This week, we’re continuing our message series entitled, “The Fight.” So far, we learned about how to identify our true enemy as well as our allies. We’ve also learned about prayer and the word of God; two of the most powerful weapons at our disposal that actually demolish the strongholds of our enemy. Last week, we learned about unstoppable weapons at our disposal that no other weapon can stand against; the fruits of the Spirit. This week, we end our series by continuing through those weapons that we often refer to as fruits.
We’ve already covered love, joy, peace, and patience. Today, we move on starting with the trio of kindness, goodness, and gentleness. These three are very much alike in their attributes and they are becoming rarer and rarer, even among Christians. Nothing changes a whiney, complainy, angry, or hostile atmosphere faster than these three weapons, though. Nothing can calm a cool head faster than a kind word, an act of goodness toward them, or gentleness in return to hostility.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Though there are a few out there, generally speaking, it isn’t the wrath of God that draws us close to Him, but rather, His loving-kindness. In Revelation 16 as God’s wrath is being poured out during the tribulation period, the hordes of people curse Him, refusing to repent and glorify Jesus and even gather to wage war against Him. No, generally speaking, it is the loving-kindness of God that draws us to repentance.
I used to be a fierce warrior in the name of apologetics trying to win every argument believing that it would win people to Christ. Honestly, it drove far more people from Christ than leading them to Him. I would run toward an argument and refused to back down! These encounters were unfortunately void of the fruits of the Spirit, but definitely stirred up the fruits of the flesh! God’s word teaches us a better way:
2 Timothy 2:23-24
23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
Faithfulness. Anyone who has ever tried to lead any event understands how lacking faithfulness is in our culture. It’s difficult to get anyone to commit themselves to anything these days. Even employers have a difficult time to get employees to be faithful to their jobs. This reveals that not even money is enough of a motive anymore to faithfully show up and put in a full day’s work.
Remaining faithfully committed to Jesus, however, is the only way to win the fights that we face. Walking faithfully with Him, being led by the Spirit is the only way for us to walk in victory. We’ll talk a bit more about this one later.
Self-control. When the fight is on and it involves other people, this is the most important weapon available to us. We cannot control anything about anyone other than ourselves. We must do what is right, but we cannot control how others are going to respond. When the fight is on, it is critically important for us to remember that, “My response is my responsibility.”
When a skunk gets stepped on, it isn’t the pressure applied by the person that is at fault for the stink. After all, if a rose were to be stepped on with the same pressure by the same person, it would put off quite a different aroma. The scriptures teach us that our response simply reveal what is within us.
If I respond with the fruits of the flesh when the pressure is on, it is no one’s fault but my own. If I’m easily angered and fly into a fit of rage, it is never anyone else’s fault but my own. If I give into sexual immorality just because an opportunity presents itself, it is no one’s fault but my own. If I get jealous when someone else is given what I long for, it is no one’s fault but my own.
My response is my responsibility and that’s why I’m accountable to God for it. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances, we must crucify our old fleshy self and instead choose to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. No one forces us to sin, ever. In fact, God is on our side making sure that this is the case!
1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
The weapon of self-control is one that we must train ourselves to use. Self-control enables me to walk by faith and not by sight. Self-control enables me to put off my old self with its old ways and to embrace the new self that God is creating me to be. Self-control enables me to make right decisions even when I feel like doing anything but what is right. It is this weapon that will destroy the temptation of our enemy every time and ensure our victory over the trap he lays before us.
Though we may not have really considered this reality before, the fruits of the Spirit are amazingly powerful weapons in our fight against all that rises up against us. Using the fruits of the Spirit as weapons, we can withstand any attack of our enemy and every weapon forged against us will not prevail because nothing can stand against them. They are incredibly powerful and, though they require a bit of maturity on our part, they are well worth it!
The list of weapons we have available at our disposal goes on and on and on. As we dive into the word of God as explorers seeking after them, God will reveal them in an abundance. We haven’t even touched on the powerhouse weapons such as forgiveness, generosity, blessing, integrity, truth, praise and worship, our testimony, the gifts of the Spirit, good deeds, and far more. These all have the power to demolish every stronghold of the enemy and to help us to walk in the freedom of the Lord and help others to do so as well.
The upmost important issue at hand in all of the fights which we face and whatever weapons become most effective to use in them is for us to remember this fact. The wolf isn’t afraid of the sheep, he’s afraid of their shepherd. It isn’t our name that causes demons to flee, it is the name of Jesus. We are weak and prone to sin, but Christ in us makes us strong and able to overcome sin. It is critical that we stay close to Jesus and follow His command.
To bear fruit, we must remain closely connected to the vine. I’ve never seen a branch snap off of the vine, lay there on the ground, and grow any fruit. Though I have seen a branch snap off of the vine, lay there on the ground, and die fairly quickly, losing its battle. To gain the victory in the fight, we must rely on the only source who can truly provide that victory for us; Jesus Christ. Jesus said:
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
It is Jesus who empowers us, equips us, and trains us for the victory in every fight that we face. It is only by remaining in Him that enables us to live victorious lives. I don’t know about you all, but I don’t want to live my life dry, withered up, and only useful for firewood in the end. I want to live my life to its full, being as fruitful as possible, brining glory to God at every turn! If we call ourselves Christians, then the fruit of our lives ought to clearly display that fact before we ever speak a word about Jesus.
Sure, we all have a long way to go, but our lives should be clearly fuller of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control than we possessed last year. As we walk in the Spirit and remain in Jesus, our lives will be more and more fruitful. As we distance ourselves from Him, well, those fruits will begin to quickly wither away.
Let’s remain in Jesus, our victor! Let’s fight the good fight of faith and win! Let’s take hold of this new life and live it well! Let’s grab hold of this power that we’ve received and live by it! Let’s train and equip ourselves in the word of God; the written word of God by studying and the living word of God through prayer!
Let’s respond to the fights which we face as David did:
6 Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
9 Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!