But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:22,23)
When I was young, my parents advised me to pray for receiving the Power of the Holy Spirit including speaking in tongues. Many of church pastors, elders and mentors advice on the importance of receiving the power of the Holy Spirit. When believers have this experience, they call themselves Spirit-filled Christians. They are also supposed to live a Spirit-filled living.
Tarrying for the Holy Spirit
In India, many churches conduct Tarry meetings every week. These meetings are based on Jesus’ command to his disciples to wait till they received the Helper (Holy Spirit). These sessions are primarily for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In simple words, Christians who cannot speak in tongues attend this meeting to receive the gift of Tongues. After a few weeks, some stop attending such meetings because they have received the gift or they haven’t. Only a few tarry all their lives and enjoy the privilege of being filled again and again on a continual basis. Many understand that they are filled with the Holy Spirit only if they speak in tongues.
Today, Holy Spirit meetings are very common, and thousands of people attend to be filled by God’s power. It is very Biblical that as Christians we are to desire for spiritual gifts (1 Cor 14:1).
What is not Spirit-filled living?
If someone were to ask you, “Are you a Spirit-filled Christian?” What would you answer and how would you explain that. When I asked this question to one of my friends, he said, he was a spirit-filled Christian because he spoke in tongues. Though partly correct, it is not the answer. Is living in Spirit the same as talking in Tongues or operating under the power/gifts of the Spirit. In 1 Cor 14:1, Pauls asks believers to yearn for spiritual gifts, but he says that desiring to practice a life of love is better.
Some seek to validate Christianity by a display of spiritual gifts, miraculous answer, and eloquent expositions of biblical truth. When I read about the gifts of the Spirit, I learned that they are manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit in a particular situation. The truth is that operating in spiritual gifts is not a sign of spirit filling living.
What is spirit filled living?
Christians are to be known and recognized by the fruit of their lives, the fruit of the Spirit. God says that without love, which is the basic Spirit fruit, all else is meaningless (1 Cor 13:1-3). Galatians chapter 5 reveals that living in the Spirit is when we live according to the fruits of the Spirit. Love is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and there are eight more.
- Love – Agape love: It is the love by choice and not by chance. It denotes an undefeatable benevolence and unconquerable goodwill that always seeks the highest in others, no matter their behavior.
- Joy: The joy referred to here is deeper than mere happiness, is rooted in God and comes from Him.
- Peace: It is the result of resting in a relationship with God.
- Patience: Patience includes the concepts of forbearance, long-suffering, and the willingness to bear wrongs patiently.
- Kindness: It is acting for the good of people regardless of what they do.
- Goodness: Moral excellence; General character recognized in quality or conduct.
- Faithfulness: It is committing oneself to something or someone and the resolve to not wander away from it.
- Gentleness: The person who possesses this quality pardons injury, corrects faults, and rules his spirit well.
- Self-control: having mastery over one’s thoughts and actions
Just as apples are apples whether they come from any part of the world; be it Washington or Kashmir, so the fruits of the Spirit can be recognized wherever it is found. It is not conditional on belonging to a specific church, worshiping in a particular building, or espousing a predetermined creed. Just as there is no law against apples bearing apples, so if you are filled with the Spirit, you can have a Spirit-fruit without the fear of God’s condemnation.
It is sad that churches are increasingly focussing on the power and gifts and neglecting the fruits of the Spirit. Hardly sermons are given on the fruits of the Spirit. We start to reflect Christ only when we begin to live a spirit-filled life. The Holy Spirit is called the Helper in the Bible and he alone can help us in living a spirit-filled life. We also need to ask God to ripen the fruits of the Spirit in our lives and fill us with his sweetness.
Expensive Mistake to avoid
Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness. (Matt 7:21,22)
It is profitable if we understand early that a spirit-filled life is the will of our Father (God). Jesus explains that only those who lived according to the will of God could enter into Heaven. Even those who prophesied, cast out demons, and did many miracles would not be able to enter the Kingdom of God unless they lived a spirit-filled life. Jesus even calls them evildoers. You have a choice to make: To live according to fruits of the Spirit (Spirit-filled living) or living according to the flesh (Soulish living).
I am sure you are wise to make the best decision. Whatever be your choice, remember they affect your eternity.
Ref: The definition of the fruits of the Spirit is taken from Wikipedia