As Christians we are called to live our life in obedience to Christ our Savior. A life lived in submission to Jesus produces spiritual fruit in the believer. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a) Many believers know that a genuine walk with the Lord shows through in that person’s life. They’ve seen people who know the Lord and know what that looks like as it contrasts with the fallen world.
Many people fall into a cycle of trying to rid themselves of the fallenness in their hearts hoping that cleaning up their life will produce Christian maturity. The problem is they are using their flesh to control their flesh. That is contradictory to God’s design. Trying to control a spiritual process leads to self-reliance and pride. We must remember that the acceptance of Christ comes with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That indwelling gives us the ability to mature in the truth given by God’s Word and displayed in Jesus Christ. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26) Indwelling of God’s Spirit creates an inward change in our hearts which develops into an outward manifestation in our lives. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
What we must be sure to understand is: simply trying to correct sin in our lives is futile. What good is there in attacking our sinful nature with a flesh that is also sinful? We must allow the sinfulness in our hearts to be replaced by the Holy Spirit of God. We must allow the darkness of sin to be forced out by the light of God. Just like cold is the absence of heat and darkness is the absence of light; sin is the absence of submission to God’s presence in us. The only way to drive air out of a cup is to fill it with water. In this case it is the living water found through Jesus Christ. Focus in being filled with the Holy Spirit and submitting. This will give you the ability to live a life where sin and its penalty (death) have no hold over you.
The verse below talks about sin returning to a heart it has been removed from. When that heart isn’t filled with the good of God the sin has a place to return to. Think of addictions. When good habits aren’t developed the bad ones have a foothold to reoccur. The same is true with sin in our lives. Let the Holy Spirit dwell in your heart and leave no room for the deceiver to pull you away from the Father.
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45)
2 Peter 1:7-9
As God works in your life and changes your heart to resemble His Spirit and not the darkness of the earth, your goodness will flow from you. All good comes from God. (3 John 1:11) Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. Your goodness comes directly from Him as the source. The goodness that comes from you separates you from a life in darkness and guides you into the light. You also become a source of light as you reflect the light of Jesus to the world. Goodness requires selfless action. When this goodness of God through a believer changes their perspective of life, they begin to seek all the goodness of God and that leads them toward the next step which is knowledge. Only in Jesus can we see what the goodness of God looks like without being tarnished by our sin and the influence of this world.
2 Peter 1:7-9
Faith is the initial step to salvation. Faith that Jesus died in your place as a sacrifice to God for your sin. Faith that He rose from the grave and was seated at the right hand of God. Faith that Jesus will return at the end of this time to bring the faithful into the presence of God where they will have their inheritance of eternal life. As that initial faith develops it becomes faith in God’s work in this new life. Faith that He has a better plan than our own, and that we will find joy in His plan for our life. A joy that far surpasses the happiness we are content with when we walk alone. (Romans 8:28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. A complete faith comes from giving God complete control and all of your trust. When you accept God’s lead and follow Him in all things including your daily walk, you can understand His goodness. That goodness can now pour forth from you to others as they see the work of the Lord in your life.
(2 Peter 1:5-9) 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Godliness-> Mutual Affection
Mutual Affection-> Love
This passage refers to what is to happen once a believer has been saved through acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit matures in the believer and here are what might be viewed as steps in the maturation process. A solid foundation on one step allows for secure ascension to the next. The highest step is love which happens to the ultimate command/desire of God, both for Him and others.
(Matthew 22:37-39) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.