Exploring Christ's Spiritual Laws

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2Cor 2:9-11 . . If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have
forgiven-- if there was anything to forgive --I have forgiven in the sight of
Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not
unaware of his schemes.

One of the opposition's tactics is to create disunity in a church. Sure enough
when that happens-- as when one portion of the congregation believes in
judging and ostracizing while the other doesn't --people start taking sides
and the church will end up divided into cliques and factions. According to the
lord and master of New Testament Christianity, a house divided against itself
cannot stand.

Paul mentioned that his extension of forgiveness was "in the sight of Christ".
There exists some controversy as to the exact meaning but I think it's just
saying that Paul's forgiveness of that man was done in accordance with
Christ's approval; to the end that the Corinthians all go along with it, i.e.
stand together as one.
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2Cor 5:20-21 . . We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God
were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be
reconciled to God.

There's two different aspects to reconciliation. One is a criminal justice kind
of reconciliation (Rom 5:6-11, Rom 6:3-11, 1John 2:2) and the other is a
fellowship kind of reconciliation. (Gen 4:1-7, Gen 5:22-24, Gen 6:9, Gen
17:1, 1John 1:3-7)

For example, a man and his wife may not be speaking to each other; and
sleeping in separate beds; but they're still married: they're just not getting
along; in other words, they're out of fellowship with one another. It's God's
wishes that His own walk with Him in fellowship while they're waiting for
their departure; and the Corinthians weren't doing very well at it.

In order to restore diplomatic relations between themselves and their Father
above, that congregation had to knuckle down and deal with sin in their
midst in accordance with their master's wishes rather than their own.
Compare Josh 7:2-26 where Moses' people couldn't win anymore battles
until they first dealt with a sin in their midst.

It's ironic that a fully functioning Christian church like the one at Corinth was
in need of reconciliation with God. How many Christian churches are just like
that today? They pride themselves in being Spirit-filled congregations, yet
their congregational attitude is completely out of touch with Christ. Yes,
Christian congregations are oftentimes out of touch and need to come to
their senses and reconnect or else they risk becoming like the church at
Laodicea where the central figure of Christianity is depicted outside the
building banging on the door trying to get someone's attention to let him in.
(cf. Rev 3:14-22)
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2Cor 6:1-2 . . As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's
grace in vain; for He says: In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the
day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now
is the day of salvation.

Some of Christ's followers are sort of on hold as they look forward to God's
patronage and providence after they die; but Paul says you can lay hold of
those benefits now. In other words: the cross not only qualifies people for
Heaven, but also for obtaining God's earthly patronage and providence.
However, that earthly aspect of the plan of salvation comes with a string
attached-- obedience.

"No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can
you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 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. 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." (John 15:1-7)

Nobody really wants to be a stick of ol' dried up yard debris, but that's what
happens when Christ's followers go off-reservation and follow their own
noses instead of walking in the light.

"When somebody loves me, they will obey my teaching; and my Father will
love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who
does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not
my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." (John 14:23-24)

In other words: according to the Father's testimony as an expert witness in
all matters pertaining to fellowship: a Christian not obeying Christ has
disassociated themselves from both Christ and his Father (2John 1:9). But
they aren't lost; they're just lapsed.
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2Cor 6:14-18 . . Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for
what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what
communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with
Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what
agreement hath the temple of God with idols?

. . . for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in
them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my
people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith
The Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will
be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith The Lord
Almighty.

That commandment clearly forbids intermarriage between Christians and
non-Christians. Failure to comply with those instructions is not only grossly
disobedient, but it's unwise and can have tragic results; for example:

"When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were
born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were
beautiful, and they married any of them they chose." (Gen 6:1-2)

If we assume that the "sons of God" were believers and the "daughters of
men" were not; then it would appear that back in Noah's day, believing men
threw caution to the wind and built themselves harems of unbelieving
women. What happened to those believing men when it came time for the
Flood? Well, for one thing; they had lost their piety.

"The Lord then said to Noah: Go into the ark, you and your whole family,
because I have found you righteous in this generation." (Gen 7:1()

None of the other sons of God in that day were righteous; hence they
weren't invited aboard the ark. All of those men-- whose wives were chosen
based solely upon sex appeal sans any spiritual prudence whatsoever -
perished in the Flood right along with their infidel wives and children.
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2Cor 7:1 . . Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse
ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting
holiness out of deference to God's wishes.

Contaminations of one's body would include things like criminal conduct, mean
speech, drug addiction, alcoholism, adultery, promiscuity, gluttony, eating
blood, etc.

Contaminations of one's spirit would include things like rivalry, envy, conceit,
arrogance, malice, hateful thoughts, evil schemes, selfish ambition, stifling
one's compassion, etc.

The promises in view are those at 2Cor 6:14-18. Compliance with God's
wishes is the way to go to obtain them.

Q: If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? (Gen 4:7)

A: Yes, you will be excepted. (John 14:21-24, 1John 1:6-7)
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2Cor 8:11-15 . . If the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according
to what one has, not according to what he does not have. Our desire is not
that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there
might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they
need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will
be equality, as it is written: He who gathered much did not have too much,
and he who gathered little did not have too little.

That directive is an excellent passage for debunking the so-called Faith
Promise; which is a popular scheme for tricking church members to pledge
money they don't have while expecting God's providence will somehow
provide it. That is not The Lord's wish. By means of Paul, The Lord says to
give out of what you already have, not what you hope to have later; I mean:
it is not His wish to copy ENRON's mark-to-market accounting practices
and/or futures trading with pork bellies and soy beans.
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2Cor 9:7 . . Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Towards what end is the giving spoken of in the New Testament? To finance
ambitious building programs? Well; Christians back then met in homes. Did
their donations go towards obtaining more homes to meet in? No.

Within the context of the New Testament, giving back then was charitable. It
met needs rather than expenses; and those needs were typically
congregational rather than universal; viz: their charity went towards those
amongst themselves and/or other congregations, that were hungry, sick,
injured, homeless, alone, helpless, missionaries, full time-pastors, orphans,
widows, abandoned, and/or persecuted, etc.
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2Cor 10:7 . . If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should reconsider that we belong to Christ just as much as he.

It's amazing that any Christian's ego would be so inflated as to think themselves holier than an apostle, however, there are some people out there with a pretty bad case of conceit who are up to it. I can just hear the sneer in their voices as they think to themselves: "What's so special about him? He puts his pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else." That's the voice of one of the most destructive human passions there is: malicious rivalry. It got Abel murdered (1John 3:12) and it got Christ crucified. (Matt 27:15-18)

"And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words." (Mark 12:13)

Just look at that! The Lord's enemies actually stalked him, hoping he would slip up and say something they could use against him. Who were the "they" in that passage? None other than Judaism's religious elite.

"And as he taught them, he said: Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it 'a den of robbers. The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching." (Mark 11:17-18)

You know what kind of animal stalks? A predator. So people infected with malicious rivalry are nothing in the world but human wildlife: feral beasts.
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2Cor 13:5 . . Examine yourselves, whether you're in the faith; test your own
selves. Don't you know of your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you,
unless you're all reprobates?

The only proof-positive way for individuals to know for sure whether Christ is
in them is by getting it from the horse's mouth.

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." (Rom
8:15)

The koiné Greek word for "testifies" means to corroborate; defined by
Webster's as: to support or help prove (a statement, theory, etc.) by
providing information or evidence.

This kind of support usually isn't public: it's private. In other words: it's one
on one, spirit to spirit, heart to heart. Needless to say then, this kind of
corroboration is supernatural rather than academic which is why Paul said to
"test your own selves" because no one but you and God together can do this
for you.

"The Lord knows those who are his" (2Tim 2:19)
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Gal 1:8 . . But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other
gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be
accursed.

The koiné Greek word for "accursed" in that passage is anathema (an-ath'
em-ah) which has to do with banishment and/or disassociation.

An application of this, within the epistle to Galatians, is 5:4 where it says:

"You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ;
you have fallen away from grace."

Whenever Paul spoke of "the law" he was usually referring to the covenant that
Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and
Deuteronomy. So, in a nutshell; 1:8 and 5:4 are speaking of people who
sincerely believe that it's necessary to comply with the Ten Commandments
to get to heaven.
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Gal 5:1 . . Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us
free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

The yoke of bondage about which Paul wrote is no doubt the covenant that
Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and
Deuteronomy; which is described by Acts 15:10 as "neither our fathers, nor
are we, able to bear"

When someone is covenanted with God to be truthful as per Lev 19:11; then
seeing as how the covenant is contractual; it obligates God to come down on
them with a curse for breach of contract (Deut 27:26, Jer 11:3-4). He has to
levy a curse against covenanted liars or He himself would be in breach of
contract.

Not too many people can be counted upon to honor their commitments; but
I assure you that God is 110% reliable at honoring His. A cursory review of
the last 3,500 years of Jewish history easily bears that out.

To view a menu of curse options available to God; just feast your glims on
Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69. I do not think it wise to
yoke oneself to those curses.

NOTE: There's basically two categories of commands in the Bible: binding
commands and non-binding commands.

The commands in the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God as
per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are binding commands;
viz: Moses' people are under contract with God to comply with them; and He
is under contract with His people to enforce them; which means that when
Moses' people breach the contract by disobeying its commands; God is
obligated to slam them with any and/or all of the covenanted curses listed at
Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69.

Christ's commands, on the other hand, are non-binding commands; viz:
Christians are not under a contract with God to comply with them; nor is He
under a contract with Christians to enforce them. So when a Christian
disobeys Christ's commands; God is under no obligation to slam them with a
curse. They might get slammed with discipline; but never with a curse.

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
(Rom 8:1)
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Gal 5:2-3 . . Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be
circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every
man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole
law.

The koiné Greek word for "man" in the above passage is anthropos (anth'
ro-pos) a common word in the New Testament for humans of either gender.
The specific word for males is arrhen (ar'-hrane) and/or arsen (ar' sane).

Modern females undergo conversion to Judaism by means of a ritual bath
called Mikveh; which, for them, is equivalent to male circumcision. The exact
process by which females in the Old Testament underwent conversion-- e.g.
Ruth --is unknown.

I think it safe to assume that the circumcision Paul warned against was a
label that included not only the male kind but also by whatever means that
females in his day underwent conversion to Judaism.

Seeing as how the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon per Exodus,
Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy doesn't specify a God-given
procedure for female conversion to Judaism, then I'd guess that just about
any design would be sufficient so long as the ritual is conducted by someone
authorized to do so.
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Gal 5:13a . . You, my brethren, were called to be free. But do not use your
liberty to indulge the base nature;

Christians are sometimes accused of practicing a religion that gives people a
license to steal, so to speak. Well; that is very true to a certain extent
because Christians do have immunity from any, and all, of the curses that
Israel's covenant imposes on scofflaws as per Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26,
and Deut 28:1-69.

However, God prefers that Christians not do whatever they want; but
instead do whatever He wants, In other words: Christ's followers have
liberty to steal but they don't have a license to steal. (Rom 6:1-13)
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Gal 5:16 . . I say then: walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of
the base nature.

Some years ago, in a boatyard where I was employed on Shelter Island in
San Diego, I was listening to a young Christian boast of his dedication to
Christ. So I asked him: What about the command to walk in the Spirit? How
are you doing with that one?

Well, the brash, pleased-with-himself youngster admitted he didn't even
know what that meant, let alone how to do it. (chuckle) In regards to
"dedication" Mr. Super Saint hadn't even got to first base yet. (judging by
the fact that was on a third marriage last time I checked, I'd have to say he
never did get the hang of it.)

Anyway, there's nothing mystical about this. Walking in the Spirit is just
simply doing what God wants rather than letting your natural impulses
and/or your own thinking control your conduct all the time.

For example: post #2 contains these words: "Abstain from food tainted by
idols, from promiscuity, from the meat of strangled animals, and from
blood."

When a Christian complies with those instructions; they're walking in the
Spirit; but when they're ignoring those instructions and eating whatever
they want and sleeping around without regard for God's feelings about it;
then they're fulfilling the lusts of the base nature. It's just that simple.
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Gal 5:26 . . Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envying one
another.

Webster's defines "conceit" as: excessive self-appreciation of one's own
worth or virtue.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with having strong core values and/or
believing in yourself, but if you should find yourself somewhat indignant
and/or resentful when others don't believe in you, or when they think very
little of your core values; then watch out because that's a symptom of
conceit, and it will hinder you from obeying The Lord's orders in regard to
getting along with fellow believers.

The koiné word for "envy" is phthoneo (fthon-eh'-o) which means: hostile
toward a rival, or towards someone believed to enjoy an advantage. In other
words; we're talking about a competitive spirit-- not the good-natured,
friendly kind but a malicious kind of competitive spirit that resents others
doing better than itself, or more popular than itself, or more recognized than
itself, or more admired than itself; viz; it's all about self.

Rivalry is a very destructive passion. It got Abel slain by his own brother,
and it got Christ slain by his own people. Rivalry makes otherwise sensible
people behave contrary to their own better judgment, and gets them
embroiled in oftentimes unnecessary vendettas; e.g. gender rivalry and
racial rivalry. Now those two there are very destructive social influences.

If none of the above describes you; consider yourself fortunate.

The koiné word for "provoke" is prokaleomai (prok-al-eh'-om-ahee) which
means to challenge; viz: to get in somebody's face in an obnoxious,
assertive, confrontational manner; which is a kind of behavior that prevents
people from deserving identification with God's kin.

"Blessed are the peaceable: for they shall be called the children
of God." (Matt 5:9)
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Gal 6:1a . . Brethren, even if a man is caught in the very act of any
trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness;

It's very important to keep in mind that "a man" refers to fellow church
members rather than the world at large. A big mistake that Christians often
make is imposing their beliefs and practices on outsiders; and they're too
often not all that gentle about it either.

The restoration process is specifically the turf of "spiritual" Christians. In a
church where people are conceited, assertive, confrontational, and embroiled
in petty rivalries; the spiritual ones are obviously going to be as scarce as
California Condors.

A spirit of gentleness obviously precludes the use of bullying, intimidation,
rage. yelling, demeaning comments, brow beating, and such. Those kinds of
behaviors aren't gentle, no, they're cruel.

The koiné Greek word for "trespass" is interesting. It can refer to willful
misconduct and/or to unintentional misconduct. Seeing as how willful
misconduct is dealt with harshly and summarily as per 1Cor 5:1-13 while in
this situation gently, then I'd say Gal 6:1 is referring to unintentional
misconduct; which doesn't merit a public flogging; but rather a quiet talk;
and the more private the better in order to avoid embarrassing the
unintentional offender; after all, honest mistakes are common to us all.
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Gal 6:1b . . each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.

The Greek word for "tempted" is somewhat ambiguous. It primarily means
to test; but can also mean endeavor, scrutinize, entice, and/or discipline.

I think what the restorers are being cautioned against is going about a right
thing in a wrong way so that they themselves end up taken to task for
conduct unbecoming. In some people's minds, the end justifies the means so
long as it benefits the so-called greater good. But that's Machiavellian
thinking rather than Christian thinking.

In other words: the restorers mentioned in Gal 6:1 need to tread lightly
because if they go after an offender like a lynch mob; then they themselves
should expect to be seen by others as a menace to society.
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Gal 6:1-2 . . Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

It's human nature to shun people with problems so they don't drag us into a
world of inconvenience and/or negativity. But that is not what I call fulfilling
the law of Christ; which reads thusly:

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

The love that is defined by "As I have loved you" is a kind of love willing to
suffer inconvenience, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and disgrace for
the sake of another.

Christ's love isn't a fault-finding attitude; it's a supportive virtue: it doesn't
only feel your pain, it gets involved in your pain. Church can be the loneliest
place on earth when nobody cares enough about you to get involved in your
pain; but instead would just as soon not know about it. Sadly, there is about
as much love for one another in modern churches as there is amongst an
audience of strangers at the movies.

I sincerely believe that a lot of that indifference has to do with modern
churches just simply being too big and too busy.
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Gal 6:6 . . And let the one who is taught the word, share all good things
with him who teaches.

"good things" is commonly interpreted as referring to providing a teacher
with material necessities. Well; it can mean that; but the Greek word is
ambiguous; it refers to good things in any sense.

The Greek word for "share" is ambiguous too. It's primary meaning is to
share with others (objectively or subjectively, but a couple of places in the
New Testament, it means to take part in, or experience something along
with others; for example:

"Do not take part in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure." "1Tim 5:22)

"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also
himself likewise took part of the same" (Heb 2:14)

"If someone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about
Christ, don't invite him into your house or encourage him in any way.
Anyone who encourages him becomes a partner in his evil work." (2 John
10-11)
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Gal 6:7a . . Don't be deceived into thinking God is a silly old fool.

A silly old fool is a senior citizen that people know they can mistreat and/or
take advantage of without fear of complaint, resistance, or reprisal. That
pretty much describes me.

For example: one year the next door neighbors hired a tree maintenance
company to deal with the limb of one of my pine trees extending over their
property. Instead of just trimming the portion of the limb that extended over
their property, they had the company come onto my property with neither
my knowledge nor my permission and remove the entire limb clear on back
to the main trunk. I said nothing.

And then last year, the same neighbors sprayed some chemicals along their
property line that killed one of my wife's favorite shrubs. I quietly dug up my
wife's deceased shrub with a pick and shovel and planted a replacement; all
without making a fuss.

But people should not assume that just because God doesn't get after them
right away for conduct unbecoming that He's soft like me.

"A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his flesh, will, of
the flesh reap corruption; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the
Spirit will reap eternal life." (Gal 7b-8)

The koiné Greek word for "corruption" is phthora (fthor-ah') which means:
decay; viz: decadence; which is saying that when Christians make a habit of
indulging the propensities of their base nature; their spiritual strength fades.

Is "the one who sows to please the Spirit, will, from the Spirit, reap eternal
life" saying it's possible to earn one's way into heaven? Answer: No; eternal
life isn't a location; it's a state of being. What I mean is: eternal life is both a
power and a nature. It's what causes some Christians to undergo amazing
personality changes as per Rom 8:11.

The life spoken of as per Galatians 6:8 and Romans 8:11, is the fruit of the
Spirit; which consists of the elements of love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. (Gal 5:22-23)

Love is from the koiné Greek word agape (ag-ah'-pay) which means:
affection and/or benevolence. Love is just the opposite of a hard, insensitive
heart.

Joy is from chara (khar-ah') which means: cheerfulness

Peace is from eirene (i-ray'-nay) which means: quietness, calm, at rest,
content, satisfied, free from mental and/or emotional conflicts; viz: serene.

Longsuffering is from makrothumia (mak-roth-oo-mee'-ah) which means:
stable under pressure, composed, not easily disturbed, a disposition to bear
injuries patiently.

Gentleness is from chrestotes (khray-stot'-ace) which means: usefulness (to
others), viz: moral excellence (in character or demeanor) e.g. kindness and
goodness.

Faith is from pistis (pis'-tis) which means; persuasion; viz: credence,
confidence, conviction. A person of faith is also faithful; viz: reliable and
trustworthy.

Meekness is an editorial insertion not found in the koiné Greek manuscripts.

Temperance is from egkrateia (eng-krat'-i-ah) which means: self-control; as
opposed to incontinence, which Webster's defines as: inability to restrain
one's carnal appetites.

Those are all elements of the divine nature; which Christians should,
according to Peter, make an effort to experience right now, in this life,
before they expire and pass on. (2Pet 1:2-11)

But it's important to note that the fruit of the Spirit is supernatural; in other
words: this is something that God alone controls; viz: it's dispensed rather
than cultivated. The fruit is compensation for making a conscientious effort
to please God. One day in heaven, everyone will experience the fruit of the
Spirit; but in order to do so now, Christians have to guard against becoming
decadent.

"Let's not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a
harvest if we don't lose heart." (Gal 6:9)
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