A Christian brother recently brought up the fruits of the Spirit; that day, the item that stuck in my mind, and has been there for weeks, was self-control.
Self-control speaks to me about the multitude of times that I have been restrained by the Holy Spirit, thereby preventing me from doing something stupid, illegal, or deadly. Almost a month after that conversation, my pastor, Jack Hibbs, integrated the fruits of the Spirit into his teaching this last Wednesday evening, 2/3/2021. I felt impressed to share some insights with you.
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
I used the NLT because it directly infers that the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in us, in contrast to the fruit as seen in the NASB, which could be thought of as something I could merely pick off a tree when needed.
Just seeing these words “as something I could merely pick when needed,” as though these fruits are not mine, accosts me.
Pastor Jack spoke about the Holy Spirit in two ways.
First, the Holy Spirit is the one who brought you to Jesus Christ, and therefore, comes into you when you receive Christ. Jack Hibbs says that this is the baptism into Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit.
I suppose the logic to this comes from the fact that God is: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and that the soul, having asked Jesus to come in, now belongs to God, and therefore, the Holy Spirit. A roundabout way of saying this is that by inviting Jesus into my life, I am and have invited the Holy Spirit into my life.
(Think about this. Jesus, just before He went to the Father, said,
John 16:7-15 NASB “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. (8) “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; (9) concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; (10) and concerning righteousness because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; (11) and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. (12) “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. (13) “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (14) “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. (15) “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
Look at John 16:7-15 NASB above, for it says, that when He, Jesus, leaves the earth, the Holy Spirit – the comforter will come. The implications of this are that the interactions with man are fully enveloped in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit acts and responds just as Jesus did, for He did nothing without hearing from the Father.)
An example of what I just said about the Holy Spirit coming into our lives could come from Paul’s address to the church in Rome, which you can see in Romans 2:14-15.
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, (Romans 2:14-15 NASB)
To say, “their conscience” can just as easily be stated, their spirit. The person indwelt by the Holy Spirit is then directed accordingly. The problem is that the majority of us think that whatever good thing we did was our great idea.
To be honest, I don’t thoroughly understand this teaching of how the Holy Spirit is instantly a part of every believer, although it makes sense that God would be looking for a way to regain those He has already paid for through the cross. Not being able to grasp this concept most likely comes from seeing so many, over the years, stumble back into the darkness; this is especially disturbing when you know that the verses before and after the reference in Galatians above tell you why you do what you do. The answer to the problem, every time, is to admit that you just did what you wanted to do, change your ways, and get yourself into the Word. Scriptural references speak of receiving of and from the Holy Spirit.
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38 NASB)
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NASB)
In both of these instances, Receive is the Greek word lambano and means to take hold of.
When Peter, in Acts 2:38, instructed the large crowd that upon repenting and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, was he telling them that they would receive the power and speak in other tongues?
I do not try to put God into a box anymore, nor do I try to control how God uses the box I assigned to Him or what is inside; so, to be honest, I do not know what parameters God was operating in that day.
In Acts 1:8, we see Jesus speaking to the disciples, of which there were many. He said, they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them; this is entirely different for the disciples, as they were already followers of Jesus, however, without the apparent infilling of the Holy Spirit; that came later as they waited, in that room, as told.
Galatians 5:22-23 speaks directly about the Holy Spirit being in us, so for the sake of argument let’s say you have received the gift of the Holy Spirit in your life and you are very much aware of that through evidence. That evidence, for me, exhibited itself by Him talking to me in conversational tones with frequency.
Paul tells us “ the Holy Spirit, produces this kind of fruit in our lives.” Those fruits look like this.
Nothing deserves to go un-discussed but the Holy Spirit spoke to me rather pointedly along the line of self-control.
Pastor Jack, in that Wednesday night message I spoke about, talked about meeting a young man at the grocery store, in which Pastor was recently shopping. The young man recognized him through the mask and asked if he could speak openly with the Pastor. He then told the pastor that he was living a life that was displeasing to God and what could he do about it. The bottom line answer was to get yourself into God’s word. Do not pursue Christianity or religion, but pursue a relationship with the Father; in other words, get to know Him intimately.
Self-control seems to speak of one who rejects God and tries to fix things themselves; that is not the case here. We are dealing with the Greek word egkráteia which means Continence, temperance, self-control.
TEMPERATE means moderate; not excessive.
CONTINENCE, is to withhold; but also means the restraint which a person imposes upon his desires and passions; this includes sexual passions and lewd pleasures.
Now, this one thing alone would save many of us from a world of grief, and should, if we are listening cause us to wonder why are we doing things we don’t want or need to do.
Paul said this very thing, and if there was someone who would understand what this passage in Galatians 5 is saying, it would be him.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand, I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:18-25 NASB)
I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. (Romans 7:19 NLT)
There is an answer.
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind, I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. (Romans 7:25 NLT)
It almost seems hopeless but there is Jesus. I work hard at living a life like Christ, but occasionally I choose to react inappropriately, and I am not talking about lewd acts, I am talking about anger and rage. The thing that caught my attention that Wednesday night as I watched Pastor Jack, was the tail end of Galatians 5:23. There it says,
There is no law against these things!
Those things are the fruits of the Spirit, not your spirit, but God’s Spirit – the Holy Spirit, and it is He – the Holy Spirit, that is growing those fruits inside of you.
On your own, you are a hopeless cause. I know, you think you have got it all together, but you don’t, and sadly, you know that. I suppose that knowledge and the fact that you keep running from God makes you rather pathetic. Let me know how it works out for you.
Instead of struggling, turn your life over to Jesus Christ and receive His free gift of the Holy Spirit.