matthew 6 v6). And then, with the joy of receiving the love of the Father, this love goes out and rejoices. Abiding in Christ and penetrating into the depths of His heart, will allow joy to flow into our hearts. His joy is ours when we look back and see the work the Lord has done, see the reward of His Father’s love, or look forward in the continual joy of seeing sinners brought home. With our feet on Calvary, our eyes on the Father’s face, and our hands helping sinners home, we have His joy as our own.
Jesus speaks of this joy as being complete, a joy that will never cease or be interrupted even for a moment. “No one will take away your joy” (John 16 v22). This is what many Christians cannot understand. Their view of the Christian life is that it is a succession of changes, sometimes joy and sometimes sorrow. And they appeal to the experience of a man like the Apostle Paul, as a proof of how much crying and suffering there could be. They have not noticed how Paul gives the strongest evidence about unceasing joy. He understood the paradox of the Christian life as the combination both of all the bitterness of earth and all the joy of heaven. “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6 v10). These precious words teach us how the joy of Christ can rule over sorrows, and during disappointment or difficulties it can maintain the heart in a deep joy that is unspeakable and full of glory. There is only one condition, “I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (John 16 v22). Consciously abiding in Him will cause the soul to rejoice and be glad. Even when weeping for the souls of others, there is the fountain of gladness springing up in the faith of His power and love to save.
Fullness of Joy
Jesus wants His own joy abiding in us and He wants it to be full. Our Saviour spoke three times on the last night about full joy. Once in the Parable of the Vine, “I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15 v11), and every deeper insight into the blessing of being the branch of such a Vine confirms His Word. Then He connects it with our prayers being answered, “ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16 v24). To the spiritual mind, answered prayer is not only a means of obtaining certain blessings, but something infinitely higher. It is a blessing from our fellowship with the Father and the Son in heaven, and evidence of their delight in us. And it shows that we have been admitted into that wonderful exchange of love in which the Father and the Son communicate.
For the soul abiding in Christ, that longs to see His love in action and that understands the spiritual value of answered prayer as a loving response from the Throne, words cannot express the joy which this brings. The verse “your joy will be complete” is then found to be true. And then the Saviour says, in His prayer to the Father, “I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them” (John 17 v13). It is the sight of the great High Priest entering the Father’s presence for us, ever living to pray and carry on His work in the power of an endless life, that removes every cause of fear or doubt, and gives us the assurance of perfect salvation. Let the believer who seeks, according to John 16, the full joy of prevailing prayer, press forward to John 17. Let them listen there to those wondrous words of intercession, that His “joy might be complete”. And, as they listen to those words, they will learn the love that even now intercedes for us in Heaven without stopping, the glorious prayers that are pleaded, and then see their prayers being answered so that Christ’s joy will be fulfilled in them.
Christ’s own abiding joy and fullness of joy are the portion of the believer who abides in Christ. Often this joy does not attract because humans, even God’s children sometimes, do not believe in it. Instead of the abiding in Christ being looked upon as the happiest life that ever can be led, it is regarded as a life of self-denial and of sadness. They forget that self-denial and sadness are the result of not abiding, and for those who continue to completely give themselves to abiding in Christ as a bright and blessed life, their faith comes true and the joy of the Lord is theirs. Difficulties arise when there is not full surrender to the Lord.
You, who seek to abide in Christ, remember what the Lord says. At the close of the Parable of the Vine He added these precious words, “I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15 v11). Claim the joy because you are the branch, and you are the proof of the ability of Christ to satisfy every need of the soul. So, we must cultivate happiness. If there are times when it comes by itself, and the heart feels the deep joy of the Saviour’s presence, pray that you will maintain this. If at other times your feelings are dull, then continue to praise God for the life of blessing into which you have been redeemed. In this the Word holds true, “according to your faith let it be done to you” (Matthew 9 v29). As you claim all the other gifts in Jesus, always claim this one too, not for your own sake but for His and the Father’s glory. Jesus’ own words were, “My joy may be in you”, abiding in the believer. It is impossible to take Him wholly and heartily, and not to get His joy too. Therefore, “rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice” (Philippians 4 v 4).
From an old Overcomer issue.
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“If Jesus Christ lives in us by His Spirit then there will be fruit to prove it, and there are no exceptions. The Fruit of the Spirit is the natural lifestyle of those in whom the Spirit lives and who follow His direction”. Derek Prime
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
By Early Church Fathers
Galatians 5 v1, 13-25.
Is there a need for the holy apostle to make use of the law, if the new covenant is foreign to the old Law? He wants to show that both covenants are from the one Lord. They are best understood as sharing the same plan. The fulfilment of the law is by loving one’s neighbour, because love causes perfect good. He therefore says that love is the fulfilling of the Law. Epiphanius
The whole work of the Law is fulfilled by one command, love. For one who loves another neither murders nor commits adultery nor steals. Now Paul himself adds a text, "you shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Galatians 5 v14). But we ought to understand by "neighbour" every human being and then constantly view Christ as our neighbour. You must love one another in the Spirit. Here he now seems, as if neglecting the previous question and discussion, to urge them to avoid division. And unity can happen if you love one another in the Spirit, not in the flesh. For those who love feel no envy, nor steal, nor despise or abuse. Marius Victorinus
May the very God of all, who spoke by the Holy Spirit through the prophets, who sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, send the Spirit at this time also on you. And by Him keep us also, imparting His benefit to us all, that we may forever show the Fruits of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus our Lord by whom and with whom, together with the Holy Spirit, be glory to the Father, both now and forever and ever. Amen. Cyril of Jerusalem
From ‘Ancient Christian Devotional’.
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BIBLE STUDY ON GALATIANS.
By J C Metcalfe
The Epistle of the Galatians.
Chapter 3 makes an important contribution to an understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian, and shows that His work in our lives is done in response to simple trust, which is compared to the faith of Abraham, and God’s promise to him. See also verses 2, 3, 5 and 14.
In chapter 4 we read, “because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’” (v6). The gift of the Holy Spirit to indwell us is once again shown to be the sign of God’s acceptance of us as His children, and in verse 29 the same thing is taught in picture form, and the birth of Isaac is compared to that of Ishmael.
Chapter 5 gives an outline of the aim of the Spirit in our lives, and His purpose to deliver us from the dominion of the flesh, so that His fruit can be produced in us. See verses 5, 16, 17, 18, 22 and 25.
Chapter 6 verse 8 reads, "whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction, whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”. This verse provides us with a solemn warning concerning sowing to the flesh or to the Spirit.
From ‘God - the Spirit’.
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PRUNING FOR FRUITFULNESS.
By Rev Mark Weeden
The “I am” statements of Jesus Christ in John’s gospel are profound, and can have far-reaching applications for believers. His Parable of the Vine, in chapter 15, is admired, and even loved, but when examined closely, it is found to be quite searching.
Jesus is the vine, and we believers are the branches. The purpose of the vine is to produce fruit. Whilst fruit in the New Testament can be seen as winning and making disciples, it is also clear that fruit has to do with Christian character. The apostle Paul’s description of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians is reiterated, albeit from a different perspective, in the much-loved thirteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians.
There are many theological controversies in the Church at large, and even in a local church setting, but God’s purpose is to make us like Christ. One such controversial passage points out that we are to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8 v29).
Jesus said that we are to be perfect, (Matthew 5 v48) a perfection, or effectively righteousness, which should exceed that of the Pharisees. This is not the Western idea of absolute perfection, because only Jesus attained that. The idea has to do with maturity, as the Greek word “teleios” indicates.
Another controversy has to do with spiritual gifts, which sadly divides Christians and churches. A careful exegesis of 1 Corinthians 13 verses 8 to 10 shows that we will not be taking these gifts with us to glory, as neither do we take money, possessions, nor any other earthly thing. We brought nothing into this world, and we will take nothing out, as Job said, except our character, or to put it in the wonderful biblical way, the Fruit of the Spirit. Being more like Jesus.
Indeed, there is something both humbling and searching in this parable. Jesus, the greatest of Jewish theologians, who only used the Old Testament to preach from, draws on a theme without telling us twenty-first century readers of the New Testament, but His disciples would have picked up on it. Parables of vines occur in several places in their, and our, Scriptures. The Lord brought a parable to the Jews, comparing the wood of a vine to other trees. (Ezekiel 15). Unless it produced grapes it was useless for making anything, except for firewood. That’s what Jesus points out in John 15 verse 6. In our flesh, we recoil from such a statement, which seems so harsh. He says our worldly ways, as unbelievers will one day find out, are worthless, and deserving only of fire.
So what happens when we fall short? What do we do when we know that we have not behaved as we should? There is that concern within, if not outright conviction. Come back to the Lord, and confess our failings to Him. Look for fresh cleansing from the blood of Jesus, which still speaks though the finished work of the Cross that was completed two thousand years ago.
Often the circumstances of life will hit us, and hurt us. We hope and even pray that they might not happen to us, yet the Lord allows many of them to afflict us. Why? To prove our Christian character. To show us what we are on the inside. Were our responses Christ-like? Did we speak or act as Christ would have done?
Paul taught us to flee youthful lusts, and an elderly saint, now 101, observed that there are temptations peculiar to old age. Many of us may feel that we are not there yet, in our walk with the Lord. We seem to fall short in so many ways. This may well be true, yet scripture says, “His mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3 v22-23). Every morning. For the humble saint, seeking to please the Lord, there is cleansing available every day. “He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103 v14).
That great “prince of expositors” as he was called, George Campbell Morgan pointed out that the Fruit of the Spirit is singular, love. He said there should be a semi-colon after that word, with the other eight words of Galatians 5 verses 22 to 23 being descriptions or facets of what love looks like.
Is that not what Jesus effectively said, when He summed up all the law and the prophets in two commandments? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart”, and “you shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22 v37, 39).
For the conscientious saint, so aware of falling short of this ideal, Jesus demonstrated in His life that this is the love of God Himself, shown to each of us.
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“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
(1 Corinthians 13 v4-7).