The Fruits of Faith

Matthew 7:18 - A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

Check this out. So you know how 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 talks about the gifts of the Spirit being listed as followed: Wise Counsel, Words of Knowledge, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Discernment Between Spirits, Speaking in Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, and GREAT FAITH.

Great faith, for being so great, is pretty subtle. But out of all the gifts of the Spirit, Great Faith, I believe, is the key gift that makes the fruits of the spirit possible.
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The fruits of the spirit (Galations 5:22-23) are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

First of all, in order to have any of these, you have to believe that they’re possible and that you can achieve them. That by itself is too hard for some people. “I dont’ believe I can be a loving person all the time.” “I don’t think it’s worth it to give this or that up.” Et cetera, et cetera. They’re some of the excuses I used to make to myself.

Second of all, I think that in order to completely fulfill any of these fruits of the spirit, Great Faith is required. Why?

If your dad asked you to go jump off a cliff but didn’t tell you why, it would take an act of Great Faith to be obedient.

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Joy

1 Thessalonians 5:16 says “Be joyful always.” Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. And “Be joyful always” wouldn’t have been a command if it was something that came easily. If someone tells you to be joyful whatever comes your way, but you don’t know why, it’s gonna take Great Faith to be joyful always whatever comes your way.

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Love

Mark 12:31 says “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is a fruit of the Spirit. Bill Johnson himself says, “There’s a lot of bozos in the world.” And we’re supposed to love them all AND give thanks for them all. To love all the bozos in the world just as you love yourself, without seeing any reason to or results suggesting you’re doing the right thing, would require an act of Great Faith.

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Peace

Romans 5:1 says “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in John 14:27, Jesus says, Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” There’s actually a lot of really awesome passages about peace that I’ll go back and study when I want to understand peace as a whole, but this is peace as a fruit of the Spirit and how it fits into Great Faith.

I’ll expound on Peace a little bit more. 2 Corinthians 12:9 – In the passage leading up to this, Paul recounts the story of his “thorn.” Paul says, “Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees.” He asked God to remove it three times. Three times, God didn’t remove whatever physical ailment it was that was pulling Paul down. And then God told him this: “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength is perfect in your weakness.”

Believe me when I say that when God tells you His grace is enough for everything, it’s not easy to feel at peace unless you believe it. When God tells you that it’s okay to be weak and not to get down on yourself or feel like you’re in your lowest low, you have to believe that His strength is big enough to cover everything your heart is aching over. That is an act of Great Faith.

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Patience

Psalm 37:7– “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.” I don’t know about you, but waiting for God to do stuff makes me antsy. I’m the kind of girl who likes to plan everything out to the finest detail; I’m not good at trusting my entire schedule to someone else. It’s a process, and I’m learning how to get better. Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who wait upon the Lord shall have their strength renewed.” When I need my strength renewed, I need my strength renewed NOW. I don’t want to wait for God to act so I can get stronger and have my energy back when He gives it to me on His own time; I want it NOW.

And I think Romans 12:12 actually says it best: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” I’m supposed to be patient while I’m being afflicted. While the bullets are raining down and I feel like I couldn’t possibly sink any lower than this, I’m supposed to be patient. Why would you sit and wait in the face of immediate danger? Hm? Because you have FAITH that something stronger than your struggle is going to come along and save you.

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Faithfulness

And then there’s faithfulness, which rocks me immensely. In order to be faithful, which is worthy of having faith bestowed upon you, you must first have Great Faith. The Bible is littered with awesome stories about God’s faithfulness, but what do you think it takes to be labeled in history as the world-changer who was after God’s heart? In order to pursue someone’s heart, you have to be faithful. You have to prove yourself worthy of that responsibility. If you’re going to try super hard to be faithful for reasons you might not completely know why yet, that’s going to require Great Faith.

It takes Great Faith to be Faithful.

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Self-Control

Last Wednesday, one of the things Daniel said was that Self-Control is a Fruit of the Spirit, not a Gift of the Spirit. Which means you have to fight for it. It’s not something that’s freely given to you; you have to plant it, tend it, prune it (Isaiah 27; the rosebush illustration), water it, prune it some more, et cetera. It’s something that never ends.

Why is self-control so important as a fruit of the spirit? Galations 5:16 says, “Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” This is why it’s so important to take your thoughts captive. Self-control is difficult. It’s not fun. It’s hard and it feels like you’re wrestling yourself constantly. But it’s a fruit, not a gift. It’s a goal, not a means.

Great Faith is required for self-control, however. In order to have self-control, you have to believe what God says about you. What does God say about you? His instruction to you after your first becoming a believer is (Romans 12:2) to let yourself be transformed by having your mind renewed. You’re supposed to test the Word of God in order to grow stronger in your faith. It definitely takes Great Faith, though.

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Gentleness

2 Timothy 2:25 – “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct…” Gentleness grows when people fail you, and will increase under correction. Gentleness is the power of love submitted under the authority of Christ. The goal of gentleness is to rescue and restore those who can’t help themselves. The rest of 2 Timothy 2:25 says, “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” Gentleness restores, and gentleness protects. It’s a huge responsibility. Gentleness is very much the exact opposite of what the world teaches. The world teaches aggression, dog-eat-dog, and ruthless correction. In order to practice gentleness, faith has to be the foundation for it, otherwise what’s there to stop you from just reverting back to dealing with everybody the same way the world deals with them?

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Goodness and Kindness

These two go hand in hand. For our definition of Goodness today, we use the Greek wordagathosune, which is defined as “Virtue equipped at every point.” The Hebrew word for Goodness (chrestotes) is our word today for Kindness. Goodness is kindness combined with strongness. It’s the ability to reach out and help people, combined with the authority and wisdom to correct.

Romans 15:4 says, “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brothers, that you also are full of goodness, filled with knowledge, able to correct one another.” Goodness is what enables correction, but without kindness it will not be righteous correction.

Faith in this example needs to stand at the foundation of all the thing leading up to being equipped to do the correcting we are called to do.

 

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