Being Led and Transformed by the Holy Spirit - page 5


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Knowing & Doing

From the Winter 2016 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Being Led and Transformed by the Holy Spirit

by Thomas A. Tarrants III,  D.Min.
Vice President for Ministry & Director
Washington Area Fellows Program, C.S. Lewis Institute

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  • Kindness is an attitude of graciousness and goodwill toward others, especially those who do not deserve it. Kindness is an expression of love that goes above and beyond what is warranted and demonstrates the kindness of God. It resists all harshness and coldness toward others.
  • Goodness is love and kindness in action, an expression of moral excellence. It gives generously and spends itself to help others, without any expectation of return.
  • Faithfulness is a matter of being trustworthy and reliable to God and to others, being dependable and true to one’s word and commitments, someone in whom others can have confidence.
  • Gentleness is not weakness but strength under control, rooted in humility. Jesus was gentle yet capable of expressing righteous indignation, when appropriate. Gentleness is not arrogant, doesn’t bully or force others, but is considerate and exercises mildness in dealing with them.
  • Self-control engages both mind and body in the business of properly regulating one’s life in all its parts. The scope of self-control ranges from such mundane matters as food and drink to material possessions, to one’s thought life, to speech, to the expression of emotions and much more, but with special attention to sexual matters and the mastery of our passions.

  Though not an exhaustive list, these nine characteristic traits that are the fruit of the Holy Spirit, taken together, form a beautiful portrait of Jesus as we see Him in the Gospels. In their Christ-centered selflessness, they stand in stark contrast to the self-centered life of the flesh. They are supernatural in nature and not a human attainment, though we have an essential role in their blossoming. They do not appear piecemeal but all together. Nor do they appear in full bloom but mature over time as we continue to walk in the Spirit and put sin to death. Not only do they have a personal dimension; they also have a community dimension that blesses and edifies fellow believers and strengthens the unity of the church.
  What part do we play in the blossoming of the Spirit’s fruit in our lives? After listing the fruit of the Spirit, Paul reminds the believers that they “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (v. 24). This is his way of describing their original turning to Christ from their sin. As he said in Romans, “We know that our old self was crucified with him [Christ] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (Rom. 6:6). The image of “crucifixion” depicts our turning from sin in repentance and to Christ in faith—dying to the old life and coming alive to the new. The effect of this is that the bondage and enslavement of our will to sin has been broken, and we are now liberated and able to say no to sin. This does not mean that we cannot sin anymore; rather, it means we have been set free to obey God. However, we must choose to yield ourselves, body and soul, to Him (Rom. 6:12–14). If we don’t, we will remain mired in sin. That is why Paul goes on to say to the Galatians, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by [keep in step with] the Spirit” (v. 25). The Spirit leads and empowers us to walk in obedience to God.
  How does this work in practice? Being led by the Spirit, walking by the Spirit, keeping in step with the Spirit, is predicated on our having previously surrendered ourselves wholeheartedly to God in response to His grace. This surrender is an act of the will, a choice we make; it is saying yes to God and the Spirit’s leading and no to the desires of the flesh. However, it is precisely here that many of us have a problem. Research has shown that the vast majority of professing believers in the American church have never made such a surrender of themselves to God. They have never taken a decisive stand against the flesh—their old sinful self and its desires—and put God first in their lives.

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