Studies in Galatians – Wayne Barber/Part 32
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|Okay, let’s begin. Let’s dig into this and just see what God has to say to us to encourage our hearts. First of all, the essence of this fruit is love.|
The Fruit of the Spirit – Part 1
Galatians 5. I am so glad that we’re finally getting to verses 22-23 of Galatians 5. Man, it’s been tough going through 19-21. I’m glad we’re here. Paul has shown us very clearly that when one exchanges the truth of Christ living in us, living grace, when we exchange that truth for working for Him—in other words, that religious mindset—then we’ve just bought the whole package of the flesh. As we’ve learned, the Galatians never set out to be bad people. They didn’t set out to do these things. But flesh is flesh. It’s got a religious side to it and sometimes that’s the deceitful part of it.
Well, all of these things begin to bombard us once that choice has been made: sexual deception, as we’ve seen, superstitious deception, social deception, sensual deception. All of these are products of the package of the flesh. It doesn’t mean that you’re involved with all of these things at one time, it just means that these are the traps now opened up to us when we choose the flesh.
Well Paul, under the inspiration and influence of the Holy Spirit, has painted for us a horrid, black backdrop in which now we can build. Now, it’s ugly, it’s not good to look at; however, it’s useful. You see, in doing so, by creating this black backdrop of what the flesh produces, he now is ready to contrast the beauty of what God wants to do, the brilliance of what God wants to produce in our life.
We had a jeweler at my last church. And he came to me one day as I was attempting to try to explain the difference in the contrasts, and he said, “Wayne, it’s so simple.” He said, “A jeweler knows that if you’re going to enhance a beautiful stone, you get the blackest black that you can find”. I don’t know what; I don’t know how you get any blacker than black, but he said get black on black. I mean just as black as you can get it and you set it up. And then he said you take your stone and put it up against it and take the brightest light you can find and shine it on that stone. And he said, “The blackness of that backdrop will enhance the beauty of that stone.” That’s exactly what Paul’s doing. And what a contrast he’s drawn for us in verses 19-21 and now verses 2223.
Let me read them for you and just listen to the contrasts, listen to how the brilliance stands out of what God produces when we walk by the Spirit. Verses 19-21 talks about the flesh: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident,” now listen to them, “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealously, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,” and then he says, “envying, drunkenness and carousing,” not very pretty. But look at the contrasts: “But the fruit,” in verse 22, “of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against which, such there’s no law.” See the contrasts? It’s so beautiful when we walk by the Spirit what God produces in our life as in contrast to what the flesh produces. When the deeds of the flesh are put up next to the fruit of God’s Spirit, really they appear pitiful.
The first thing we want to notice in verse 22 when he says “the fruit of the Spirit” is that little word “fruit.” Now, that word “fruit” is the word karpos. It’s that which originates from something. It’s the particular consequence of a certain source, and that’s what he’s talking about. Years ago I was in the ACA, American Camping Association. I was one of the 11 ministers in the nation. We had to go through all kinds of tests to pass to get into our instructorship in that thing, and one of the things was a survival week in Arkansas. One of the things we had to do was to identify different kinds of trees. I think there were about 15 or 20. I’m not real good at that. And you had to bring the bark back and explain what kind of tree it was by showing the bark.
Well, I had done about 19, whatever the number was. I was right up next, I had one more left and I couldn’t find one. I couldn’t; if I found one I didn’t know what it was and I topped the hill and I looked, and thank You, Lord, thank You, I saw an apple tree. Now, how do you think I knew it was an apple tree? There was an apple hanging there, and I went over and I got some bark, but I also pulled the apple off and stuck it in my pocket, because I had a feeling that was going to come up later on. And I walked back and I identified each of the barks that I had and I finally got to that last one, I said that’s an apple tree. And the instructor, knowing me, he said, what kind? And I reached in my pocket and pulled out the apple and I said that kind.
That’s what I’m talking about. I don’t remember exactly, specifically what kind that was, but that particular tree put out that specific brand of apple. That’s exactly what Paul’s saying. He says the source of this fruit, the source of it, the particular fruit that’s being talked about in Galatians 5:22, the source is the Holy Spirit of God. He says the fruit of the Spirit. Now the fruit that Paul speaks of is what the Holy Spirit produces in our lives, now listen, and it’s that which we cannot, we could never produce ourselves. You see, the world has this idea of love. but what God is going to show us is what He creates is on such a unique level above anything we could ever think about, that it automatically shows it’s specifically produced by the Spirit of God.
Now another thing to notice in this verse is the word “fruit” is singular. In other words, what Paul’s explaining here in verses 22-23 is that all nine characteristics that are mentioned here are in a cluster. Now, what do I mean? It means you can’t have one without having the other eight. If one’s missing you don’t have any of them. They all have to be there at one time. Now, this is different than the deeds, plural, of the flesh. Because you might be suffering from the trap of immorality, or the suffering from the trap of this or that. It doesn’t mean you’re suffering from it all at one time. But here, if you have the fruit produced in your life, everything must be there. If anything’s missing it’s not there.
Now we must remember the thrust of this epistle. And the key verse in the whole epistle is Galatians 2:20. He says, “I have been crucified,” how? “with Christ, and it’s no longer I who live, but,” what is, what is the key? Who lives in me? “Christ.” Where does He live? “In me.” Now, Christ in the person of His Spirit—now listen carefully—lives in us to produce His character in us, so that others might not see us, but they would see Him. All nine of these characteristics, the fruit mentioned in 22-23 reflect Him in our lives. It’s His character. It’s who He is. These are not just qualities. This is Christ that lives in us. This cluster, this fruit that He produces in us is His character reproduced into our lives.
Now as we seek to walk by the Spirit—what does that mean? Willingly led by the Spirit—then the fruit is Christ living in and through us. Now make certain you understand. There’s a couple of things, before we get into the text, I want to make sure you understand. First of all, the flesh cannot produce this fruit; because many of you are going to say, “Love, well, I love.” Well, now wait a minute. What we’re going to talk about is love that you couldn’t begin to touch in a minute. This is what God produces in you. “Well, I have joy.” It’s not a frivolous thing. This is something only God can produce into your life. And then secondly, we’re only going to look at three today, some of you are going to walk out of here and say hot dog, man that’s happening in my life. Careful; there are six more that we’re going to look at later on. Make sure all nine of them are there. If one is missing, just one, then you don’t have it, you’ve been deceived. Only God can produce His own character in our life and you can’t separate the attributes of God at any one time. So if one is there they all have to be in place.
Okay, let’s begin. Let’s dig into this and just see what God has to say to us to encourage our hearts. First of all, the essence of this fruit is love. That’s what he’s talking about. The whole list is built off of that first word. When Paul or Peter make a list, always look at that first word that they mention, because in every list that sets the tone for the rest of it. It is this love that fulfills the requirement of God’s law. Did you know that? If you’re worried about the law just quit worrying about it. Walk by the Spirit and it’s taken care of. Look in Galatians 5:14, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in,” how many words? “one word,” one word and he gives you a phrase to give you a clue as to what that one word is. He says “in the statement, ‘You shall [what?] love your neighbor as yourself.’” So what is the one word that fulfills the law? Love. And it’s this love that He produces that literally fulfills the law that He requires. This love that is required by the Law can only be fulfilled by the One who gave the Law and the One who came as the God-man and fulfilled the Law and now lives within us. You see, when it’s Christ living His life in and through you, then His Law is being fulfilled because He’s the One who’s producing the love that fulfills that Law.
Now, the word “love” here is a very powerful, powerful word. It’s the word agape. You may have heard that word before. The word agape does not describe a feeling or an emotion, it describes a choice, a resolve. We’re too prone to listen to Nashville. When Nashville says “Falling in love with you,” you know, we think that’s love. We grow up thinking this way. We think it’s an emotion. Well, it may involve emotion, but that’s not the root of the meaning. The meaning is we’ve made a resolve, a choice. It’s not a feeling. The word agape refers to the resolve God produces in us that causes us to want to do for our brother or sister in Christ spiritually that which is best for them, no matter what it costs us. Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no one than this than one lay down his life for his friends.” That’s the greatest example, and He is that example. There’s none that compare. Jesus, by dying on the cross, was the greatest example of the resolve, and of the follow-through of this kind of love.
This love is not necessarily what others may want to have done for them, but it’s definitely what they need. Now, this is important. It’s only within this love—now think with me—it’s only within this love, when you’re operating in the power of the Spirit, that you even know what the need of somebody else is. Do you realize if you’re not walking by the Spirit you don’t really know what the need of somebody else is? You think you do, but you don’t. Only the Spirit of God, if He gives you the resolve to meet the need and then enables you to do it, then He’s got to give you the discernment to know what that need is to begin with. So, no committee, unless they’re surrendered to Christ and on their face before God can ever begin to discern the needs of anybody. Only God knows the needs.
Now, you see, felt needs are everywhere. And this is the trap that a lot of people fall into, trying to minister to felt needs. No, sir! Felt needs are not real needs. Real needs are what only God knows and only He can give us that discernment to understand. When one resolves in their hearts to spiritually do what is necessary and needed in another person’s life, and he has within him that resolve to carry it through no matter what it costs him, that’s a totally foreign concept to our flesh. Our flesh doesn’t think that way. What we do is what’s best for us, never what’s best for somebody else. When this love is present in a person’s life, it can never point to them. It has to point to God who lives in them.
So many people have asked me, “Wayne, how can I know? I really hear what you’re saying. How can I know that I’m experiencing Christ in my life? How can I know that it’s not me, but it’s Christ living in and through me?” This is the evidence. This is the only evidence. This is the clearest evidence that He’s living in and through us: when we love, in the sense we’ve just described it, one another.
Now John, in his epistle, 1 John, tells us quite a bit about this love. He shows us clearly that this agape love is the character of God. In 1 John 4:8 he says, “The one who does not love does not know God; for God is [what?] love.” He is love. Now you think about that. He’s not like love, He is love. He is the divine resource of what we’re talking about here in Galatians 5. So in contrast, he says the one who does not love does not know God. The word “know” is ginosko, which means does not know Him by experience. So in contrast, the one who does love in the truest sense of what we’ve just described the word is one who is experiencing God in his life. So how do you know you’re walking in the Spirit? How do you know that God is replacing you with Himself? It’s when this love permeates and motivates and surrounds you and initiates what you do in life. It’s when He gives you that divine discernment as to the need of somebody and then gives you that grace and that enablement to meet that need and then to follow through with it.
Well, as we’ve said before, Christ is the truest example of this love. Nobody can touch Him in being the example of that love for He is love. In 1 John 4:9 he says, “By this the love of God was manifested in us that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” Now, that last phrase is what I want to capitalize on, “that we might live through Him.” He came that we might have His life and His love in us. Isn’t that incredible? Remember the life inside the coat. Do I have to do that again? The coat cannot do anything of itself, but when you put it on, there’s life inside of the coat. He came that we might live through Him. Now that word “through” is a little word dia. And dia means by the means of Him. He is the source. He is our resource. He’s the well that we drink from. He’s our divine resource.
Now in verse 12 John shows us that when we are experiencing Him, when we’re living by the means of Him, we will love one another. I mean, it just happens. That’s just the way it’s going to happen. And this is the way we know that God abides in us. He says, “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.” Then John ties this love to the Holy Spirit of God. And he does it this way. He says in verse 13, “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” Now, it is this love, God’s very love, that Jesus prayed to the Father would be in us. Do you realize that? Do you realize we’re an answer to Christ’s prayer to His Father in John 17? Every time we see this love manifested in our life we are an answer to His prayer. John 17:26, Jesus praying to His Father and He says, “I have made Your name known to them and You will make it known so that,” look at this, “so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them and I in them.”
The very love with which the Father loved Jesus, the same love which He loved the world, the same love that Jesus demonstrated when He went to the cross is now in us because He is in us. So it’s not just a quality; it’s who He is. So the way we know that Christ is living His life in us, the way we know that we are participating in His life, is that we experience His love for each other. By choosing to buy into the lie of the false teachers, which the Galatians did, the Galatians did it, the Galatians no longer experienced the love they once had for one another. That’s a sad thing. By a simply choice to do things their way they no longer experienced that love that they could have for one another.
Let me ask you a question. How many times in your family, in your life, have you chosen your flesh and all of a sudden the love just went out the window? Has anybody experienced that besides me? Isn’t that a terrible thing? When here it is that God has offered us that and He says, listen, you can experience this and by a simply choice we choose to shut it down and as a result we don’t sense that intimacy and that oneness and what God wants to give to us. Instead, as we have just studied, we sense “enmities, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying.” They could have experienced the fruit of His Spirit working in their life, His very love, but they chose not to.
A beautiful picture about how a church ought to be is found in 2 Thessalonians 1:3. It says, “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren.” And you know what? Paul doesn’t normally do this, but, boy, he’s very grateful for these people. “As is only fitting,” he says, “because your faith is greatly enlarged.” This was a church that was not well taught. It grew up overnight and was a very precious group of people “and the love of each one of you toward one another,” listen to this, “grows even greater.” Wouldn’t that be awesome if in five years we’d be five times or fifty times or 500 times the love that you see today? It would enlarge and enlarge and enlarge and grow and grow and grow. It can only do that to the measure and the degree we are willing to walk by the Spirit, walk by the Spirit. Then we experience this divine resource and He produces His love in us. So the essence of this fruit, this particular fruit that the Holy Spirit alone can produce, is this love, the very love of God Himself.
Now, the word agape does not have the definite article in front of it. You say, “Wayne, what does that mean?” Let me tell you what it means. I’ve got my notebook up here. I’ve got my Bible up here, and if I just said I’m going to pick up a book, then I can pick up either one of them. I can look around and find something else. I can pick this one up. I mean, it doesn’t matter. But if I put the definite article in front of it, it means I’m going to pick up the book, which means I’d better find out which one I’m supposed to be picking up. It identifies something. But when you take that definite article out of the Greek and you leave it alone, it qualifies something. In other words, Paul is not defining. He’s not trying to define the source of this, because we know it’s the Holy Spirit. He’s trying to show what this love is all about. That’s why he puts eight characteristics that follow it, that manifest and help us understand better what this love is all about.
How do you know you’re experiencing the love of God? “Well, I love going to my brother and whatever.” No, no. All these other things have to be built into that so that we can understand what this love really is. He wants to qualify the essence of God’s love within a believer. So he lists for us the characteristics that will be present when the love of God is manifest in our lives. Now, again, you cannot separate these characteristics from this love. They form a cluster. If you think you’ve got this love and one of them is missing, I’m telling you, you can never take out an attribute of God. This is His character. They all have to be there at the same time.
So let’s look now at the inward effectiveness of this love. We’ve seen the essence of the fruit is love. Now let’s look at the inward effectiveness of God’s love. Verse 22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love.” What’s the next two? “Joy,” and what’s the next one? “Peace.” By the way, I just want you to be in your Bible. That’s my heart, folks. Take this Book. This Book is a part of your life. It’s spiritual food. And when I say something to you it’s one thing, but when you read it in God’s Word, you don’t have to deal with me anymore, you’re dealing with Him. So bring your Bible and look in the Bible when we turn to different Scriptures because it’ll speak to your heart.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace.” Joy and peace reflect the inward effectiveness of God’s love in us. The Greek word for “joy” is the word chara. It’s the word for deep abiding and inner rejoicing. It’s a beautiful word. It’s completely independent of outward circumstances. Now, listen to me. It rests totally in God’s sovereign control. It’s the joy that Jesus Himself had when He was here on this earth. Even though people would want to shame Him and spit on Him and if you’ve ever read 1 Peter 2, they reviled Him, but He did not revile back. He kept entrusting Himself to the One who judges righteously. It’s that inner joy that He had knowing His Father, that the situation was in control.
In fact, He refers to this particular joy as “My joy” two times in the New Testament. It’s not just a frivolous quality, it’s who He is. Once when He had just told His disciples how to bear fruit in John 15, which was, He said the only way to bear fruit is to abide in the vine and to allow His words to abide in them. And then He said then you can produce fruit. The branch can produce fruit not of itself, it has to be abiding in the vine. And then in verse 11 of John 15 He says these words, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy”—I love those words. It’s not just joy. It’s My joy, His joy. It’s who He’s, we’re experiencing—“that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full.” You see, our joy is never made full until we are experiencing His joy and that’s what He wants. And He says “If you’ll abide in Me,” as my word “and let My words abide in you, you will produce much fruit.”
It’s interesting that persecution seems to be the environment in which this marvelous characteristic of His love is manifested. In His high priestly prayer, again in John 17, Jesus asks His Father to give us His joy, knowing that we would be hated in this world. By the way, do you know we’re hated in this world? And it’s not us, it’s Christ that lives in us. They hated Him, they’re going to hate us. And it says in John 17:13, “But now I come to you and these things I speak in the world so that they may have my joy made full in themselves.” And the very next verse tells why. He says in verse 14, “I have given them Your word and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I’m not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world”—no, Father, don’t do that—“but to keep them from the evil one.”
And so just in the implication here the joy seems to be made even more manifest when the world is shaming you and when the world is reviling you and when you’re being persecuted and you run to Him and you bow before Him and you surrender to Him and you say, “God, I want to walk by the Spirit,” and the Spirit of God produces the character of Christ and He gives you a love, even for the people that are persecuting you, but gives you and inner, deep inner sense of wellbeing, knowing that the situation is under control. When His love is present is when His joy that enables us to pay whatever price that is necessary for the sake of others, regardless of how they treat us.
Years ago when I first started pastoring, I pastored in a southern state. And I remember about three weeks into it I was topically preaching at that time. I didn’t really know how to study. I was learning and I’m still learning. But I didn’t know how to study and so I was using other people’s messages. And one morning I preached on David and Bathsheba. I didn’t get into the immoral part of it, I got into the fact that he was taking R & R and he should have been out in battle and that’s when all the problems stepped into his life. And I did not know that in the church there was a very prominent man who was having an affair with another woman in the church that was not his wife and everybody knew it, but I didn’t. Nobody bothered to tell me about it. He’s sitting in the service that day and I’m talking about David committing immorality, Oh, gosh.
And so three days later, after I preached that message I get a phone call in the office, and I answered the phone. I said, “Hello.” He said, “Preacher!” Boy, you can tell people that have been walking with God just as, the countenance on their face, the joy in their voice. And he said, “Preacher,” and I said, “Yes sir.” He said “Get off my back.” I didn’t even know what he was talking about. And he said, “You know that message you preached Sunday. You know good and well you were referring that at me and you were throwing jabs at me.” He said, “I want you to know I’ve got peace with God with what I’m doing. You better get off my back. Do you understand me?”
Well, back in those days I didn’t know what it really meant to walk in the Spirit and maybe if the Spirit had been in charge of my life maybe I’d have done this anyway. But finally he got quiet enough, and I said, “Would you just be quiet for a second?” I said, “If you’re through just shut up. I’ve got something to say to you.” I told him on the phone, I said, “I’m not afraid of you or anybody like you in this town. You spread the word. Do you understand me?” Bam! He hung up the phone. That was my first three weeks I was there. It was real exciting. I mean, it went downhill from that point. Every time I got in the pulpit I’d be chasing something and trying to shoot them down. If I found a problem during the week I’d nail it on Sunday.
And I had a little shack outside behind my house, a little shack and they fixed it up and made a little apartment out of it and a place for me to study. Everybody called it the “Shack Out Back.” And I remember many mornings being out there after I did a radio broadcast, I remember just being so overwhelmed by the way people were and I just got down on my face and prone on the floor, and I’d just cry out to my Lord. And every single time God would so tenderize my heart with a love for even that man who treated me that way, that even with the love came a joy and a sense of wellbeing that when I got up off my knees and I walked outside that place God had already given me the victory. And I didn’t even understand all the terminology of what we’re talking about right here in Galatians 5.
Do we understand that? Do we understand that all of us are human beings and our humanity and our flesh is what we deal with every day? But if we’ll just run to the presence of God, if we’ll just get on our face before Him, God says, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for coming to Me, because I’m the only one that can help you. Nobody else can help you. Now let Me replace you. Let Me fill your heart with a love that you didn’t even know could be there for these people that are treating you that way. Let Me give you a joy; it’s My joy. Let Me let you experience Me.” This is the characteristic of the life of Christ as it enabled Him to go to the cross. This is how He went to the cross, knowing that He was doing the best for you and me. He so loved us that He had a joy. He didn’t look forward to the pain and the suffering and being separated from His Father. But He had a joy knowing that He was doing what was spiritually right for you and I and He was paying a price for us.
In Hebrews 12:2 it says this, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Who, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross. Now, this joy is His joy. And when He puts a love in your heart for the people that are sinners, the people that treat you wrongly, then He’s also going to give you a joy in, when you go to pay whatever price to help them spiritually. The love of Christ in us motivates to do what is necessary. He even gives us the discernment to know what that is. But in doing what is best we have His joy in doing it. Oh, how the Galatians had walked away from this beautiful truth, this beautiful truth. With the love of Christ they could have been loving each other, willing to die if necessary for each other. But instead in Galatians 5:15 he tells us they were biting and devouring one another. They had just walked away from what they could have experienced simply because they chose to do it their way.
It’s a shame. It’s really a shame, a shame in my life, a shame in all of our lives when we choose to do things our own way. We think we’re doing the right thing many times, but we’re not because the fruit is not all manifested in our life. We might be doing one of these things or two of these things and think that it’s right, but no, unless all of them are there then it’s not the same that we’re talking about.
It is this joy that, in answer to the prayer of Jesus, caused the opposite effect. You see, the religious Jew—now I’m not talking about the Jewish people. They’re a precious people. I’m talking about the hardliners—they were so tough and they brought such persecution against Paul and the other believers there. They intended for them to turn away and be defeated but it worked exactly the opposite way. In Acts 13:49, it says, “And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region. But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.” Boy, they were tough. But verse 51 says, “But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.” And then in verse 52, “And the disciples were continually,” in the midst of all this, “were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
But the fruit of His Spirit is love. And with that love, which is a divine resolve to do what’s best for your brother no matter what it costs you, and then with it comes a joy that you’ve not known before. It’s the joy, it’s that inner understanding that God is in control. And then he adds the word “peace.” Ths is the effectiveness, the inward effectiveness of the fruit of God’s character in our life. The word for peace is the word eirene. It’s an inward tranquility. It has to do with knowing you are in God’s favor. This is a beautiful thing. It has to do with the fact that you know, because you know, because you know, that you’re doing God’s will. It’s a deep inward sense of wellbeing. It is His peace we’re talking about, not, not just peace, but His peace.
John 14:27 says, “Peace, I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled nor let it be fearful. My peace I give to you.” Wow! The inner sense of wellbeing He had. Peace is the opposite of the word that means war; it’s the opposite of the word that means anxiety. There’s no anxiety with this peace. It’s the opposite of the word that means to fight or to strive with one another. He said, “I give you My peace. There’s no striving between Me and you, Wayne. I’m going to give you a sense of wellbeing. I’m going to give you that sense of wellbeing to know that you’re in the midst of My will. I have given you a discernment. I have enabled you to meet the needs of your brother. I’ve given you a joy that is beyond anything you’ve ever experienced and within it is a deep, deep seeded sense of wellbeing. You’re being about what I’ve told you to do.”
And don’t confuse this with the peace with God. Peace with God cannot be disturbed. You have it the moment you get saved and nobody can ever take it away from you. That’s Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Don’t misunderstand. We’re not talking about that peace. That peace cannot be disturbed. It’s a relationship that’s been bonded. There’s no conflict between you and God. But what Paul’s talking about is the peace of God. There’s a difference with the peace with God and the peace of God. The peace of God can be disturbed. If we’re not walking by the Spirit we don’t have it. Walk by the Spirit, it’s when we experience that peace of God. This peace Paul describes in Philippians 4:7. He says, “And the peace of God” —if you’ll think on these things, he goes on to say—“the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds with Christ Jesus.
As a matter of fact, Colossians says it’s like a referee. And I like that terminology because I played sports. When that peace is not there, the whistle’s blown, a technical foul is called. Something’s missing in my life; I’m not experiencing Jesus right here. Whatever I’m experiencing it’s not Him, it’s my flesh. God’s peace is a characteristic of His love, it’s the deep inner sense of His wellbeing.
Now let’s see how all this fits. God’s love motivates us with a discernment, first of all, to know what the need is. Then He motivates us with a deep resolve to go and meet that need. And in going and meeting that need, whatever it costs us, that we’re filled with an inner rejoicing. Oh, it’s just so exciting to be about the things that God is about. But also married with that is a deep sense of wellbeing; we’re doing what God wants us to do with the inner joy and the peace that goes with it. You see, many times we’ll go to somebody and think we know their need, but if the joy is not there and the peace is not there—now remember, there are six other things that also have to be there to make certain we understand this, kindness, gentleness, patience. All those other things have to be there because we’re talking about the character of Christ. And again, you can’t separate any of His attributes at any time. Oh, how God’s love is so inwardly effective.
I wonder this morning if you’re being effected by God’s love, deep within. You see, the flesh criticizes whereas the Spirit seeks to reconcile, the Spirit seeks to restore. You say, “Wayne, give me a good example of that.” Well, if you’ll just hang on we’re going to get to chapter 6 soon, and he’s going to give you all the examples you’re going to ever want. When you see your brother in a sin, go to him. Bear ye one another’s burdens. He begins to help you understand how this fleshes itself out.
Now, let’s just apply this. What is your inward motivation toward your brother and sister in Christ? What is it? Right now, if you could draw a circle around yourself, what would you say towards—now listen, I’m not talking about the ones you like. We have a tendency to do that. “Oh, I like _____,” oh, that’s great. No. Think of the ones that are unnerving you. Think of the ones that you don’t like—what is your inward motivation towards them as you think about them this morning? And then, secondly, do you sense the deep desire to do for them what you believe you have discerned is their greatest spiritual need? And then, is there joy associated with this desire? Is it an inner joy that God gives to you? And is there a deep inner peace and a sense of wellbeing to know that this is God’s will and you’re being about what God wants in your life? That’s the bottom line of what Paul’s talking.
Isn’t it great? Isn’t it awesome to walk by the Spirit and begin to experience Him? And when we experience Him, look what happens. We get to experience each other. All of a sudden it’s no longer you and me. It’s us. Isn’t that awesome? And we begin to see each other’s needs and we help each other. And, by the way, nobody has arrived. And this is one of the beautiful things that this love does. It so melts you down that when you even approach a brother, you don’t approach him as somebody who’s gotten beyond him. Oh no! You’re just wanting to take God’s hand and his hand and put them together, and you have the deep inner sense of wellbeing, and that deep rejoicing in your heart.
You see God will create within us a love, even for the people that we don’t even like. And we’ll do whatever it costs us in His power to meet their spiritual need with a joy unspeakable and a peace that passes all understanding.
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Dr. Wayne Barber
Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.