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Devotional - week of September 9, 2007


NON-RESIDENT VIRTUES

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23a

 

A Sunday School teacher asked his class to open their Bibles to Galatians 5:22. Then he read, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” He stopped and asked if anyone believed he would have love in his life if he had not become a Christian. A few class members said they would.

 

The teacher then read the remaining eight virtues of the fruit of the Spirit stopping after each word and asking the same question. A few raised their hands after the reading of each word indicating that they believed they would have had that quality in their lives even if they had not become a Christian.

 

Creating our own terminology, we could say that the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit we naturally possess are resident virtues. They are a part of us. That is just the way we are.

 

However, knowing ourselves as we do, we admit that there are limitations to our resident virtues. We may be patient, for example, but we have times when we have to say, “My patience ran out.” We may love our children but not love our neighbor’s children.

 

We need virtues that are superior to our resident virtues. We will call them non-resident virtues. That is, we must receive them from the Holy Spirit because they are not a part of us. We cannot produce them. They are the divine work of the Holy Spirit. Non-resident virtues lift us to a higher level of life.

 

In order to receive the non-resident virtues we must experience our oneness with Christ. When we experience the spiritual crucifixion of our old man, we experience the crucifixion of our resident virtues and we are filled with the Holy Spirit and the non-resident virtues.  

 

In His love, God makes possible a continual experience of the crucifixion of our old man. In Romans 8:2 Paul wrote about the law of the Spirit—meaning there is something the Holy Spirit does so continuously it is called a law—like gravity is called a law.

 

The law of the Spirit is that He continuously prompts and enables believers to live out their oneness with Christ. When we respond, our limited resident virtues are exchanged for non-resident virtues—which have no limitations.