Lesson 13 The Fruit of the Spirit: Christian Characte
Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.
Introduction: Have you ever heard of "hurry sickness?" In the United States we have all sorts of illnesses which are not considered a traditional illness. Hurry sickness is one of these fake illnesses, and I have it. I'm always in a hurry to finish whatever it is I'm doing. Get it done, move on to the next task. Whenever I'm driving, I'm in a hurry. We will be driving to the airport to pick someone up and my wife will tell me to slow down because we will arrive too early. I know this is true, but find it hard to accept that advice.
This is the last in our series of studies about the fruits of the Spirit. Our study of the Bible this week suggests that the quality of our journey, rather than hurrying to heaven, is of most concern.
Let's dive into our study and find the cure to spiritual hurry sickness!
I. First Things First
A. Read Matthew 6:31-33. Do pagans have hurry sickness? (Yes! They run after the things of this earth.)
1. What does this tell Christians to do and what does it tell them not to do? (Not to worry about necessities. Rather, seek "His kingdom and His righteousness.")
a. Are these two (His kingdom and His righteousness)related?
(1) Is the order of seeking important? If so, what does it mean to seek first God's kingdom, as opposed to God's righteousness? (This reflects the idea of salvation by faith first, and then setting the goal of living a righteous life.)
b. Step back and contemplate these verses. What is being promised here? (That if we accept salvation by faith, and pursue righteousness, we need not have to pursue anything else.)
c. From time to time I read the writings of a minister whose theology I think is suspect. One day he wrote that he was going to suspend his Bible work, and take a break to make some money to help secure his retirement. Since I did not like his theology, I thought this was a splendid idea! How does his idea square with Matthew 6? (It is contrary.)
B. Have you ever thought that if you made the advance of God's kingdom your primary goal, that it would not only produce the fruits of the Spirit, but also provide those things the pagans are hurrying to obtain?
II. On the Glory road
A. Read 2 Corinthians 3:7-8. The letters engraved on stone are the Ten Commandments. What glory, seen on the face of Moses, came with the Ten Commandments? (Read Exodus 34:29-30. Being in the presence of God made Moses' face radiate with God's glory.)
B. Read 2 Corinthians 3:13-18. Do you have the possibility of your face reflecting the glory of God? (Yes!)
1. Why did Moses have to use a veil and you do not? (The law did not lead the people around Moses to righteousness. Thus, they could not stand the glory of God. But, being saved by grace removes the need for a veil - for your face also reflects God's glory.)
2. Once we see that glory "shine," on our faces, have we reached our goal? (By no means! We "are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory.")
3. Friend, do you want people to be startled to see God's glory on your face?
4. How is such a transformation possible? (Notice the last part of 2 Corinthians 3:18 again: "which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." This is the work of the Holy Spirit in our life. Perhaps the title for this lesson should have been: The Fruit of the Spirit is a glowing face.)
C. On our journey of life, we are not called to hurry after things, but we are called to radiate!
III. Lane guides
A. Some modern cars are equipped with devices which sound an alarm if you have strayed outside your lane. Read 2 Corinthians 13:5-6. Should we have such a device monitoring our daily activities? (The Bible says that we should "test ourselves" to see if we are in the faith.)
1. What is the default position? That is, do we start out in faith or out of faith? (These are Christians, so the Bible says the default position is "Christ Jesus is in you." Unless, of course, "you fail the test."
2. What happens if we fail the test? (These verses suggest that we are not "in faith.")
B. Read 2 Corinthians 13:7-9. What does Paul say about his own example? (He says he cannot do anything against the truth, but people might think he has failed the test.)
1. Does this mean Paul is not in the faith? (Paul is likely saying "No one is perfect, including me, but the goal is perfection.")
C. Read 2 Corinthians 13:11. What is the goal of our life? (To "aim for perfection." To live a life that radiates the glory of God.)
1. What important concepts are included in the term "aim?" (Aiming is an intentional act. It is a
knowing decision. Aiming also means we have not yet arrived.)
D. Read John 15:1-4. Can we be lost if we are not generally on the path to perfection? (If you do not "bear
fruit"(the spiritual fruits we have been discussing), then we are subject to being cut off.)
1. What is the key to bearing fruit? (Remaining in Jesus. The way Jesus states this, it seems so
simple. How can a section of a plant bear fruit unless it remains attached to the main plant?)
E. Read John 15:9-10. What kind of test do we find here? When will our lane guard alarm go off? When will we know we have stopped radiating and have started hurrying? (When we stop obeying God's commandments.)
1. Earlier we discussed (2 Corinthians 3:14) how the Ten Commandments made the minds of the people "dull." Does Jesus disagree with Paul?
F. Read John 15:12-17. Is Jesus suggesting a new approach to keeping the commandments? (I'm not sure it is new, but it is different than the approach taken at Mount Sinai. If we just grit our teeth and obey the Ten Commandments, we have taken the "dull mind" approach. We don't really understand what is going on. On the other hand, if we contemplate how Jesus loved us so much that He died a painful death on our behalf, and that He died that death to satisfy the requirements of the law when we could not, then that stirs a loving desire in our hearts to show love to others by obeying God's commands.)
1. Can you see the practical difference between the two approaches?
2. What does Jesus' discussion about servants and friends reveal to us? (A servant is like a young
child - you just tell them what to do. Explanations are unneeded. You cannot just tell a friend or peer what to do. You need to explain it so they share your goal. We must not treat the Ten Commandments like a bunch of rules to follow to get the reward of heaven. Instead, we should treat them like an insider's guide to a loving relationship with God and others.)
G. Friend, our current connection to God is through His Spirit. Will you, today, start praying that the Holy
Spirit will come upon you in power to give you the right attitude so that the fruits we have discussed in this
series will be shown in your life? Will you pray that your life will move forward on the path to perfection?
Will you seek to radiate God's glory rather than just hurrying along the path of life?
IV. Next week: We start a new series on health.