The Fruit of the Spirit is Goodness
(Mark 10, Romans 3 & 7)
Introduction: Last week, I heard a speaker talk about the time after you end your schooling. In general, I liked being in school - especially college. It was fun to learn. It was great to be in charge of your own schedule. When grades came out you had feedback on the quality of your work. What happens after that? The speaker asked us to imagine that after college we were actually expected to do something with what we learned! Imagine that! If you regularly read these lessons, you are in "college." We are learning about what the Bible says. Our study this week is about actually doing something about what we learn from the Bible. Let's dive right in and learn more about goodness!
- God is Good, All the Time.
- Read Mark 10:17-18. Our Lord says that only God is good. Should we forget the rest of this study about goodness and go turn on the television?
- Wait a minute, I thought we agreed that Jesus is God? Is Jesus saying He is not God?
- Does the question of whether Jesus is God have anything to do with the question of going to heaven? (Who, but God, has complete knowledge of the qualifications to enter heaven? I think Jesus is challenging the sincerity of this man's question. I don't think Jesus is denying He is God.)
- Read Mark 10:19-20. Our Lord now tells us that keeping the commandments (works) is the path to heaven. Does the this man keep the commandments? (According to him, yes. He is qualified for heaven!)
- Read Mark 10:21. Where is this found in the Ten Commandments?
- Is Jesus one of those guys you don't want to play games with because He changes the rules whenever you are winning?
- Read Mark 10:22-26. The disciples were amazed to hear that those who had been blessed by God with earthly wealth somehow were less likely to be blessed by God with eternal life. How does anything that Jesus has said make any sense? Let's go through Jesus' statements.
- What do the Ten Commandments have to do with taking money from those who have earned it and giving it to those who have not? (When the rich man answered that he had always kept the Ten Commandments, he spoke of his own efforts. By asking him to give away his money, Jesus was asking him to rely on God rather than the money produced by his own efforts.)
- Is Jesus telling us that we must keep the Ten Commandments to go to heaven? Is giving up all of our stuff part of the Ten Commandments? (Recall that Jesus first told the rich man "only God is good." Reason was to have the rich man acknowledge that Jesus was God. When Jesus asked the rich man to sell his stuff and follow Jesus, that was a request to depend wholly on Jesus. The first commandment ( Exodus 20:3) says we should have no gods before the true God. By choosing money over Jesus, the rich man showed he was not keeping even the first of the Ten Commandments.)
- When Jesus said ( Mark 10:21) "one thing you lack," He apparently meant the rich man lacked the first thing when it came to keeping the Ten Commandments! What kind of score do you think you have in keeping the Ten Commandments?
- Read Mark 10:27. What does this teach us about goodness? (Only God is good. Any goodness we have comes from God, we cannot produce it by our own efforts.)
- Is effort not involved at all? Would it not take the most determined effort for this man to give away his money?
- What if God asked you to give away your best car? Not everything, just your car. How difficult a decision would that be?
- Read Romans 3:19-20. Paul and the rich man who questioned Jesus seem to have two different views of the Ten Commandments. After the rich man spoke with Jesus, would he agree with Paul? (Yes. Jesus gave the rich man a deeper insight into what it meant to keep the Commandments. Instead of thinking that he kept the commandments, the rich man was silenced and sad. Paul tells us that if we understand the Commandments, we become conscious of the extent of our sins.)
- Must we, like the rich man who came to Jesus, come to God to more clearly understand the vast gulf between our actions and true goodness?
- What do Jesus and Paul teach us about the nature of goodness? (Only God is good. Our first step towards goodness is recognize our need to depend on God.)
- Humans are Good, All the Time?
- Read Romans 7:7-9. If sin is dead apart from the law, then it would be important to get rid of the law, right?
- There are many Christians who do not think the law has any relationship to their new covenant life today. Are they right? Or, are they like the rich man who came to Jesus to find out what he needed to do to enter heaven? (Read Romans 7:13. The rich man did not understand the sinful nature of his heart, he did not understand the depth of the law's requirements. The same is true of anyone who ignores the law. They are incapable of understanding their true lack of goodness.)
- Read Romans 7:14-20. Are good works, is goodness, just impossible for us?
- Is Paul sounding like your children - "he made me do it?" (Paul does say that "sin made me do it." But his point is not to create blame, but rather to show that it is essential to recognize the sin in our life.)
- Read Romans 7:24-25 and Romans 8:1-4. It appears that goodness is possible afterall. What is the key to it? (Claiming the perfect life of Jesus in place of our life. Living according to the Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is ... kindness." Galatians 5:22!)
- Read Romans 8:5. What does this text tell us is goodness? (Setting our mind on what the Spirit desires. I think we have the first two steps to goodness. Depending on God, and then setting our mind on what God desires in our life.)
- Read Romans 8:12-14. Will our goodness increase? Can our "goodness rating" improve? (When Paul writes of putting to "death the misdeeds of the body" he is talking about reducing the bad actions in our life. Being good starts with the proper mental attitude of dependence on God, but living a life in the Spirit means there will be concrete improvements in our life.)
- How can we set our mind on what the Spirit desires? Is this just a declaration on our part? A gritting of our teeth? Concentrating? (Read Psalms 119:9-11. The clearest way to set our mind on God's will is to read His will - the Bible! A second way is to constantly invite the Holy Spirit to guide our decision-making. The two methods will not conflict with each other.)
- Read Ephesians 2:8-10. What is the reason for our creation? (To do good works! To show goodness.)
- What percentage of your time is used to do good works? If that is the reason for your creation, how are you living up to your purpose?
- If the last question staggered you, and you want to increase your good works time, how would you do it? (The same process we discussed. Depend on God, live in the Spirit, learn God's will by reading His word. The answer is not "do more good works," but seek God's will in doing more good works. Ask God to open up these opportunities for you.)
- Read Titus 2:11-14. In case my last suggestion seemed a little vague, what are the concrete points of action that we find here? (God's offer of salvation teaches us to say "No" to the passions and ungodliness of the world, and "Yes," to self-control, upright and Godly lives.)
- What kind of attitude can the Spirit give us when it comes to goodness? (As living in the power of the Holy Spirit purifies us, we become eager to do God's will - i.e., live a life of goodness.)
- Read Titus 2:15. I've followed this command in this lesson, friend, how about you? Will you teach that the life of the Christian is not just enjoying grace, but having a desire to live through the Spirit a life of goodness. Unlike the rich man, will you decide to depend upon God, set your mind on what the Spirit desires and live a life of goodness?
- Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Faithfulness.