Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 4 Study # 13
Thesis: The fruit of the Spirit in respect to God is "trusting" especially when the circumstances are unpleasant.
Introduction: So far we have seen that the Spirit of God was given to us in order to give us the experience of the Life of God and those around us the experience of the grace of God (the most evident assumption of "longsuffering" is that others are doing things that deserve judgment, but we are to refrain from that).
This evening we are going to turn toward the impact the Spirit makes upon God when we are walking by His grace and power. There is a recognizable order and emphasis in the three characterizations that Paul identifies in our dealings with God. We are going to look into that order and emphasis this evening.
July 7, 2013
- I. Faith (NOT "faithfulness").
- A. Given the fact that the focus upon man's relationship with God is totally wrapped up in "trust", it can be no accident that "faith" is the Spirit's most fundamental impact within us in respect to Him.
- 1. Even "love" for God is rooted in how we think about Him, and how we think about Him cannot be divorced from the issues involved in trust.
- a. It is true that we love Him because He first loved us; but, no one "loves" who does not first "believe" in His love.
- b. It is also true that "love" for God broke down at the point of "love" for ourselves, but that did not happen until "trust" broke down.
- 2. The issues in "faith" are obvious to everyone.
- a. They are most fundamentally rooted in "intellectual claims" that force us to recognize that "faith" has intellectual content.
- 1) The most dangerous issue at this point is the source of that content.
- 2) The issue of source is the question of whether God is at the root of the information that is being "believed" (as opposed to quasi-gods, angels, other human beings, our own faulty mental exercises).
- b. They are most fundamentally characterized by a "whole person" response to those "claims" in terms of reactions that are consistent with the content.
- 1) "Faith" is not the same thing as the "reactions".
- 2) But the nature of "faith" is such that it does not exist apart from its effectual production of those reactions.
- c. They are not without "Monday morning" questioning that can completely undo "faith".
- d. They can be reinforced through multiple-experiences/thoughtful-considerations so that they are not as easily undone.
- B. The first issue in our relationship to God is whether, in fact, we "believe" what He has established as His content: faith.
- II. Meekness (NOT "gentleness").
- A. Meekness is not a way of treating God; it is a way of thinking about Him in respect to ourselves.
- 1. This word is only used in the New Testament in one text that is actually helpful in attempting to discover its meaning (Galatians 6:1).
- 2. The text of Galatians 6:1 is not about being "gentle"; its about whether a person engages others with an attitude about him/her self that puts him/her above the "failure" (as, "I could never fail like that").
- B. Meekness is a self-attitude that puts the "other" in a position of "respect", even when that other has done something that cannot be respected.
- C. Trench says that "meekness" indicates a confidence in God that the unpleasant reality that calls it forth is under His control for our good (in other words, "meekness" is "faith" when the circumstances are painful).
- III. Temperance (NOT self control).
- A. The entire issue of the "fruit of the Spirit" is that the "self" is NOT in control of itself.
- B. The word is, like "meekness", not widely used in the New Testament and the only text that "helps" us discover its meaning is Peter's (2 Peter 1:6).
- 1. Peter's statement is about the link between "knowledge" and "patience": "temperance".
- 2. Given Peter's "cause and effect" stair-step statements, "temperance" takes knowledge and develops the willingness to "remain under" unpleasant circumstances.
- 3. The strong implication is that "temperance" is the characteristic of careful reaction that does not go "too far" in any direction.
- IV. The Fruit in Sets of Three.
- A. All of the three "sets" of characteristics lead off with a primary characteristic with two "qualifiers" following.
- 1. "Love" is followed by "joy" and "peace".
- 2. "Longsuffering" is followed by "kindness" and "goodness".
- 3. "Faith" is followed by "meekness" and "temperance".
- B. If "longsuffering" were replaced by "Hope", we would have "Love, Hope, and Faith" in the reverse of 1 Corinthians 13's "Faith, Hope, and Love".
- C. The point is this: Paul set forth "Love", "Longsuffering", and "Faith" with two "qualifiers" for each one.
- 1. The easiest relationship between three is seen in "Longsuffering" where "kindness" suffers long in the direction of doing no hurt and "goodness" vigorously pursues "benefit" even if some "hurt" is necessary.
- 2. With "Love", the relationship seems to be that "Love" automatically sponsors "Joy" and results in "Peace" (being loved by God leads to joy and the experience of peace with Him).
- 3. And with "Faith", the relationship seems to be that "faith" will permit a person to accept difficulties as the outworking of God's love for us and respond carefully without a strong impetus to try to "get out of" them ("temperance" is a careful response, designed to keep our confidence in His love in play while we face difficult issues...we are not forbidden to seek "relief" in difficulty; we simply need to make sure that we are not over-committed to it).