Live The Alternative Part 2

April 3, 2013

Galatians 5:15-5:26

Last week we discussed the World’s or establishment’s lifestyle. The normal lifestyle if you please. This week we will study the only true alternative lifestyle, that of the Spirit. It is rare and radically different from normal. As the works of the flesh are manifest or open for all to see so also should the works or fruit of the Spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

The fruit of any tree is determined by the makeup of the tree. Unless there is human intervention by grafting you will not see peaches on an apple tree or grapes on a strawberry bush.
In the case of the fruit of the Spirit, unless we are a branch of the Vine we cannot bring forth fruit. We must be open to the flow of the Spirit through us or our fruit will be dried, shriveled, and small in quantity. (John 15:1-8) Indeed, the saved or saints are branches of wild grapevines grafted into the Vine. The fruit that comes is not of our true nature. We could never produce it. We can only receive it. (Romans 11:17-24)
While we appreciate the blossoms of a fruit tree or vine and seeing the fruit mature, we look forward to the completion of that maturation and the pie or preserves that will result from that completion. We do not want to just look at it. We want to benefit from that fruit. We want some sort of nourishment and tangible pleasure from that fruit.
The word fruit in the Greek is not fruit on the tree or vine. It is plucked fruit! Fruit that is mature and ready to provide nourishment to the partaker. It is not plastic fruit to decorate but potent, proactive fruit to revolutionize our life and the lives of those around us. It is meant to alleviate spiritual hunger and bring the joy of Heaven and our salvation into a form that all can benefit from.
Too many Christians are looking for the fruit of the Spirit to just decorate their life for people to see. “Look at me, I have this fruit or that fruit of the Spirit! Aren’t I wonderful and beautiful to behold?” That is the wrong reason!!!  We are to take that fruit and with His help bake it into a sweet and rich pie of His precious promises and offer it to the spiritually starving. We are to be used in allowing that fruit to be processed through the pressures and heat of this life and sweetened by the comforts that God gives us in that processing. We are to become vessels of His preserving power that He opens and spreads on the Bread of Life to bring sustenance to the wounded and hurting.
The first fruit mentioned is love. As the vanity of the flesh hung on three categories, the lust of eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life all the laws fell under two and both fell under love. (Matt 22:32-40) The writings of man abound with love songs, poems and stories. Yet, it is still “the only thing that there is just too little of.” Why? Because the flesh lifestyle has no clue as to what it is and there are just too few who practice the Spirit lifestyle.
Only self and various lusts motivate fleshly love. A person loves one who loves them and that usually translates as meeting their needs or demands. When the other person fails to do so then love ends. When the thrill of possessing another person wanes, then the love for the person ends. It rests in the emotions that fluctuate worse than Texas temperatures. God’s Spirit love, agape, does not fluctuate. It is not self-seeking or based upon lusts. It loves because it does. The object of that love is chosen because it is chosen. It does not have to deserve it. It has no way to maintain it. It is a consistent, committed love of choice. God chose to love man and He has been through thick and thin with mankind. He manifested His love through sacrificing His Son for our salvation even when we and the rest of mankind was shaking our fist in His face and cursing His name.
If we are truly walking in the alternative lifestyle of the Spirit, we will exhibit the same kind of love. We will choose to love people because He does and He uses His Spirit to show that love. We will choose to love all people because He does.  Yes, He is angry at the wicked, but He loves them and wants them to be saved. (Psalm 7:11,12; 2 Peter 3:9) He did send the Spirit to reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. (John 16:8) He cannot lie to them, or look past their sin without the Blood of Christ. He must speak the truth to them, but He does it in love and so should we. (Eph 4:15)
I recently saw a post on an Internet newsgroup where someone was lambasting a certain group of people. He would quote Scripture, but then actually curse and swear in his “witness” to them. I was not impressed and neither should those folks in that group or any other sinner for that matter. There was not love in the message and there was no truth since He did not truly convey God’s message. He merely tried to justify his own hate and veil it in Christian terms. He missed the whole point of God’s message and character. The first fruit of the spirit is love. It is not a love of sin or a condoning of sin, but it is rejecting the sin while seeking to redeem and reconcile the sinner. Father; grant us this first fruit so that we may bring forth the rest of them.
The world is looking for happiness or rather the fulfillment of all their various lusts, which cannot happen. The Law of Diminishing Return proposes that whatever satisfies us today will not satisfy us forever at the same level. This is why folks who get pleasure from marijuana usually move on to other drugs. This is why people increase their alcohol and tobacco consumption. Our bodies adapt and we need more to excite the senses. Therefore, pleasure or happiness that is created by external means or circumstances will fade. We can become jaded and nothing satisfies us. We fulfill our lusts, but they are just habits and no longer truly pleasurable. We take extreme health risks and become perverts to chase what we cannot control.
Joy is an internal state of calm delight or cheerfulness. We are at peace with ourselves, our circumstances and mainly with God. Because we are experiencing the fruit of agape love in our lives we accept without reservation all the promises of Romans 8 that nothing can separate us from His love and that all will work together for our good because we love Him and are called according to His purpose. We can experience great loss because we are experiencing His great love, which can never be lost. We can experience great gain with the proper humility and gratefulness because we are already experiencing the greatest gain we could ever receive. That internal joy based upon His love is how we find contentment and are motivated to godliness.  The flesh life defines peace as removal of all obstacles or frustrations. The Spirit life defines peace as quietness and prosperity in the midst of adversity.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (KJV)

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world, ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (KJV)

Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (KJV)

How did the disciples stand persecution, exile, and execution? They had the peace of God. How did many saints face lions and stakes with smiles on their faces, songs and verses on their lips? It is past understanding because it is the peace of God. How did the young lady in Littleton look into a gun barrel and confess her faith? She had already seen death around her and surely, she had to know this mad man was going to kill her. She had to have the peace of God. We may not have a life of ease and prosperity like the fleshly peace desires, but we will prosper in a way that lasts for eternity and no thief or murderer can take from us.
Longsuffering is patience that waits a long time for what it desires to see happen. God has been longsuffering with mankind. He has waited for them to love Him. He is still waiting. He was longsuffering with Paul as he went about persecuting the Christians. He has been longsuffering with us.
Paul eventually met Christ on the Damascus Road and we met Him on ours. Many have met Him since Adam and many more will meet Him before He returns. He waited for all them and us to become His children. However, longsuffering does not mean never ending patience. He destroyed the world with water. He will destroy it with fire one day. Many have entered eternity unsaved.
We need to be longsuffering with the lost. We cannot be short with them expecting them to act like Christians when Christians do not always act like Christians. We need to extend the same patience in love to them that Christ extends to us.
Gentleness is kindness denoting compassion and courtesy. Sadly, too many that name the name of Christ are rude and crude with the lost and with each other. The Greek word is derived from the word for usefulness. Of what usefulness is rudeness? It does not endear you to the lost person who needs to see the love of Christ. It is not useful for those in the family, either.  At times, Christ and the Apostles had to be harsh with the Pharisees and Judaizers, but these were rare instances. We so often interpret screaming and calling people names as taking our stand for Christ and the truth when in reality we are being unkind and uncouth.
Christ was gentle with the woman at the well and the woman taken in adultery. I am not so sure that some of today’s ministers would have done the same. I have only banged the pulpit once in years and I broke it. I was imitating one of my not so gentle brethren, and the pulpit broke and my congregation broke up laughing. I do not think anyone who knows me would say that I sidestep any issues or back off when I believe that I am right. I manage to do this without yelling, denigrating people or throwing things. I am not perfect and I have been unkind at times in my life, but I am working on it and trying to live the alternative.
Don’t get me wrong, I like impassioned preaching. I can get quite impassioned about an issue, but I do not have to sound like I am in a Honky Tonk mouth battle to share my passion over the issue. Brother Johnny Campbell is my favorite Evangelist and he gets quite impassioned about his preaching, but he loves people and hates the devil. He is kind to people and harsh to satan. He has the proper understanding of who is the enemy and fights accordingly. May we all seek that balance and understanding.
Goodness is internal virtue or character, but it is not just something to possess for self-interests. It takes into beneficence or generosity. Your goodness is supposed to be in you, but it is ordained to flow out of you in random acts of charity. The Spirit always creates within for the purpose of the creation to pour out into the world to change it and provide its spiritual needs.
Faith is the assurance of your belief. We have seen many definitions of faith. Forsaking All I Take Him is a good one, but Paul under the inspiration of the Spirit defines it best.

Heb 11:1-3
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (KJV)

Faith is the confidence and evidence of things unseen. While God shows us many things, we still see through a glass darkly and walk by faith and not by sight. (I Cor 13:12; II Cor 5:7)
It is how we please God. It is trust. It has been the bottom line issue for God from Eden and will be until the new heavens and earth. (Heb 11:6; Hab 2:4) Faith is antithetical to works. The flesh wants to work that it may glory before man and God in its accomplishments. The Spirit lifestyle lives by faith in He who has done the work. Faith is everything. When all your senses say, “Yea hath God said?” faith says, “I know whom I have believed!”

23 Meekness, temperance: against such, there is no law.

Faith is confident in God and is not arrogant. Meekness is being ’umble. Too many portray the spirit lifestyle in a way that says God knew what He was doing when He picked me. However, you, you poor miserable sinner might get lucky to get what I have. What a terrible presentation of the God who is no respecter of persons and such a terrible understanding of the grace of God.
None of us were worthy and all of us were beggars on whom riches were poured out on in mercy and grace. There are no bragging rights there! All we can do is brag on God! We are to be like a starving man who finds food and runs back to the others he was hanging out with under the bridge and sharing the address so they can also be fed and. That address is John 3:16 or for those on the other side of the town without transportation, it is I John 5:11-13.
Temperance is self-control or rather control of self. The flesh tries self-control, and fails miserably. If self is to be controlled it must be controlled by the Spirit. The flesh tries to reform, attends seminars, is hypnotized, or practices rigid rituals chanting various mantras. They fail because the flesh is sold under sin and is at war with the Spirit as we saw in verse 17.  Self must be controlled in many areas. When we think of temperance, the history students among us think of the Women’s Temperance Union movement against the sale of alcohol. That actually was a misnomer because they wanted no drinking of alcohol not self-control or Spirit control of self. Prohibition would have been a better word for them to use. We have seen the results of failure to have the self controlled in the area of alcohol.
Heartbreak occurs in many areas of lost control. Drugs, tobacco, anger, bitterness, jealousy, all forms of impurity, and one of my own struggles, eating, as well as other sins of the tongue can create all sorts of havoc in the life of the person out of control and the lives of the people around them.  The degree of lost control varies, but the pain and potential for greater pain is always there. An angry person may not shoot someone, but his or her vitriolic words may destroy a person just as completely and leave him or her in a Zombic state of emotional death.
We were meant to walk in a balanced state of mind, emotion, and will. Sin destroyed that balance and the Spirit lifestyle restores it. The S.A.F.E. program is a means to lead folks into understanding and achieving that balance through saturation of Scripture and godly principles while building a support group within the family of God.
So many are trying to keep the law. The law was meant for the flesh. It is an instruction manual designed to show us our need for a change in the core of our being. It was not designed to be a prescription for our problem, but a description of it that would be so evident that we would fervently seek the prescription of the new birth and the alternative lifestyle in the Spirit.
When you walk in the Spirit you are not under the law and for there is no law against the fruits of the Spirit. Indeed, they are like the free foods on a diet that you can eat all you want without guilt. No one will say a thing and the greatest thrill is that the fruits of the Spirit are so much sweeter, filling, and bring about strength that no fleshy food could even imagine.
One Christian comedian once commented on the laundry lists of dos and don’ts that some Christians live by saying, “I just figured if I concentrated on doing the dos, I wouldn’t have time to do the don’ts.” Better yet, open yourself up to the Holy Spirit completely and be led by Him and you will not even have to worry about the dos because the fruit will just come. Concentrate on Jesus and let Him live His life through you.
The letter of the law is to condemn the guilty and to let us know if we are going astray from the alternative lifestyle. The Spirit understands the law and will not lead us into anything contrary to the law. He will lead us into the understanding of the spirit of the law and into a life that transcends it. I would like to share a couple of quotes with you here.
“Forget about trying to be like Him. Instead of letting that fill your mind and heart, let Him fill it. Just behold Him, look upon Him through the Word. Come to the Word for one purpose and that is to meet the Lord. Not to get your head crammed full of things about the sacred Word, but come to it to meet the Lord. Make it a medium, not of Biblical scholarship, but of fellowship with Christ. Behold the Lord!” – Norman Douty

Some missionary students asked their mentor what they should tell the Chinese people. He replied, “Sit down at the feet of Jesus, and then tell the Chinese what you see.” – Dr. John G. Mitchell

I have had these written in my Bible for years. I know nothing else about these men or even where I got the quotes. They spoke to me and I put them somewhere I could find them.  As much as I am told that I have the gift of teaching, I do not consider myself a scholar or a theologian. I am not against the concept of such people, but I do believe we Gentiles have gone very overboard and often miss the Lord while studying the minutia. Christ taught His twelve in three years and we ideally want thirteen years to train a minister. We may need to reconsider His teaching methods.
The other extreme is not good either and we may mistake human reasoning and opinions for the Word of the Lord by failure to study. I have heard many a “good” sermon that crashed and burned when I went home and studied for as little as fifteen minutes and knew that the preacher had not studied at all and in one case thoroughly misrepresented God’s character amidst a cacophony of Amens!
Hence, I encourage all that hear and read this lesson to be as Bereans and study the Word to see if these things are so and not just assume that I am perfect. Though I am instructed to speak as an oracle of God, no man speaks ex cathedra, and I point you to your High Priest. (1 Peter 4:11; Heb 4:14-5:14) I am as human as any man and though my intent is make the Word as clear as possible sticking to His opinion and not mine, I might still err and need to be enlightened by one of you. If you are saved, you have the same access to God as I have and can even be wiser than one trained and ordained. God is the supreme trainer. You just have to make yourself available to His teaching.

24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

The flesh is dead in the Christian. That is why it is Paul says “God forbid!” to the concept of we who are dead to sin should live in sin as if it somehow advances God’s cause of grace. (Rom 6:1,2) Affection is not our liking the flesh, but more of the suffering and afflictions we experienced while living in the flesh. We can put them in the grave as we walk in the Spirit. The liking of the flesh lifestyle falls under the lusts, which speaks to longing for the forbidden.
If everyone who names the name of Christ is honest there are certain lusts that still draw us. The flesh is not completely dead in our daily lives. It may be in a coma or clinically dead, but the devil still animates parts of it from time to time.
While God declares us righteous and the flesh dead judicially, we are still in a process. That is why II Cor 5:17 says, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away behold, all things are become new.” (KJV) Become new does not mean become perfect. Our new life is described in terms of desiring milk and growing into meat and learning to discern. (I Peter 2:2; Heb 5:13,14) Therefore, we are given the next verse as an injunction to let the new life be manifest.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Saved people live in the Spirit. Without the Spirit, no one belongs to God. (Rom 8:9) If we or since we are living in the Spirit, we are to walk in Him also. The word for walk is a military term. I had no idea when I entered the military in 1970 as a hippie child trying to get away from home that I would get a lot of training that would help me understand the Bible in years to come. The word means to keep in step in a regular line.
Those who have watched any kind of military or marching unit know that when everyone is in step the movements are precise and graceful. Let a bunch of green recruits out there and heads are bobbing up and down with people doing a hop and a skip trying to get back into step and it looks chaotic and at times funny. Unless of course you are the TI (Technical Instructor) or the one out of step, then it is certainly not funny!!!
The reason that the lost find us funny or chaotic is that so many of us are out of step with the Spirit. We cannot expect them to applaud or salute us when we look like rainbow recruits not knowing our hay foot from our straw foot instead of the disciplined, Spirit controlled Christian soldiers we are meant to be. If we are alive and live in the Spirit, then let us stay in step with Him.
Father, grant us the wisdom to allow Your Spirit to flow through us that we may live the alternative lifestyle You redeemed us to live. Hedge us in thorns that the evil one will not be able to animate our dead flesh. Let it remain in the grave. May we lockstep with the Spirit and walk in the victory Christ has won for us.


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