”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
We are pleased to introduce Bonnie Rawling who was shortlisted in the WJOF 2017 contest. She is the author of Forgiven. We asked Bonnie to share a little bit about herself and her book.
The Bible clearly teaches about living by the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:22-25, NKJV)
I know as believers we talk about having fruit in our lives, and that you will know a true believer by the fruit in their life. But I can’t help wondering if there is more to it. Is living in the Spirit, and walking in the Spirit really just the evidence of the amount of fruit?
I know a lot of believer’s who go to church every Sunday and put a really big smile on their face so it appears that there is fruit there, but in reality, the fruit is rotten on the inside.
I also know believers who don’t go to church at all because they don’t want to get caught up in the politics and corruption that has become profoundly evident in many churches, and they don’t want to participate in ‘religion,’ yet they are some of the most Spirit filled believers that I have ever met, who bear much fruit.
In the same way, I would consider myself a very Spirit led believer as my husband and I have given up our home and spent the last 5 years of our lives following the wind of the Holy Spirit wherever He leads us…walking in the Spirit. Yet, there are days when, in humility, I have to come before my Lord in repentance because my own negative mood, impatience or personal flaws have severely interfered with the amount of fruit that I have spread to those around me.
So, again, I wonder is there more to living by the Spirit than simply bearing fruit? And how does one possibly attain this? And why aren’t all believers living this way? Or are they?
When I look at Romans 8, Paul talks again about living by the Spirit.
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtor—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heir—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
(Romans 8:12-17, NKJV)
Some common themes in both passages are putting to death fleshly passions and desires/the deeds of the body, and being led by the Spirit/walking in the Spirit. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Romans 8 goes on to describe our being led by the Spirit as us receiving the Spirit of adoption to our Father. But again, I ask myself what does all this really mean?
John 15:5 speaks to us in this same way about bearing fruit.
(John 15:5, NKJV)
I understand “remain in me” here, in the same way that I understand walking in/being led by the Spirit in Galatians 5, and Romans 8.
What exactly does Paul mean when he says in Romans 8 that you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out “Abba, Father.”? Fear of what? And how does that fit in with living by the Spirit? And how does that fit with bearing fruit?
Could it be that as believers we study, learn and understand these words from the Lord, but don’t truly know how to live it out? After all, we need to eat. We need to provide a home for our family. We need to maintain a certain status level in society for the survival and thriving of our family. This is the 21st century, not Biblical times.
Theologically, I can’t give you an exegesis of these passages. I can only share with you what I have wrestled with, what little knowledge I have learned, what experiences I have had, and what I believe.
This is what I know—I know who I was before Christ came into my life. I was a cold, angry, hurting woman who was doing what I needed to do to survive and to raise my children the best I knew how. I was living my life for myself, gaining and working towards everything and anything that I could do to make my life better and more successful in the eyes of the world. Then, like Paul, I had an encounter with Jesus.
In my book, Forgiven
, I share about my experience of having this vision. I share how Jesus came to me one night, and invited me to come and sit on His knee. In my encounter, I watched as my 5 year old little girl rose up out of my body and went and sat on His knee. In that moment, I received instant, whole, and complete healing and I have not been the same woman since that night. The woman that was once full of rage was made new. From that time, the Lord has instilled in me such a fear and reverence to the Him, that I couldn’t possibly live any other way, lest I just hand my life over to the enemy.
This is what I believe—I believe the answer is so simple if we are willing to give up our right to this life that God has gifted us. The answer really is so simple and it’s found in Matthew 6:
“Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. <br.
(Matthew 6:9-13, NKJV
Our only focus and purpose in life is to ensure that His will
is done in our lives and not our own. In this, we put to death the fleshly passions, we walk in the Spirit, we bear good fruit in our lives, we have no other need but to remain in Him, and we live a life that fears our Father.
But what will it cost you? Absolutely everything.
Which is why I believe so few choose it.
Perhaps this is why it wasn’t so difficult for Job to continue to trust in the Lord even in the most difficult circumstances when he lacked understanding. Because he truly proved his sonship to our Abba Father. He truly lived it. Will you?
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