God has chosen us for salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth so that we could obtain the glory of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) What is that glory? It is the life that He came to: His virtues; the fruit of the Spirit.
- To make holy; to set apart as sacred, to consecrate
- To purify or free from sin
Sanctification: the process of being sanctified.
The results of the Spirit’s work
The result of the Spirit’s work with us in the process of sanctification is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Galatians 5:22-23) We are to grow in these virtues in order to be able to serve the others and build the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
The virtues are for the others. In Jesus was life and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4) This life was manifested to the apostles; they could look at it and handle it. (1 John 1:1-2) This life was attractive, drawing them to Christ. This life was Jesus’ glory, the result of always doing His Father’s will in the days of His flesh. The result of His battle against all the sin that dwelt in His flesh. To come to this glory we have to walk in His footsteps. Then others can look at and handle the virtues in us.
When the glory of Jesus was revealed to Paul, he wrote about bearing in his body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Christ could be manifested in his body. (2 Corinthians 2:10) In order for the virtues to become a part of our nature, something else has to die. Jealousy has to die for contentment to be born. Irritation and frustration have to die for long-suffering to be born. When our natural tendencies to sin are denied, we notice that it causes suffering in our flesh. But the result is that sin dies, and we become a new creation – we are sanctified. (1 Peter 4:1-2)
Paul also writes that the sufferings of this present life could not be compared to the glory that would be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18) When we are set free from sin and we become servants of God, the result is sanctification ending in everlasting life! (Romans 6:22)
Creating life in the others
Death was working in Paul and life in the others. What an effect the virtues can have on people in our lives! We have these virtues to the degree that we have sacrificed our own self-life, the egotism and lust to sin in our flesh. When people behave badly or unfairly toward us, we can die to the temptation to avenge ourselves. It is written that God’s goodness can lead to repentance. (Romans 2:4) We can overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21) This death in us can have a trickle-down effect on the others so that they themselves want to come to the same life. We want to live in such a way that others can come to the life of Christ themselves.
Paul writes in Colossians 1:11 that we can be strengthened with God’s power to all patience and long-suffering with joy. Instead of experiencing what people normally experience in the world – being judged, criticized, harsh demands, unthankfulness – people around us can sense a life-giving spirit. Because we have come to patience and long-suffering, it could provoke a seeking soul to come to the same life.
How edifying it is to experience thankfulness and appreciation! What a fellowship can be built around the fruit of the Spirit! This is something the world cannot build.
The mind of Christ
The mind of Christ is that of a servant. (Philippians 2:4-8) He came to serve, not to be served. (Matthew 20:28) When it is our mind to serve the others, we will find, just as Paul writes in Romans 7, that evil is present with us even though our intention is to do good. Our deeds are contaminated with self.
Haven’t you found that, when you want to be good to someone, you instead find that you are irritated, or distracted with thoughts about yourself, or easily offended? Here we need to humble ourselves and acknowledge the truth about what the Spirit reveals to us, and put the sin that is revealed to death. Little by little we will grow in the fruit of the Spirit (the virtues of Jesus). Our service to the others will become more pure. Paul writes to Timothy to take heed to himself and the doctrine, and he would save himself and those who heard him. (1 Timothy 4:16)
James writes about letting our works be done in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13) We cannot help the others in our own strength. Self-confidence and self-assurance cannot build anything in the body of Christ, because it is still contaminated with sin and selfishness. It cannot build fellowship, and it does not edify anyone. When we have no confidence in the flesh, and bring everything of self into the death of Christ, we will learn to patiently wait to hear from God how to best serve the others. He has called us out of the darkness of our own thoughts and nature into the marvelous light of His Word so that, through obedience, we can show forth the virtues of Christ. (1 Peter 2:9)
Let us follow Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to pursue the virtues (1 Timothy 6:11-12) so that we can be a light to those who want to come out of their own darkness.