Bringing Forth Fruits of the Spirit
The fruit of the Spirit often comes not by God zapping the Christian, but by God using His discipline to bend us towards seeing how glorious He is and how pathetic a life of self-indulgence is. If we are born a second time we have the fullness of the Godhead within us, so we have everything we need to destroy sin and express His fullness. We are only limited by our level of trust, belief, and obedience.
(transcript of part of an evening with the whole church locally…)
Something C.S. Lewis said one time was that when you live totally for eternal life, for the Kingdom of Heaven, for the Kingdom of God, you get this world in the bargain. But if you live for this world, you lose both. If you choose things that are of the earth, even good things, as the place where you put your priorities, your affections, your time, your energy, and don’t break through to do what you do for Jesus’ sake—no matter how you feel or what you want—you lose both, in essence. As C.S. Lewis’ wife said, “That’s the deal.” That’s the deal. You either live for the Kingdom of God and get both, or you lose both by living for this present age, your own desires, your ego and all that other stuff.
I was thinking about a song a brother wrote that says, “Recognizing Your rod, though it hurts for awhile…proving You are my God and I am Your child.” Somewhere wrapped up in that is part of the process, too. What are we doing here? How do we learn what we learn? Through the songs we were singing earlier, I thought about the famous passage of scripture that lists the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control… and thought, “How does God do that with us?” Where do these fruits of the Spirit come from? You’re a Christian, and zap; you instantly have joy, peace, patience and self-control, right? Does anyone here ever experience all nine of the fruits of the Spirit descending upon you all at one time because you are a Christian? Does anyone experience that? Well, if those are, in fact, the fruits of the Spirit, (which are in essence the purging of the acts of the sinful nature, the purging of selfish-ambition and worldly thinking, worldly priorities, self-desires, and self-awareness)…if the fruits of the Spirit are God-consciousness and being totally saturated with God’s priorities so that our own priorities aren’t what matter anymore, then how does God bring about those fruits in our lives? I’d suggest the obvious, and that is “Recognizing Your rod, though it hurts for awhile. It proves that You are My God and I am Your child.” How is that “fruit of the Spirit” of self-control brought about in your own life? How do you break the yoke, the slavery, the ball and chain, the handcuffs, the straightjacket of slavery to self—indulgence? How do you do that? By “recognizing Your rod, though it hurts for awhile…” There are very obvious things that happen when you are self-indulgent. There are obvious things that happen when you give into your desire—whether it’s to say something that shouldn’t be said, to do something that should not be done, to eat something that should not be eaten, to lay longer than you ought to be laying in bed, or whatever form of self-indulgence that you gravitate toward. The self-life, the selfish pleasure—where you bring it to yourself—self-indulgence, that kind of evil—how does God break us from that slavery, from that drunkenness of self-indulgence? Well, His rod!!
Self-control—where does it come from? He brings a judgment in relationships. If you are self-indulgent you will find that you will not be able to look into other people’s eyes and truly love them. You won’t be able to experience their love, and they won’t be able to experience yours. There will be a wall there, a mist. You’ll see men walking as trees. If you give into self-indulgence of any form, you won’t be able to have that kind of relationship with others. You’ll be impatient, you’ll be judgmental, and you’ll be aloof.
The judgment of broken relationship is clearly one of the judgments of selfish indulgence.
There are other judgments: the inability to pray and worship in freedom, because our relationship with the Father is broken. There is a judgment that takes place in our life when we’re indulging and feeding and blessing ourselves. When you are blessing yourself in any form, you’ll find there is a judgment that comes upon your heart and your life. And it takes other forms: in your moods, and even in your emotions. You’ll feel the judgment of God descend upon you when you are self-indulgent. These are judgments from God. It’s His rod in order to bring about the fruit of the Spirit of self-control. It causes you to say, “No, I do not want to go through that again. I hate being so moody, so selfish, so critical, so lonely, so frustrated, so yucky, where I don’t even want to face life anymore. And I did it to myself, because I was self-indulgent with my food, with my thought life, with my physical activities of any kind,—whether they were hobbies, or sports or whatever indulgence you want to name. You give into that junk and you’ll have a blanket of mood that judges your inner man and all of a sudden you’re pent up. You can’t love or be loved anymore. You can’t worship and experience God’s love. Or you won’t even feel like you love God. In fact, you begin to wonder if Christianity is even real. You wonder if Jesus is really raised from the dead. All that stuff begins to settle in your heart, and you did it to yourself because you gratified your own flesh; you blessed yourself. You took yourself into a position of making your own choices for your own good instead of entrusting that to God and living for others’ good and for God’s good. So, there are those three kinds of judgment that come on the self-indulgent.
How do you get the self-control “fruit of the Spirit?” By listening to the Father and recognizing His rod. By seeing that I did this to myself. And what about this unbelief that is in my heart right now? This frustration, this panic, this critical attitude toward others, this loneliness? Do you know what? This is all not someone else’s fault. They didn’t do that. This bad day I’m having isn’t because the whole world is against me or because the whole world is no good or this just isn’t any fun anymore. That’s not why you’re having a bad day. You’re having a bad day because you were self-indulgent and God is judging that in the inner man. He will not bring you peace and joy and the other fruits of the Spirit when you’re living in opposition to His will. When you’re blessing yourself rather than allowing the Father to give good gifts to the children… When you’ve made your own system of priorities and then decided to go after something yourself, then you find the judgment or the rod of God in your life and your heart!
And why does He do that? Because He loves you! He does not want you to end up like the world. He doesn’t want you to end up like the pagans that are given over in the futility of their thinking, the darkened understanding, the judgment and the wrath and the ever-increasing wickedness. He doesn’t want that for you any more than you would want that for any of your children. Do you want your children to be insane and drunk on sin and perversion? He doesn’t want that for you either. But the way life works is that there’s a momentum. You’re not just standing there making decision A, decision B, decision C. That’s not what life is like. There’s momentum. You move this way, and you’re going to move this way further and further because your conscience is going to be seared as with a hot iron. You’re going to be more inclined to be self-indulgent because you’re drunk. You’re beginning to see and feel a separation. Then you begin to say, “Well, I’ve already gone this far with it. I might as well go the whole way.” Satan is going to be lying to you, attacking you in various ways. There’s just a momentum that goes with it. And the Father is saying, “Stop. No further. I want you to see that your bad day, your bad mood, your broken relationship, your poor communication…to these things I am saying, ‘No! My blessing is not in this road you’re choosing. Stop here. Turn. Face Me. Move towards Me’.” And then the momentum of the blessing of the Spirit of God grows! You fall more in love with Him. It’s easier to turn your face away from sin because you’re feeling the love and you’re experiencing the grace of God. You’re becoming stronger and wiser and more connected. You’re more able to serve, more able to love and more able to be loved. You feel those things, then, instead of the darkness and the wet blanket of the grotesque selfishness and pride and self-indulgence and judgment and criticism and all that other junk.
So the fruits of the Spirit: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control often come not by God zapping you, but by God using His discipline, His training to bend you towards seeing how glorious He is and how pathetic a life of selfishness is. That is part of this process of learning even how to worship. It is by watching what He is doing in your life and then recognizing His rod. It is by turning away from your faulty priority system and your self-indulgence and your egocentric activities and your divisions of the inner man from within and without. Turning away from that. Fixing your eyes on the author and the perfecter of your faith and allowing Him to mold you and remake you and bend you into the fruits of the Spirit. Allow these things to supernaturally well up from within.