After Bearing the Fruits
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:24-25 (ESV)
Charles Wesley was an English leader of the Methodist movement. He was the younger brother of Anglican clergyman John Wesley and despite their closeness, Charles and his brother John did not always agree on questions relating to their beliefs. In particular, Charles was strongly opposed to the idea of a breach with the Church of England into which they had been ordained. They both sailed to America and hung out in Georgia. Charles preached the Good news to Native Americans and was largely rejected by the settlers.
In July 1736, Charles was commissioned to England as the bearer of dispatches to the trustees of the colony. In August 1736, he sailed from Charleston, South Carolina, never to return to the Georgia colony again. Wesley experienced a “conversion” on the 21 May 1738. Before his conversion to Christ, Charles Wesley looked like a believer. It was only after he began reading Martin Luther’s book on Galatians, however, did he understand his own need for salvation. Wesley’s conversion had a clear impact on his doctrine, especially the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The change in doctrine can be seen in his sermons after 1738, but is most notable in his hymns written after 1738.
I took a peek at that book on Galatians and zoned in on the fruits part of Luther’s commentary. Figuring that maybe it was there that Wesley felt conviction but that wasn’t really the case. It’s the tougher dialogue found concerning verses 24-25 in the 5th chapter. “The ministers of the Gospel should be men who are not too easily affected by praise or criticism, but simply speak out the benefit and the glory of Christ and seek the salvation of souls.” wrote Luther concerning verse 25. Wow! So it’s not so much about displaying the fruits of the Spirit as it is how they affect our temperament. Guess the nice guy is different than the guy made kind by the Holy Spirit?
Luther wrote this about verse 24, “True believers are no hypocrites. They crucify the flesh with its evil desires and lusts. Inasmuch as they have not altogether put off the sinful flesh they are inclined to sin. They do not fear or love God as they should. They are likely to be provoked to anger, to envy, to impatience, to carnal lust, and other emotions. But they will not do the things to which the flesh incites them. They crucify the flesh with its evil desires and lusts by fasting and exercise and, above all, by a walk in the Spirit.”
My friend from Brooklyn shared this with me once that the genuine fruit of the Spirit is produced through a vital, ongoing connection between the believer and Jesus Christ. We can’t produce the fruit of the Spirit by attending seminars and reading books. To become more loving, joyful, self-controlled, and gentle, we need, as the Gospel of John says, to abide in Christ. (John 14:25–15:17) To understand what this means, we are commanded to “remain” in the words of Christ. So, if we are holding every thought, captive, to the obedience of Christ, abiding in His love and walking by the Spirit we will be led by Him as one made kind after the bearing of the fruits. Amen? – Chris Hughes writes weekly for Freedom Fighter and is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy
Quote of the day: “There is a law, of course, but it does not apply to those who bear these fruits of the Spirit. The Law is not given for the righteous man. A true Christian conducts himself in such a way that he does not need any law to warn or to restrain him. He obeys the Law without compulsion. The Law does not concern him. As far as he is concerned there would not have to be any Law.”—Martin Luther
Verse to Memorize: Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope! Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually! Psalm 119:116-117 ESV