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.
It is worth restating the fact that the word Paul uses for fruit is in fact in the singular, in contrast to the word for works, which is in the plural. With regard to the fruit we have to conclude that by living in the Spirit there is a oneness in the believer’s life. By that is meant a consistency of that which is manifested, namely the life of Jesus Himself. This is neither surprising nor unique in scripture revelation. In other places we have the oneness in God being seen clearly.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
One example is the passage quoted above that deals with the body of Christ. In this section Paul deals with the manifestation of the Spirit, what is commonly called the ‘gifts of the Spirit’. The main emphasis though is on the unity of the body, and that in all the manifestations of the Spirit there is a oneness. By new birth a person is made to be partakers of His one Body and so everything done in the Spirit has a oneness about it: manifesting the life of the Lord Jesus. There are other passages, which show this but this is one will suffice.
C2.2 Love in our hearts
On new birth we are baptised by and in the Spirit and into the body of Christ. At that moment we have the life of God planted in us and we become partakers of the Divine nature II Pet.1:4. As a result God’s love is shed into our hearts, this is not something we achieve or learn, but rather it is the very nature of God being shed abroad in us. God is love, and we having His Spirit also become love. No wonder Paul puts this at the top of the list of the fruit of the Spirit.
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
If God’s love is shed abroad then it will manifest itself in our lives, therefore the love we demonstrate will be the same that Jesus manifested. So in keeping with what we said in the previous study we will consider God’s love as manifested in the Lord Jesus.
C2.3 The Love of God
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
I Jn. 3:16
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
John in his first epistle makes it abundantly clear as to how we know the Love of God: He laid down His life for us. This was true at Calvary, where the greatest expression of that love was shown, and also during the earthly life of the Lord Jesus.
C2.3a Christ died for us
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
That love which is shed in our hearts is the same love that sent Jesus to die for the world. His love moved Him to come from His glory, laying aside all that He had with His Father, and to take on the form of a servant becoming obedient unto the death of the Cross. He held nothing back but laid down His life in order to take the punishment for our sins, and indeed the sins of the world.
There is something else here that is worthy of note: namely that Christ died whilst we were still enemies of God! In our sinful and God rejecting state He took the initiative to reach out and die for us. What manner of love is this indeed? This ties in well with Jesus’ remarks in the ‘Sermon on the Mount’
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Jesus says that we are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, and this is equated with us loving our enemies. God loved His enemies and demonstrated this by sending all that He had, His beloved Son, into the world to die for it. Whilst we were still sinners, enemies of God, Christ died for us in order to bring salvation. In fact no one could have loved God unless He had first loved us (I Jn. 4:19) so unless He had loved His enemies no one would have been saved.
Now it goes without saying that no one now can die for the sins of the world, Christ’s death was unique and is NEVER to be repeated – it was a one off, there is no more sacrifice for sin. If anyone rejects the only provision of God then they can not be saved. So then as believers although we cannot make sacrifices for sin we can still demonstrate the love of God to others in the same kind, to love as Christ loved by service to others both to the brethren and our enemies.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
C2.3b Christ lived for us
Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
Ever before Christ died for our sins He lived a life that demonstrated that love. The key words for our present purpose are ‘servant and obedient’. Of course one can not be a servant unless one is obedient, both go hand in hand. In the incident of the washing of the disciples’ feet Jesus gave us an example of His service. We are to be servants one of another and being humble be willing to do the very menial of tasks in service one to another. Indeed the whole of Jesus’ earthly life was one of service to us.
And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
C2.4 Let us love
In his first epistle the apostle John has a lot to say about us manifesting the love of God. The one thing that John emphasises is that love is the proof of being in Christ.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth [=abides] in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell [=abide] in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth [=abides] in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth [=abides] in love dwelleth [=abides] in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Linking this in to Jesus’ words in Jn.15 we can see clearly that to abide, remain/ dwell in God is the secret to having the love of God manifested in us. And by that love showing itself in us we demonstrate that we are indeed dwelling in Him. We can not manufacture it at all, it is only as a result of walking in the Spirit, to use the phrase from Galatians. In the passage on Jesus being the true Vine He makes this statement: These things I command you, that ye love one another. Jn.15:17. This is repeated in John’s epistle. Since John says many things about love in his epistle, which expand on Jesus’ words in the fourth Gospel we will now consider some of the things John says about love.
C2.5 Perfect love
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.
We have here three things in which it is said that the love of God is perfected in a man or woman.
Firstly those who keep His Word. In Jesus, by His obedience to the Father, we see God’s love made perfected (completed in Him). Not that Jesus was without love in the first place, but rather its manifestation was complete by His obedience. And the same is true of us. The love of God is indeed shed abroad but is it being manifested by our obedience to Him? Do we keep His word? What God has wrought in our hearts must be worked out in practice, and coming back to the Galatians’ terms we must walk in the Spirit.
Secondly, if we love one another God’s love is perfected in us. John has a lot to say about us loving one another in this epistles. We can see that we are abiding in the light if we love the brethren I Jn. 2:11; 3:7-12. Once more he tells us to lay down our lives for the brethren and meet the needs of them, loving in deeds and not in words, I Jn. 3:16-18. These are only some of the things mentioned. But the message is clear, the true love of God will manifest itself in loving the brethren.
Finally, being complete, or perfect in love means that we have no fear. For perfect love casts out fear. Fear means torment, love casts that out. If we are full of God’s love what have we to fear? If we have God’s love then we are saved from our sins, we have our future secured in heaven, and we have God who cares for us now. Why then fear? We have the knowledge that we are safe in Him. Look at the life of Jesus, He had no fear for He continually dwelt in His Father’s love, knowing that He was in His control.
C2.6 One example
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.
It must be remembered that the disciples in the gospels were not born again, for that did not happen until the day of Pentecost. The gospel records give us an insight into them walking after the flesh, and here is one such example.
A man was seen casting out devils, yet he would not follow the disciples; note that they said ‘ followed not with us’ not ‘ followed not Christ!’, and they forbad him. That is they told him to stop his work because he would not be part of the disciples’ band, he wasn’t doing things the way they expected anyone should. Jesus’ response was to rebuke them. As we look into the gospel records we note that there were many believers who were not part of the apostolic band. Indeed Jesus on occasions would not have people go with Him but sent them back to testify (eg Lk. 8:38-39).
What we see here is simply a sectarian spirit, which reveals a lack of Calvary love. This mistake is repeated in these days by many Christians, who put their own party spirit before Christian love. For example if a believer comes into their midst, wanting genuine fellowship and they detect that that believer doesn’t hold to their way of doing ‘church things’, or whatever, then they forbid them to be involved or be a part of them. Such an unloving attitude may well discourage that brother or sister, or worse still, stumble them in the way with all the dreadful consequences that may entail. The disciples had an excuse: the love of God had not yet been shed in their hearts, it was all before Pentecost. We have no such excuse, let us beware!
What is the more important: the love of the brethren (walking in the Spirit) or man made ways (walking in the flesh) of doing ‘Christian things’? Our practice, and not our words will reveal the true fruit and hence the source.
Love is the greatest (I Cor.13:13) no wonder it heads the list of the fruit of the Spirit. God’s very character is love, and it therefore follows that those who are born again have that same love in their hearts. It also follows that walking in the Spirit means that love will be manifested. The question is: do our lives show that love?