Last week we covered all but one of the fruit of the Spirit. The one we did not cover is Faith. This is how the word is presented in the KJV, but in some of the newer translations, including the NKJV, the word faithfulness is used.
To be truthful, faithfulness is a better translation than faith in this instance. Consider what types of words that the lusts and the fruit have been: they have been adjectives. The word faith could be used in a variety of ways: noun, verb, adjective. If we were to say, "The faith", then we are speaking of the Christian faith, the essence of the Gospel, Jesus Christ and Him crucified, which would be a noun. But when we speak of exhibiting or keeping faith in "the faith", then the word would be a verb. Let me explain more thoroughly.
If "the faith" (a noun), as we just mentioned, ultimately describes the covenant God offered sinful humanity: Jesus Christ and Him crucified, then when we exhibit trust or belief in that truth, the word faith now has action- we are actively believing.
However, in the passages we have been studying recently the words were descriptive, describing behaviors, behaviors that we said could act as a mirror in our lives. These adjectives describe the behaviors we exhibit; therefore, they are an indicator of whether we are walking in the flesh or the Spirit, depending upon our produce.
Ultimately, the point I am trying to make is that faithfulness in this passage is another fruit of the Spirit; it is another adjective of the Spirit that is produced in the life of the believer. When the believer steadfastly keeps his faith in "the faith" (Jesus Christ- the promised seed & Him Crucified- the sacrifice), the Holy Spirit produces the adjective faithfulness in his life.
Faithfulness- constancy, steadfastness, assurance.
As we determine to keep our faith properly anchored in Christ, the Holy Spirit responds by producing faithfulness in our lives, which strengthens our ability to keep faith in Christ, resulting in our growing in Christ, which means we will look more like Him and less like us every day.
This provides a wonderful transition into chapter 6.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
I say it provides a good transition because what Paul exhorts in verse 1 of chapter 6 is what Jesus did for all of us. Obviously, there were some in Galatia who were still holding onto the doctrine that Paul had taught them when he was there. He refers to them as the "spiritual" ones. A spiritual Christian will emulate the actions of Jesus. Some of the believer's had turned to the doctrine of the Judaizer's, which was resulting in the production of sinful fruit in their lives. Paul's exhortation is: do not cause division and strife producing factions; instead, restore, restore with gentleness, kindness, and selflessness. Ultimately, this is what Jesus did for us. If we are not careful, we will want to write off people when they connect themselves to false doctrine and find themselves in a mess. Our fruit may want to say, "Oh well, we warned you, didn't we?" But remember the fruit of long suffering- patience in relationships.
If you walk around with a spirit of pride rather than humility about someone else's faults and failures, you may find yourself struggling in the same sin. Ultimately, these failing Galatians are failing because they have embraced a false Gospel. It should be understood that this is also the plight of the modern church.
Pulpits across America have been infiltrated with a works based, social, or greed gospel that focuses on people's physical rather than spiritual needs, resulting in apathetic Christians, Christians who live lukewarm sinful lives, lives that are bound and incapable of seeing past their own two feet, incapable of seeing that there is a soul they work with, go to school with, or keep bumping into at Wal- Mart, a soul that is slipping into an eternal hell full of torment, torment and torture from ruthless demon spirits, and it all occurs because the Christian was bound in sin and asleep on the job.
You preach too hard man! No! I don't preach hard enough. How dare we fall asleep on the job. The very ones who have been entrusted with the oracles of God falling asleep at the wheel as humanity travels closer and closer to the end of this journey called the church age. Wake up Christian!
Arise! Rub rust away from lead filled eyes, yawn and stretch and stand up right.
Awaken sleepy Christian! Prepare! Engage the fight!
The battle rages! Conflict ensues!
And the eternity of that soul right there includes the use of you !
Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of (the) Christ.
Jesus didn't give up on you Christian. Don't you give up on another believer. You pray for them, exhort them, share the Gospel with them, and bear their burdens; we need to help each other through this thing. The forces of evil are trying to destroy us. Jesus bore our burdens and we need to be willing to bear the burdens of our brothers'. I can't bear your sin. Jesus already did that, but I can encourage you. I can help instruct you in the ways of God.
In the life of a true Christian, failure will produce a burdensome process of grief. This Christian requires the help of a spiritually mature brother or sister in the Lord, a Christian producing the Spirit's fruit, fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering; this failing Christian does not need the help of a lust producing Christian who is full of selfishness and has no time for anyone other than himself.
For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
The idea of the word prove describes a testing, testing similar to the way metal is tested; when fire is applied to metal, a lot of information is extracted. Different levels of temperature are required to produce melting points for different types of metals; additionally, when enough heat is applied, the impurities are removed from the metal's nature, resulting in a purer product.
Similarly, the life of the believer is tested through trials and the resulting response that ensues. Does the Christian respond in a God honoring way, or does he produce the lusts of the flesh in response to the heat that is applied to his life. In addition, trials and tribulations provide opportunities for Christians to reflect on their response to those situations, providing a context of how not to respond in the future.
The main idea in this passage though is related to what was said right before it. Previously, Paul said that the spiritual Christian restores a fallen brother with meekness and gentleness; essentially, he is concerned for the well-being of that person, but the idea here is that a Christian who lacks spiritual maturity may look at another person's failure as an opportunity to judge himself righteous in comparison. We have spoken of this multiple times, but this is called relative righteousness. In other words, relative to what they do, I am righteous; but you are not the standard; they are not the standard; I am not the standard; Jesus is the standard!
So the Christian who perceives himself as something spiritual when comparing himself to other Christians around him is deceiving himself. Instead, he should rightly judge his own fruit, his own responses to situations and circumstances; this provides a better context, a context for accurate assessment of his own Christianity.
Ultimately, if this assessment results in a passed test, he has something to glory about regarding himself. We need to be careful here because the idea is not a prideful glorying of self. Contrarily, the idea is that because the believer has submitted himself to the truth of the Gospel, faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified; he has been granted access to the presence and the grace, access to the presence and grace of God produces the life of God on the inside of the believer, resulting in the production of the Spirit's fruit in his life, resulting in joy (glorying) in the fact that the old man and his behaviors are dying daily, while the new man and his behaviors are resembling Jesus more and more every day.
For every man shall bear his own burden.
Ultimately, a process of growth and spiritual maturity results where the believer is able to endure the trials and bear the burdens he has been called to bear, growing in Christ as he journeys over these hills and through these valleys, eventually able to help bear the burdens of others as they embark upon this journey called Christianity.