Yesterday I talked about the need to deny oneself, do the good works set before us, and let the Spirit guide us to live right. But what does that look like? I don’t write this to say that I am doing everything perfectly, indeed, some of the things listed are ones that I struggle greatly with. But I write to show us just a few out of the many things that we need to do (and not do) and repent of in our lives. I’ll start with the positive.
The Positive (Do this)
First, if we expect growth as believers, we must be praying and studying God’s Word individually and most importantly together. For example- families pray together, husbands lead their wives in study of the Word, the family participates in small groups, the Church enables this through teaching, giving resources, setting up small groups, etc. We need each other, or else we have a cold, individualistic faith. Then, in reading the Bible, we will discover that the Spirit moves in us to give us great gifts for edifying others. A list of these is shown in Galatians 5. The thing with this list is that it is something every Christian is expected to grow in. The other lists of gifts that we are given are to show us the different gifts used for building up and growing dependency (i.e. not everyone is a pastor, and not everyone is a good administrator. See 1 Corinthians 12). But we are all to grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we don’t have these things, we are going to be unable to exercise our faith and our individual gifts and callings well. Peter supports this as well when he says that we are to add to our faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (2 Peter 1).
Just as we are given much that we have to grow in, there is much that we have to give up. Some of this is gradual (such as denying self) but much of it we are told to stop all together. Before giving us the list of the fruit of the Spirit, Paul tells us what to leave behind- essentially saying, “Cut it out! This is how you should be living, not like that!” Unfortunately, people think it is enough to grow in the good, but neglect leaving the bad.
The Negative (what we must stop)
Here’s the list- “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, orgies, and things like these…” (Galatians 5:19-21). And the cost of living like this is a great one- “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This is not teaching that you lose salvation, but that if you continue in these sins, the Holy Spirit is not being evident in your life- and you may not be saved… there is no better time to be working out your faith in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
I realized while I was typing that list that it could take a few blogs to cover all of these– so that’s what I’ll be starting to look at within the next few days.
Your flesh won’t like it. Neither will mine. Deal with it, or let the Spirit.