EXCERPTS FROM “UNDERSTANDING GRACE AND HOW TO INTERPRET IT IN YOUR LIFE AND CHURCH”

Lee Turner

2002

Many pastors, [teachers, dad’s, and mom’s] desiring that their [members or son’s and daughter’s] live holy lives, mix law with grace.

Mixing law with grace only produces guilt ridden, defeated Christians and robs them of joy.” (Emphasis added in brackets)

 Only The Holy Spirit Can

Produce Spiritual Fruit

The believer must understand the futility of trying to produce the supernatural character traits of Christ in his own energy.

Paul said, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love… Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5: 22–23). The “fruit of the Spirit” cannot be legislated. Paul contrasts these supernatural fruits with the sinful actions of the flesh, “The acts of the flesh are obvious sexual immorality” (v. 19). Works of the flesh are contrasted with fruit of the Spirit. We can’t mix them—we must make a choice. Yield to Christ and allow him to produce supernatural fruit—which are all good. Or yield to the flesh and produce “sinful actions,”—which are all bad. Acts of the flesh may have the appearance of good works, but God repudiates all fleshly activity. The fruit of the Spirit is singular because it is not works produced by the believer, but Christ manifesting his character traits through us by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. His fruit can only be produced in us as we say no to the flesh and yield to the Spirit’s control.

Radmacher contrasts the difference between fruit and works of the flesh, “The nature of this fruit is more fully explained by the Apostle Paul, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long–suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self–control’ (Gal. 5: 22–23b, ASV). In this passage, the fruit [karpos, singular] of the Spirit is contrasted with the aforementioned works [erga, plural] of the flesh. Erga directs the attention to outward activity; karpos emphasizes inward ability. A machine can work, but only that which has life can produce fruit… Thus, the fruit of the Spirit is a unity—not to be separated—and is the product of a life—the life of Christ lived out in the Christian by the Spirit.”

Notice that Spiritual fruits are attitude fruits. If a Christian has the right attitude fruits inwardly, he will also reflect the right actions outwardly. The actions of good works will always follow right attitudes. Many pastors are only concerned with how Christians act outwardly, and not with what they are inwardly. They are too concerned with what believers do, rather than what they are. Pastors must teach believers to yield to Christ who dwells in them, having confidence that their lives will outwardly radiate his righteous life. The believer has a responsibility to respond to the Spirit’s leading in his life. Snyder reminds us, “The mind of Christ does not turn a Christian into an automation of the Holy Spirit. The goal is not to be ‘controlled’ by the Spirit. Rather, through the presence of the Spirit, a Christian is enabled to freely exercise his will to do God’s will. Christians, of all men, should be ‘willful,’ but with their will bowed before God, as the creature before the Creator.” We started this section by saying that the “fruit of the Spirit” cannot be legislated “Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5: 23). Paul also told the Corinthians, “all things are lawful to me” (1 Corinthians 6: 12). This is shocking because he was discussing fornication with prostitutes (verses 12-20), and the propriety of eating food offered to idols (chapters 8,10). If there was ever an occasion to “lay down the law” and invoke the Torah there would be no greater opportunity than the subject of sexual immorality and commerce with idolatry. But Paul declined the temptation. Rather, he stated “all things are lawful to me” and then presented Christian principles far more effective than a simple reference to the prohibitions of God’s law. Paul’s proclamation of freedom from the law left him no choice. Paul surpassed the law by giving the following reasons why Christian’s should not sin: Will it hinder my spiritual growth?

“Not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6: 12a). Will it bring me into spiritual bondage? “I will not be mastered by anything” (verse 12b). A believer’s immorality makes the Holy Spirit an unwilling witness (verses 15-17). God’s Spirit indwells our bodies, making godliness possible (verse 19). Will it harm my weaker brother (1 Corinthians 8: 13)? Can I do it with a clear conscience? (Romans 14: 23)? Grace motivates the believer to live above any requirements the law would ever demand.