Berean Bible Study Notes

Living by the Spirit


NOTE: This is just an introduction - the tiniest taste. I can't teach beyond what I understand, and I am still learning. I can only direct you to God's word and remind you that He will teach you all things - in HIS time, in HIS way - as you spend time studying what HE has to say. The work He has begun in you (and me!) will continue for as long as you walk this earth. And then, I don't know about you, but I can't wait until I can sit at the feet of the true Author and learn even more!

How to Live by the Spirit

1 Corinthians 15:2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

This is the Gospel that saves us. If you believe this, you are saved. You are IN Christ Jesus. This is what saves you, simply believing that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. That's it! Please note what's not in there - nothing about angels, the age of the earth, what Christians can and cannot do, and on and on. In other words, there are plenty of things people can be confused about and still be saved.

Yet, there are things that are absolutely essential. Jesus could not have died for our sins if He wasn't God (and not "a" God, but truly GOD). He didn't just die, but died for our sins. He couldn't have DIED if He wasn't human. Those are all absolutely non-negotiable. Another absolute is that Christ was raised from the dead. To deny any of those is to deny true Christianity. What makes a cult a cult is that they call themselves Christian, yet deny some part of this gospel.

There is something else that is not included. There is not one word about what we must DO. There are no works here, none. Remember what the crowd asked Jesus?

John 6:28 Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" 29 Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

The only thing we must do is believe, and the ability to do that even comes from God:

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord,(Understanding that He is God and truly Lord of your life)" except by the Holy Spirit.

Yet, we were created to do good works, as the verses in Ephesians above go on to say:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works , which God prepared in advance for us to do.

So, how do the good works fit in? I'm going to use the NKJV for the following passage. For some reason, "flesh" is clearer to me than "sinful nature." "Sinful nature" seems like some abstract concept, but flesh is flesh. Our flesh hungers, lusts, etc. - and that's something we can all grasp - because we all feel it. The way the NKJV uses "flesh" is more than just our body. It's also wrapped up with sinful desires. Yet "sinful nature" isn't "fleshy" enough for me to really grasp. If you prefer the passage in the NIV, however, please use that version.

Romans 8 (from the NKJV)

Free from Indwelling Sin

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (The second part of this verse is not in the NIV, which at first seems worrisome, but isn't, really. This is simply saying that those that are in Christ Jesus will walk in the Spirit. It is a summary of the verses that follow. The NIV explains the same thing in the verses that come later) 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, We want to keep the law, but we are not able to. Our flesh - or sinful nature, betrays us. The law is good, but no one could keep it. There is also the matter of the law causing sin to flourish (explained in Chapter 7). For example, if I say to you, "Never think about elephants again," what's the first thing you do? Think about elephants! Even in thinking, "I must not think about elephants," you've thought about elephants and therefore failed. That's what the law does. God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

This is saying that those who are in the flesh cannot please God. It doesn't matter how "good" their work appears to be - God will not be pleased by it. But, we are not in the flesh if the Spirit of God dwells in us. If we are saved, then we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us:

Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

So, it is only AFTER we have the Spirit of God that we can please God - only AFTER we are saved that we can do any of those good works He planned for us.

Remember - we are never DONE with the gospel. Our discussion is about living by the Spirit and producing good fruit, yes, but our focus as Christians is never, never about what we are doing. It is always about what Jesus has already done. It is only because of what He has done that we can ever do anything that pleases God.

One of the reasons for doing a Bible study at all is that deception is coming quickly. We need to know what God's word says in order to recognize it. Each of the things that we've studied in the past - the Bible, the Gospel, etc., has come under attack in recent years, and what we're talking about now is no different.

What I'm going to attempt to get across - and have no idea if I'll be successful at it - is the difference between being law-driven and Spirit led. We have all been taught correctly that God does everything in our salvation. Where things get a little confusing is what happens after that. We are thankful people, and thankful people will want to obey God's word. Right?

Yes. . . sort of. What many of us wind up believing is that God just turns us loose after our salvation. Jesus did what He had to do, but now that we're saved, it's our turn to walk the way Jesus walked, do what Jesus did. WWJD, right?

No - what we fail to understand is that, just as God did everything for our salvation, He also does everything in our sanctification (that process of becoming Christ-like).

Before you go any further with this study, I'd like you to read the book of Galatians, if you can. It's a pretty short book. Keep in mind the questions you might have about "Law." Is the book of Galatians only concerned with the law of Moses (those 600+ laws in the Old Testament)? What other "law" applies to us as New Testament Christians? The Ten Commandments? What else? How many can you list? What does God expect of us?

For example, how many "commands" can you see in just these five verses?

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

Or these four?

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. 11 He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.

The New Testament is filled with God's expectations for us. They are all important, and entire church bodies are founded on the idea of keeping them. This is God's law, and just as the Jews failed at keeping the law of Moses, so we fail at keeping these. (That's why we need - and will always need - a savior) But, where does this leave us? These ARE God's expectations!

Let's look again at Galatians, Chapter 5:

Galatians 5

5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough." 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. 11 Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

And, as the King James puts it:

Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Gal 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Gal 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Just to be clear, here are some of those terms (definitions are from Strongs). Underlined term is from the King James. Italicized term is how it appears in the NIV. If there is no italicized term, it is the same as King James:

Adultery: sexual immorality moicheia {moy-khi'-ah}
means adultery

Fornication: sexual immorality (Greek word can't be used because it is automatically blocked on this free site. However, if you look at the pronunciation, you know what the word was supposed to be) {por-ni'-ah}
1) illicit sexual intercourse a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18 c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12

Uncleanness: impurity akatharsia {ak-ath-ar-see'-ah}
in a moral sense: the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living 1) of impure motives

Lasciviousness: debauchery aselgeia {as-elg'-i-a}unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence

Idolatry: eidololatreia {i-do-lol-at-ri'-ah} the worship of false gods, idolatry

Witchcraft: pharmakeia {far-mak-i'-ah} 1) the use or the administering of drugs 2) poisoning 3) sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it

Hatred: echthra {ekh'-thrah} enmity 2) cause of enmity

Variance: discord eris {er'-is} contention, strife, wrangling

Emulations: jealousy zelos {dzay'-los} the fierceness of indignation, punitive zeal b) an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy

Wrath: fits of rage thumos {thoo-mos'} passion, angry, heat, anger forthwith boiling up and soon subsiding again

Strife: selfish ambition eritheia {er-ith-i'-ah} electioneering or intriguing for office a) apparently, in the NT a courting distinction, a desire to put one's self forward, a partisan and fractious spirit which does not disdain low arts. (That's from the Strongs. In other words, the ends justify the means. Get yourself where you want, regardless of the cost to others)

Seditions: dissensions dichostasia {dee-khos-tas-ee'-ah} dissension, division

Heresies : factions hairesis {hah'-ee-res-is} dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims (This isn't exactly heresies as we know them today. The NIV "factions" is better)

Envyings: envy phthonos {fthon'-os} envy 2) for envy, i.e. prompted by envy

Murders: phonos {fon'-os} murder, slaughter

Drunkenness: methe {meth'-ay}

Revellings: orgies komos {ko'-mos} carousal a) a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry. Also orgies in the modern sense.


Love: agape {ag-ah'-pay}Godly, selfless love

Joy: chara {khar-ah'} joy, gladness

Peace: eirene {i-ray'-nay} a state of national tranquillity a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war 2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord

Longsuffering: , patience makrothumia {mak-roth-oo-mee'-ah} patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance slowness in avenging wrongs

Gentleness: kindness chrestotes {khray-stot'-ace} 1) moral goodness, integrity 2) benignity, kindness

Goodness: agathosune {ag-ath-o-soo'-nay} 1) uprightness of heart and life, goodness, kindness

Faith: faithfulness pistis {pis'-tis} 1) continuing in the conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it

a) relating to God: the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ

b) relating to Christ: a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God

Meekness: gentleness praotes {prah-ot'-ace}
1) gentleness, mildness, meekness (doesn't mean weakness. To be truly meek requires strength)

Temperance: self-control egkrateia {eng-krat'-i-ah}
1) self-control (the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites)

Are these last ones gained in an active or passive way? Remember that these are the fruit of the Spirit.


There is a similar list here:

2 Peter 1

1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your (1) faith (2) goodness; and to goodness, (3) knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, (4) self-control; and to self-control, (5) perseverance; and to perseverance, (6) godliness; 7 and to godliness, (7) brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, (8) love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Is this active or passive?

Make every effort (KJ - giving all diligence, NASB - applying all diligence)

1) haste, with haste 2) earnestness, diligence a) earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything b) to give all diligence, interest one's self most earnestly

To add (NASB - supply) epichoregeo {ep-ee-khor-ayg-eh'-o}
1) to supply, furnish, present 2) to be supplied, ministered to, assisted

Tense: Aorist, active - ongoing - do this and keep on doing it

This is completely active. Yet, the list is very similar to that in Galatians. Is there a contradiction? No - this is the putting into practice the things given us by the Spirit. It says if we do these things, it will keep us from being unproductive.

James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

True faith will manifest itself in works, because someone with true faith has the Spirit of God within him or her. Yet, it is the Spirit that directs the works. It all starts with faith:

1. Faith: pistis {pis'-tis}
1) conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it

a) relating to God - the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ

b) relating to Christ - a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God

Where does faith come from? How do we get faith? Faith is a gift:

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Not everyone has the same amount.

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.

Will you always have the same amount of faith? Have you had ups and downs in your faith? How do you get more?

Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith !"

Mark 9:24 Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief !"

Faith will also grow as you spend time in God's word. As we've gone through before, God's word has the supernatural ability to change you. Now, just a note. In the two examples above, the people asked for more faith. However, if you spend zero time in God's Word and just ask for more faith, will God grant it to you? Remember, Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is the word of Christ.


2. Goodness: (KJ - virtue, NASB - moral excellence): arete {ar-et'-ay}
1) a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action, moral goodness, 2) any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity

Used five times in the NT - four by Peter. The other is here:

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

So, how do you go about adding goodness? The verse above is a great start! Feed the new man; starve the old one.

James 4:4 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Ephesians 5:11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness , but rather expose them.

As Jon Courson says, from the commentary on 2 Peter 1:

3. Knowledge: gnosis {gno'-sis}
1) the general knowledge of Christian religion, b) the deeper more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced c) esp. of things lawful and unlawful for Christians d) moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living

Where does knowledge come from? From God's word, of course! Why does goodness come before knowledge? My guess is that we will not have time for God's word if our lives are filled with things of the world. When Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, what was the first thing that had to happen afterward? Lazarus had to be loosed from his grave clothes.

So, how do we add knowledge? We dig into God's word - and keep on digging. Just as we need to eat every day to feed our physical bodies, we need spiritual nourishment every day, too.


4. Self-control: (KJ - temperance) egkrateia {eng-krat'-i-ah}
1) self-control (the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, esp. his sensual appetites)

This is also listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, which was completely passive. Why is this listed in an active sense now? This is acting on what the Spirit has given us - making use of it. We each have two natures - the sinful nature and our new nature. They are always at war with each other. Whichever one gets fed the most is the one that will be strongest. So, how do we get self-control? We stay connected to Jesus (the vine) so that the Spirit can produce fruit in us, of which self control is a part. We "feed" our new man and starve our old one.

5. Perseverance: (KJ - patience) hupomone {hoop-om-on-ay'}
1) steadfastness, constancy, endurance a) in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings b) patiently, and steadfastly 2) a patient, steadfast waiting 3) a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

Where do we get perseverance? The Bible gives a number of ways. We ask for it:

Colossians 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

We gain it through God's word and the example of others who have persevered:

Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope

James 5:10 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

We look eagerly for Jesus' return, which produces perseverance:

Romans 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Hebrews 10:35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay.

We gain perseverance by going through trials. (Don't worry - you don't have to seek them. They will simply come.)

James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Romans 5:3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

And, we simply trust God to provide it:

2 Thessalonians 3:5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.


6. Godliness: eusebeia {yoo-seb'-i-ah}
1) reverence, respect 2) piety towards God, godliness

So, how do we obtain godliness? It seems to come through the Spirit as we spend time in God's word and learn about Him. This very section that we're studying says that:

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

And, it says that elsewhere as well:

1 Timothy 3:14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness,

It is possible to have "pretend" godliness - such as you might see in the Jehovah Witnesses, the Mormons or even in Christian churches that have strayed into legalism. Things done in the flesh are not pleasing to God, even if they appear right and good to other men and even if they appear right and good to other Christians.

2 Timothy 3:1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them

Romans 8:8 (NKJV) So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.


7. Brotherly kindness: philadelphia {fil-ad-el-fee'-ah}
1) love of brothers or sisters, brotherly love 2) in the NT the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren

The verb form is phileo.

1 John 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

1 Peter 1:21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other

Brotherly kindness or phileo love seems to come with salvation. It is evidence that we have been saved. Why does Peter command us to add it, then? Again, I believe this means to practice using it. It comes fairly late in the list, so I think this will grow as the others do.


8. Love: (KJ - charity) agape {ag-ah'-pay}
the love of God, the way God loves us, to love completely without thought of recompense, abundant, overflowing, unconditional love

 The verb form is agapao {ag-ap-ah'-o}. There is no way that anyone can have agape love without being saved. Only through the Spirit can you have this kind of love. It's last on the list because it is the hardest. Peter thought he had agape love:

John 13:37 Peter asked, "Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." 38 Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

But, as we know, he didn't really. Later, after Jesus' resurrection, they had a little conversation after a fish breakfast on the shore. We miss what really was going on in the English:

John 21:15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me agapao more than these?"

"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love phileo you."

Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love agapao me?"

He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love phileo you."

Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love phileo me?"

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love phileo you."

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.

In the end, Jesus is saying that phileo is enough to start with. Peter can feed the sheep with phileo love. Is it any wonder that Peter listed agape love last? And, yet, that is what Jesus commands:

John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love agapao one another. As I have loved agapao you, so you must love agapao one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Mark 12:28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" 29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." 32 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

Luke 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 27 He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" 28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

So, how is it possible? Only through the Holy Spirit. That is the only way. It is simply not possible through human will.



So, what have we learned? To live as God expects - to be truly holy - to do the works that God desires - is impossible in our human strength. We all want to be Christ-like, but no one gets that way by just deciding to. It ISN'T a matter of figuring out what Jesus would do and then doing it.

Ladies, have you ever read Proverbs 31 and wanted to be a wife of noble character? You could make a list in your head - up before dawn, prepare the food, make clothes for the family, run the household, bring in extra money, give to the poor, dole out wisdom. . . Are you up for it? That's what God wants, right? How long before you give up in utter exhaustion, a complete failure? That's what happens when you try to do it in your own strength.

OR - you can seek God every day, in His word and in your prayer. Trust Him. Depend on Him. And, someday, when you look back, you'll realize that you're a lot more of that Proverbs 31 woman than you used to be. It was in God's time and in God's strength. That's what it means to walk in the Spirit. It's God working in you - not anything you did yourself.

It is possible to do what appears to be good works and commanded of God and have it turn out to be works of the flesh. Remember this verse?

1 Corinthians 3: 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.

The work here was the work of believers - God's fellow workers - and yet some of it may burn up when tested in the fire. Work directed by the Spirit is pleasing to God. Work done in the flesh (in your own strength and will) is not pleasing, even if it appears righteous to us.

What you do in the Spirit will not burn you out (and will not burn up). There is time enough in every day to do what God wants you to do in that day. If it appears that there is not, then you are trying to go beyond what the Spirit wants for you.

That's part of the problem with many, many things on the Christian scene these days. Their basic message is, "This is what you were created for. Get out there and do it - spread the good news, make disciples, help the poor. Find out what your spiritual gift is and put it to work!"

Well, that's all well and good. It IS what the Bible says. But - they leave out the whole part about it being fruit of the Spirit. You go and do all that in your strength and will, and not only will you fail to please God, you will wind up feeling like an utter and complete failure. They call it being "purpose driven." Really, it's being "law-driven." We want to be led by the Spirit, not driven by the law.

So, what do we do? Go sit in a dark room until we FEEL the Spirit? No, that's not the way it works. (Don't you wish it was sometimes?)

Ephesians 5:15 Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

How can we be filled with the Spirit? How can we actually walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit?

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.

These two passages suggest two things. The first is simply to ask, as Jesus tells us:

Luke 11:9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"


The second is to "feed" your new man and "starve" your old man. Stay away from things of the world. Instead, drink deeply, daily of God's word, as the many, many passages we've gone through in the past say. Speak and sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Be thankful for all things and keep your mind on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

And, my favorite verse of all:

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

I believe that's the key right there - trust. We always want to make things complicated. We seem to always stray one way or the other. Either we try to do things in our own strength and wind up exhausted and burned out, feeling far from the very One we wanted to serve -- or, we go too far the other way and find ourselves paralyzed because we don't hear or FEEL God telling us what to do. It's not supposed to be that hard.


Matthew 11:28 "Come to me , all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

We need to just trust God to lead us, and He will! It's that simple. (I know - I know. While it's simple in truth, we women are feeling creatures, and too often we confuse trust with feeling. Our feelings so often mislead us). Just remember, we are to bear fruit, yes, but we are neither the gardener or the vine:

John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

The branches do not strain to produce fruit. They simply soak up the "Son" and the fruit grows!

One last - very important! - point: The "law" (all those expectations of God) does a number of things, but most importantly, it shows us our sin as we fail to live up to it. Only Jesus could keep it all perfectly. We will never be without sin on this earth. We will never walk perfectly in the Spirit. We will never be perfectly obedient. You can do everything we discussed here, and you will still screw up. We all do, no matter how long we've been Christians. When we acknowledge our sin, we remember again our need for our savior. The gospel is not something you believe and are done with. The gospel is an entire way of life. We need to remember that because of what Jesus did for us, we are already right with God. We are His dearly loved children, not because of ANYTHING we do, but because when the Father looks at us, He sees the righteousness of Jesus instead of our sin.

It's easy to know that in your head - that we're never trying to "earn points" by our works, but very hard to remember it in your heart. Our feelings are deceptive, and sometimes they will trip us up. We start to feel like God is not pleased with us, and He begins to feel very, very far away. Or, we start to feel like God IS pleased with us, because of the good things we've done. Neither is right thinking. God is already perfectly pleased with you, not because of what you've done or not done, but because when He looks at you, He sees His dear child, bought with the blood of Jesus.

God did everything in your salvation - and He will do everything in your sanctification, too. Just trust Him to lead you, and He will! (Remembering that He can use even your screw-ups for your eternal good!)


To summarize this whole study:

A series by John MacArthur:

Walking by the Spirit--Part 1

Walking by the Spirit--Part 2

Walking by the Spirit --Part 3 This one is particularly good. This is just a portion:


Other articles:

Our Human Spirit 

LAW AND GRACE, WORKS AND CHRIST (where the quote used in my summary came from)

The Law and the Christian - Part 1

The Law and the Christian - Part 2

The Holiness Movement 

John Courson commentaries. Jon Courson has the best handle on this whole subject of grace of any Bible teacher I have heard or read:

Jon Courson's audio Bible commentary

Good article, but I know nothing about the main website:



Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. - Acts 17:11

© 2012 This study was written by Jacqui Komschlies and last updated 2/1/2012. If you have questions, comments, corrections or concerns, please write me.

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