The Most Powerful Demonstration of the Spirit

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

The Fruit of the Spirit is not compliance to rules, policies, and traditions. In the Spirit we do not mark off boundaries against each other based on social or biological determination. Those who preoccupy themselves with these as a test for membership and/or participation in the faith community are living by the flesh. Rather, the fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22), for “if you keep biting and devouring each other, watch out that you will not be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15). Take a deep breath and be free in the Spirit. “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) This is the appeal of Paul to the Galatian believers as some attempt to make the Gentiles into Jews as a condition for salvation.

This study focusses on Galatians 5:22 by reading it in its literary and historical context and in the broader literary context of Paul’s letters.

First, it is important to understand that the religion called Christianity did not exist during the lifetime of the apostle Paul. Neither Jesus nor his disciples sought to found a religion. They were already part of a proud religious tradition, namely Judaism. Jesus and Paul taught the Judaic Gospel of righteousness/justice – the one which the prophets preached epitomized by the proclamation of Isaiah (“the spirit of the Lord God is upon me because he has anointed me, he has sent me to preach good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners….” Isa 61:1-2), and embraced by Jesus as his own manifesto (Luke4:18, 19). The primitive church, which later evolved into a world religion called Christianity, rose up from the synagogue. The Jesus followers were members of the synagogue for up until the last half of the first century; and the gospel they preached was Judaic with the distinction that Judaic Messianic expectation finds fulfilment through the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. This was precisely why Jewish believers (including Peter at some point), demanded Gentile proselytization (full embrace of Jewish beliefs and practices).

It is also very important to understand that Jews in general believed that only they were the heirs of God’s righteousness. A non-Jew may become a partaker of that righteousness, only if they become Jews. This includes the all-important act of male circumcision. Herein lies the heart of the Galatian controversy. Circumcision itself is the signifier that one has entered into covenant with God and thus is now a member of the community of the righteous – the Jews. It is this idea that Paul rigorously opposes in his letter to the Galatians (“We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law….”), and continues to develop in the letter to the Romans. When he argues that law cannot justify a person before God, he is not speaking of universal principles of decency and justice which the sanctified conscience can discern (see Roman 2:14-29), he is speaking specifically of those practices that make one a Jew, signified by the act of circumcision.

In Galatians, Paul characterizes the religious separatism as works of flesh which wars against the spirit creating strife among the community of believers (Galatians 5:16-25). Paul makes the disclaimer that there is nothing wrong with being a Jew (Romans 3: 31), but he is saying there is nothing wrong with being a non-Jew either; for God is not God of the Jew only, but also God of the Gentile (Romans 3:29-30). The focus on traditions and practices that really have nothing to do with salvation - to the point where it divides community - is the fruit of the flesh.

Paul uses three synonymous phrases that signal the believer’s departure from the flesh and unity with the Spirit: “in Christ”, “in Lord”, “in Spirit”. Each time he mentions this, he indicates the result or fruit. For example:

  1. “In Christ…you are all one” – “…no Jew or Gentile, no slave or free, no male and female.” (Galatians 3:28) Circumcision (namely “the law”) gives only Jewish males direct access to God’s righteousness. In Christ everyone has access.
  2. “In (the) Lord, woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman…all things come from God (1 Corinthians 11:11,12). Tradition places one group of humanity as head over another and marks off unnecessary boundaries. The fruit of being in (the) lord is to acknowledge only one head – God, and the interdependence of all.
  3. In the Spirit there is no hierarchy of gifts or capabilities; there is only one body (1 Corinthians 12-14).

The apostle Paul teaches that the flesh concerns itself with the things that perish – tradition, dogmas, biological structures, social/cultural inclinations, power and control over others. The Fruit of the spirit however is Love….(Gal 6:22). Paul continues to define what love is, following on the teachings of Jesus. “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another…love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:8, cf. Marl 12:31).

Walking after flesh results in community dysfunction which is the problem over which Paul agonized with the churches of his ministry. The Corinthian believers were in turmoil, divided over all kinds of practices and issues. In the midst of struggling to help them understand the life of the Spirit by which we all live peacefully in our differences, Paul writes the profound love statement:

Though I speak with the tongues of mortals and of angels, and have not love, I am a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. And if I understand all mysteries, and all knowledge…and have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possession, and if I hand over my body…, but I do not have love, I gain nothing.

To love is to do to others as you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12). This is the only command that Jesus leaves with his disciples: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”(John 13:34) Love is the essence of the spirituality by which we mindfully abide in the very presence of God: “…this is his commandment that we should…love one another…. All who obey his commandments abide in him and he abides in them.”(1 John 2:23-24) “Whoever does not love abides in death.”(1 John 2:14b)

Having the “right” doctrine, is not in and of itself a fruit of the Spirit. The insistence on being “right” is a fruit of the flesh - the heart of the dysfunction that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians. “But as for prophecies, they will cease, as for knowledge it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophecy only in part….” (1 Corinthians 13:8-9). In this finite existence, no one can claim to know and understand it all. When experience evolves from flesh/materialism towards a deep spirituality we begin to understand how to walk together in love in spite of our different ways of being and understanding.

When we walk by Spirit the outward flesh has no significance beyond its ability to enable us to live our best life. This is the new humanity in Christ/Spirit. We stop marking off boundaries against each other based on racial, cultural, biological or any other difference. To be in Christ, to walk by the Spirit is to become blind to the fleshly things of this world particularly our cultural norms, and bodily forms the focus on which hinders full fellowship of all in the community of faith. In the life of the Spirit we become fully conscious that our particular ways of dressing, or eating, or worshiping, our race, gender, or nationality and carefully worked out dogmatic and hierarchical structures, do not recommend us to God. It is Christ alone who writes that recommendation with his own blood. It is this profound unity in diversity that becomes the most powerful demonstration of the fruit of the spirit.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

the issue today in both church and state is bond or ban. It seems ban is winning. Never in 78 years sine the KKK burned a Cross in front of the Catholic priests home two blocks from my home have. I seen dread such venom.


So what is the plan when tiptoeing thru the tulips isn’t going that great? Like when the primary teacher shows too much “interest” in a particular child, when “something just isn’t right” with the church’s checking account balance, when an elder has been seeing another woman.

Will reading John 13:34 fix everything? At which point does it become acceptable and necessary to discuss boundaries?

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Olive, thank you for a thought provoking and logical summary of this important subject. Most timely and apt for our times. Tom,I too concur with your view we do indeed live in troubled times. Genuine leadership of statesmanlike vision is sadly lacking both in church and state! The only fix is Jesus coming. Bring it on.

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This is precisely what contemporaries thought of Jesus as he willing assumed the role of the suffering servant. He assumed the role of a redeemer who did not succeed by the way of the zealot but by the way of the Cross. A kenotic God who loved unto death on a cross. His way is of pre-emptive Grace. Boundaries are our response to Grace. Not at all the machismo take no prisoners male headship approach to the control of all things and the bringing in of a thousand year of the rule of law, we are told is the new way of life both in contemporary politics and in the proclamation of Judgement you seem to be advocating. Do we now as the folks at Advindicate and Fulcrum 7 and the supporters of Trump do and pursue the model of the God of Numbers, the wrathful righteous judgement that is the path of the Zealot or do we follow the suffering servant proclaiming the Grace and Love of a God who redeems and calls us to act justly and show mercy.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?


@webbed you do realize there are ads for hot latin beauties on your website right?

@rohantocharles my search history or other websites I have visited… show how much you know, I shared exactly what I wanted to share. There are inappropriate ads on the website.

Hahahah these are ‘cookies’ and reflect your search history/other websites you have visited!!

You just revealed a lot more than you intended :slight_smile:


Please read the last sentence of the fourth paragraph. Let me copy and paste it here:
“When he argues that law cannot justify a person before God, he is not speaking of universal principles of decency and justice which the sanctified conscience can discern (see Roman 2:14-29), he is speaking specifically of those practices that make one a Jew, signified by the act of circumcision.”


Is this a problem for most Adventists? Is it a problem for more than 10% of Adventists?
Is this a problem for more than a small minority of Spectrum readers?
Is this a problem for more than a small minority of the general conference?

Great clarifications Olive. I used to ask my boss to specifically assign me to Organ duty on the Sabbaths I knew you were scheduled to preach. You know who, you know where. I have , in the meantime, written a tome encapsulating what I have managed to uncover from history about the history of our young species: its called THE POLITICS, SCIENCE, AND MYSTERIES OF CREATION. [AMAZON]. It starts with The Mesopotamian Genesis / how the earth was created/ why was H. sapiens created/ the nuclear war at Sodom and Gomorrah to root out MARDUK , a preternder seeking to overthrow Yahweh/ and so on , I hope you will buy a copy, Thanks. 480 pages. Amazon has allowed many free pages. Let me know any questions you may have.

“When he argues that law cannot justify a person before God, he is not speaking of universal principles of decency and justice which the sanctified conscience can discern (Roman 2:14-29); he is speaking specifically of those practices that make one a Jew, signified by the act of circumcision.”

Does Dr Hemmings want to separate out “universal principles of decency and justice” from the rest of the Jewish Law and make them a necessary part of justification for Gentile Christians? In other words, although they do need to be circumcised, are they otherwise required to live justly in order to receive justification?

This question was debated in several places in early Christian history. In Acts 15 we see a negotiated agreement that certain “practices” be imposed on new Gentile Christians, but not as requirements of salvation or justification. Although Jesus might not have agreed with the list, they became part of the behaviors to be avoided in order to not offend Jewish believers.

Years later, both Paul and John take a more radical stance, and vigorously oppose the imposition of any portion of the Torah on Gentile Christians. Love does not merely fulfill the Law–as if it remains the standard of ethical conduct–but transcends and replaces it. The moral precepts of the Torah and other Jewish writings fade and the new Christian ethics of forgiveness, love and suffering become more distinct. As John states it: “The Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17 In Paul’s language, the Spirit does not simply lead the Christian to fulfill the Law more exactly, or even be a more ethical person, but infuses the new reality of agape love into the community. Christians do not need to look to the letter of the Law but to the presence of the Spirit manifest in love.


There are 3 [THREE] places in scripture where we are TOLD HOW to be Holy, HOW to be Perfect in the eyes of God and Christ.
Ways to Act HOLY.
Matthew 5:38-48. Be perfect by NOT resisting an evil doer. And gives examples of His day –
Struck on the cheek – offer the other one also.
Someone takes you outer clothes, give them your underwear also.
If a Roman occupyer forces you to carry his pack one mile, smile, and carry it two miles for him.
Give to someone who begs to you, and loan out to anyone who asks to borrow.
Love one’s enemies who persecute you and pray for them [that is what children on one’s Father in Heaven do]. Recall that the sun shines and the rain rains on everyone – those who live Him, and those who do not.
Luke 6:36 – Be merciful, compassionate like God is.
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18.-- Farmers leave harvest in the field along the edges. Vineyards not to be stripped bare, and dont pick up fallen fruit. Leave it for the poor and the alien.
Don’t steal, don’t deal falsely. Don’t lie to each other. Don’t swear falsely about something. Don’t profane God’s name. Don’t defraud one’s neighbor. Don’t steal [take what isn’t yours]. Pay the worker at the end of their shift. Don’t revile a blind person or put things where they will trip over them.
Fear God. Render just judgments. Not be partial to the poor OR defer to the great [treat all the same]. Judge one’s neighbor justly. Don’t slander anyone by telling “tales” on them. Do not profit by the “blood and sweat” of one’s neighbor. Don’t hate any kinfolk. Don’t reprove one’s neighbor [or you will incur the guilt yourself]. Don’t take vengeance or bear a grudge against anyone.
You SHALL love your neighbor as yourself.

Being a Christian is NOT easy. Our job is to Love, Love, Love.
Love God, Love Self, Love Others.
Love, Love, Love others.

EDIT-- Bb –
The outer coat was most often used as a blanket at night when sleeping.
Jesus said to hand them your other piece of clothing covering your naked body.
Take it off, hand it to them standing there in your “BirthDaySuit”.

EDIT – The Main Point I was attempting to make was this – So MANY persons and Preachers in the SDA church QUOTE Ellen saying "WHEN the Character of Christ is PERFECTLY Reproduced in His people, THEN He can come."
BOTH Jesus AND God [through Moses] has outlined here what PERFECT, what HOLY behavior, Character is.

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Just as a point of reference, Steve…the offering of the other cheek and the undergarment were actually non violent acts of protest and public shaming of the aggressor. That tells me that Jesus, while speaking against eye for an eye retribution, was not promoting the idea that his followers be doormats and silent receptacles of abuse. To me, that says that resistance to injustice and calling it out for what it is, is decidedly Christian, as seen, for instance, in the civil rights movement.



Yes, Steve. To stand there after handing over ones undergarment, was to call out the aggressor. To shame them publicly, as if to say, you would even do this to me?

While not retaliation, it was an act of protest, and in an honor/shame culture, put the onus on the one exercising power. IOW, I don’t believe that Jesus was teaching a love that involved allowing oneself to be a silent target of abuse.