Galatians 


Study 46: Gal.5:22-26

The fruit of the Spirit (7)

Faith


Contents page  

Initial faith   Of the Son of God   He sojourned    Not flesh    Not tempting God  Treasures of Egypt  Conclusion  

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Gal.5:22-26

Many modern translations substitute faithfulness  for faith, as  the next quality of the fruit. However this is an interpretation of the translators, and since the same Greek word is translated elsewhere as faith in Galatians,  we shall keep to the KJV rendering of this word.

Throughout this epistle we have emphasised the alternatives to living: either in the flesh or Spirit, as we now remind ourselves from the following selected verses.


This only would I learn from you. Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Gal.3:2

He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Gal.3:5


But I say, walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would.
But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Gal.5:16-18
 
The scriptures quoted show us that one is either in the Spirit or the flesh; either walking by faith or by works of law. So when it comes to the fruit of the Spirit, which is the result of walking in the  Spirit, it is of no surprise that faith is present.


1. Initial  faith


For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.  But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The [spoken] word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the [spoken] word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the  [spoken] word of God.


Rom.10:4-17


From the passage above we see  that a person lives in whatever they obey: if one does the works of the law/flesh then one will live by that. This in turn will see the manifestation of the  the works of the flesh. Paul takes great care in both Romans and Galatians  to  show that being right with God is NOT by the works of the law, but by the true faith that is in Christ.

 Paul makes it also clear  that faith comes by hearing the spoken word of God. In other words one can not produce faith by the works of the flesh, whether it be  the most elaborate of religious rituals,  great self striving to believe, or whatever. The true and living faith  that brings a man or woman  into the salvation of God is a work of God in the heart; it is as a person hears ( and responds to ) the spoken word of God.

There is an interesting example when Gabriel came  to Mary to announce the conception of Jesus in her.
For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.

Lk.1:37 [Amplified]

When Mary asked 'how shall these things be? For she was unmarried, the answer was:  that no word from God is without power. When she heard this she said:  be it unto me according to thy word. Lk.1:38. She had heard the word of God, it created faith in her and she responded to it.

All this reminds us of Isa. 55:11: God's word will not return to Him void.  Nothing of the flesh is involved, it is all in the Spirit. So beginning the Christian life is by faith and not by works of the  flesh.

 Some  twenty times  the word 'faith' is used in the Galatian  epistle. The one to  consider once more for our purpose  is  the key verse to this epistle.

 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Gal.2;20

It is by the faith of the Son of God. So we shall now turn to an example of the faith of Jesus during His earthly life to illustrate this quality of the fruit.

2. Of the Son of God

We shall consider Jesus' temptation in the wilderness as an example of the faith of Jesus. On this occasion faith wasn't used to produce miracles or do spectacular things, in fact Jesus resisted doing so. Rather it was in order to rest in what His Father had already said, and  refuse from  following   the ways of the flesh.

 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every [=spoken] word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Mtt.3:15-4:11

2.1 By faith He sojourned

The Lord's temptation is very instructive in this respect. Consider the scene: Jesus is baptised by John, and the Father speaks openly to all, declaring that Jesus is the Son in whom He is pleased.  Then the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness.

How did Jesus react? If He had been following  the flesh  He could easily have reasoned that, now He had this public declaration of being God's Son, He could go and start His public ministry, do great works and miracles so that  people would have believed Him. But no, He followed the leading of the Spirit to be tempted. This is akin to what we read in the 'faith chapter'.

 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned [= dwell as a stranger] in the land.....

Heb.11:8,
 
The Hebrew letter states two things that Abraham did by faith: firstly he obeyed, and secondly he sojourned in the land. We can see this worked out here in the life of Jesus. He was led into the wilderness, He obeyed and sojourned there. There was no arguing, questioning, disputing or rationalising, instead  Jesus simply  obeyed the Spirit's command. Thus He went into the wilderness, in the Spirit, and and  was able to live by faith in that circumstance.

A second OT example is that of the Exodus. After many trials God led the children of Israel out of Egypt. But God didn't lead them straight to the promised land, but through the Red sea and into a wilderness. There He led them by the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. This symbolising the leading of the Holy Spirit. As long as they followed then all was well, they were living by faith. But, as we know,  they did fall back into the flesh by their  constant murmurings and rebellions!

It is only  by obeying the Lord that we continue in the Spirit, even if we are led to undesirable ( to the flesh anyway)  situations; to rationalise or reason out what God is, or not,  doing  will lead us into disobedience,  and so   back into the  flesh. What we need to bear in mind is that we are pilgrims  in this world, so  being led by God into  one situation is  the same as any other for the man or woman in the Spirit. God's leadings are always with purpose, we may not know what it is, but by faith we can  trust that He knows best.  Let us learn to rest in that and not rebel against His leadings in our lives.

2.2  The Word of God, not flesh
The first temptation was based entirely on the needs of the flesh.  Jesus insisted that man should live by the spoken word of God.  The devil wanted Jesus to demonstrate what His Father had publicly declared by satisfying His flesh. Jesus rejected the flesh's desire to eat ( and remember He had fasted 40 days) and was only obedient to what His Father was saying.  

Now it is self evident that it is not sinful to eat food, for our bodies need such sustenance. That was not the point here. The point in question was: who, or what leads us the flesh or God's word? Jesus' reply shows to us that it is to God's word we should listen and not to that of the flesh. In living the Christian life  we often come across choices as to which way we are to go. By listening to the lusts of the flesh rather than to God's word we have started the downward step to sin.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death.

Jms. 1:13-15
 
The children of Israel often complained in the wilderness allowing their lusts to get the better of them. Yet God's leading them into the wilderness was for a specific purpose, as is seen by the section in Deuteronomy from which Jesus actually quotes.

 All the commandment which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which Jehovah sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the way which Jehovah thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble thee, to prove thee, to know what was in thy heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or not. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by everything that proceedeth out of the mouth of Jehovah doth man live.

Deut. 8;1-3

This is rather revealing. God had three purposes for leading them into and through the wilderness: firstly to humble them, secondly to prove them and thirdly to teach them of complete reliance on the Lord.  The first generation failed, they tempted God ten times and their failure at Kadesh Barnea saw  that generation doomed to die in the wilderness; their pilgrimage in the wilderness was extended to forty years, some twenty times longer than God originally planned.   Num. 14:20-35 & Deut.2:14

Jesus was sorely tested and He was found to be humble, and faithful to the Spirit's leading. His heart was seen clearly: a heart in submission to His Father and one of complete trust in Him.

 We too are to be humble,  we are to seek God's kingdom first, and not listen to the needs of the flesh.  God has promised  to supply the essentials of life if we seek His kingdom first  Mtt. 6:31-34. It is God's word we need above everything else, even the very necessary food we eat. Job.23:12. Failure to learn these lessons, when in a wilderness, could mean our stay in that situation may well be extended until we do so! 

By listening to the word of God, in our hearts true,  is faith produced in us and we will know which is the correct path. Disobedience to that word will see us back in the flesh. Of course, neither  should we go to the  other extreme of not  doing the necessary everyday things unless we have a 'word'  from God.


2.3  Tempting  God
To understand  what is meant by tempting the Lord God we need to see where else this phrase is used. We first come across it just after the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt.


 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?

Ex.17:7

Despite having come out of the land of Egypt, and seeing all the wonderful works of God during the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red sea and the subsequent destruction of Pharaoh's armies, and indeed the provision of food in the previous chapter, Israel tempted God by murmuring about the lack of water. The text makes it clear what tempting God is: Is the LORD among us, or not? In other words it is to complain and doubt the presence and work of God in one's life when He has given clear testimony. 

It was on this line that the devil tempted Jesus: although you Father has declared that you are His Son, prove it to the world and do  something that will show His great deliverance!

By rejecting  the temptation we see that Jesus was resting in what God had already said. The Devil had effectively said ''Has God said?' (cmp. Gen. 3: 1). By yielding to this Jesus would have been doubting His Father's word, and as Eve's doubt led to the tragic consequences we are all but too aware of, so the same would have resulted here. Instead Jesus rested in what God had already said, there was no point in arguing with the devil for to do so would have led, step by step, to sin.

Walking in the Spirit will not  lead us to tempt God, by doubting His presence and provision. If we have heard God  speak to us then that will produce the grace and faith for the day. We can then rest assured in what He has said. To do otherwise is to tempt Him. Let us not be like the children of Israel.
 
2.4  Not the treasures of Egypt
The third temptation was to do with the kingdoms and glory of this world.  The devil offered them up if only Jesus would worship him.  In the Hebrew epistle there is a similar  passage that links in here.
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.  By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

Heb.11:24-27

Moses refused by faith to have the glory and power of  Egypt. He saw Him who was invisible and endured. This is what Jesus demonstrated. He refused to accept the devil's invite telling him that God alone is to be worshipped. For to accept anything from the devil is to worship Him. For whom we serve we worship. The one is a result of being in the flesh, the other in the Spirit.

In contrast, there was one occasion when Israel, bemoaning their situation, said they remembered the wonderful  food in Egypt, but they  loathed God's provision of the manna Num. 11:4-6. They didn't remember the bondage though!  All that glitters is not gold, and the world's  outward form may appear glorious and pleasing to the flesh, but it is not of the Father. I Jn.2:15-17

As sojourners by faith, the riches of this world should mean nothing to us. Are we like Jesus?  He refused to accept the glory and riches of the world  and worshipped  only God. Let us   giveg ourselves to the one who is invisible, and has spoken to us. Rom.12:1-2.

3. Conclusion

So what do we learn from all this?  Living the Christian life is also by faith. As we started so we must continue, and not fall back into the flesh. By walking in the Spirit faith continues to be manifested, not necessarily by great works of power, but rather  demonstrated in every day living, just as it showed itself in the earthly life of Jesus.

In all the above points  we have seen that the devil wanted Jesus to have things done so He would walk by His flesh, but Jesus kept to that which His Father spoke.