Sunday Evening Bible Study
June 23, 1996
Paul is writing to a group of churches which have been infected with a doctrine of legalism.
But after having taught them why it's important not to be living under the Law, trying to please God on their own, they are now faced with another situation, the danger that happens when you take the Law away from people:
Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
And so Paul has begun teaching on the issue of how to handle the the flesh, with the main key being:
Ga 5:16 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
We've looked at the "works of the flesh", identifying when that sinful nature of ours it at work by looking at the things it produces in our lives.
Now we are looking at the singular "fruit of the Spirit".
It's a single fruit that has nine different characteristics.
The more we grow in the Lord, the more we learn to "walk in the Spirit" (vs.16), the more these qualities will appear.
:22 the fruit of the Spirit is ...
chara - joy, gladness
It comes from the Greek word chairo - to rejoice, be glad
It's real, deeper meaning: joy, gladness.
As I've been looking at some of the instances where this word (in the Greek) occurs, I've found some interesting things.
1. Joy by itself doesn't do much
Mt 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; (AV)
This is the parable of the sower and the seeds, and with the stony soil, though the seed springs up quickly, it afterwords withers.
Joy by itself doesn't guarantee anything.
The joy didn't make the seed grow healthy.
Don't be looking for joy, or making joy by itself your chief goal in life.
2. Joy may be based upon circumstances.
Mt 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. (AV)
The wise men were glad because they saw the star that led them to Jesus. It's not a bad thing!
Mt 28:8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. (AV)
When the two Mary's realized that Jesus had rose from the dead, they were happy! It's not a bad thing!
3Jo 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (AV)
Really, John's joy here isn't bad, but it's based upon hearing that these believers are walking with the Lord
3. Joy does not have to be dependant upon circumstances.
2Cor.7:2-4 Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 4 I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (NIV)
Even in his troubles (tribulations), Paul had joy without bounds.
Joy doesn't have to be dependant upon circumstances.
2Cor.8:1-5 Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, 2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. 3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, 5 and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. (NAS)
These people had lots of problems, but they also had lots of joy.
A Hindu trader in India once asked a missionary, "What do you put on your face to make it shine?" With surprise the man of God answered, "I don't put anything on it!" His questioner began to lose patience and said emphatically, "Yes, you do!" All of you who believe in Jesus seem to have it. I've seen it in the towns of Agra and Surat, and even in the city of Bombay." Suddenly the Christian understood, and his face glowed even more as he said, "Now I know what you mean, and I will tell you the secret. It's not something we put on from the outside but something that comes from within. It's the reflection of the light of God in our hearts.
READ the letter from "Father I AM"
4. Joy comes from faithful obedience to the Lord.
Mt 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, [thou] good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (AV)
This is the parable of the talents, and the reward that the Master gives for faithful obedience is joy.
Joh 15:9-11 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and [that] your joy might be full. (AV)
Joy comes from obeying what Jesus speaks to you
1Jo 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (AV)
It's not just reading the letter from John that gives full joy, but obeying it!
The frontier lay before us. "Therefore have I set my face like a flint" were words from Isaiah which held me steady when I first decided to go to Ecuador, and they held me steady this time as well. Obedience to God was the reason for this journey.
It was a good thing for me to remind myself of the reason because, on top of everything, it was really great fun. It was an adventure and held the thrill of adventure, and if I put my mind on the things set before rather than on the things that were behind, I had no sense whatever of gritting my teeth and doing the thing I disliked. It was the thing I was made for and I was full of gladness.
-- Elizabeth Elliot, The Strange Ashes,
Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1975
A man came to the pastor one time and said, "I don't know what's wrong with my life, but that first Christian joy I knew has passed by. I still live a moral life. I go to church. But how can I recover the lost radiance of my faith?" His pastor said, "this is what you should do: go to the store and buy a big basketful of groceries and go to an address of a poor family I will give you. Then when you have given your gift, you sit down with them to find out what they need. Let them know that you are interested in them and that you are their friend. Then lead them in the Lord's Prayer before you leave, and the radiance will come back."
5. Joy comes from the confidence that flows from the Lord.
Ps 28:7 The LORD [is] my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. (AV)
When your security comes from holding onto God's hand, He can fill your heart with joy.
Php 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: [and] again I say, Rejoice. (AV)
It's "in the Lord" that we can always find the ability to rejoice.
He cares about me. He loves me. He'll help me.
Php 3:1 ¶ Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed [is] not grievous, but for you [it is] safe. (AV)
You can't remind yourself too much.
She was famous among her friends for her happy attitude toward life. No one every heard her sitting back complaining over the darkness of her days. A friend in England thought she knew the reason Miss Crosby could be so happy and brave and she wrote the following:
Sweet blind singer across the sea,
Tuneful and jubilant, how can it be?
That the songs of gladness, which float so far,
As if it fell from the evening star.
Are the notes of one who never may see visible music of
flowers and tree?
How can she sing in the dark like this?
What is her fountain of light and bliss?
Her heart can see, her heart can see!
May long she sing so joyously!
For the Lord himself in his tender grace
Hath shown her the brightness of his face.
Kaufmann Kohler states in the Jewish Encyclopedia that no language has as many words for joy and rejoicing as does Hebrew. In the Old Testament thirteen Hebrew roots, found in twenty-seven different words, are used primarily for some aspect of joy or joyful participation in religious worship. Hebrew religious ritual demonstrates God as the source of joy. In contrast to the rituals of other faiths of the East, Israelite worship was essentially a joyous proclamation and celebration. The good Israelite regarded the act of thanking God as the supreme joy of his life. Pure joy is joy in God as both its source and object. The psalmist says, "Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fullness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures forevermore". (Psalm 16:11)
6. Joy comes from the Holy Spirit.
Acts 13:48-52 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. 51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.
The people had joy when they heard the gospel.
The disciples had joy when they were filled with the Holy Ghost, even though they had been kicked out of the city.
Ro 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (AV)
Joy that comes from the Holy Spirit is one of the things that the kingdom of God is all about.
It's not an optional thing, only for those with a lighter, cheerful type of personality.
1Thess. 1:5-7 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
They had much affliction, but they had joy from the Holy Ghost too!