As Christians trying to overcome, we often think in terms of ridding ourselves of sin, which can be a discouraging and sometimes overwhelming experience. Nevertheless, it is only part of a Christian's life. It is just as important—if not more important—to concentrate on producing the fruit of the Spirit, the positive result of overcoming. Producing the fruit of the Spirit means—above and beyond "merely" obeying the Ten Commandments—we begin to produce and grow in godly character. Building character requires sacrificing ourselves in service to God and our brethren (Romans 12:1-2). In this second Bible Study on the fruit of the Spirit, we will focus on the first and most important fruit, love (Galatians 5:22). Love could be considered a vine as well as a fruit as it is the channel through which all of the fruits are borne.
1. What are we without love? I Corinthians 13:1-2. What does a life without love profit us? I Corinthians 13:3. Whom should we love? Deuteronomy 6:5; I John 2:10; 4:7, 11; Matthew 5:43-46; 22:36-39.
Comment: Man's natural state is to be God's enemy (Colossians 1:21) and to hate Him (John 15:18). The love of God is not naturally in man (John 5:42). Since carnal humans cannot love properly, they are of no lasting benefit to their fellow human beings. They rarely give anything of true value to others.
2. What is love? John 14:15, 21; Romans 13:10; I John 5:3; II John 6;. What must God give us so that we may have true love? Romans 5:5; I John 3:24; 4:12-13.
Comment: God's divine love is entirely different from the world's version of it. God imparts love to us by the Holy Spirit, and we express it by obeying His law as outgoing concern for others.
3. What is the purpose of the Ten Commandments? Deuteronomy 5:33; 6:25; Matthew 22:36-39; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14; I Timothy 1:5.
Comment: God's character is based on love, and He has given us His law to guide our character development. Love is and results from keeping God's law.
4. Do we have to show true love to know and understand God? I John 2:3-6; 4:7-8; 5:2. How has God shown His love toward us? John 3:16; Romans 5:8; I John 4:9-10. Why does a converted person love God? I John 4:19. What must we do to love God? I John 4:20-21; John 15:13.
Comment: We can see the Father's love for us in His offering of His Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for our sins. Christ demonstrated His love for us by giving His own life for us (Ephesians 5:2). We show our love for God in our adoration, worship and obedience, resulting in outgoing concern, compassion, kindness and service toward others (II Corinthians 5:14) and giving our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
5. How does love relate to perfection? Colossians 3:12-14; I John 4:12. Why is love perfected in us? I John 4:17.
Comment: Love is the bond of perfection (I Corinthians 13), and God's love is perfected in us as we love each other. "Perfected" means complete or mature as God wants us. God is completing our character development by instilling in us His own character of love, seen in our love for one another.
6. How is love related to truth? I Peter 1:22; I John 3:18-19. How can we show love without hypocrisy? Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 6:1-4.
Comment: By obeying the truth with the help of the Holy Spirit, we understand love from a godly perspective. A humble attitude is paramount to showing genuine love toward others.
7. Is there a wrong type of love? I John 2:15-17; Proverbs 7:18-19; I Timothy 6:10. Can we fear if we have perfect love? I John 4:18.
Comment: Love of the world is forbidden by God, and conforming to it shows that a person loves it (Romans 12:2) and therefore hates God. Much of the time, the world equates lust with love, but nothing could be further from the truth. Lust is self-centered and destructive. The person who has God's love perfected in him cannot fear because he has no dread of punishment and no torment from sin.
8. What characteristics and fruit does love produce? I Corinthians 13:4-7; Proverbs 10:12.
Comment: The mutual love that issues from the unity of the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:1-3) is a witness to the outside world of the reality of God's existence. The love of God is perfected in us if we keep God's commands and love one another, and this unifies us by one Spirit into one body, as Christ is one with the Father. God is developing a Family whose main characteristic is love, therefore, the Kingdom of God is also the kingdom of love. This fruit of the Spirit opens the way for the other spiritual fruit to be produced.