Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Works vs. Fruit

Ok, so I said I was going to get back to some of my favorite definitions - but that will have to wait for another day, when I don't have anything else I've been thinking about! I just finished some time in Galatians, and I wanted to share something that is just starting to make sense to me. I was reading Gal. 5:16-26, and was looking specifically at verse 19 and verse 22. Here's what they say:
Vs. 19-21 - "Now, the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Vs. 22 - 23 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
Here's the thing that hit me - notice how, in verse 19, the word "deeds" is used, and it is plural. In verse 22, the word "fruit" is used, and it is singular. As I mentioned previously, I love words - and think God intended to use the exact words He used in the exact places He used them, in conjunction with each other (so, in other words, context is also key!). So why did Paul use a these two words? The word "deeds" refers to things we do (according to the concordance, the word used means "an act, deed, thing done - the idea of working is ephasised in opposition to that which is less than work"). The list which follows is not meant to be exhaustive, but simply an example of what we do in the flesh - what we do when we try to do things on our own. The same word is used when referring to "works" vs. faith. Left to our own devices, these are the types of things we do. We might do all of them, but we do some of them! However, in verse 22, the word fruit is used in the singular sense because, when the Holy Spirit works in you, you become someone new. You don't just do better things - you ARE better.
So, here's a summary of what I got - God doesn't want us to be simply good rule-followers. If that's all He wanted, He would have just given us the law and left us to our own devices. Instead, He wants us to be new people. And the only way that can happen is by the grace of God: Eph 2:8-9 says "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of WORKS (there's that same word as in Gal. 5:19), so that no one may boast." For years, I thought that if I did everything I thought God wanted me to do (not by following Old Testament Law, but by "being a good person" and not stealing or cheating, reading my Bible, praying, etc.), I would be saved. I was wrong - not only was I not "saved," I was miserable! Why was I miserable? Because the law only serves to condemn and bring about death. It only points out what I was doing wrong because, ultimately, that's all the law can do. But when I gave myself to God and asked Him to live inside of me, that's when I became truly free - and that's when I was no longer miserable! Because, when you give yourself to God, when the Holy Spirit lives inside of you and when you listen to that still, small voice, you are changed. You become a different person. And it is through no act of your own, so you can't boast about it in the least! So that's my insight for today . . .

No comments: