March 18, 2013
So we are to manifest the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, huh? It would be great to have consistently in our lives what is written in Galatians 5:22 & 23, “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” It would certainly help with all the problems we face in life. But how do we do that?
When I began to study the issue, I found a lot of confusion. The fruit of the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit, being baptized with the Spirit, and the how-to concerning all that. But then I came across the answer. Where? In the Bible, of course. God always has the answer in the Bible – sometimes by direct instruction, sometimes by example, or comparing scripture with scripture, or a general principle that can be applied in different areas of life.
In the case of the fruit of the Spirit in my life, I figured it had to be tied closely with what Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:18, “…be filled with the Spirit….” And I found the answer by comparing scripture with scripture.
To really see what I am talking about, open your Bible to Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16. Mark them both with a bookmark because you will be flipping back and forth. In Ephesians 5:18 Paul says, “…be filled with the Spirit….” But there is only a comma after that statement. He goes on to describe what will flow out of your life from being filled with the Spirit:
…speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:19-21)
And Paul goes on in Ephesians 5 and into chapter 6 describing submission applied to family and working relationships.
Now, if we pick it up in the middle of Colossians 3:16, Paul writes:
…teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (Colossians 3:16-19)
It is the almost the same words, and the same order of subjects as in Ephesians. Both descriptions are flowing out of a filled life. But what is filling the life? In Ephesians 5:18 it is the Holy Spirit. In Colossians 3:16 is written,
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom….
I have to conclude that letting the word of Christ – the Bible, Scripture – dwell in you richly is closely tied up – if not the same thing as – being filled with the Holy Spirit!!
Well, this takes a lot of mystery out of what it means to “…be filled with the Spirit….”! My job is to “Let the word of Christ dwell in…[me] richly….” I do that by dwelling richly in the Word. I read and/or study – even memorize – the Scripture every day. I want to get it inside of me richly, because then God has what He needs to fill me with His Holy Spirit. I do what I am supposed to do, and God does what only He can do!
Now this is not bragging, but I hope it is an encouragement to what can be accomplished with some discipline. Years ago I decided to read through the Bible, in various translations, once every six months. It only takes me 20 to 30 minutes a day. Currently I have almost completed reading through the Bible for the 92nd time! You don’t have to read through the Bible 92 times, but you can start to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….” Do it regularly! Let it become a daily discipline! You will find that more and more you will “…be filled with the Spirit….”!
In Wednesday’s blog, I will show the outflow of the fruit of the Spirit and what it will mean for your Christian witness.