by Calven Celliers
The world has always been full of religious nuts. With a long list of dos and don’ts they try to regulate their own and everybody else’s behavior to their liking. They are full of good advice, but empty of good news for those whose character fails to conform to their legal regulations. Not even Jesus measured up to their standards. Christian character is formed not by outward compulsion but by inward compassion – not by legal regulation but by spiritual reformation. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, you will produce the fruits of the Spirit as surely as an apple tree produces apples – not because there is a law in some book saying “Thou shalt produce apples” but because it is your nature to do so.
In his letter to the church at Galatia, the apostle Paul wrote,
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5: 22 & 23NIV)
This passage of Scripture gives me tremendous hope for my own life. When I read through the above list I receive a vision of who I long to be. I long to be a person full of love, joy, and peace. I long to have patience, kindness, and goodness. I long to be marked by faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I see within those incredible characteristics the marks of a fully abundant life. I see Jesus.
But at the same time, I see all the ways in which my life doesn’t line up with what the Holy Spirit desires to birth in me. How can we, in all our sin and brokenness, live a life marked by these characteristics? How can we be a people so full of the Spirit that our very being portrays the Spirit of God who dwells within us? In my own strength, I cannot. The Bible calls these characteristics fruit for a reason. They are birthed out of the glorious working of God in us.
So how do we allow the Holy Spirit to work at the core of our being and produce these wonderful fruits? It comes from being connected to our source, that He might plant seeds that grow within us. You see, it’s more than behaviour modification; it’s more than conformity to a moral code. It’s more than ticking all the dos and avoiding the don’ts. It’s about practicing the very presence of God in your daily life, and investing in your relationship with Him. As we spend time with God we become like Him. In His presence our heart transforms into a greater reflection of His glorious love. He can do incredible and miraculous things in us if we simply open our hearts and spend time abiding in Him. The more time we spend receiving His love for us, the more areas of brokenness and sin become healed and transformed. If you want to bear the fruit of the Spirit — if you want to be a person marked by the working of God at your core — then you must consecrate yourself to Him. One of my current favourite authors Mark Batterson observes that ‘anytime God is about to do something amazing in our lives, He calls us to consecrate ourselves to Him.. Amazing always begins with consecration. It’s the catalyst behind every spiritual growth spurt. And just as amazing always begins with consecration, consecration always ends with amazing. ’
The word consecrate means to set yourself apart. By definition, consecration demands full devotion. It’s dethroning yourself and enthroning Jesus. It’s giving God veto power. It’s surrendering all of you to all of Him. There is no shortcut to holiness.
Jesus has made a way for us to enter into the holy of holies, to see the very face of God. God will do magnificent things in you today if you will follow the path laid before you by Jesus and spend time resting in the presence of your heavenly Father. Receive His love. Allow the words He speaks over you to transform the way you view yourself and the world around you. Spend time in prayer meditating on His Word and allowing your heart to become more like Jesus’ today.
The longer I follow Jesus, the more convinced I am of this simple truth: Stay hungry!
If you aren’t hungry for God, chances are it’s because you’re full of yourself. That’s why God can’t fill you with His Holy Spirit. But if you will empty yourself, if you will die to self, surrender to His lordship, and consecrate yourself to Him, He will write His story through your life.
Our Heavenly Father wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts!
Have a blessed day,