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Goodness: a Fruit of God's Spirit

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Goodness: A Fruit of God's Spirit

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Goodness: a Fruit of God's Spirit

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Developing Godliness involves growing the traits and habits of GOODNESS. To have good things flowing out from you. The active spirit of the Father and Christ is there to help you!

Transcript

Goodness: Defining Terms

Goodness is the quality of being good. Good is a word that has so many uses and applications in the English language that its almost meaningless. For example; we use it to express:

  1. Satisfaction & pleasure:  that was a good milkshake
  2. Having necessary skills for a role:  she’s a good accountant
  3. Enjoyment : Everyone had a good time at my party
  4. Thorough : take a good look around
  5. Possessing moral virtue:  he’s a good person

When I read about what  the holy spirit produces in believers… and I read love, joy, peace, patience, kindness… goodness. I don’t feel like I understand what the scriptures are getting at unless I dig in and take a closer look. Especially so with Goodness. That is what I hope to do today.

In your bible you’ll see “good” used in a variety of ways [loosely lining up with the examples I just went through. But the Greeks used different words for the different meanings:

  1. Eudokia  - pleasing, delightful, satisfactory {good milkshake, good party]
  2. Kalos  - acts which demonstrate virtue
  3. Agathos  - virtue, a state of mind, a quality of character

We are going to dispense with Eudokia because it does not apply to the work of the holy spirit. Instead we are going to focus on the first two: Agathos, and Kalos which both relate to virtue.

Matthew 7:17-20 Matthew 7:17-20 17 Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Why by their fruits you shall know them.
American King James Version×
here we see both words [agathos and kalos] used together in a sentence.

“every good  tree” –> agathos

“bears good  fruit” –> kalos

Every peach tree produces peaches, every cherry tree produces cherries, virtuous people do virtuous things.

Agathos represents the ability to tell the difference between good and evil. Whereas, kalos represents the doing of good rather than evil.

In What Way Is Goodness of God ’s Spirit?

Go back to Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
American King James Version×
where we find the listing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness… the Godly character trait of goodness  is from the word agathos , not kalos . Its referring to the good tree rather than the good fruit.

The power of God’s holy spirit at work in you is so that you might know the difference between good and evil, and be convicted, or “put on notice”, that good acts are better than bad acts. But, the holy spirit does not itself produce the good works.

John 16:8 John 16:8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
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 the spirit of God provides proper judgement regarding sin and righteousness!

When I was a young man I was not living a virtuous life. One day I was with one of my comrades and I blurted out “you know… we shouldn’t be doing this stuff. It’s wrong”.  They gave me a funny look. I can look back now and see that as the turning point after which everything started to change. My friends started dropping off, my weekends started to become rather lonely. Not all at once but slowly, one by one, I started acting on matters I was becoming convicted of.  I started to change who I was and what I did… I was struggling towards goodness.

What changed? Three elements:

  1. Conviction given to me though God’s spirit working with me [although not yet in me]
  2. Increased contact with God’s word… I found a modern English translation of the bible on a subway car. I read it. Some things in scripture were plain and obvious. But some things I found rather confusing…
  3. Then I found the Church of God who offered me better understanding of what the scriptures really said.

God will give you the conviction concerning what is good versus what is evil… like a seed, a little sprout, and if you respond to it… it will grow. Doing is prompted by thinking & thinking is re-enforced through doing. This is one of  His gifts to you through the spirit, through the word, and through the church.

But your Creator will not force you to act upon your conviction. He will not force you to do the good rather than do the evil.

Analogy : God might turn you into a peach tree but He will not force you to produce peaches. You can say to yourself and others “I’m a peach tree, isn’t that awesome!” But if you don’t produce peaches on your branches people around you can say “so what, if there are no juicy peaches for us to enjoy what purpose does that serve… what GOOD does it DO?

And so will say your Creator.

Goodness is: Doing  God’s Commandments

The spiritual quality of goodness is existentially linked with the doing of good. Here is a quick list of scriptures where agathos is paired with doing.  Acts 9:36 Acts 9:36Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and giving of alms which she did.
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, Romans 2:10 Romans 2:10But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that works good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
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, 2 Corinthians 9:8 2 Corinthians 9:8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
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, Galatians 6:10 Galatians 6:10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith.
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, Ephesians 2:10 Ephesians 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
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, 3 John 3:11 3 John 3:11
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.

How do we know what doing good means? How can we tell peaches from strychnine fruit? One yummy, one is deadly.

Discerning good from evil, and then doing  good and not evil, begins with the 10 commandments of God. For the most part His commands present us with a set of evil acts which we are told to avoid or not do: Idolatry, theft, lying, murder, sex outside marriage, greed. But avoiding evil is not the same thing as doing good.

People have tried to avoid evil by separating themselves from civilization, by living in a cave, by cutting off parts of their bodies that lead them into sin, ultimately the ideal way to avoid all evil is to be dead. A dead person does not lie, does not steal, commit adultery, or murder.

Let’s consider GOODNESS as a way to take the information we get in the 10 commandments about “not doing” and turn them into ways to express goodness:

Don’t lie –> communicate with honesty and openness

Don’t murder –> protect and support life

Don’t steal –> work to supply the needs of others

No adultery –> develop a happy, loyal, faithful marriage and family

No idolatry –> show honor and respect toward God

Don’t work on 7th day –> gather together for instruction, fellowship and praise on 7th day

Romans 8:2 Romans 8:2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
American King James Version×
take the same information and instead of a law of sin and death…  we have the law of life.

G oodness is A cting L ike God : God is Good

Goodness is not understood [perceived] by what we don’t do.  You cannot become more like God, or Christ, simply by eradicating sin.

Developing Godliness involves growing the traits and habits of GOODNESS. To have good things flowing out from you. The active spirit of the Father and Christ is there to help you!

Think of yourself as a branch on a peach tree. There is sap that flows up from the roots of the tree… through the trunk of the tree… and then into you… the branch. If you cut open a branch or trunk of a tree you’ll see all this wet stuff flowing out… that’s the sap.

This sap provides all the nutrients and necessary ingredients to keep you alive and to produce nice delicious peaches. These peaches are a benefit and a blessing to people who come along and are able to eat them. It is the same way with goodness.

God’s presence in you through the holy spirit, is like the sap. The branch has to be connected to the tree To keep that sap flowing the branch has to be connected to the tree trunk.  If you cut a branch off from the trunk of a tree… you’ll see all the sap that should have gone to branch flow down the side of the tree on to the ground. The branch will wither and die.

That connection is like your relationship to the church Ephesians 4:10-16 Ephesians 4:10-16 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we from now on be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
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, Ephesians 5:23 Ephesians 5:23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.
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The Church of God is a vital way in which you receive the essential ingredients for growing into the fullness of Christ. You are not designed to go it alone. That is not the model for spiritual development presented in scripture. For this reason I ask you to carefully think about your relationship with God’s Church.

Are you letting the church teach you? Or are you wandering to and fro on the internet for strange and interesting interpretations… are you only interested when what you hear is new, unique, provocative, or controversial?  Are you seeking to be entertained, or pumped up, rather than built up in Christ. Perhaps you see yourself as being a teacher of the church before being a learner.

Goodness  I s A Light In The Darkness

Ephesians 5:8-20 Ephesians 5:8-20 8 For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatever does make manifest is light. 14 Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light. 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Why be you not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things to God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
American King James Version×
 when you are doing good you cannot help but stand out in a crowd. When people see goodness they notice it.  You stick out if you are relentlessly honest, Sabbath keeping, no adultery etc. Goodness will actually put you at odds with people, society, co-workers.

Goodness exposes what is unfruitful [the works of darkness]. Doing good in the sight of others might pique their conscience. Speaking up for what is right. Refusing to approve of evil.

Let’s back up a moment from the idea of “good works”.  Just the ability to discern, judge, evaluate, and declare what is good versus what is evil makes you standout. Our current religious, political, and educational institutions seem to have no ability to call out evil, or to promote what is good. More and more our neighbors, co-workers, extended family are willing to call evil good, and good evil.

We don’t get to decide what is good. Our definition of goodness, our conviction of goodness, even our articulation of goodness come from God: His spirit, His word, and His church.

Goodness is also a willingness to take a stand against evil.

Romans 12:17-21 Romans 12:17-21 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord. 20 Therefore if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
American King James Version×
 warning, don’t respond to evil with evil [don’t go out and shoot up an abortion clinic as a way to demonstrate your respect for life, don’t steal from the rich to give to the poor to bring about justice]

Goodness Is Spiritual Warfare

Galatians 5:17 Galatians 5:17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.
American King James Version×
 if you are suffering from inner turmoil about doing good, doing evil… that’s an indication that you are doing battle.

Remember: at the same time as the spirit of God is giving you conviction about what is good and evil… the adversary is also at work. Sowing confusion, calling evil good or good evil. Seeking to convict you in the opposite direction. Ephesians 6:10-13 Ephesians 6:10-13 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.
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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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Goodness is a character trait of your Father Creator, and Christ your elder brother. An unwavering understanding and conviction concerning  what is good and evil, fruitful and unfruitful, choosing a culture of life over a culture of death.  

Let the goodness of God reside within you, and shine forth from you.