Commentary on "The Fruit of the Spirit is Righteousness"
Day 2: Sunday, March 7, 2010
In Sunday’s lesson, the author offers no commentary but rather lists out seven Bible passages, and gives the instruction to refer to the texts quoted to respond to the questions.
Here are the verses as quoted from the lesson:
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:28)
“For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright.” (Psalm 11:7)
“The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves him who follows righteousness.” (Proverbs 15:9)
“Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
“That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:4)
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” (1 John 2:29)
This commentary will focus on answering the questions of the lesson as instructed.
If we cannot be justified by the law, how then are we justified?
Romans 3:28, as quoted above, is clear that we are justified by faith.
Although we know that God hates sin but loves sinners, what wrong conclusions must we avoid?
First, it is important to note that the saying, “Love the sinner, hate the sin” cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. In fact, it was quoted by Mahatma Ghandi.
According to the passages of the lesson, the Lord loves righteousness (Psalm 11:7) and the way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 15:9).
God is love (1 John 4:8), but God also punishes the sinner and hates all who do iniquity. God is not one sided. He is not simply an infinitely loving God. He is also infinitely just. He deals with sin, and He punishes the sinner.
But the beauty of the Gospel is that for all who trust in Him, they have salvation. So it is important to realize that God never hates the redeemed even when they sin. Christ died to atone for the guilt of our sins. When believers sin, they are atoned-for sins. They are sins with their guilt removed. God does not hate His people when they sin because they are hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3). Jesus died for these people and paid the price for their sins past, present, and future. The sins are cancelled before they are committed.
What does “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us” mean? Can we ever keep the law well enough to fulfill it? Or does Paul mean something else? If so, what?
To answer this question, it is important to understand the second half of the verse quoted (Romans 8:4),“That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Without an understanding of what it means to be born again, one cannot understand what it means to walk according to the Spirit.
When one is born again, God's Spirit literally indwells the believer (1 Cor. 3:16, 1 Cor. 6:19, Rom. 8:9). When the Holy Spirit takes resident in our lives, our spirits instantly change from being dead to being alive. Only when our spirits are made alive are we capable of living by the Spirit rather than living by the flesh. Without being born again, we are totally incapable of living godly lives and overcoming sin.
It is impossible to keep the law well enough to fulfill it. It is only THROUGH Jesus, that the law is fulfilled for us. Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).This verse means what it says: Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law.
So, when we are born again, and His Spirit indwells us, it means we are sealed by the Spirit and no longer live according to the flesh. It means that God is now Lord over our life, and because of our faith in Jesus' blood, He rescues us from the condemnation of the Law that we could not keep. Once we are sealed by God's Spirit, and made alive, only then are we capable of being able to yield and submit to His Spirit. It is His Spirit alone that causes the deep change in us. It is not a result of anything from our flesh such as discipline, good motives, or good intentions.
How should our lives be changed when we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness?
Again, when we make Jesus Christ Lord over our lives, and trust Him completely as our Savior--not adding anything to that, but trusting Him ALONE--we become born again. His Spirit resides in us and transforms us. Only through this transformation are we able to walk according to the Spirit and live godly lives. (Refer to back to previous answer above)
What does it mean “to do righteousness”? Can we be righteous without doing righteousness? Justify your answer.
A better question is, “Can we do righteousness without being righteous?” By nature, we are completely incapable of living righteously and doing righteousness (Ephesians 2:1-3). It is not “righteous acts” that declares us righteous. It is Jesus Christ that declares us righteous. And only through Him, who transforms our lives from death to life, are we able to live according to the Spirit and to experience the fruit of the Spirit: righteousness. Apart from God, we are incapable of doing righteousness.
GO TO DAY 3
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