Attributes of the Spirit-filled Life: Goodness
What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God?
It means that, above all else, the Fruit of the Spirit will be increasingly apparent in your life. The more I mature in the Christian life, and the more I study the Scriptures, the more persuaded I am that the Fruit of the Spirit is the primary indication of God’s presence in the believer’s life. It is not so much preaching and teaching or ministry that communicates Christ’s life to the people around us, but our rootedness in the Spirit. It’s the Fruit of the Spirit that are the true indicators of our transformation in Christ.
The Fruit of the Spirit is always generated completely in every believer, no matter how faintly evidenced its various characteristics may be. What do I mean by that? I mean that when you’re saved and the Spirit comes to indwell your life, at that moment you get, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The Fruits of the Spirit are a package deal. You don’t get, love, patience, and kindness one moment, and then – if you’ve developed those over several years of faithful Christian living – get joy, faithfulness, and gentleness some time later. You get all of the Fruit of the Spirit because you get all of the Spirit.
Our job is to cultivate each of the attributes of the Spirit’s fruit so that they become increasingly obvious in our lives.
Tonight, I want to preach on goodness. “Good” is one of those words that is difficult to define. Like the word “love,” we use the word good in so many different ways that it is hard to get a handle on what the word truly means. Webster's dictionary gives seventeen different uses for the word good.
We use the word in so many different contexts: We use it to indicate competence – “You’re good at math.” We use it to indicate reliability – “The car has good brakes.” We use it to indicate strength – “You have good eyesight.” It can mean kindness – “It was good of you to come.” It can mean moral excellence as in performing good deeds or good works. It can refer to behavior – “You’ve been a good child.” We use it to indicate enjoyment – “Boy, that was a good party.” It can mean thoroughness – “Give it a good washing.” It can mean immensity of number as in a good many people. We use it to indicate soundness as in good reasoning. We use it to indicate expedience – “I thought it good to have a try.” It can even mean freshness as in the bread is still good. It can mean worthiness – “Good ol’ George.” It can refer to attractiveness – “Wow, you sure look good.” It can refer to a desirable end – as when we sacrifice the present for future good. We use it as a noun, and advective and an adverb.
So then, when the Apostle Paul writes that goodness is one of the attributes of the Spirit, what does he mean to tell us?
I. THE WORLDLY VIEW OF ‘GOOD’ – IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GOOD LIFE
- the predominate philosophy that governs western culture’s concept of goodness can be distilled down into one phrase – “If it feels good, do it!”
- our cultural theme-song is the chorus to Debbie Boon’s hit You Light Up My Life
- the chorus says, “How can it be wrong when it feels so right?”
- there was a time in western culture when goodness was all about character and the principles of integrity and rectitude that went into developing a good character
- today, goodness is about feeling and feeling good instead of being good
- as long as I feel good about life, life must be good and I must obviously being good
- most Americans spend an extraordinary amount of time and effort and money trying to make ourselves feel good
A. FOR SOME FEELING GOOD IS ABOUT LOOKING GOOD
- for some folks, appearance means everything
- if you can look like you’re living the good life you must have
- our society place a high priority on our looks
- the right body weight
- the right hair style or the right hair color
- the right look and all that goes into that
- ILLUS. Americans spent $10.4 billion on cosmetic surgery in 2011.The American Society of Plastic Surgeons said plastic surgery spending is up 3 percent over 2010, powered in part by a 71-percent uptick in chin augmentations. 20,680 Americans forked over more than $38 million on chin jobs last year. While chin jobs seem to be all the rage, breast implants were still number one with 307,180 surgeries. The five top reasons for having plastic surgery include: 1) Heath reasons, 2) Accidents, 3) Self-esteem, 4) Re-constructive surgery, and 5) Vanity.
B. FOR OTHERS FEELING GOOD IS ABOUT HAVING THE GOODS
- for a large segment of our society, feeling good about life means having all the things of this world
- whatever the latest and greatest gadgets are, we’ve gotta have ‘em
- feeling good, if it means anything, means most of all—prosperity
- it means having all the things that are likely to fulfill and satisfy our desire to acquire
- and if someone has more than we do, it is patently unfair!
- this means a constant procurement of new things and more things, believing that they will provide us good living
II. THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF ‘GOOD’ – IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CHARACTER OF GOD IN US
- what is goodness all about?
- we get a clue from Jesus in Matthew 19 in the incident with the Rich Young Man
- the rich young ruler came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
- to which Jesus replied “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good.”
- in Mark’s gospel it’s a little clearer: He says “No one is good—except for God alone.”
- why does Jesus answer the young man that way?
- because he needs to remove the misconception that we as human beings, on our own without the grace of God, can know what good is and can do good
A. GOD SAYS THAT GOODNESS IS CHARACTER ENERGIZED BY HIS SPIRIT
- to understand goodness, and what good is, we must come to know God
- "For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations." (Psalm 100:5, NASB95)
- it refers to energized character that expresses itself in active, and beneficial – even aggressive – goodness
- the word goodness in the Scriptures literally means, an uprightness of heart and life
- this uprightness leads to a life of doing good for others even when others don’t deserve it
- the divine goodness that God implants within you though His Holy Spirit needs to be released
- Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” KJV
- the problem is this: we have not been born with a nature that seeks to do good
- we are not naturally good
- we do not have it within ourselves naturally to respond in goodness to the people around us or the situations we find ourselves in
- the lost person will continually search and never find the answer to that question until he or she finds Christ
- the saved person has the answer for those questions
- we know from the Scriptures that we were created to do good works – God’s works – in this world
- we are not saved by our good works, we cannot receive forgiveness for our sins or salvation because of our good works, but once we’re save, our life is to be lived doing good works
- we can only do the works of God because the Spirit gives us the right motivation for doing them – out of a pure and good heart
III. CULTIVATING GOODNESS
- here is the fundamental question of the evening
- how can you become a good Christian?
- how can you grow the fruit of goodness of God's Spirit in your life?
- let met suggest six things you can do that will help you grow in goodness and become a good person
A. ACCEPT GOD'S GIFT OF GRACE
- you must begin by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior
- this is the starting point of experiencing and knowing God's goodness
- it is the beginning of living the good life
- Ephesians 2:8,9 "For it is by grace you are saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast."
- He wants to give us his goodness so that we might become good
- it is the kind of thing you cannot earn
- goodness is simply a gift that we must receive
- our physical nature is prone toward sin, selfishness, evil and rebellion against God
- but when you receive God's gift you are born again and you start all over as far as God is concerned
- when the Holy Spirit comes into your life He brings His fruit—including His goodness
- you can't know the good life until you receive God's gift
- you can't have a changed life until you receive God's gift
- once you have done that, then you begin to grow in goodness
B. MASTER YOUR BIBLE
- if you want to grow in goodness, become a student of God's Word
- begin to know what God says about how to live your life, and how to respond to people and circumstances
- if you are going to do good, if you are going to be good, you have to know what God says about goodness and His definition of good
- we have been so conditioned by our world that if we are going to live a good life, we have to learn what God says
C. GUARD YOUR MIND
- Proverbs 23:7 "For as a man thinks in his heart, so he is."
- we have to protect what we are thinking
- the things that we think about will eventually lead the way we live our lives
- what is on the inside will eventually become visible in our lives
- therefore, we have to guard what comes in our minds
- it’s absolutely amazing to see the spiritual junk food that Christians will feed on
- no wonder so many believers struggle in the Christian life
- sin always begins in the mind
- if we can guard our minds, we can keep ourselves from sin
D. DEVELOP CONVICTIONS
- if you want to do good, you have to have convictions in your life
- what is it that you stand for?
- ILLUS. Someone said that if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.
- the number one virtue that we are taught in our society today is tolerance, to have an open mind, be open to all kinds of lifestyles and all kinds of beliefs
- the problem is that we’ve become so open minded that our brains are in danger of falling out
- because tolerance is the most important virtue in our society today, we have tossed aside morality and discretion and intelligence in our attempt to be “broad minded”
- ILLUS. Do you know the difference between an opinion and a conviction? An opinion is something that you hold on to; a conviction is something that holds on to you. It controls your life. An opinion is something that you will argue about but a conviction is something that you will suffer and die for.
- because he had convictions he changed the world
- Jesus is a model of a person who was good, who stood up for the things that was right and stood against the things that were wrong
- we need to follow in his example
- it takes a lot of guts to be a good person in the way God intends for us to be good
- it takes a lot of guts to stand against for what is wrong and immoral in our society today
- things like child abuse, abortion, pornography, corruption, prejudice, and homosexuality
E. HAVE THE COURAGE TO BE DIFFERENT
- we are to have the courage to be different.
- if you are going to have convictions it will take courage
- 3 John 11 "Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” KJV
F. MEET REGULARLY WITH OTHER BELIEVERS
- we need the encouragement of each other
- it encourages me when I hear you testify about how you share Christ or how you stood up for your convictions; how you were a light and a witness in your workplace, family or neighborhood
- this is an encouragement to me to continue to press on, to be strong
- when you pray for me, this encourages me
- I need that just as much as you need me praying for you
- this is why we need to meet together as a body of Christ
- this is why watching church on television just does not make it
- we need each other in flesh and blood
- we need to be together, encourage on another, love one another, pray for one another
Goodness is not something that come naturally to men —especially the kind of goodness God expects from us. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit and must be cultivated in our lives. When we are being good for goodness sake, it is then that we know we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great English Baptist preacher of the 19th century said: Do all the good you can, to all the people you an, in all the ways you can, as often as ever you can, as long as you can. That’s a good way to live your life.