The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just in Time

Christmas is a busy time of year. We decorate both inside and out of our homes. We shop, shop, shop, and then wrap, wrap, and wrap some more. Then we hide it all and wait for the unwrapping frenzy. We take time to visit and to prepare for visitors. We rush here and rush there. We try to fit church into all of it but too often it is crowded out. There’s so much to do and so little time. Christmas is about timing. It’s been like that from the beginning.

God in His word says there is a time for everything (Eccl. 3:1). God has a plan. He has a plan for this universe, for nations and a plan for each individual (e.g. Jeremiah 29:11-13). God is orderly not chaotic (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). He is not a fly by the seat of the pants God. God works things out in intricate details. God does things with perfect timing. The incarnation of Jesus is a perfect example of this.

We can take tremendous encouragement and hope from God’s orderliness. At times in life it seems as though things are out of control. We can’t make rhyme nor reason out of the events of life. But we can be sure that God is in control and He does have a plan that He is working out.

It’s true that it seems as though God stretches the faith of His people by waiting until the last possible moment to bring rescue and reason to the events of life. But even when things get harry, we can rest assured that God has a plan and just in time He will assert His will and authority to fulfill that plan.

When I was a young boy I used to like to watch westerns. Roy Rogers and his faithful horse Trigger were favorites of mine. The Long Ranger and Tonto were also high on my list of must-see programs. I also enjoyed Rin Tin Tin the German Shepherd dog. All of these characters had one thing in common that made them all worth watching. You knew that no matter how bad things looked, they would always save the day just in time.

You may feel as though you’re in a hopeless situation. No matter how hopeless things look, God has a plan, God is in control, and God will save the day just in time. That doesn’t mean we won’t suffer loss. God’s plan and our plan conflict at times. What we have to remember in such situations is that God’s plan is the best plan. We have to trust the Lord’s leading and plan, even if it means we have to suffer in some way. God’s ultimate plan is to conform us to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29). That can be painful at times. But it is always worth it to wait on the Lord for we are His poetry, a beautiful work of art (Ephesians 2:10).

As we mentioned before, Jesus is a perfect example of how God works. What might seem as though it is just in time to us is only the fullness of time to the Lord and His plan. And the fullness of time of the Lord is always just the right time. That’s what the apostle Paul is inspired to write in his letter to the Galatians where he states:

Galatians 4:4-7 – “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he argues against the idea that a person can make themselves righteous before God by keeping the law by good works. He argues that a person is justified through faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16). He also argues that once a person is saved that they do not rely on their own effort and strength anymore than they did to be saved, but instead rely on the Spirit in them “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 3 and 5).

But these two verses from Galatians capture the awesome plan of God that at just the right time God sent Jesus to redeem the world. These verses tell us some very incredible things about God and His plan.

The Fullness of God’s Time

There is a time set by God for all things (Ecclesiastes 3). God is not One to dilly dally or meander around with no regard for timing. No, not at all, God keeps a schedule for His sovereign plans.

Historically it was just the right time for Jesus to come. Two commentators make the following observations about the timing of when Jesus came to be God with us”:

The proper time had arrived for both God and man. The time appointed by the Father and foretold by the prophets. It was a time of outward prosperity and inward corruption. The religions of the world were spiritually bankrupt, devoid of power to change men’s lives, and had degenerated into feeble superstitions and meaningless rituals.

This “time” was when the Roman civilization had brought peace and a road system which facilitated travel; when the Grecian civilization provided a language which was adopted as the lingua franca of the empire; when the Jews had proclaimed monotheism and the messianic hope in the synagogues of the Mediterranean world.
Prophetically it was just the right time for Jesus to come. The coming of Jesus was in line with the timing of the removal from the Jewish religious leaders of the right to order capital punishment (Genesis 49:10), the prophesied forerunner (Malachi 3:21) and Daniel’s prophecy concerning Messiah’s triumphal entry (Daniel 9:24-27).

God Sent His Son Jesus – Preexistent Fully God

This portion of the verse tells us that Jesus existed in eternity before His incarnation. In John’s gospel it testifies to this saying:

• John 1:1,2,14-15 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2 He was in the beginning with God. . . . 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”

In Paul’s letter to Timothy he burst forth with a proclamation of the eternal nature of Jesus when he was inspired to write:

• 1 Timothy 1:16-17 – “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Born of a Woman – Fully Human

God foretold beforehand in the Bible by way of prophecy that the Messiah would be birthed uniquely, born of a virgin. We see this in the following verses:

• Genesis 3:15 – “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

• Isaiah 7:14 - “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

• Matthew 1:23 - “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

• Luke 1:31-35 - “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.32 “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.33 “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

The significance of this is expressed in the following observation in a commentary:

“This does not mean, however, that Jesus’ humanity is only a display case for His divinity. Jesus lived out His human life by experiencing all the pressures, temptations, and limitations that we experience (Heb. 2:18; 4:15; 5:2, 7–8). That is why Jesus’ life really is the supreme human success story (Heb. 5:8). Jesus was a pioneer (Heb. 2:10, NRSV), showing in practical terms the full meaning and possibility of human life, lived in obedience to God. In this respect, Jesus is a kind of second Adam (Rom. 5:14–15), marking a new beginning for the human race.
Jesus would have performed a great work if He had done no more than set a perfect example. But His full humanity is also the basis on which it is possible for Him to represent us—indeed, take our place—in dying for us. The Bible makes this clear when it speaks of “one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:5–6).”

Born Under the Law – A Jew

Jesus fulfilled and submitted to every requirement of the Law pertaining to His birth and calling (Luke 2:21-27; Matthew 3:13-15).

To Redeem Those Under the Law – Under the Curse of the Law

Earlier in Galatians Paul explains this truth when he is inspired to write:

• Galatians 3:10-13 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),”

Each person who has yet to be saved from their sin is under a curse of death (Romans 6:23). It’s as though those who have yet to deal with their sin are prone in a guillotine looking up at a blade that is about to fall and slice away any hope of averting that curse. The curse of sin holds people in a dark state of being which is destined to spiral out of control into an ever more depraved sinful state (Romans 1:18-32).

You may be in such a state. It begins with total unawareness of being under the curse of sin. That’s because the god of this world (Satan) has blinded you to your sinful predicament (2 Corinthians 4:4). The beginning of the good news for you is that the Holy Spirit is reaching out to you to convict you and make you aware of your sinful cursed state (John 16:8-11). God’s desire is to turn you from your dark condition to the light of His word’; to show you that you are under the power of Satan but that there is a way to be saved from that by turning to God in faith. God has a rich inheritance waiting for you. All you have to do is trust Him to receive it (Acts 26:18; John 1:12).

In Galatians 3:10-13 is inspired to reveal that the curse is clearly exposed by people’s inability to obey the entire perfect law of God. God is holy, just and good. Heaven is His abode and heaven is holy. God will never allow any sin into heaven because sin is like cancer, it spreads and grows worse by nature. God’s Law is holy (Romans 7:12). To prove our righteousness and worthiness for heaven some people seek to keep that perfect Law of God. But that is impossible. No can “continue in all things which are written in the book of the laws, to do them.” That puts us in a serious predicament as we are barred from heaven because of the curse of our sinfulness. But God has provided a way to deal with this sinful cursed state. We can be made “just” if we put our faith in God (3:11). Saving faith is described with the acronym Forsaking All I Trust Him. As Paul explains, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),” (3:13). The curse of sin is death. But Jesus took our curse when He died on the cross (“the tree”). He is our Substitute (“having become a curse for us”). He has “redeemed” us, or paid off our penalty and all we need to do to receive the benefits of that saving work of Jesus is to put our FAITH in Him and accept His work on our behalf. Paul put it this way in another letter, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus did this just in time. His redemptive work is just in time for those who have yet to receive Him as their Savior. God gives you the opportunity to be freed from this curse of sin now. But beyond now all bets are off and there are no further guarantees. The Bible says that “Now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). “Now” is just the right time for you to be saved from the curse of sin. “Now” is just in time for you.

That We Might Receive The Adoption as Sons – The Purpose of Jesus

The benefits of salvation are not only salvation from the curse of sin. God always goes above and beyond what we deserve. That is what the grace of God is all about (see “much more” in Romans 5). There is a rich inheritance awaiting those who receive Jesus as Savior.

Under Romans law a child that was adopted into a family had all the rights of a natural born child of that family. There was total equality between natural born and adopted children in the family.

While Jesus is the “only begotten Son of God” (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; Hebrews 11:17; 1 John 4:9), we can be adopted into God’s family. We will never be equal to Jesus in the sense that we become “God.” Mormons and New Age followers teach human beings can become “God.” No, we will never become “God” but we can experience the rich blessings of having God as our Father (2 Corinthians 6:18). This is God’s promise to those who put their faith in Jesus (Romans 9:8; Galatians 3:29). This adoption is attained through faith in Jesus (Galatians 3:7, 26). This adoption is purely provided by the grace of God (Romans 4:16, 17; Ephesians 1:5, 6, 11). Jesus is the One through whom this adoption can be worked (John 1:12; Galatians 4-5; Ephesians 1:5; Hebrews 2:10, 13). The Holy Spirit in a person is the evidence of having been adopted by the Lord (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). The Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts when we have been put into this adoptive position with God (Romans 8:16). And being led by the Holy Spirit in life is tangible evidence that we are God’s adopted children (Romans 8:14). When we are adopted into God’s family, we become the brethren of Jesus (John 20:17; Hebrews 2:11-12). Just think of that!

As adopted sons of God we experience the discipline and guidance of God. Indeed the discipline of God is evidence that we are adopted children of God and that He loves us (Hebrews 12:5-11). God’s desire for His adopted children is that they live holy lives (2 Corinthians 6:17-18; 7:1; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 3:2-3).

What does living a holy life mean? It means we will begin to become like our Father in heaven (Ephesians 5:1). It means we trust in God with a child like faith (Matthew 6:25-34). It means we will live to glorify God (Matthew 5:16). It means we will love to speak to our Father in prayer (Matthew 7:7-11). It means we will be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) and have a forgiving and merciful spirit about us (Matthew 6:14, 35-36). Children of God seeking to live holy lives wont’ be hypocritical and ostentatious (Matthew 6:1-4, 6, 18).

The children of God have a rich inheritance to look forward to (Matthew 13:43; Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29; 4:17; Ephesians 3:6). What we experience now in this life through our adoptive relationship with the heavenly Father is only the tip of the ice burg of our inheritance in Christ (see Ephesians 1:3ff.).

God’s sons are Spirit-filled

Paul goes on to describe more of the awesome benefits of being an adopted son of God saying, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (4:6).

The night before Jesus went to the cross He met with His disciples and one of the last things He taught them about before He went to the cross was about the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples that He was going to pray to the Father and that “another Helper” (literally “one just like Him”) would come to abide with them forever. Jesus said:

• John 14:16-17 – “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

Jesus used two prepositions in the above passage to describe the relationship of the Holy Spirit with people. The Holy Spirit is “with” a person prior to conversion communicating God’s “truth” and persuading them of their need of salvation. The Holy Spirit comes “in” a person when they accept Jesus as Savior by faith and are born again. The Spirit comes “in” a person to regenerate them with eternal life.

Before we can examine the three works of the Spirit in the life of the believer, we need to consider the work of the Spirit in the unbeliever. The Spirit begins the work of salvation in the unbeliever by convicting the unbeliever of their need of salvation. Once saved, the Spirit begins the sanctifying process.

The Spirit’s Work in the Unbeliever – The Spirit “with” you

The first work of the Spirit in the unbeliever and the world is that of a Restrainer. The Spirit works through the church to restrain evil in the world so that the world is not totally overcome with evil. This is supported by the following verses:

• 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 – “And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”

“He who now restrains” is s reference to the Holy Spirit and His work in the world. The Holy Spirit creates an environment where evil is checked enough to allow a person to exert free will to make a decision regarding salvation.

The second work of the Spirit in regards to the unbeliever is that of Convictor. The Spirit convicts the unbeliever of their need of a Savior. Jesus defined this work of the Spirit with the following words:

• John 16:8-11 - “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:9 “of sin, because they do not believe in Me;10 “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more;11 “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judge.”

The Holy Spirit “convicts.” The word “convict” is translated from the Greek term ELEGCHO (Strong’s #1651 - ελέγχω elegcho, el-eng´-kho) meaning, “to confute, admonish; convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.” The idea conveyed by the word ELEGCHO is to “expose; refute, show one’s fault, [and] . . . convincing of that fault.” We find the sense of this term in the following verses:

• John 3:20 - “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

• Ephesians 5:11 – “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”

• 1 Timothy 5:20 – “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.”

• James 2:9 – “but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”

• Jude 14-15 – “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints,15 “to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

• Revelation 3:19 - “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”

What is it that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of or exposes? The Holy Spirit convicts the unsaved world of three things.

First, “of sin because they do not believe in Me.” Jesus paid the penalty (death) for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2); the sin that dams to hell is rejecting the Spirit’s plea to accept Jesus as Savior (Mt. 12:31 – also called the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit). A persons’ eternal destiny is determined by whether or not they believe in Jesus. This is what the Spirit convicts the world of.

Second, “of righteousness because I go to My Father.” Jesus died for the sins of the world and was raised from the dead. His resurrection indicates God was satisfied with His sacrifice for sin. Jesus then ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God demonstrating that He is the standard and only acceptable means by which a person can enter heaven (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 10:11-18; 1 Peter 3:22). The Spirit convicts the world that works are inadequate to make one righteous and gain access to heaven because the standard of righteousness is Jesus, nothing less will be acceptable. Nicodemas was a very religious man but Jesus said he needed to be born again (John 3). The Holy Spirit exposes the futility of trying to do religious works to make oneself acceptable before God.

Third, “of judgment because the ruler of this world is judged.” The Holy Spirit convicts the world that the god of this world, Satan was judged on the cross of Christ (Colossians 2:13-17). The hold of Satan on the unbeliever can be broken when a person accepts Jesus as Savior because when Jesus comes into a heart He is greater than Satan (1 John 4:4).

That is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the unbeliever. What does the Holy Spirit do in the life of a believer?

The Three Transforming Works of the Spirit in the Believer

There are three things the Holy Spirit does in the life of a believer to transform them to the likeness of Jesus Christ. There are three transforming works of the Spirit in the believer. They are as follows.

The first thing the Holy Spirit does in the life of a believer is INDWELLING them at conversion. This is the “in” (Greek EN) experience referred to in John 14:17. In John 3 this work is described as being “born again.” Later in John 4:13-14 Jesus describes this experience as drinking “living water” that quenches the thirst for spiritual fulfillment in every human. In John 20:22 Jesus further describes this experience as receiving the Holy Spirit when He breathes on the disciples and tells them to receive the Spirit. Disciples received the Holy Spirit as Jesus breathed on them. When the Holy Spirit comes to reside inside a person (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), the process (sanctification) of being conformed to the likeness of Christ begins and continues throughout life (Romans 8:29). The Spirit bears witness and communicates the heart and truth of Jesus to the believer (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14). We are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). He works in us (Philippians 2:13). The power of the risen Lord Jesus is in us and it is the Spirit that brings that power to us (Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21). The love of Jesus works in us by the presence of the Holy Spirit in us (Romans 5:5). All these things are associated with the work of the Spirit in us.

The second thing the Holy Spirit does in the life of the believer is EMPOWERING the believer for service. As the believer is conformed to the likeness of Jesus by the Spirit, like Jesus the believer acquires a desire to be used by God to reach the lost in the world, to minister (Matthew 18:11; Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10). This is the “upon” (Greek preposition EPI) experience described by Jesus as torrents of living water gushing forth from the believer and as dynamic empowerment of the believer (John 7:37-39; Acts 1:8). In order to minister like Jesus, the believer needs to be empowered by God. If the believer seeks to serve in his or her own strength they will be frustrated and fail (Romans 7). They need to be supernaturally empowered and the Spirit provides that power. This power is invisible like the wind but powerful like a tornado (Acts 2). It is a fiery, purifying and cleansing of the heart by God. The believer surrenders their heart to God in faith trusting Him to work to destroy those challengers and hindrances to total trust in God (Acts 2; 15:8-9). The cleansing work of this empowerment attacks inhibitions and barriers between God and the believer. There is an essential empowerment for service subsequent to initial Spirit filling (Acts 1:8; 2). This empowerment involves Spiritual Gifting (Ephesians 4:7-13). This empowerment is the sufficiency of God’s grace revealed powerfully in our weakness (2 Corinthians. 12:9-10). The love of God working not only in us but also through us. This is the second work of the Spirit in the life of the believer.

The third work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is that of ONGOING REFRESHING. The believer needs to be refilled or daily renewed and filled with the Spirit who refreshes and empowers. Those empowered at Pentecost were refilled later (Acts 4). There are subsequent re-fillings and refreshing by the Spirit in the believer’s life. The sense of this ongoing third work is found in Paul’s inspired letter to the Ephesians when he states:

• Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,”

The word “filled” is translated from the Greek term PLEROO (Strong’s #4137 - πληρόω pleroo, play-ro´-o) meaning ”to make replete, . . .to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), . . . to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify . . . accomplish, . . . complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfill, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.” In addition to this definition, the grammatical form of the term “filled” (Present/Passive/Imperative) conveys the thought of an ongoing and constant (Present tense) work that the believer receives or has done to them (Passive voice) that is absolutely essential (Imperative mood). Therefore, to “be filled with the Spirit” means to be constantly, regularly, daily filled up, satisfied, furnished and supplied with the Spirit for one’s daily needs and God-ordained plans.

The impact of such a daily filling is conveyed in the book of Acts where those who had experienced the empowerment of the Spirit at Pentecost again pray for this ongoing empowerment and refreshing. In Acts it reads:

• Acts 4:31 - “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

The New Transforming Life of the Spirit

This is the newness of the Spirit Paul is inspired to refer to in Romans 7:6. Is the Spirit in you? If you do not have the Spirit, you do not belong to God, you remain in your sins (Romans 8:9). Pray for forgiveness for your sins; put your faith in Jesus; receive the Holy Spirit and be born again.

Have you been empowered to serve the Lord? Are you frustrated and failing in your walk with God? Pray for His power and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Receive it by faith.

Have you been empowered but feel as though you’re running on empty? Pray for a refreshing and refilling of the Spirit in your life. Walk in the Spirit, filled and refreshed daily and receive this regular daily work by faith. Faithful is He who calls you to this and He will do it! (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

Sanctified Transformation by Faith

The primary distinction that needs to be made and upon which all success rests, is for the believer to realize that SANCTIFICATION AS WELL AS SALVATION IS BASED ON FAITH. Sanctification is something God does in us. In Paul’s opening inspired words he introduced this point by saying:

• Romans 1:17 – “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

As we mentioned in the introduction to this epistle, God offers salvation to us in a gracious provision through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. A person is saved from their sin when by faith in Jesus Christ they admit their sin, repent of it, and accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Sanctification is no different in that advance with the Lord in the power of the Holy spirit by faith, by putting our trust in God to do what He has promised to do in and through us which is, conform us to the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:29) and use us as His instruments of righteousness to reach a world lost in sin (Romans 12-16).

Read the role of faith in God’s work in us in the sanctification process of life described in the following additional verses:

• Acts 15:8-9 - “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us,9 “and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”

• Acts 26:18 – “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”

• Galatians 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

• Galatians 5:5 – “For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”

The sanctifying process of God in the believer takes place as the believer puts their faith and trust in God to do it. We surrender in faith to the Holy Spirit to do His holy work in and through us.

Not a slave but a son and heir

Paul concludes in verse seven saying, “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” A slave is forced to obey, a son obeys out of love for the Father. A slave is motivated by judgment, a son is motivated by love (1 John 4:17). This is a key distinction to make in the life of the believer. A slave depends on his own strength, a son depends on and looks to his father’s strength and authority. A slave does not operate int eh fullness of the benefits of the Father, a son does. Are you motivated by a fear of judgment or by the love of God?

How can we know if we are operating in the fullness of the Father’s benefits, in the fullness of the Holy Spirit in us? In Galatians five Paul contrasts “the works of the flesh” with the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:19-26). These verses tell us that love is the difference. Paul writes a great deal about love in his letters (e.g. Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Corinthians 5:14-16; Ephesians 3:13-21). When we rely on our own strength like a slave the end product is often something that either looks like or is what is described in the Galatians 5 list of the “works of the flesh”:

Galatians 5:19-21 - 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

That’s not a pretty picture. But that is exactly what we see in the world around us and too often in the church itself! Are you working in the flesh, in your own strength? If you are these things will crop up in some way in either thought, word or deed.

The fruit of the Spirit are wholly different:

Galatians 5:22-26 - 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. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

There is often some confusion in the understanding of this passage. Notice the word “fruit” is singular. Paul is not giving a list of fruits. The plural word “fruits” is found elsewhere in the New Testament (Matthew 3:8; 7:16, 20; 21:41, 43; Luke 3:8; 2 Corinthians 9:10; Philippians 1:11; James 3:17; and Revelation 22:2). But the singular “fruit’ is used by Paul here. Therefore, Paul is not inspired to give us a list of different fruits of the Spirit, but rather a full description of different aspects of the fruit of the Spirit which is love.

I came across an interesting comment on the fruit of the Spirit. I found it in a small pocket Bible where it states:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love.” Only as we live in love can we fulfill the will of God in our lives. The believer must become love-inspired; love-mastered, and love-driven . . . .Without the fruit of the Spirit (love), we are just a religious noise . . . .

“The fruit of the Spirit is love,” and it is manifested in joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control:

1. Joy is love’s strength.
2. Peace is love’s security.
3. Longsuffering is love’s patience.
4. Kindness is love’s conduct.
5. Goodness is loves character.
6. Faithfulness is love’s confidence.
7. Gentleness is love’s humility.
8. Self-control is love’s victory.

A Holy Spirit-controlled man needs no law to cause him to live a righteous life. The secret of a Spirit-c0ontrolled life is found in dedication to God. Put your all on the altar, and the Holy Spirit will fill your heart with the love of God.”

All of this is what God wants to work in you. Isn’t it awesome? Isn’t it magnificent? And if you haven’t experienced the rich blessings of our inheritance as adopted children of God, now is just the right time for you to do so. God is reaching out to you. He may be reaching out to you just in time. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. No further opportunity is guaranteed or promised. Now is the time of salvation. Now, just in time, God is offering you the chance of a life time. In fact your eternal destiny is in the balance. Just in time God has come to save the day for you. Take His hand and join His family. Just in time is the right time for you to do this.

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