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The Fruit of the Spirit - Goodness

God's Character and Man's Potential

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Are you suffering an internal spiritual war? If so, that's a good sign. It's a sign that you are pursuing goodness, which causes the badness of human nature to fight back.

Yes, according to the Bible, badness comes naturally (Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×
). Goodness does not. But God has a wondrous plan to radically transform our character!

Though our natural inclination is to defy God in sin, He has determined to help us overcome that nature to live a life of righteousness and goodness. This is possible only through a relationship with Him. As the apostle John explained, “He who does good [as a way of life] is of God, but he who does evil [as a way of life] has not seen God [i.e., has not come to really know Him]” (3 John 11).

John also explained that those who truly are of God have God living in them through the Holy Spirit: “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit”
(1 John 4:13 1 John 4:13Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
American King James Version×
).

Paul explained to believers that God's perfect, loving character is “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
American King James Version×
, New Revised Standard Version).

We can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit through faith, repentance, water baptism and the laying on of hands by God's servants (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
, 41; 8:14-17).

Once God's Spirit is at work within us, it produces the wonderful fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
). These virtues blend together to reflect the overall character of God!

Goodness: part of God's nature

In the Bible, the “goodness” of God often refers to His gracious generosity in providing abundantly for mankind's needs and benefits (Psalms 23:6 Psalms 23:6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
American King James Version×
; 65:11). It can also refer to God's generous mercy and patience that allow more time for sinners to repent (Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
American King James Version×
).

But God's goodness is much more than those things. It is the very essence of God's nature— His righteousness and holiness. In Ephesians 5:9 Ephesians 5:9(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
American King James Version×
, we see that His goodness is closely associated with righteousness and  truth.

To the extent that we have God's goodness, we have godliness or God-likeness.

The Bible gives us God's complete “instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
American King James Version×
). We should cherish it and read it far more than any other book or resource! Only through it can we learn to be like God.

God summarizes His standards of goodness in the Ten Commandments. Psalms 119:172 Psalms 119:172My tongue shall speak of your word: for all your commandments are righteousness.
American King James Version×
tells us that “all Your commandments are [or define] righteousness.” God intends that they be our guideposts for life.

Let us now focus on how biblical goodness describes what one does and what one is .

We must be doing good

Jesus wants His disciples to “bear much fruit” (John 15:8 John 15:8Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples.
American King James Version×
). Being fruitful requires action —knowing the right thing to do and then doing it. As James wrote, “Be doers of the word” (James 1:22 James 1:22But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
American King James Version×
). Simply abstaining from evil and doing nothing is not good enough.

Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38 Acts 10:38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
American King James Version×
). We should too! “Through love, serve one another,” we are told (Galatians 5:13 Galatians 5:13For, brothers, you have been called to liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
American King James Version×
). Jesus' parable of the sheep and goats shows that God knows how much we love Him by how much we are showing self-sacrificing love for other people (Matthew 25:31-46 Matthew 25:31-46 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36 Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink? 38 When saw we you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? 39 Or when saw we you sick, or in prison, and came to you? 40 And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me. 41 Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungered, and you gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and you visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to you? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
American King James Version×
).

Good works include obeying God's laws. God gives His Holy Spirit “to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32 Acts 5:32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey him.
American King James Version×
). That doesn't mean salvation can be earned by obedience. We are saved by God's grace, which “is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:8For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
American King James Version×
). However, we are being “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (verse 10).

He who loves God will gladly demonstrate that love for God by keeping His commandments (1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×
; 2 John 6)!

It takes courage to obey God, because it often brings persecution: “But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently,” God will greatly bless you (1 Peter 2:20 1 Peter 2:20For what glory is it, if, when you be buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? but if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
American King James Version×
; compare Matthew 5:10 Matthew 5:10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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).

Christ said to do good to everyone, even our enemies! “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:27-28 Luke 6:27-28 27 But I say to you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which spitefully use you.
American King James Version×
).

Later He said, “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same” (verses 32-33).

Doing good to someone who does good to you, Jesus points out, is not pure goodness. It is rather two people exchanging favors, which can be at least partly selfish. God's standard is the very highest!

Here is an inspiring passage to remember: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith [fellow believers]” (Galatians 6:9-10 Galatians 6:9-10 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith.
American King James Version×
).

Our heart should match our actions

God is just as concerned about our heart as He is our actions. James wrote to the early Christians, “Cleanse your hands [actions], you sinners; and purify your hearts [attitudes], you double-minded [straddling the fence between God and the world]” (James 4:8 James 4:8Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.
American King James Version×
).

Double-mindedness can mean duplicity and hypocrisy. Jesus hated hypocrisy, which is a false front and being more concerned about looking good to others than in getting rid of the evil within us (Matthew 23:25-28 Matthew 23:25-28 25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 You blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
American King James Version×
). Remember, we never fool God.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9 Romans 12:9Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; hold to that which is good.
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).

To keep a clean mind, guard it carefully! Don't look at or listen to anything immoral or anything that compromises your conscience. Even little sins are spiritual poison that contaminate, infect and spread like cancer (James 1:14-15 James 1:14-15 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.
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; 2 Timothy 2:17 2 Timothy 2:17And their word will eat as does a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
American King James Version×
; Galatians 5:9 Galatians 5:9A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
American King James Version×
). One sin leads to another.

Pure hearts require right motives. Paul said that if he did good works without love, “it profits me nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3 1 Corinthians 13:3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing.
American King James Version×
). Doing good deeds to impress others will bring no reward from God (Matthew 6:1-4 Matthew 6:1-4 1 Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise you have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when you do your alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward. 3 But when you do alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does: 4 That your alms may be in secret: and your Father which sees in secret himself shall reward you openly.
American King James Version×
). But when the motive is to “glorify your Father in heaven” instead of yourself, doing good works that are seen by others is part of being “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16 Matthew 5:14-16 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
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).

Our spiritual warfare

Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia (Galatians 1:1-2 Galatians 1:1-2 1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) 2 And all the brothers which are with me, to the churches of Galatia:
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) because he had been shocked and grieved to hear how many church members had become deceived and led astray by spiritual enemies. One enemy then and now is “this present evil age”—the wicked influences in the culture around us (verses 3-5). It calls “evil good, and good, evil” (Isaiah 5:20 Isaiah 5:20Woe to them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
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).

The evil is great because “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one,” Satan the devil (1 John 5:19 1 John 5:19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.
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). That's why we need the spiritual defenses Paul referred to as “the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-20 Ephesians 6:10-20 10 Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Why take to you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
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).

Spiritual enemies also include false teachers (Galatians 1:6-9 Galatians 1:6-9 6 I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel to you than that you have received, let him be accursed.
American King James Version×
; 3:1). We must be extremely cautious about whom we listen to.

Usually, however, our biggest enemy is ourselves. Paul often warned about “the flesh,” meaning the selfish, destructive and downward pull of our human nature.

For example, he stated: “The acts [tendencies and temptations] of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God ” (Galatians 5:19-21 Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: 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.
American King James Version×
, New International Version).

Pretty nasty looking list, isn't it? There is only one force that can defeat human nature—the power of God's Spirit and the fruit it produces (verses 22-23).

Although the key to success is the power of God's Spirit, we have our part to do. Paul said, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (verse 16, see also verse 25). While you have access to God's Spirit, stay with it, use it, walk, go forward! Walking with God includes, of course, regular talk with God in  prayer.

In verse 17, Paul describes the spiritual warfare that erupts whenever a person is trying to follow the lead of God's Spirit: “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (NIV). To further understand this, you can read about Paul's personal struggles in Romans 7.

Take note of the ultimate goal of this spiritual war: “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
American King James Version×
).

It will be a positive sign when you begin to experience this inner warfare. It will mean you are trying to come out of sin, somewhat like Moses and the Israelites trying to leave Egypt . Remember how Pharaoh stubbornly tried his best to oppose them, to keep them enslaved? Well, that was a type of how Satan, the world and your human nature will try to defeat you. Don't let them!

In Paul's letter to the church at Rome, he wrote, “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness” (Romans 15:14 Romans 15:14And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brothers, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
American King James Version×
). May you likewise pursue spiritual growth so that one day it will be said of you: You are full of goodness .

People speak of a life of comfort and affluence as “the good life.” But living a life close to God with all the great benefits He offers is the truly good life! Allow God to cultivate in you the good fruit of goodness. And that will lead to the gift of eternal life! That's as good as it gets! GN

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    Comments

  • Dewald

    To walk with and obey the Holy Spirit,is truly the start of our relationship with God the Father. The only relationship that is for ever and ever.What an honer to think we are so blest to have that changes.!!

    Always keep trying to succeed!!!

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