Commentary on "The Fruit of the Spirit is Goodness"
Day 5: Wednesday, February 10, 2010
In this lesson, the author says that it goes against our human nature to change. He draws the conclusion then that “goodness” must be more inward, and that our motives be must be right for our actions to be actually “good”. He concludes that the Christian’s secret to overcoming this problem is to walk according to the Spirit. He ends with the question, “How can we do this?”
It is interesting to note that the author has no commentary on what it means to walk according to the Spirit. He just leaves the reader hanging to ponder what that means.
The E.G. White Notes also fail to touch on what it means to “walk according to the Spirit”. Rather, Ellen White solves this question by giving a human solution to the problem, “A daily review of our acts, to see whether conscience approves or condemns, is necessary for all who wish to arrive at the perfection of Christian character... The Searcher of hearts inspects motives, and often the deeds which are highly applauded by men are recorded by Him as springing from selfish motives and base hypocrisy” (Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 512).
It is also clear from the E.G. White Notes, that there is no understanding of what it means to be “born again”. She states, “As we receive divine light, and cooperate with the heavenly intelligences, we are “born again,” freed from the defilement of sin by the power of Christ” (Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 24).
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.
Good intentions and pure motives are not the key elements to living godly lives. The only key to living godly lives comes by faith in Jesus' blood to cleanse our sins--past, present, and future--and being sealed by the Holy Spirit as a result of that faith (Ephesians 1:13). 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. Only through this transformation are we able to walk according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:5-11 illustrates this clearly:
“For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Without the Holy Spirit indwelling us, we have no ability in our own flesh to do good. By nature, we live in the flesh. By the Holy Spirit, we walk in the Spirit, and bear fruits of the Spirit in our lives.
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