Developing the Spirit's Fruit of Goodness

Dr. Steve Viars May 6, 2000 Galatians 5:23

- This morning I’d like to begin our time by raising what may be one of the thorniest theological questions possible....that is....
- Why is there evil in the world?
- if you believe, as the Bible teaches, that the world was created by God.
- if you believe that all of this belongs to Him, and was made by Him, then explain the existence of evil.

- there are several possible answers you could give:
1) You could say that God is not powerful enough to control evil.
- yes He made the world in some sense, but forces of evil are also powerful and what is happening today is completely out of control.
- He’s like a mad scientist who’s experiment has gone awry.
- that’s one possible answer.
2) Another possibility is that God is evil Himself.
- so He actually created evil for some diabolical reason.
- that is how many of the false gods of other religions have been viewed....
- their gods were just as evil and capricious as they were....
- so this god would require infants to be sacrificed on their altars....
- or their gods would take on the form of a human or animal and be engaged in all sorts of lewd sexual practices...
- but the god was as evil as the people, he just had the power to practice his evil more fully.
3) Or you could take the position that God allowed the existence of evil to fulfill His own purposes.
- that of course, is the biblical view.
- God did not choose to make angels or people as robots who had to love Him, and had to obey Him.
- instead he provided the opportunity to choose, knowing full well that we would choose to rebel, and follow evil.
- and then He would provide redemption for his fallen creatures, as an expression of His love and mercy and grace in a way that could not have been understood or appreciated if we were just made like robots who had no choice.

- in other words, the moment the decision was made in eternity past that angels and/or humans would have a will [the ability to choose], the decision was made that evil would be allowed in the world.
- and since that time, God has chosen to allow a grand contrast between good and evil as a means of potentially bringing glory to Himself.

1)  His creation demonstrates His goodness and majesty, yet how many people interpret His creation, and treat His creation, is evil.
2) His Word demonstrates His goodness and truth, yet the way many rebel against that Word is evil.
3) His principles of righteousness and justice are good, but the way many of those principles are ignored or perverted is evil.
4) His sending of His own Son to make it possible for human beings to be and do good, but the way many have rejected His Son is evil.
- and today ---- every person has a decision ---- am I going to choose to cultivate a heart that is growing in goodness, or am I going to cultivate “inner pockets of evil”?
- am I going to seek integrity of heart [inner goodness], or am I going to be a hypocrite?
- am I going to rejoice in what is good, or am I going to rejoice in what is evil?
- am I going to communicate in a way that is good, or am I going to communicate in a way that is evil?
- am I going to behave in a way that is good, or am I going to behave in a way that is evil?
- and am I going to make the contrast stark enough that the God who is good is honored and glorified by the life that I live?
- in the cosmic struggle between good and evil, are you allowing God to do a work of grace in you?

- now, before we go any further, I hope none of us would say....well, I’m as good as I need to be....
- or, I never struggle with thinking anything evil, or saying anything evil, or wanting anything evil, or doing anything evil....
- I hope we would come to this study with a level of honesty that allows us to benefit from what the Scripture says on this topic....
- the apostle Paul demonstrated that kind of honesty when he said in Romans 7:18-19:
Romans 7:18-19 - For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.

- would any of us here say, you know, I have no idea what Paul is talking about.
- he must have been really messed up.
- no Paul was honest with the struggles that he had, which is an important first step in making progress in any endeavor.
- I trust that we all possess that level of honesty.

- with that in mind, I’d like to ask you to open your Bible to Galatians chapter 5.
- if you’re new to studying the Bible or just don’t have one with you today, there’s a Bible in the rack on the pew in front of you --- and Galatians 5 is on page 149 of the back section of that Bible.
- at our church we’ve been studying this marvelous list of 9 characteristics known as the fruit of the Spirit.
- it’s the kind of things that God wants to be developing in the lives of those who saying they are followers of Jesus Christ.
- God will meet us wherever we are...but He has no intention of leaving us there.
- He has a work of grace He wants to be doing in our lives....

- and part of that work is explained to us under this heading, fruit of the Spirit.
- so far we’ve studied about how God wants us to be developing love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness.
- I hope that each of us could point to examples of how we’ve tried to grow in those areas, and how God is helping us to cultivate more fruitful lives.
- being around us ought to be like biting into a delicious piece of fruit...except we’re not just talking about a banana or a grape, we’re talking about the fruit of the Spirit.
- let’s read our key passage again to see the next characteristic in the list.
- READ Galatians 5:13-26
- we’re talking this morning about Growing in the Spirit’s Fruit of Goodness.
- we’d like to divide our remaining time this morning in this way:
I.  Our Source of Goodness
II.  Our Model of Goodness
III.  Our Struggle with Goodness
IV.  The Steps to Goodness

- first of all,

I.  The Source of Goodness

- when we talk about goodness, we’re talking about:
“moral integrity and benevolent activity”
“moral and spiritual excellence manifested in active kindness”

- the point of both definitions is that “biblical goodness” affects both the inner and outer man.
- good works without a good heart is hypocrisy, it’s a sham, it’s a shallow substitute for the fruit of the Spirit.
- however, a good heart without good works is also an impossibility [at least biblically speaking], because true inner goodness is always manifested by works of the hands.

- now, in order to really understand this, we have to start with the source of our goodness, who is course is God Himself.
- and the point here is, until you and I have concluded in our hearts without a shadow of doubt that God is good, and have found ways to concentrate on that fact, and rejoice in that fact....we will never be motivated to grow in biblical goodness ourselves.
- what we don't recognize or appreciate about God, we will never have reason or power to cultivate in ourselves.

- so please think with me for a moment about what the Bible says about the goodness of God.
A.  His Character

Psalm 34:8 - O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

- the Psalmist had concluded that God is a good God.
- not like the pagan gods who were mean and abusive and capricious and every bit as evil and malicious as the people who created them.
- the God of the Bible stands out because He is good.
- there is moral excellence seen in all He says and does that stands out.

- and its interesting in this verse that the Psalmist says that you can put God’s goodness to the test....
- taste it and see.
- this isn’t like one of those meals that looks good until you take a bite....
- taste Him, that is examine what His word says about who He is, and what He is....taste Him and you’ll conclude.....He’s good.

- the psalmist also said - Psalm 54:6 - Willingly I will sacrifice to Thee; I will give thanks to Thy name, O LORD, for it is good.
- friend, I want to ask you this morning, have you concluded in your heart that God is good?
- the Bible doesn’t stop here, in fact God’s Word is filled with statements about how He is good....
- here’s a brief sample of ways God is good:
B.  His actions
1.  His patience is good.
Psalm 100:5 - For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting, And His faithfulness to all generations.
- that statement is made over and over in the Bible----look how good God is in light of His patience with us.
- and who among us couldn’t think of many times where God has demonstrated His patience to us where we couldn’t conclude --- He is good!

2.  His forgiveness is good.
Psalm 86:5 - For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee.
- if there’s been a definite time in your life when you admitted your sin and trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, can you remember what it was like when you first experienced God’s forgiveness?
- is it fair to say that it was “good”?
- how about when you sin as a believer, and you’re convicted and you come to the place of asking God’s forgiveness? [1 Jo. 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is...]
- His forgiveness is good.

3.  His accessibility is good.
KJV Psalm 73:28 - But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.
NAS Psalm 73:28 - But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Thy works.
- friend, I hope there have been times this week where you consciously rested in God, and rejoiced in God, and studied about God, and prayed to God....and as you thought about His accessibility, you said --- He’s good.

4.  His provision is good.
Psalm 107:9 - For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.
- you wouldn’t always know it by the way we complain, but the truth is, we’ve got it good.
- he stands ready to take the hungry soul, and fill it with good.

5.  His direction is good.
Psalm 119:39 - Turn away my reproach which I dread, For Thine ordinances are good.
- I hope your view of the truth of God which you hold in your hand is that it is good.

6.  His trials are good.
- the Psalmist was even able to say....
Psalm 119:71 - It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Thy statutes.
- friends, God is good.  His patience is good, His forgiveness is good, His provision is good, His accessibility is good, His direction is good, and even His trials are good.
- the Psalmist was right when He said, Taste and see that the Lord is good....His character and His actions stand up to that test.
- now let’s push it one step further....

II.  Our Model of Goodness

- some of us might say.....I understand what we’ve just studied....I believe what we’ve just studied....
- but it helps me to see that fleshed out.
- I need to see “goodness incarnate”
- no problem.....His name is Jesus.
- for sake of time, I’ll just mention a few biblical statements....

A.  His character
John 10:11 - I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
- when you think about the kind of direction, and Lordship, and oversight that Jesus Christ seeks to give to your life, you can be confident that he is a shepherd that is good.
- that’s why so often the news of His death, burial, and resurrection....
- and the free gift of salvation that is available in Him....
- and the possibility of Him paying for your sin and taking charge of your life....
- that news is referred to over and over in the Bible as the gospel, the good news.

- this word also summarizes the way He lived on earth...
B.  His actions
- Peter told the Gentiles in that great sermon in Acts 10....
You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good...

- friends, we have a God who is good....and we have a Savior who is good....but every one of us has to decide, do we really believe that?
- or are we bitter with God?
- are we angry with God?
- or indifferent toward Him, or unappreciative of Him?
- have we decided for some reason to conclude something about God other than what the Bible proclaims to be true?
- see, until you and I have concluded in our hearts without a shadow of doubt that God is good, and have found ways to concentrate on that fact, and rejoice in that fact....we will never be motivated to grow in biblical goodness ourselves.
- what we don't recognize or appreciate about God, we will never have reason or power to cultivate goodness in ourselves.

- now you might say, PV, we know that God wants to be developing the fruit of goodness in us, and we have a marvelous source of goodness, and a marvelous example of goodness....then what’s the problem?
- well, how would you answer that question?....we need to talk now about:

III. Our Struggle with Goodness.

- why are Paul’s words we referred to earlier from Romans 7 so powerful and true?
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.  For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.
- here’s some reasons....the struggle begins....
A.  In our own nature.
- as you study this word “good” in the Bible, you find that one of the emphases, unfortunately, is that you and I, in and of ourselves cannot do good.
Psalm 14:1-3 - The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good.  The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, To see if there are any who understand, Who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.
- one of the greatest myths of liberal theology is that human beings are born basically good....or that we’re all born in God’s family as God’s children.
- every system of secular psychology begins with the notion that human beings are basically good, or at worst, basically neutral and that the problems we face are the result of what others did to us.
- the Bible, on the other hand, teaches that we are born with a sinful nature, and apart from the redemptive work of God....we can do nothing that qualifies as biblical goodness.
- and if you say, well, why would liberal theology and secular psychology take the views they do?

- the answer is, because they seek an approach to life that excludes God, and that certainly excludes the notion that someone was needed to pay for our sin, namely the Sinless Lamb of God who literally had to shed His own blood in order for us to be saved.
- without faith, it is impossible to please Him....there is none righteous, no not one.

- this struggle is complicated....
B.  In our world.
- John said in I John 2:15-17...
1 John 2:15 - Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.

- we live in a world who’s philosophies, or ideas about life, are simply evil.
- it fosters rebellion, and wickedness in both the inner and outer man.
- yet many of us don't seem to be particularly bothered by that.
- so we sit in front of the TV and watch ideas that are anything but biblically good, and we take it in, and laugh at it.....and then wonder why we struggle with this particular aspect of the Spirit’s fruit.

C.  With our adversary
- the Bible also tells us that we have an adversary who is the epitome of evil.
- 1 John 5:19 - We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
- some people laugh about Satan, or joke about Satan....the truth is that he is real, and he walking about as a lion, seeking whom he may devour.....he would love to ruin your life, and ruin your testimony, and he is aptly described with the title “the evil one”.
- now, let’s turn this discussion directly towards ourselves....
- the Bible says that God wants to be developing the Spirit’s fruit of goodness in us.
- we’ve seen that that is an issue of both the inner and outer man....
“moral integrity and benevolent activity”
“moral and spiritual excellence manifested in active kindness”
- how do you cultivate that......

IV.  The Steps to Biblical Goodness

A.  Establish a personal relationship with God.
- friend, the lie of the devil is that you can be good enough to go to heaven apart from a personal relationship with God.
- yet the Scripture says that without faith, it is impossible to please Him.
- the OT tells us that even the plowing of the wicked is sin.
- all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and the only way to begin developing the true, spiritual fruit of goodness is by admitting your need and trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and savior.

B.  Work on establishing integrity [inner goodness].
- friend, can I ask you to take a hard look at the inside.
- I’m not talking to you about anything that anyone else can see.
- I’m not talking to you about behavior.

- as you evaluate what goes on in your “inner man”....the kind of thoughts you have, the kind of desires you have, your dreams, your ambitions, what you believe would make you happy, what you really want....
- if that were laid out on the table, would one of the first words that would come to mind to describe all of that be the word “good”?

- see, what about the matter of the integrity of your heart?
- I was doing some reading on this subject this week and the writer told of a picture he saw in the New York Times of the Statue of Liberty.
- this picture had been taken from a helicopter that was flying over the statue and so the picture gave a good look at the top of what the artist had done.

- and the writer made this point --- the detail on the top of the statue was every bit as intricate and carefully done as everywhere else, but the artist had to believe that he would be practically the only person that would ever know that.
- certainly he wasn’t envisioning helicopters flying overhead.
- that’s integrity.....
- giving attention to areas of our life that others may never know about.

- friend, are you doing that?
- what about what you take into your heart?

- do you listen to music that promotes thoughts that are good?
- is it easier to think good thoughts because of the music you choose?
- are you watching TV programs that cultivate good thinking?
- do your books and magazines do that?
- I’m asking you, is it possible that you are short circuiting the fruit-bearing process God wants to be accomplishing because you are not being careful about what you bring into the inner man?
- the writer of Hebrews said....
Hebrews 5:14 - But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

C.  Let God’s Word teach you what is good.
Psalm 119:39 - Turn away my reproach which I dread, For Thine ordinances are good.
Psalm 119:66 - Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Thy commandments.
Psalm 119:68 - Thou art good and doest good; Teach me Thy statutes.

- the more we realize the intensity of this evil our flesh can be, and our evil our world can be, and how powerful our adversary can be, to sooner, and more faithfully we will turn to God’s Word.
- to find His definition of goodness.
- to find His approach to goodness.
- and to find His principles of goodness.

- one of my concerns in this message is men and women who are not spending enough time in God’s Word personally, or with their church corporately, to counteract all the forces that would hinder the development of this fruit.
- friend, what about that issue, for both yourself and your family?
- and what about this summer? [develop]

- a second concern has to do with those who seem to be around truth, and around truth, but they are not letting that truth impact them.
- they are still thinking thoughts that aren’t good, with no apparent remorse...
- they are still saying words that’s aren’t good, with no apparent remorse....

D.  Choose to follow good thinking with good deeds

- cf. story of the 81 year old pastor visiting inmates

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video