22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22–23, NKJV)
Christians are called by the gospel to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25), to be “led by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:18), to “live in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), and to bear the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23). This is not a mystical, magical, miraculous control of one’s life by the Holy Spirit. It results from the deliberate choice to live under the control of the Spirit of God – to live by faith – by obeying the gospel we have heard from Him (Galatians 2:20; 3:1-2). Note that we are to bear the “fruit” of the Spirit, not the “fruits” of the Spirit. This fruit, while singular, is collective, with each part of the fruit bearing distinct attributes of God. Each part of this fruit must be carefully understood to develop properly. The fruit of the Spirit does not grow accidentally. Is it present in your life? His fruit will only grow and ripen in us with regular watering, nurturing, pruning and shaping of our lives by the Spirit-given word (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16).
17 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; 18 For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; Let them all be fixed upon your lips, 19 So that your trust may be in the LORD; I have instructed you today, even you. (Proverbs 22:17–19, NKJV)
We all need the guidance of wise counsel (Proverbs 19:20). Therefore, we should lean in and hear the counsel of the wise (v. 17). Furthermore, we should commit ourselves to applying our hearts to the wisdom we learn (v. 18). There is no greater source of wisdom than the words of God. We are made wise and gain understanding through them (Psalm 119:98, 104). By storing up God’s wisdom in your heart you are equipped to conduct yourself wisely (James 3:17-18). By being inclined to obtain wisdom and armed with dedication to live by God’s wisdom, we show our trust is in the Lord and not in ourselves (v. 19). And so, turn to Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” to satisfy your longing for wisdom (Colossians 2:3). Lean in and listen to the word of Jesus. Apply yourself to know, keep and speak His word. To whom else shall you go? He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31–32, NKJV)
Bitterness is like acid eating through one’s heart. There is no room for compassion, kindness and merciful forgiveness in the bitter heart. The companions of bitterness are angry, resentful responses, evil words and ill will. Christians must put away all these things from their hearts. This can be done by recalling the kindness of God toward us in Christ. God could have been bitter toward us because of our sins against Him. But, His kind love forgives us in Jesus. There can be no room in our hearts for bitter resentment. Be kind. Be merciful. Forgive. That’s how God has treated you in His Son, Jesus Christ.
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:3–6, NKJV)
As this passage explains how we are assured that we know God, it provides an inspired commentary on what it means to “walk in the light” in 1 John 1:7. Many are heard to say they “know God” (that they “walk in the light”). John explains how we are assured that we know God; “if” we keep His commandments (v. 3). Knowing God in this passage equates to practicing the truth and “walking in the light” in 1 John 1:6-7. We cannot disobey God and correctly claim to understand or know God. To say we know God while disobeying Him makes us a liar. The love of God does not live in disobedience; it is perfected (matured) by keeping His word (v. 5). One may indeed feel in his heart that they know God, but that is not how the Bible defines knowing God. To know God and to live in the love of God, we must “keep His commandments.” Obeying God is not an attempt to earn your way to heaven; It is the express of your love for God. The “truth is not in” the disobedient; He does not know God. To know God, walk as Christ walked. He always obeyed the Father (John 8:29; 12:48-50).
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5–7, NKJV)
What does it mean to walk in the light? This verse gives us a definitive definition: “Practice the truth” (v. 6) is equivalent to “walk in the light” (v. 7). Fellowship with God comes to those who “walk in the light” – those who practice His truth (His word, John 17:17). We lie if we say we have fellowship with God, yet “do not practice the truth” (v. 6). The God of light is found in the light of truth, not in the darkness of error. According to verse 7, two things happen when one walks in the light: 1) He has fellowship with God, and 2) The blood of Christ cleanses him from all sin. This verse does not say the Christian does not sin (see v. 10). It says the blessing of cleansing from sin by Christ’s blood occurs when we walk in the light. Because this person practices truth (walks in the light), he does not deny his sin when it happens, he confesses it, with the assurance of God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9; Acts 8:22-24).
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18, NKJV)
Context is crucial to understanding the Scriptures correctly. Today’s passage is a notable illustration of the point. John is discussing the perfecting of love in the Christian’s life so that he or she has “boldness in the day of judgment” instead of fear, which “involves torment.” Where there is mature love, there is no fear of the judgment. But, what is the mature love that “casts out fear?” John tells us in 1 John 5:2-3: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2–3). The love that has boldness rather than fear in the day of judgment is one that is willingly obedient to God’s commands. Only when love includes willing obedience of God’s commandments is it the “perfect love” that “casts out fear.”
“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4, NKJV)
Can a Christian be lost in sin after being saved in Christ? Calvinism says, “No.” Reportedly, so did Billy Graham: “Returning home with a friend that night, Mr. Graham said, he thought: “Now I’ve gotten saved. Now whatever I do can’t unsave me. Even if I killed somebody, I can’t ever be unsaved now” (nytimes.com, Feb. 21, 2018). But, the apostle Paul told Christians, “Yes.” He said an attempt to be justified by law-keeping (the law of Moses, Galatians 2:21, 3-7) would cause them to be “estranged from Christ” and “fallen from grace.” That’s clear enough. The doctrine of “once saved, always saved” gives false comfort because it does not conform to the Scriptures. Jesus warned of those who would joyfully “believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13). Christians are told to “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). And so, we are urged to “exhort one another daily…lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11). A Christian who does not repent and pray God’s forgiveness for sins committed, will not be saved (Acts 8:18-24; 1 John 1:9). The Scriptures must inform and sustain our faith.