Author Archives: drjerrywilliams

Vices and Virtues

 

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:18-21 NKJV 

The strength of sin is the law (1 Cor. 15:56), but if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Gal. 5:18), and the sinful passions of the old nature, that are aroused by the law, will not work in you to bear the fruit of death (Rom. 7:5). The old sinful nature produces vices that lead to spiritual death, and the fruit of the Spirit produces virtues that lead to a vital inheritance in Christ.

An inheritance is something of value passed on and received by another. So, what is your inheritance in Christ Jesus? Jesus said, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). Your inheritance is salvation and eternal life—not only most valuable but priceless!

The Apostle Paul told believers in both Galatia and Corinth “that those [the unrighteous] who practice such things [vices] will not inherit the kingdom of God” (See text and 1 Cor. 6. 9-11). The point is simple: receiving an inheritance is based on legal right. If you act contrary to what is right in the sight of God, you cannot inherit His kingdom because the inheritance is by right. Only a child of God has a right to the family inheritance (Rom. 8:17).

It isn’t the vices that disqualify you from the inheritance; it is the “Vice Grip”—when the sinful old nature has such a strong hold on you that you continue in the works of the flesh.  So, disqualification occurs when you practice a vice (1 John 3:7-8).  You’ll always get good at what you practice. It’s not a single failure, but the practice that characterizes you as unrighteous. It is one thing to make a mistake and another to practice it (Matt. 26:41; Ps. 37:23).

How can you protect your inheritance? It’s simple: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). Always practice godly virtues, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and not the vices of the old sinful nature.

 

 

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Above the Law

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:14-18 NKJV 

There’s a legal principle in American jurisprudence that says, “No man is above the law.” This is not truth in the government of God. Believers are expected to live above the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:1-2).

There are two competing forces inside of the believer: the Holy Spirit and the old sinful nature. These two forces are adversaries, contrary and opposite to the other. The Holy Spirit yields fruit, i.e., attributes, character, and the nature of God; and, the old sinful nature yields works of the flesh, evil desires, and ungodly deeds. The old sinful nature wants to keep you under the power of the law, “. . . and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56). To live above the law; you must be led by the Spirit (text).

Both Jesus and Apostle Paul taught that love should be the motivating factor in your dealings with God, yourself and others (Matt. 22:37-40; Gal.5:14). If love isn’t your motivating factor, then you will “bite and devour one another” and destroy the other (text). Without love, you become critical and judgmental of others (Matt. 7:1; Rom. 14:4); you look for another’s faults and shortcomings; and, talk about them behind their backs (See 1 Cor. 13:4-7). It is the power of the law that ignites and manifests these impulses and “motions” of the flesh which cause our members to sin (Rom. 7:5).

“For all of the law is fulfilled in one word”—love! (Gal. 5:14).  The fruit of the Spirit is love . . .” (Gal. 5:22). So what does it mean to live above the law? To live above the law is to be led by the Spirit (text)—with a desire to hear God’s Word and a readiness to obey (Jas. 1:22), and being led with a sensitivity to discern between your feelings and Spirit’s actual leading. If the Word of God is in your heart and mind, it will be behind your actions, and the power of God will lift you above your selfish desires.

You are no longer obligated to be under the power of the law. Your new husband is Jesus Christ. Since you died with Christ on the Cross, your “first husband”, i.e., the law, has no power over you. You are no longer married to Moses. Moses is dead! You are now married to the Lord Jesus whose Spirit lifts you above the law and the flesh (Rom. 7:4-6). Selah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show and Tell

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30 NKJV

Christians often emphasize the importance of winning souls, and at the same time, deemphasize the importance of showing that their soul has been won—evidencing the fruits of righteousness.

The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom. The wisdom of Proverbs teaches that the fruit of the righteous precedes the fruit of soul-winning. The Apostle Paul referred to the fruit of the Spirit also as the fruit of righteousness (Phil. 1:11). Effective soul-winning begins with the fruit of righteous first being a tree of life.

For example, many kindergarten and grade school teachers incorporate “show and tell” in their curriculums to help their students develop and demonstrate listening and speaking skills for effective communication to help guide a classmate in understanding some important idea, people, places, and things. Winning souls to Christ is like “show and tell.” You show before you tell!

“The fruit of righteous is a tree of life” (Text). A “tree of life” evidences health and life with its green leaves and blooming fruit (Ps. 1:3; Isa. 61:3). You can always know a tree by the fruit it bears (Matt. 7:20). So, it is true spiritually; you are known by your fruit and your fruit is clearly seen by all who observe your tree (life). Spiritually, a tree of life attracts—not repel—people to its fruit and its shade (unconditional acceptance) by consistently exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit because they are the attributes, the character,  and  nature of Christ (John 15:5; Matt. 4:19).  But this fruit in your life must first show before you tell others about Jesus Christ.

.Again, the fruit of righteousness is the fruit of the Spirit, as outlined in Galatians 5:22, 23; and, the fruit of the Spirit can be summed up in one word: love. This is the new commandment that Jesus gave to believers (John 13:34, 35). When it comes to winning souls, where’s the love? Show God’s love to the lost before you tell them about the salvation plan that God offers, because the fruit of the Spirit is love. Remember thepurpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and from sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5). Show it before you tell it!

                                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fruit of the Spirit Is Love

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34, 35 NKJV

Believers are called not only to love each other as yourself, but are also called to go one step further: to love each other as Christ loved you. To do this, you must walk in the Spirit, and you can’t walk in the Spirit without yielding the fruit of the Spirit. If fruit is the product of plant growth; then, spiritual fruit is a reflection of your personal growth and development in the Lord. According to the Apostle Paul, “the fruit of the Spirit is love . . .” (Gal.5:22, 23).

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament analogizes your life as a “tree” (Ps. 1:3; Matt. 7:20). Just as trees are consistent in the kind of fruit they produce, you need to consistently exhibit the fruit of the Spirit because they are the attributes, the character and nature of God in Christ in you, and God is love (1 John 4:7, 8).

Jesus taught that love is the greatest commandment, i.e., loving God and loving others as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). Love (Agapeo, Greek) far exceeds what the Law and the prophets ever taught or commanded. Why? God is love and love is the fruit of His Spirit which fulfills all the Law and the prophets (Matt. 22:40; Gal. 5:23). Furthermore, Paul reveled to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:5 that there are three useful qualities that help you cultivate and demonstrate the love of God: a pure heart, a clear conscience, and unfeigned faith. Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfilled the lusts of your flesh (Gal. 5:16); but rather, you will yield the fruit of the Spirit which is love manifested in eight other attributes as outlined in Galatians 5:22, 23.

God is glorified when you yield the fruits of love. The fruit of the Spirit defines your discipleship in Christ more than other external measures. If you keep the commandments to love God and others as yourself, you then abide in God’s love and His Spirit (John 15:8-12). The fruit of the Spirit is Love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk in the Spirit

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law . . .  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-18, 25 NKJV

The lust of the flesh is nothing more than an intense desire to carry out a work of the flesh, as enumerated in Galatians 5:19-21; it is a natural, sensual impulse whereby you set your heart upon carrying out the desires of the flesh.

But please understand that there are two conflicting forces within believers: the Holy Spirit and the sinful nature of the flesh. To rise above the lust of the flesh and to avoid fulfilling its desires, you must walk in the Spirit. When the Spirit of God dwells in you and rule your heart, the sinful fleshy nature will be destroyed. To walk in the Spirit is to live by the Spirit, i.e., to be influenced and impacted in your conduct and decision-making by the Spirit of God.

In John 15: 4-8, Jesus uses a farming analogy of the “Vine and the branches” to teach that walking in the Spirit produces fruit if you abide in the Vine (Christ and His Word). To “abide” in Christ is to dwell in Him, to be present with Him, remain, and continue with Him daily, regardless of your respective circumstances or situation. Fruit is the product of plant growth. So, when you abide in Christ, the Spirit causes certain graces to grow in your life, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit. Like fruit in the natural, spiritual fruit can be under-developed, fully developed; unripe and ripe. But the more you abide in the Vine, the more you grow if you continue to be yielded to the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit influences the spiritual atmosphere, attitude, and altitude of your life, impacting your surroundings and environment; your emotional mental state and feelings; and your spiritual elevation and stature in God. The fruit of the Spirit is Love and eight other attributes, as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23), that you should embrace for your life. God is Love and God is a Spirit. So, if you live in the Spirit, you should also allow the Spirit to influence and impact your life by walking in the Spirit!

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Awareness

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13 NKJV

What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? At the least, to be led by the Spirit is to be influenced by the Spirit of truth to guide you in doing the will of God—it’s like tuning into the “Holy Ghost’s” channel; you just raise your “spiritual antenna”, dial in and be led. But how do you reconcile that some people are able to dial in and are led by the Spirit, and others seem to never find their way to obey the will of God. Is it because a lack of spiritual awareness? If so, how do you develop spiritual awareness? I can suggest four things to help one develop spiritual awareness:

First, meditate in the Word of God; just as God instructed Joshua when he succeeded Moses as the leader of the congregation of Israel and the commander of its army (Joshua 1:8). The Hebrew word translated “meditate” (hagah) also means to mutter, ponder, and speak to yourself. God the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit are One (John 17:21-22). Meditation in the Word proffers awareness of the Spirit, and prosperity and success.

Second, spiritual awareness necessitates that one practice being a doer of the Word of God (Jas. 1:22-25). Without being a doer of the Word, the “Holy Ghost” channel is always distorted and unclear. You want a clear channel! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that talking about the Word and rejoicing about the Word is being a doer of the Word—not so! In fact, practicing the Word begins with walking in love (John 13:34). God is love (1 John 4:16). It is being about it, not just talking about it.

Third, give the Word of God first place in your life. Make the Word your first priority and final authority. Borrow from the wisdom of the writer of the Book of Proverbs, where he admonished you to “give attention to [God’s] words; incline your ear to [His] sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh” (Prov. 4:20-22). If you want to develop spiritual awareness and sensitivity, always ask yourself in every situation: “What does the Word say about this”? (See an example in 2 Chron. 16:12-13 as to what may happen when you don’t). And,

Fourth, instantly obey the Inward Voice and the Voice of Spirit. Remember, that your human spirit is the conduit that the Holy Spirit uses to communicate, lead and guide you (Prov. 20:27). Don’t second guest God’s voice. After all, you are a new creature in a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). In your new spiritual nature, you are of God and have overcome every spirit and voice of the anti-Christ and the anti-God influences in the world (1 John 4:4). Don’t be afraid. Just obey God! Spiritual awareness is walking in the Spirit, not fulfilling the desires of your flesh (Gal. 5:16).

 

 

 

 

 

Identity Crisis

[B]ecause, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21 NKJV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:15 NKJV

Who are you? Where are you? Whose are you? Only you can decide, but you must make up your mind because “a double-minded man, is unstable in all his ways” (Jas. 1:8). Are you in a spiritual identity crisis? An identity crisis is believed to be one of the most important conflicts people face in life. Like the Roman and Greek philosophers, as mentioned in Romans chapter one, the rational minded believer suppresses the truth of God in unrighteousness and becomes confused about who he is in Christ.

Are you unsure of who you are and your role in life? Do you feel like you don’t know the real you? If so, you may be experiencing an identity crisis. But you can make this time work for you rather than against you. How? An identity crisis can be a time of intensive self-analysis and exploration, and a time of looking at yourself in a different way. The challenge is to see yourself in the light of God’s Word: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (Text).

Identify with your new identity according to the Gospel that says, “you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power . . . that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Col. 2:10; 4:12). You are now perfect and complete in Christ, lacking nothing. All that is required is that you boldly act on the fact of this new identity, accepting the Gospel truth that, in Christ, you died to the old man and the old identity.

So, claim your new identity in Christ by sharing your faith effectively by acknowledging every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus (Philem 6). You must relentlessly claim your new identity, even in the face of what seem to be contradictory appearances. Judge not by appearances!

 

Open for Business

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:12-13 NKJV

In addition to angels, dreams and visions, God will speak to you and lead you by the inward witness, the inward voice, and the voice of the Holy Spirit. Although the voice of the Holy Spirit is more authoritative than an inward witness and the inward voice, the inward witness is the primary way that God leads you (Rom. 8:14, 16).  Therefore, your spirit must be open to the Holy Spirit to do God’s business.

The Apostle Paul admonished the Roman Christians: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). Living for God and serving Him is to be considered “business.”  God is the owner of the business; the Holy Spirit is the agent or employee; you’re the buyer, customer, and client. An opened business is always ready to supply your demand, to sell what you’re buying, and to do the bidding of its customers. Are you open to do God’s business? God has things to say to you, but can you bear them—are you in a place spiritually to handle them? It is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth who guides you and shows you things to come. Always buy the truth that the Spirit sells (Prov. 23:23). Never part with the truth for no consideration: money, pleasure, fame, or ease. Let nothing deprive you of His inward witness—cleave to it! Stay open to do God’s business regardless of challenging circumstances. Believe what God says and shows you (See Act 27:9-11, 21-25).

The Holy Spirit communicates to and through your human spirit, not your mind. So, don’t allow your intellect and knowledge to cause you to sell God’s truth. Be sensitive in your spirit, and if needed, build and develop your spirit. Your human spirit can be developed, just as your mind and body can be developed (Jude 20). But when you shut out your spirit, by not listening to the Holy Spirit, you are closed to doing God’s business. (Prov. 20:27). Stay open for business!

 

 

 

 

 

The Voice of the Holy Spirit

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13 NKJV

Growing up, I would often hear both my Father, who was a pastor, and his cousin, a prophet, say: “the Spirit told me this, that, or another” . . . or say “the Spirit showed me.” I didn’t make the connection then, but I do now—the Holy Spirit has a voice.

There are basically three ways to be led by the Spirit of God: the inward witness, the inward voice, and the voice of the Holy Spirit. The voice of the Holy Spirit is more authoritative than an inward witness that testifies of God’s truth of our position, power, and place in God’s family (Rom. 8:16), or the inward voice of conscience that keeps us in tune with the Holy Spirit by confirming the rightness or wrongness of our thoughts, actions, or motives (Rom. 9:1). The voice of the Holy Spirit comes to provide direction, guidance, and instructions (Text).

Simon Peter heard the voice of the Holy Spirit speak to him while he experienced a trance-like vision that God gave him to deal with his stronghold of racial bias, religion, and ethnic prejudice, in order for the Gospel to be taken to the Gentiles (Acts 10:17-20). The Holy Spirit also spoke to Philip to direct, guide, and instruct him to approach an Ethiopian Eunuch in order for the Gospel to be spread to Ethiopia (Acts 8:26-30). And, the Holy Spirit will speak to you to direct you, guide you, and instruct you according to his will (John 16:13).

Just know that, as in the case of both Peter and Philip, God has an overarching plan. He uses the voice of the Holy Spirit to communicate the direction, and provide guidance to His people to fulfill His plan and purpose. God’s given vision and direction doesn’t ever change, but the actual guidance and instructions, from season to season, may change or even seem circular (See Exodus 13:17-18); but this is just part of the process—whatever it takes, the voice of the Holy Spirit speaks to us in a way and in a place that we can hear and understand.

 

 

 

 

 

Inward Voice

I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh . . . Romans 9:1-3 NKJV

Apostle Paul, a Jew, preached salvation to both the Gentiles and the Jews. Many of his Jewish countrymen considered him a traitor; but he was not. Paul was deeply devoted to the Jewish people (Rom. 10:1-3); and notwithstanding, he preached the truth of the Gospel of grace, and did not lie. His conscience—the inward voice—confirmed his truth in the Holy Spirit.

Man is a spirit; he possesses a soul and lives in a body. The inward spirit man has a voice—a voice of conscience—that confirms what is truth and keeps us in tune with the Holy Spirit. This voice exists in every man, and it is a strong witness of our integrity or our guilt. “Conscience” is a conscious judgment whereby we decide whether our thoughts, actions and motives are morally right or wrong, which we instantly approve or condemn.

The inward voice of conscience always tell us the truth—the good, bad, and ugly. So, we should obey our conscience, and therefore, let our conscience be our guide (1 John 3:20-21). God himself speaks through the voice of our conscience as He did with Paul. “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching the innermost depths of the heart” (Prov. 20:27). And, God lives in us by His Spirit, and God speaks where He lives (John 14:23; 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16). Again, He speaks through the inward voice, i.e., the voice of our conscience. Thus, we need to keep our conscience clear to hear.

Also, it is critical to keep a sensitive and tender conscience, not burned and seared (1 Tim. 4:1-2).When your conscience becomes seared, the inward voice becomes distorted, muffled, muted, and out of tune with the Holy Spirit. Every time you ignore the inward voice of your conscience, you burn your conscience. Ouch!