virtues to live by

A List of Virtues to Live By

Oh, how incompetent I feel to write about the fruit of the Spirit! My flesh fails me, but the Lord is faithful. It is my heart and desire to share with you on this topic — not from what I have accomplished by any means, but by God’s power constantly working through me… and what He will work through you if you are a believer in Christ! So, sit down with a hot tea or coffee in hand, open your Bibles, and turn to Galatians 5:16-26…

Since my salvation, the “fruit of the Spirit” has always been a topic I’ve read in my Bible, and thought about studying in depth… but never have, flicking the pages on by happily. When I am honest, and I ask myself why, I believe I was unknowingly saying in my heart, “I will never be able to accomplish this fruit in my life! There are too many…surely I will only fail!” Can any of you women relate?!

A List to Live By

Galatians 5:16-26 is a reminder of my moral depravity. In these passages there exists two lists — a list of “works of the flesh” (v. 19-21) and a list of “fruit of the Spirit” (v. 22-23). In essence, it is a list of virtues that honor God and a list of behaviors that don’t.

As I looked at these lists, I thought, “surely these lists can quickly and easily turn into legalism. And, on top of that, I am still more than capable of committing the ‘works of the flesh’ in my life like anger or strife/contention (v. 20). So, what does this mean, God?

Well, as John Piper puts it — “both Paul and the Lord would be very aware that presenting sinful fallen human beings with a list of do’s and don’ts is dangerous… yet, He doesn’t cease to put it in His Word! Why? Because we need lists of virtues to guide us in a way of life which glorifies God, and, in turn, will allow us to live most fully in Christ’s joy.” I can testify to that!

So, What Does “Walking by the Spirit” Mean?

Right at the beginning of this topic in verse 16, it says:

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (v. 18).

In verse 18, the emphasis is on the Spirit’s work, not solely on our work. In answer to our question, “walking by the Spirit” must mean we are led by the Spirit…where we will then produce what Galatians calls the fruit of the Spirit. I have experienced this in my own life. When I am walking by the Spirit — I am filling my mind with Jesus — thoughts of His Word, of His attributes, praying to Him (even in public in my thoughts), allowing myself to see Him at work in all situations (His sovereignty in a difficult situations, or His power at work in a conversation I am having with a new believer), being aware of the words I use in all my speech and thoughts. Literally, as Galatians 5:25 says — if we walk in accordance and “in step” with the Spirit — then, the Holy Spirit will be faithful to renew our minds daily.

“Be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (Ephesians 4:23).

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Living Under the Control of the Holy Spirit

As Nancy Leigh DeMoss says (and I love this), “When we are living under the control of the Holy Spirit, He will produce in us what Galatians 5 calls the fruit of the Spirit.” WOW. What a realization for us as believers in Christ. How do I accomplish the fruit of the Spirit in my life? By living under the control of the Holy Spirit!

Some may wonder and ask “So, does that mean we do no work? And the Holy Spirit does it all? Obviously, we would need to do works to coincide with the Spirit.” Yes, that is completely correct! This quote from John Piper speaks right to that question:  “We are radically dependent on Him (the Holy Spirit). Our efforts follow His initiatives and enablings.”

Therefore, let’s be women who thirst for honoring Christ with the lists of virtues He has provided us in His Word and live virtuous lives produced by and from the Holy Spirit!

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:22-26).

The Glory of God changes everything


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