Note: To better understand this article please read my articles, Understand Your Identity in Christ and What is the Fruit of the Spirit?
In this article I’ll discuss how to live your life in the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit that show us how to live our lives are: faith, goodness, temperance and joy.
Let’s start with FAITH. What is faith?
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.Hebrews 11:1
Let’s break that down. Faith is:
- Comprised of what you HOPE for.
- Following the trail of EVIDENCE that leads to what you hope for.
What do you hope for? What are your deepest desires and most persistent thoughts?
These thoughts don’t just come to you by happenstance. God has placed them in you from the beginning of time. The reason they excite you and give you passion is because they are the seeds of works God prepared in ADVANCE for you to do.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in ADVANCE for us to do.Ephesians 2:10
Now follow the evidence that leads you to what you hope for. Finding what you hope for doesn’t come all at once because we move from faith to faith.
The righteousness of God revealed FROM FAITH TO FAITH: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.Romans 1:17
Faith to faith means you follow what you can see, one step at a time. Faith sees the full vision, it’s what you HOPE for, but it knows you can’t get there all at once, there’s a sequence of events that must occur. Do you want to be an accomplished musician? It’ll take many steps to get there. But as you move from faith to faith, God will show you what those steps are.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.Psalm 37:4
Summary: Faith is objective evidence in action.
What is GOODNESS?
As you move through life following your vision, you will notice some “gaps” that need to be filled. What is a gap?
A gap is a part of life that needs some attention. Goodness is bridging those gaps. Where I live we have campgrounds. As I walked my dogs I noticed people leaving large amounts of trash. For me, bridging the gap meant picking up trash. It’s what needed to be done.
For you it could mean something different. Perhaps an elderly neighbor needs help mowing his yard. Or a single mother has no way of picking up her kids after school. You could help her with that task. Is there a homeless person who needs a hot meal?
Only you know what the “gaps” are in your world. Goodness takes it upon itself to fill those gaps.
Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, it we faint not.Galatians 6:9
Summary: Goodness is filling the gap.
What is TEMPERANCE?
Temperance is about being in control of your body and your spirit.
Previously, before we received our new nature in Christ (see my article, How To Get Healthy Spiritually), our soul, that is our mind, will and emotions we couldn’t receive information from God because our spirits were dead due to sin. As a result, our mind, will and emotions were the product of whatever the world made us.
What the world made us:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.Galatians 5:19-21
But now, with God’s Spirit in us we have the ability to change, we can receive the things of God.
Even so there is an imbalance. Especially in the beginning because we’ve lived a lot longer receiving the things of the world than we have receiving the things of God.
So we need an attitude of TEMPERANCE.
An attitude of temperance says that in order to become mentally healthy and operate in the process of sanctification (see my article, How To Get Healthy Mentally), I need to be willing to DENY myself. Jesus said it this way…
“If anyone would come after me, let him DENY himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”Matthew 16:24-25
An attitude of temperance allows us to fight through moments of temptation. It allows us to FIND the life that we really want. We want a life where WE are in control, not sin, not our bodies.
Temperance challenges our bodies. It understands that sin still resides in the body and our bodies fight against the law of our mind in Christ.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the LAW OF MY MIND and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my MEMBERS (body).Romans 7:22-23
Therefore an attitude of temperance will help you be disciplined when it comes to:
- Diet: Healthy foods, rather than sugar and excessive carbohydrates (see my article, How To Get Healthy Physically).
- Exercise: In combination with diet to keep you healthy physically.
- Mental consumption: What you think about (no pornography.
Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS.Philippians 4:8
We are bought with a price. God wants us to be in control of our body and our spirit.
What? Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For you are BOUGHT WITH A PRICE: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Summary: Temperance is having self discipline.
What is JOY?
Joy is what happens when you experience the Lord and truly see that He is good. When he answers your prayer, when He gives you vision for your life, when you see the fruit of temperance.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!Psalm 34:8
Joy is different than happiness. Happiness depends on an external event. Happiness is fleeting.
But joy is internal and it lasts.
It comes as we experience God’s faithfulness— that we can trust Him.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.Psalm 91:2
Summary: Joy is the expression of inner contentment.
Faith, goodness, temperance and joy are the fruits of the Spirit that show us how to live our lives. God gives us vision and we follow the evidence from faith to faith. As we move towards purpose, God shows us acts of goodness we can do to “fill the gaps” in our world. Temperance keeps us from temptation. Sanctification is enabled as we learn to deny the lusts of our flesh. Finally, joy is the expression of inner contentment. Joy happens as we begin to experience the fruit of our obedience.
The next category in the Mental Health section is SANCTIFICATION. The Substitutionary Life of Christ, is the first article in this category.