The Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit
(John 15, 1 Corinthians 13, Romans 14, Galatians 6)
Introduction: Last week we ended our study with the thought that if we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, our life should reflect the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are largely attitudes: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Galatians 5:22-23. Living a life led by our sinful nature, in contrast, brings evil acts. Galatians 5:19-21. Let's dig into our Bible and explore how our lives can be dominated by the fruits of the Holy Spirit!
- Vine Connection
- Read John 15:1-4. Jesus says nothing about the Holy Spirit here. He mentions only the Father and Himself. What role does the Father have? (To "cut off" unproductive branches and "prune" fruitful branches.)
- Does that make you shudder? When I was a young man my brother and I were pruning ("caning")raspberry plants. We were working on opposite sides of the plant. I recall shuddering(and yelling)when my brother put his shears around one of my fingers!
- What do you think it means to be "pruned?" Is it like what nearly happened to my finger?
- Look closely at John 15:3. What does it mean to be "clean?" (It means that you have been pruned.)
- How were the disciples "pruned?" (By the words that Jesus had spoken to them.)
- How does this help us understand pruning? (In this example it is not some terrible loss in our life. Rather, it is understanding and following the words of Jesus so that we sharpen the focus of our Christian life.)
- Read John 15:5. How do we remain in Jesus? (Jesus does not specifically refer to the Holy Spirit, but this has to be the way that we "remain" in Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives in us and therefore we have this connection to the "vine.")
- Do you think it is a coincidence that Galatians 5:22 refers to the "fruit of the Spirit" and John 15:4-5 refers to remaining in Jesus and bearing "fruit?" (Of course not. That is how we know Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit connection.)
- Read John 15:6. This sounds painful. It does not sound like sharpening our focus based on a better understanding of God's word. If you are an expert in pruning, what kind of "branch" do you prune? (In my limited experience, I cut back things that are already dead. I'm following the pattern taken by the plant, by cutting off the flow of energy to those sections that cannot use the energy.)
- What is the spiritual lesson to take from this? (If we get "cut off" it is because we have already made the decision to "die.")
- Notice that I've been referring to being "cut off," which is the term Jesus uses first. How does Jesus change His terminology in John 15:4, 6 & 7? (Jesus speaks of us "remain[ing]" in Him. This shows that it is our choice whether we will be connected to Jesus or not.)
- Read John 15:7-8. What extraordinary promise does Jesus make to those who are connected to Him through the Holy Spirit? (That God will give you whatever you wish.)
- What if you wish to have a Mercedes Benz? (The entire conversation is about the fruit of the Spirit. I think Jesus is telling us that if we specifically ask for love, joy, peace, patience, or some other fruit, He will give it to us!)
- Read John 15:9-11. Recall last week that I said that if your goal is keeping the commandments you are "looking too low?" Does this contradict what I suggested? Specifically, does Jesus say that if we keep His commandments, it shows that we love Him? Thus, keeping the commandments is proof of our love of Jesus? (No. This says something much different. Jesus gave us the Ten Commandments (and every other commandment) for our benefit. They were intended to bless our lives. They were given because Jesus loves us. In John 15:9 Jesus asks us to "remain in My love." If you follow His commandments, which demonstrate His love for us, then you "remain" in His love.)
- Read John 14:15. Wait a minute! Doesn't this text specifically say that if you love Jesus you will obey the commandments? (If you read the context, John 14:15-21, you will see that Jesus is talking about sending the Holy Spirit to live in us. Thus, Jesus is not talking about the "commandments," He is talking about us living a life led by the Holy Spirit, and not by our sinful desires. We need to look higher than gritting our teeth and determining to obey the commandments.)
- Walk in Love
- Bob Goff just attended the Regent campus. If I've remembered correctly, he said, "Live in grace, walk in love." Obeying the Ten Commandments is walking in the protection of God's love. What else might it mean? Let's read 1 Corinthians 13:4. If you were patient, kind, content, free of boasting and pride, how would your life be different? (No doubt you would be more calm, more content.)
- Would others have greater enjoyment being around you?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. How would you characterize tongues, the gift of prophecy and faith? (These are fruits of the Holy Spirit.)
- What does this say about the fruit of love versus other fruits? (Love is essential. It is foundational.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:5. Do you keep "score?" Do you keep a record of those who have insulted you?
- Do you like it when people remember your wrong actions against them?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:6. What does it mean to rejoice "with the truth," as opposed to delighting in evil? (We are happy when people of virtue succeed. We are happy when truth prevails.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:7. Consider each one of these actions or attitudes. Are they reflected in your life?
- Read Romans 14:12-16. Is this an example of living in love? (If you are not following Paul's argument, read Romans 14:1-11. Paul writes that being correct in disputable matters is less important than showing love to fellow believers.)
- Read Romans 14:17-18. Why does Paul compare eating and drinking with "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit?" (We must have the correct focus in life. How many Christians do you know who are focused on whether others are eating the right thing and doing the right thing, rather than just loving others? Even if others are doing things we think inappropriate, can we look for a way to show love without sinning?)
- Read Romans 14:19. When you write on Facebook to a fellow Christian, do you follow this advice?
- Read Galatians 6:1-2. What does our discussion so far teach us about our attitude towards sin? What does this text say? (We should stand against sin. But, we are also commanded to restore the sinner "gently.")
- What does the text mean when it says "watch yourself?" (We are directed to show love and compassion towards the sinner. We are directly to gently restore. We are directed to show discretion on disputable matters. But, we must be careful that we do not get confused about the sin. We should not get pulled into that sin.)
- Read Galatians 6:3-5. Why does Paul warn us about pride?
- Have you ever asked yourself whether your debate about someone else's sin has more to do with your pride, than your desire to "carry the burdens" of the other person?
- Wait a minute! Paul tells us to "carry each other's burdens" ( Galatians 6:2) and then he says "each one should carry his own load" ( Galatians 6:5). Is this a contradiction? (I don't think so. The "load" of the one involved in obvious sin is to quit sinning. The load of the person who is trying to correct that sin is to put aside pride and show love. Each one has a "load.")
- At this point are you shaking your head and saying, "This is too hard!" If so, remember that having the right attitude arises from living a life led by the Holy Spirit!
- Friend, if you have examined your "fruit" and found it lacking, why not invite the Holy Spirit to guide your mind?
- Next week: The Holy Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit.