It is possible to have lots of gifts and no love---no fruit. And be like the Corinthians and Paul rebuked them and said you're a bunch of carnal babies, because you have certain gifts but you really don't have any fruit. So their maturity level was low. In summing up the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer in transforming him into the image of Christ. That's really what the fruit of the Spirit is all about. Remember the definition? That the fruit of the Spirit is the character of Christ formed by the Spirit of Christ within the life of a follower of Christ. And so the Bible says that we're changed from glory to glory by the same Spirit into the image of Jesus Christ. We are being changed by Him.
What the Holy Spirit wants to do is to so control our lives that we are constantly becoming more like Jesus. So that when we hang around people, they think: You are changing, you are different. You've changed. You're not the same anymore. That should be a compliment to you, that is, if you're changing for the better. And the Holy Spirit wants to produce the life of Jesus, the fruit of the Holy Spirit within our lives. The heart cry of every true believer following the Lord is they want more power, or they want more fullness, or they want something deeper. That's a good desire. I feel really ill at ease when somebody says: I've grown enough, I really don't need anymore. They might not say that verbally, but by their actions they're certainly saying that. The heart cry of a true believer is: Man, I want something more than the mundane. I want a deeper life with the Lord. I want to experience the fullness of God, a close, rich communion. I want answers to my prayers. I want immediate intimacy with the Lord. I want something deeper. Now, be careful because some people in searching for the deeper life have gone off the deep end in thinking that only a select few can really know what it is to have this deep life. I know that because I've spoken to many of them who say: Well, if you come to our little group it's much different, it's not quantity but it's quality. And we have found some truths that we together just, nobody knows about but us. The select, chosen, upper eschelon of Christianity. And the rest of the church is in blindness, but we have the light. Be careful.
All of the fullness of God is at every child of God's disposal. And it is not abnormal, it is intended to be the normal Christian life: the fullness of God, experiencing the power of God, and walking in the Holy Spirit. I love to read biographies. Some of my favorite Bible reading is character studies, Old Testament, New Testament, even outside of the Scripture, those men and women who've walked with God and I get to read their biographies and I get to learn some lessons from them. That's some of my favorite reading. Probably one of my favorite Bible heroes on the top five is Joseph. Joseph was described as a fruitful branch whose branches ran over the wall. He was described as a tree that is constantly growing, so much so, that he's not living to himself but his fruit is being produced in his life and others are enjoying it. One of Joseph's secrets was continued growth---he didn't stop. He continued to grow.
Sad to say, many Christians have stopped growing once the seed is planted. They're making a little bit of progress, but by and large there's not much change month-to-month, year-to-year. They sort of get in stagnation mode and stay there. Instead of first gear or fourth gear, they're in neutral. Oh, they might not be in reverse but they're in neutral---they're not really going anywhere. The Bible says we're to walk in the Spirit, which means to make progress in the Spirit. Some have chosen to sit in the Spirit, to veg out in the Spirit. Then there are others who decide to run in the Spirit and they get all excited about a certain work and they go out for the Lord and they fizzle out sometimes. But you know what the greatest thing is, I believe? To watch a consistent growth. Oh, not a lot of fireworks, not a lot of splash and flash, but a consistent week-by-week, month-by-month, year-by-year consistency. You always see them growing and the fruit is being produced. It's not "for the Lord this minute, back in the world the next." It's a consistent growth with the Lord. Now that happens when the Holy Spirit grabs a hold of our lives to the extent that the character of Christ is being produced. We become holy---this is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Where He's controlling us. He's not just living in us, He's not just poured out upon us to give us gifts, He's controlling our lives. He's monitoring our thoughts and feeding them back to us and saying: That pleases Me, that's wrong, that action I don't like, change here. And a person who's controlled by the Spirit will be very easy for the Spirit to move to one direction, to this city, or to marry this person or whatever. The directing guidance of the Holy Spirit becomes very easy in that type of person. Because he's teachable, he's growing, he's easy to work with like clay---he hasn't become hardened.
Fortunately, when we become hardened God doesn't toss us out. But He'll break us. See when clay gets hard if you don't want to throw it out you have to smash it and pour water on it again---work with it all over again. Remember Jesus said about being broken: whoever falls on this rock shall be broken but on whomever the rock falls shall be ground to powder. So we should come to the Lord to be broken if we've hardened our hearts. But the type of person that's easy for the Lord to change and move and give direction to and guidance is someone who's walking in the Spirit, who's teachable, who's saying: I'm going to receive this Word and this Bible study is mine. I'm going to use it, I'm going to pray over it, I'm going to let it change me. The fruit of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit's work in your life has continued from the beginning, before you were a Christian, the work of the Holy Spirit was in operation. And it doesn't end when you become a Christian---it's a new work but it's a continued work until the day you die. And the only time you're going to be perfected is when you go: Hi Lord, face-to-Face, and you see Him in heaven. Until then, the work goes on. Back in John's gospel, chapter 16, Jesus in speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit says it is expedient (or to your advantage) that I go away. For if I do not go, the Holy Spirit, the Helper, will not come. But if I go, Jesus said, I will send Him to you. And Jesus went on to say that when the Holy Spirit has come He will convict or reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin because they do not believe in Me. Of righteousness because I go to the Father and you see Me no more. And of judgment because the prince of this world is judged.
Verse 8: And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. The word convict means to expose. Jesus says when the Holy Spirit comes, when I leave and the Spirit of God is in control, I'm not gonna be here physically anymore but the Spirit will be with you. One of His jobs, part of His work, is to rebuke or expose or convince or convict (whenever translation you have, that's what it means). He'll expose the evil deeds of the world. He will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. Before we are a Christian, the Holy Spirit comes along and He taps us on the shoulder, sometimes He taps us rather hard to get our attention. But part of His work is to convince us that we're blowing it. And that is not always an easy thing to do. Because the big barrier is the pride of man who wants to think: I'm not all that bad, I'm not as bad as the guy next door, I'm religious, I do many upright things, I'm the best on the block. But the Holy Spirit must convince a person that He is a depraved sinner.
You know one of the basic teachings of the Scripture is called the depravity of man? That man, in and of himself, the moment he's born into the world, is alienated from God, is wicked because he has a sinful nature and also he is a sinner by choice as he grows up. It's called total depravity. Man is totally depraved---that's why he needs a Savior. That's why Mary in your song in the gospel of Luke says: My soul rejoices in God, my Savior. Now, only sinners need a Savior. And the Holy Spirit comes along and He says: You're a sinner---thus, you need a Savior. He convicts the world of sin. Totally depraved.
This is something that only the Holy Spirit can do. You cannot convince a person of that. The Holy Spirit must take even your words as you witness and convince a person that you're sharing with that they need the Lord, that they're depraved, that they need a Savior.
You cannot argue a person into the kingdom of God, you cannot convince them by clever apologetic arguments or statements that that person should turn to Christ on the basis of him being a sinner. That's only the work of the Holy Spirit. Now He can take your witness and make it good, but only the Spirit of God can accomplish that. You know, if you could argue a person into being saved that's a very dangerous position. Because if a person is argued into being a Christian, someone who maybe is a little smarter than us, even if he's an heir, can present a clever argument that would argue that person out of sticking with the Lord. So it must be accomplished by the Holy Spirit who brings the truth come to the hearts of men.
Notice the sin that the world is convicted of: And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, of righteousness, of judgment; of sin, because they do not believe in Me. Notice it's not because they steal, cheat, commit adultery, they murder, they're angry. Even our own conscience will convict a person of that, usually. But the sin that the Holy Spirit is going to deal with is unbelief, which is the greatest sin of all. Now, we categorize sin. OK, this is murder---now that's a biggie, that's a mortal sin. Then we get a little bit lower on the sin scale and we have adultery, close to murder but not that bad. And all the way down on the veneal side, the little white sins---we have anger, covetousness. To God it's all the same. And the greatest sin is unbelief. The reason being is because to not believe in Jesus is to throw out the only means that God can forgive the world. The greatest blasphemy, the greatest sin, is to say: I'm not going to accept the Lord, I'm fine on my own, I don't need Jesus. It's the greatest sin, because Jesus is the remedy for all of the sins of the world. In fact, Jesus died, not just for our sins, but for the sins of the entire world. He died for everybody's sin. All of us like sheep have gone astray. We've gone our own way and the Lord laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.
So the great sin is the sin of disbelief. Now this is the work of the Holy Spirit. He comes along and He points at our heart and He says: You're not a true believer. You may be religious, but you're not a true believer. Yeah, but I don't steal, I don't murder, I don't cheat. But you don't believe in Jesus! You haven't committed yourself in true faith in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Hence, you really do not believe even though you say so. When the Holy Spirit convicts a man or a woman of that, that's the first step. Going on, it says: of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more. After Jesus rose from the dead, He spent about forty days with His disciples speaking about the kingdom of God. And after those forty days were accomplished, He took His disciples on the Mount of the Olives as far as Bethany and before He ascended into heaven He said: Now you guys go back to Jerusalem and wait for the promise of My Father which as He said He'll give to you. Now when Jesus ascended up into heaven and the disciples saw Him go and the angel appeared and said, why are you gazing up into heaven, it says that Jesus sat down at the right hand of God. And He's there ever living to make intercession. He's praying for us. What did God say? What was the statement that God made when Jesus rose into heaven? What was stated by His actions, He didn't necessarily say anything, but we get light of it right here. He was saying, by receiving Jesus into heaven, that He was guiltless and that He receives that kind of righteousness. That the only righteousness that God will accept is the righteousness of Jesus Christ into heaven.
It says that even our own righteousness is as filthy rags before the Lord. That we're saved by grace, not by works, because by works we can't attain salvation. Jesus being raised from the dead, ascending into heaven---God was stating the fact that no one will ever see heaven unless they have the same righteousness as Jesus. Well, who's gonna get to heaven then? It's the same question the disciples said to Jesus: Who then can be saved? Jesus answered: With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. And so what Jesus did is become our Lamb by believing in Him, by accepting Him, we are clothed in His righteousness and so that God accepts us with the same righteousness that Jesus had because it's been imputed to us---Romans chapter 5. And so the Holy Spirit reproves the world, exposes the world, rebukes the world that their righteousness, their good deeds, their little religious actions are not good enough. The Holy Spirit will convince or convict the world of sin and of righteousness and finally of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
When a person says, Lord come into my life, Jesus become my Savior, I confess all of my sins, I want to be born-again. When he accepts God's provision through Christ, Jesus gives him a new righteousness---the righteousness of Christ. He can stand before God not on his own merit but on the merit of Jesus. He passes from death into life, he skips judgment, it says, he skips condemnation. But if a person stands alone, if a person says, Now I don't really buy this stuff, and he fails to make a commitment to the Lord, to have his sins forgiven, then he must stand the consequences, the inevitable which is God's judgment. If he stands alone apart from God's righteousness, He has nothing left for him except judgment. Now the ultimate judgment is upon the prince of this world: Satan. It's the ultimate statement of a judgment. But anyone who follows Satan in rebellion against God by not accepting the Lord also has judgment heaped upon himself. In fact, the Bible says that we're already condemned: now he who believes is not condemned but he who believes not is already condemned. He already stands condemned. So the Holy Spirit will convict of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
Now this is the work of the Holy Spirit in your life prior to salvation. Remember Jesus said the Holy Spirit will be with you and then He'll be in you. He's with you, He's chasing after you, He's haunting you---until you say, Yes, Lord. I give up. I want to become a Christian. I surrender my life. Then the Holy Spirit comes in you, when you make that confession of faith and believe in your heart. The Holy Spirit takes residence in your body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. He's with you and He's in you. He's been chasing you, He's been working with you, He's been convicting you of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. And you've made that commitment, you've surrendered yourself to the Lord. Now the Holy Spirit continues to work, but in a different way. Now He takes this raw material, sinner saved by grace, totally depraved, nothing in good in himself or herself and says: Now I'm gonna change this person and I'm gonna fill this person with the fruit of the Holy Spirit and I'm gonna make this person day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, year-by-year more like Jesus if they'll let Me. If they'll surrender to Me. If they become like soft clay, then the work of the Holy Spirit goes on to produce the character of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit first convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment. We say: I give up, He says: Good, You're mine. Now I'm gonna come inside of you, begin changing you, sweeping up the house, cleaning out all the junk and that's gonna continually go on until you meet Jesus Christ. I like that. God isn't finished with me yet is one of the Christian's famous sayings. Be patient with me, God isn't done with me yet. The Christian is under construction. We're not a totally completed vessel or building. But God is working with us and the process is called sanctification. Or becoming holy. And when a Christian doesn't grow, if a Christian isn't becoming holy, he knows nothing of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Because that's the primary work of the Holy Spirit is to make people holy, to make people set apart, and to make people more like Jesus.
So the seed's been planted. When a seed is planted, you want it to grow, become a tree, and produce fruit. However, and this is where the problems come in, the biggest problem in the Christian life, the biggest detriment to the Christian. It's not the world. It's not the devil. It's the Christian himself. It's his old nature, the flesh that is still hanging around with its impulses and desires that want to control us. You know so many times we're out there with our sword, we go: The world is my enemy! The devil is my enemy! And our worst enemy is under our armor, eating us alive. The impulses of the flesh that can control us, and if that happens we become what 1 Corinthians 3 tells us: the carnal Christian. Not mature, but carnal. Like babies, not growing up, growing older but not growing up. There's not a maturity, there's not a teachability. And something happens we don't like, what do we do? WAAH! God disciplines us to help us grow and we fight against us, we don't want any of this stuff, and we can fight against the work of the Holy Spirit by that kind of an attitude. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, they shall be filled to the full. Jesus said that whoever would come to Him and believe on Him, that inside of his heart there would be rivers, literally torrents, of living water. He would be overflowing---that's the kind of a life he'd live.
There's a little footnote in the gospel of John: But this spake He of His Holy Spirit which was not yet given. That's the work of the Holy Spirit---to make a full and rich life. And so the seed is sown but our own worst enemy is the flesh. That's why Jesus said somebody went out to sow and he sowed in different types of soil which represent four different types of hearts. One was ground that really didn't take root because the enemy wouldn't even let it. The birds of the air came and snatched it away; it fell by the wayside. The next, the seed fell upon ground and it began to grow up real rapidly but it had shallow earth, the roots didn't go down deep enough and when persecution arose it was offended because of the Word and didn't bear fruit. And then it says, there's a heart, the seed was sown into the soil but the weeds choked it up. And Jesus said these are the cares of the world, the cares for riches and the lust for other things that came and choked the seed of the Word so that it becomes unfruitful. But then He said: there's the good heart, they receive the Word with joy, they produce fruits some thirty, some sixty, some one hundred fold.
In Galatians 5 it talks about the works of the flesh versus the fruit of the Spirit. And we've seen some of the differences, we've seen some of the similarities. It talks about the works of the flesh: the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
So he speaks about the sexual sins of the flesh, the sins of not getting along with others and being hateful and vengeful, trying to divide. These are the works produced by the flesh nature and a person who's habitually practicing those things have proven themselves to not have been changed. The seed isn't taking root; maybe it fell by the wayside. There's no growth, there's no consistency---instead of being changed, they remain the same in practicing the exact same things that someone in the world would be. And so those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Very simple; very sad. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is now law.
Now you notice that it's the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruits of the Spirit. We saw the works of the flesh, that's plural. Fruit is singular. Works of the flesh---that's plural. There's one fruit of the Spirit and that's love. But you say, Wait a minute! I always thought there were nine fruits of the Spirit. No, there's only one fruit of the Spirit. It is singular, it is love, and it's manifested in eight different ways. And the eight different ways are joy, peace, and the whole list. If you took a prism of crystal and you took a light source, a singular white light source, and you let the light pass through that prism it would break up into different components of light on the other side. The same light but it's manifested, it's multi-faceted. It's not just one thing, it's demonstrated in so many different ways---so it is with love. Love is demonstrated by having joy, by having peace and longsuffering, kindness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment was love. When the Pharisees came up to Him and they said, Tell us, Master, what is the greatest commandment? He said, You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And the second is like unto the first, that you will love your neighbor as yourself. And Jesus said, In this hang all of the law and the prophets. He said that the entire Mosaic law was summed up in the fruit of the Spirit which is love. Have you ever thought what that means? Think about what that means. Think about the times of Jesus and all of the people working hard to be pleasing to God by keeping outward rituals and regulations. Not only keeping the Ten Commandments, but keeping 364 little regulations that they felt they had to keep, they had to work hard, otherwise God wouldn't be pleased. They had to fast every Tuesday and every Thursday, they had to put stuff on their faces to make them look like they were really sad, and they'd walk in public and raise their hands in public so that people would say, My, how spiritual these Pharisees are praying all the time! They wouldn't walk on the Sabbath past a certain 2/3 of a mile or they'd broken the law. You couldn't bear a burden on the Sabbath day so they had it down into little paragraphs and sentences as to what is a burden, what is work. And they said if you carry over two dried figs worth of weight, you're working. And so that's why Jesus rebuked them and said, Now, you guys won't even help someone on the Sabbath day who's diseased or who's dying, because you're afraid you're going to break your stupid little laws which God didn't invent---you did! So Jesus said, I'm gonna show you a lot simpler way. If you just love God with all of your heart and you love your neighbor as yourself, you're gonna keep the whole law. If you love God you're not gonna desecrate the Sabbath, you're not gonna let anything take precedence over meeting with God that one day. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you're not gonna steal from him or kill him or covet his wife. If you really love God and you really love your neighbor as yourself, you will unconsciously keep the entire Mosaic law. The heart of the law, the attitude of the law, more than just the outward rituals.
See, they were so boxed up into keeping the outward, but their heart was wrong. Jeremiah stood on the temple precipice in Jeremiah 7 one day as all of these people were rushing into the temple, rushing into their church service: Time for church, man, temple's going to begin in a little bit, let's get in there! But in their minds, in their hearts, they were thinking, I am righteous, I am pleasing to God because I attend temple. And they were trusting in their attendance of going to the temple for righteousness. And so God instructed Jeremiah to be bold and he took a scary step and he stood on the precipice of the temple and he cried out: Trust not in lying vanities saying the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord! Jeremiah busted them saying, You're going to the temple and trusting in these outward things, membership and keeping rituals, but your heart is uncircumcised. And they responded of course in great respect by throwing him in prison, beating him up---they didn't want to hear it, they thought they were good enough. They weren't really keeping the heart of the law. They were just going through the motions, they left the emotion.
Now you can compare this list in Galatians 5 with 1 Corinthians 13. Let's look at it and read it: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
And you can see a lot of similarities of the fruit of the Spirit is love: there's joy, kindness, gentleness, longsuffering or patience, and it says love is patience, it is kind, it does not puff itself up. Very much like what Paul said over in Galatians. As I've shared with you before, this is a perfect photograph of Jesus. The love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, is a beautiful life-size picture of Jesus and His life.
Jesus suffers long and is kind; Jesus does not envy; Jesus not parade Himself, He is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek His own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Jesus never fails.
It's perfect, right? Now read it again and insert my name, and you'll see how it doesn't fit, but then insert your name and see if it does fit. I can't do it, I'm gonna get sick. Now this is something that I want the Lord to work in me, and by His grace He has worked it a lot more in me than it used to be. From someone who was so hateful and vengeful, anger directed at my parents, anger directed at society, anger directed at religion and the church I was brought up with, anger directed at authority and hatred and strife---and God is changing me. From glory to glory. It is not a coincidence that chapter 13 is sandwiched in between chapter 12 and 14 which deal with spiritual gifts. There's a context here that I want you to follow. Chapter 12 introduces spiritual gifts: how they're to be used in the body, the differences of operations of all of the spiritual gifts, the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, prophecy, tongues, administration, it's the same Spirit but there's differences of operation. How we should seek after them. And so it says in chapter 12:30: Do all have the gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way. (Or the most excellent way.) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. Look at the end of chapter 13 to the beginning of chapter 14: And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
Now we separate those when we read them. We isolate chapter 13 from spiritual gifts. We think, well know he's speaking about an entirely different subject. No, he's not! Because he introduces spiritual gifts in chapter 12, he's still talking about them in view of the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, in chapter 13, then he goes right back in to correcting the abuses of some of the vocal spiritual gifts that were going on in the church in chapter 14. It's all the same context. Now that is the reason why in verse 1 where he says, Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or clanging cymbal. In other words, the pathway of love is greater than the pathway of power and eloquence and spiritual gifts. I can have all of the gifts of the Spirit, but if I don't operate them in love, or if I don't have the fruit of the Spirit where He's controlling me and the Spirit of Jesus is built up in me, I am nothing. I am zero.
Now, Paul spoke with tongues. In fact, he said, I would that you all would speak in tongues. I speak in tongues more than you all. He's not knocking tongues at all. In chapter 14, he says, When you speak with an unknown tongue, indeed you are giving thanks or you are praising the Lord very well. He commended it. It's beautiful to have a gift where you can pray to the Lord, where you can worship God and bypass the very limited filter of your intellect. The Spirit has much greater capacity than the mind. And sometimes you reach a point in your worship or in your communication to God where it's very limited. You have more on your heart to say, you have more to pour out to the Lord, but you can't express it in human language. Even if you have a Master's Degree or a Doctorate Degree in English or Communications---words are limited. And since the Spirit has greater capacity, God has given us a way where we can bypass the filter of the intellect and pray directly in the Spirit to the Lord. And it's awesome. He's not knocking spiritual gifts but he's saying this, If you operate it without love, it's just a lot of noise. Remember the steam engine? Some people want all the steam to go out the whistle instead of driving the train. A lot of people just like to toot their own horn and say, the Spirit moved! If it's not operating in love it's nothing.
I want to explain to you what he means by 'clanging cymbal.' In Paul's time in the temples in the Grecian culture, in the temple of Dionysus, the temple of Bacchus (which is the god of wine and pleasure), and the temple of Sybele. Some of their worship was speaking in ecstatic utterances accompanied by loud music and gongs and cymbals. Now what Paul is saying is very clear. He's saying, Your speaking in tongues is no better than pagan worship if you don't have love! You say, Well how in the world could someone speak in tongues without love? Well some people do it to solicit attention. So that all the attention be directed to them. You can tell when it's done just to direct attention or when if someone in a meeting where it's legitimate and focuses on the Lord, people wait for the interpretation, there's a blessing that is derived out of it. In fact, the Bible says that the rest are to judge and to look for that, especially leadership in the church. Then it goes on to say something even more profound: though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries. Now, he's not seeing he does, he's saying if he did. All mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
You say, Now wait a minute! How in the world could you ever do any of those things without love? How could you give to the poor and give your body sacrificially to be burned and give away your own property and your own possessions unless you had love? You can't operate that kind of a stuff... you have to have love! Not so. Sometimes people are motivated to do something because it makes them feel better. They're haunted by guilt. It is much easier if you're walking down the streets of a large city to toss a coin to a beggar than to keep the coin in your pocket. And sometimes the motivation can be the alleviation of guilt. You are purchasing for yourself the alleviation of guilt. Unfortunately, it is a very good motivator---guilt. It is a wrong motivation, but it's a good motivator. People can watch TV and look at what's going on in Ethiopia. We responded to that, but we responded after we really prayed and we wanted to find out what organization the money would go the farthest, would get to the people, food would be purchased. We just didn't do it. Because you know what happens in the mind of a person often times? They show the emaciated children and the flies surrounding them and the person says, I feel so guilty! And then they give their money and they say, I feel so much better! It is simply to alleviate guilt, not out of love. It's done not for the person, as much as for ourself because of the guilty conscience.
Paul is saying, Filter life down, all of the good things you can do, all of the spiritual gifts that you can have and use, all of the ministry that you can fulfill, there must be a motivation of love---that's the only thing that will last. Running down the list of the manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit in chapter 5: The fruit of the Spirit is love. First on the list, reflecting love, is joy. Which is much different than happiness, according to the Scripture. The Scripture speaks about joy as something that is independent of the outside circumstances or situations. Whereas happiness is very temporary and it is in outward expression of pleasure---totally dependent upon our surroundings: I am happy because of the happenings. When the happenings are not on my side, I cease to be happy. For instance, I buy a new red Porsche. I really don't because I couldn't afford it, but hypothetically, and I'm happy. And I drive down the road and I park it in the bank and I park it to take up three or four parking spaces like they all do. And somebody comes out while I'm in the bank and they run their keys all the way across my new little red Porsche because I took up enough parking for a mule team and they're angry. And I come out all happy until I see it, and what happens? I am bummed out! I am not happy anymore! It is an outward expression of pleasure.
Joy is love responding to God's goodness and God's mercy and God's blessings. It doesn't change. I can give you this example: a thermometer goes up and down depending on the outward circumstances, right? If it's hot outside, where does the thermometer go? Up. If it's cold, it goes down. It is subject to change, depending on what's going on outside of it. A thermostat is different. It changes the atmosphere, it's constant. It's not regulated by the outside, it changes the circumstances, it's constant. Some Christians are thermometers and some are thermostats. And when a person has this kind of a joy, even if life dishes out the cruddiest things, he can rejoice in the Lord---not because of the things around him, in spite of the things around him, he knows that God is in control, he has a joy that in the face of the worst circumstances is fixed upon the Lord.
Next---peace. Jesus said, My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives. Paul called it a peace that passes all understanding. It's a deep-seated peace. In fact, somebody said that peace is stability in the midst of a storm. One person was asked at an art show to paint a picture of peace, of calmness, of serenity. There was the first runner-up and then there was the winner. The first runner-up was a picture of a beautiful lake with pine trees and the sun was setting and the birds were chirping on the rocks and all the animals were having a nice time singing in the forest. Peace. Tranquility. The picture that won depicted, really, Christian peace: it was a picture of a storm and it was raining and lightning, dark, ominous clouds, the picture itself was very dark and the setting was a waterfall and amidst the storm, underneath the waterfall with sound crashing all around was a little bird fallen asleep in the cleft of the rock. In the midst of the storm, he was sleeping. Now that is real peace. It's not: I have to have everything my way. In the midst of adverse circumstances you rest in the Lord. Somebody put it this way: Joy is the part that enables us to sing at midnight while we're in prison, like Paul and Silas, and our hands and feet are tied to chains. But peace is the ability to lie down and have a good night's sleep when you're in the lion's den like Daniel. That's peace. I'm just gonna rest, I'm gonna rest in the Lord.
Next, it says longsuffering, which Moody described as: this is the quality of love untiring. It never gives up. It's better translated, in NIV, it says: patience. It is a rare quality found in human beings, especially young human beings. Youth and patience do not mesh too well. You learn that through the circumstances of life as God has you wait upon Him. In fact, a young minister came to an old minister (one of my favorite little quips) and he said, I have some really problems, I need counsel, I'm such an impatient person, would you please pray that the Lord makes me a patient man? And he said, Certainly, let's pray. And the old minister said, Father I pray that you send this man tribulation, trials, heartaches, and suffering. In Jesus' Name. And the guy said, What a minute! What are you doing? I want patience! He said, Amen! The Bible says, Tribulation worketh patience, brother. That's what the Scripture says. You want patience? It is love untiring, it sticks it out even in the midst of those things.
Next on the list is kindness. Which is a word that is often used of God dealing with us. But here it's used of us dealing with other people while they have faults, while they're imperfect. These are problemed people. One person described the church as, Having a dilemma like porcupines in Alaska. It's a cold, wintry night and they sense their need to get together and cooperate but the closer they get, they needle each other and it hurts so they move apart again. And so they try to huddle and try to make it work and it just doesn't work until they finally need to learn to get adjusted and sit right, quill-in-quill. It's getting along with others while they have faults.
Next is goodness, which means practical acts of love---doing something to bless other people, not because you want to get something. You see a need, or even if they don't have a need, you just want to bless them. You think, You know if I do this that other person is going to have a great day? I'm going to bless them. I'm going to go pray for them. Or I'm going to get them this little card.
Next is faithfulness, which means reliability. It happens to be one of the qualities that God most often looks for and most often rewards. Jesus said, Well done, good and faithful servant. You've been faithful in small things, I'm making you ruler over many, enter into the joy of your Lord. It's reliability. It is also the opposite of grumbling and complaining. It's doing your assigned task without complaining about it. You're just gonna be faithful and reliable.
Next on the list is gentleness, or meekness. Now this is an interesting word. There's no equivalent in English for it. There's no one word that can translate this adequately because it is a combination of words. It means 'very strong' yet 'very gentle' at the same time. And so it's hard to come up with a word that says that. The best translation is simply, Strength under control. It speaks of someone who doesn't argue, doesn't push, is non-aggressive, doesn't try to get his own way. It's strength and power and authority, but it's kept under control---it's not abused.
Next on the list---self-control. Oh, Lord, help us with this one. Self-control is a word that describes the person who is able to keep legitimate body needs and pleasures in moderation under control. We all need food, and we all like food---in fact, some of us love food. And food is good, but if it's out of control, the desire for food, it's sin. It's legitimate. But it's controlling us. Self-control is that ability given by the Holy Spirit through love because we love God empowered by the Holy Spirit to keep legitimate body needs and pleasures under control.
The fruit of the Spirit is love. It's so important. You know, there's a famous psychiatrist/physician named Dr. Karl Mennenger---he founded the Mennenger Clinic that treats all sorts of diseases including mental illness. And Dr. Mennenger said this: Love is the medicine for this old sick world. If people could just learn to give and receive love, they will usually recover from any physical or mental illness. That's an expert. If they can learn to give and receive love, they will usually recover from any physical or mental illness. God is love. These are things you can't manufacture by counting to three and holding your breath, it's something that's produced by the Spirit of God. Now, I want to encourage you and I want to warn you. I want to encourage you because when I get letters from people who've visited the church, or comments from people who've visited from other states, even other countries, the thing that they have noticed the most apart the church in general is your love. That's the response I get most of.
One person who came from Roswell said: I couldn't believe it. When fellowship time came up, I asked where the restroom was and I had five people wanting to walk me there! I never felt such acceptance, such love by people. But I also want to warn you not to get puffed up by that and also to continue to grow. You can grow old and not grow up. There's lots of people that are old people and act like babies. And it's that way spiritually. Growing old in the Lord and walking with the Lord a long period of time does not necessitate spiritual maturity. We'd hope that it would. Man, I love to walk with old saints and hang around people who've known the Lord---really walked with Him for a long time and been changed. But you know I have met people who have known the Lord for long periods of time, who are still in the crib stage.
I love Nathan, right now he's at a stage where I open the door and his eyes light up and he goes "Da!" It's hard for him, but he gets it out. Now I'm so stoked on that. It's beautiful. That's at this stage of his growth. When he's 25 years old if he came to my door and he said, Da! Da! I'd be scared. You see my point? He's grown old but he hasn't grown up---no maturity! It'd be a tragedy to hear him saying the same things. Lord, help us to grow and have love, the fruit of the Spirit. Not just seeking after some supernatural experience (which is good, it's beautiful) but this is the foundation. The fruit of the Spirit which is love.