The Heart, The Flesh, and The Fruit
To understand God’s heart, we must first understand the “Fruit of the Spirit” that is listed in Galatians 5:22-23. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness), and self-control (temperance). Against such there is no law”.
Once we get these attributes of God ingrained in our spirit, we will know and understand His heart.
God has inspired me to share with you in a series about the heart, the flesh, and the spirit. I believe that as one body in Christ, there is a fragment that is missing and once we become linked up to God’s presence, we will walk in a life of true holiness and have a heart of true praise and worship unto God.
In this series, we will look at the natural heart, that is, the corrupt heart that we inherited from Adam and Eve at birth, we will examine our own hearts, and we will discover the heart that God desires us to have.
First let us look at the word “Fruit”. Many including myself, have a habit of saying the “Fruits” of the Spirit, but through studying this passage, I realized that the word “Fruit” is singular, not plural. You see the term fruit in this passage represents all nine (9) characteristics formed as one. In order to generate the fruit, a person has to produce all nine (9) characteristics of the Spirit. One cannot operate without the other, you cannot have love and harbor un-forgiveness towards a person and expect that you are walking in the “Fruit of the Spirit”.
Which takes us to the first attribute, “love”: When the Holy Spirit of God has His way in the heart of man (non-gender), the evidence is not primarily what such a man can do, but what he becomes. He is a person characterized by: LOVE; a sacrificial commitment to the good of those around him. Love is one of the greatest commandments of God, John 15:17 says, “These things I command you, that you love one another”. God is not talking about an emotional love, He desires agape love, the God kind of love that seeks the welfare and betterment of another regardless of how we feel. Love is commanded throughout the entire bible and the prescription can be found as we all know in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8. We also know that the gifts that God has imparted in us cannot operate without love because love is the greatest gift as it states in v. 13 of 1 Corinthians. Love, if you have not noticed is the first fruit; therefore it must be an important element in the heart of God. God also illustrated His love for us in John 3:16, when He sacrificed his only son on the cross in order to redeem us from a life of sin. Love is the seed that produces the fruit.
Next comes “joy”: an unquenchable spirit of gratitude and praise focused on the unmerited goodness of God. When we have the joy of the Lord down in our spirit, nothing can quench it. A perfect example is James 1:2-3, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience”. When we have real joy, we have victory, because no matter what the circumstances are around us, we know that God has got our back and we can continue to praise Him in the midst of it. The praises that we give God in the midst of our challenges, produces joy in His heart, because it shows Him that we are truly trusting in Him for the outcome. God doesn’t want us to praise Him just when everything is going well, He desires continual praise. Anyone can praise when things are good, but how many can be like Job who lost everything including his family, was struck down with illness, and still he said, “Though He (God) slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. He also shall be my salvation, for a hypocrite could not come before Him. Listen diligently to my speech, and to my declaration with your ears. See now, I have prepared my case, I know that I shall be vindicated”. __Job 13:15-18 This states that no matter what, Job intends to seek vindication from the Lord and believes that he will receive it. He’s not looking at the present situation, he’s looking at the outcome and we know what that was, total restoration. Therefore if creditors are ringing your phone off of the hook, or the bank is threatening to foreclose on your home, and you are walking in total obedience, don’t fret, know that God is vindicating your case!
The third fruit is “peace”: an inner calm, that results from thorough cleansing from sin and restored relationship with God. When you know that you are totally free from bondage to sin, you can have peace. God operates in peace, not confusion, confusion is of the devil. That is why it is important for us to examine our spirit man daily. Being careful not to walk in the flesh. The flesh is in constant war against the spirit (not the Holy Spirit), the thing for us to do is give no provision to the flesh. What happens to life form when it is not fed? It dies, and that is what will happen to the flesh when we do not give in to its lusts. How do we do that? By renewing our mind in the Word of God because it is our foundation for living.
The fourth fruit is “longsuffering”: a willingness to bear with difficult people in the process of helping them God-ward. We have all heard clichés about how it is easy to love and help a person who is pleasant. But, what about people that are constantly nitpicking with you about minute things? Can you love them? The answer is yes, the bible says that we should be kind to our enemies, for by doing so it will be like heaping burning coals on their heads. Now surely the “heaping coals” is metaphorical, what I believe that God is saying is that kindness will win the person over, returning good for evil may cause the person to repent or change and even if they do not, the Lord will still reward you for your kindness. After all, we know whom the true culprit is behind a person being hostile towards us so why give in and retaliate against them, giving ground to the enemy.
Longsuffering is definitely an attribute of God’s heart, because it is in operation now with us His children who have shortcomings and also with those that are in the world who are not even revering Him as The Creator of this universe. Yet He is still being patient with us, waiting for us to submit. He could easily give up and say enough of this, but, being that He is a man of His promises, we all have a chance to get it right with Him before His wrath comes down. “To those who have ears, let him hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying”! In these final hours, the Lord is trying to get our attention, with the devastation of America in the attack last month; it shows that we all need the Lord. All worldly power was at a stand still, sadly to say, many souls were lost without Christ, many families lost loved ones, and the world’s headquarters were caught off guard. On the day of destruction the Spirit of the Lord said, “Just like those who were warned about this coming disaster, who chose to ignore it, so are My people who are scattered about, ignoring the Words that are spoken to them through My true Prophets, they are not living a life of Godliness, not conforming to My ways, but soon I the Lord will be coming back and if you do not incline your ears and heed My voice, you will be caught off guard!” This is not only for the unsaved, but also the believers that are not totally committed to a life of Holiness.
“Goodness”: a freedom from all guile or hypocrisy. When I look at this definition I think of the scripture in James where it says that a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. One minute he is good to another, while at the same time slandering him behind his back. Another example is living one way in front of those that you fellowship with at church and then living according to the world while outside of church. This is fleshly works and these actions are not of God. First of all you have to honest with yourself, if you know that you have challenges/bondages in certain areas of your life, then be honest with yourself and with God and seek deliverance in those areas. When you are able to be honest with yourself, then you can be honest with God and to others. When people are not true to themselves, they are usually operating in pride, deception, and denial. Pride, as we know it, is the road to destruction.
Romans 12:9 says “Let love be without hypocrisy, hate what is evil and cling to what is good”. A true man or woman of God should detest sin and desire to live a righteous life before our Father. As I heard one minister say, “I can’t go back to where God has delivered me from”. Let your life and your conduct become a testimony to others. It’s great when a person comes across your pathway and you can minister to them and lead them to Christ, because we are commanded to do so. But, for those that are around us, our walk is better then our words, we can boast about how the Lord has blessed us and how we are set free as much as we like, but how are you treating others that are possibly going through something that the Lord has delivered you from? Are you being a living witness to them or are you constantly condemning them, making them feel as if it never happened to you? It is easy to point fingers at individuals and judge them when your mail has not been exposed, I have been there. But when you are the person on the other side, it doesn’t feel good; you feel nothing but remorse. I had to look to the Father as my great judge whom I had to answer to, I had others that were praying for me and with me, but only God could deliver me.
Next is “faithfulness”: an absolute trust in God and a certainty that His will for my life is best. God rewards faithfulness because He is faithful (See 1 Corinthians 1:9). Faithfulness is what He requires of us when we are faithful to God with our lives; it shows Him that we trust Him no matter what the outcome. Faithfulness shows God that we are willing to walk by His statutes it goes back to the scripture on clinging to what is good. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it”. ___1 Thessalonians 5:23,24
“Gentleness” is the next fruit; it is a kind sensitivity toward the feelings and needs of others. We are all called to serve, Galatians 5:13 says, “For you brethren, have been called to liberty, only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love (there it is again), serve one another”. And also in chapter 6:2 it says that we should bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. God intended that the Christian life should be dynamic, not stagnant. We should sit under the teaching of the Word of God, understand and apply its meaning and implications, and serve God and our fellow believers. As I said before, the Spirit of God has given us spiritual gifts, but they are worthless unless they are put to use in the service of God and His church. While one member of the Body may have a more prominent place of service, all are equally important. The worse thing that could happen to the human body is to have one of its members not functioning; it is the same within the Body of Christ. Gentleness is also, a gentle, humble manner in responding to provocation, being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
The last fruit is “self-control”: an inner strength to keep all appetites and affections in proper bounds; being in control of one's self; in the context
of the Scriptures, the control of self so as to be in harmony with the will of God.
For without self-control, the "works of the flesh" cannot be overcome, and the other elements of the "Fruit of the Spirit" will not be evident. It is evidence of one walking in the Spirit, and being led by the Spirit.
I believe that these qualities not only form the “Fruit of the Spirit”, but also characterize what is in the heart of God. The flesh has been rendered inoperative and the Holy Spirit of God has permeated the soul. Once this happens, and we yield to God, He will form within us a new spirit.
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so much here... lots to "chew" on.