2012-02-22 / Religion

Bearing the fruit of redemption

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Galatians 5:2-6:18

Every life produces some kind of fruit — results — that lasts beyond the time of its visible existence. This outcome of life can be good or bad. Each person leaves some kind of legacy. The choice of the quality of this longterm effect is a personal matter.

As the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the churches in the Roman province of Galatia (Galatians 1:2), he knew that some of these people had chosen spiritual bondage, rather than live in the spiritual freedom that had been granted by acceptance of the gift that had been provided by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ of Nazareth for the sins of the world. Our Lord had declared, “If the son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36. This declaration has not been amended nor deleted from the divine plan.

Some of these Galatian believers had willingly become bound by the teaching of those who would bring them into their own form of spiritual bondage. However, Paul wrote, “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1. He continued his instruction,“Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16. He declared that “if ye be led of the spirit, ye are not under the law.” Galatians 5:18.

He included a list of some of the works of the flesh. Galatians 5:19- 21a. He gave them a reminder, “of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:21b.

After the apostle gave this warning to all of his readers — including us — he turned his thoughts to the positive results that can be expected from the life of any person who has accepted the redemption that has been bought by the death of our Lord. He referred to this result as the “fruit of the spirit.” It is important for us to note that he referred to this series in the singular, as he gave a list. There are those who would see this as a pick and choose list, and not consider the fruit as a whole. It is important that we picture this as an aggregate fruit, such as a blackberry or a raspberry. Each little part is a fruit, but to enjoy the full taste, the whole berry gives the best flavor.

As we look at the list that makes up the whole, we see that the first three parts are given. Galatians 5:22a. Love comes from God — God is love. 1 John 4:8. Joy comes through our Lord Jesus Christ — “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11. Peace comes through our faith in Christ — “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…” John 14:27a.

Since the apostle was writing to a society that understood the agricultural economy, he could write of the fruit to those who had observed fruit development. It is now known that the simple sugars produced in fruit develops in the presence of sunlight. However, the complex sugars, starches, and proteins are produced in the dark reactions that take place within the leaf of the plant. Yes, there are times that we enjoy the sunlight of God’s goodness and blessings, and there are times when it seems as if all of life is dark. It is during these times when the more difficult portions of the fruit develops — “longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Galatians 5:22b, 23a. In the physical world, plants need nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to make the complex substances that are produced. In our spiritual development we can expect nuisances, problems and knocks. These situations are necessary for developing the spiritual results that are expected — “Herein is my father glorified that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” John 15:8.

As we read of the divine expectation, it is important for us to remember that a tree does not bear fruit for its own benefit. The food that is stored in the fruit is the excess that the plant produces beyond its own needs. Others are able to pick the fruit, and receive benefit from the processes that were necessary for this production. Thus, the trials, tests and difficulties that you experience can be beneficial to others. What quality of fruit do we produce?

As Paul continued his instruction to the churches, he declared, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts.” Galatians 5:24. This is the personal responsibility of each believer. He explained how this instruction is accomplished — “If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:25, 26.

Not all individuals are at the same level of spiritual maturity. It is important for each to care for the spiritual development of others. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1. There is no room for spiritual superiority in the kingdom of God. The instruction is quite clear — “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2.

Passing of judgment on the actions of others can prove to be a spiritual deadly exercise. “For is any man think himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” Galatians 6:3. The apostle gave a directive — ”But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” Galatians 6:4.

The apostle stated the law of sowing and reaping. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6:7, 8.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Florida. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P.O. Box 1569, Auburndale, Fla. 33823; 863-965-0157. Email: jctjet@aol.com.

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