Creflo Dollar - Godly Character
If you have your Bibles, go with me to the book of Galatians chapter 5, verse 22 and 23, in the New Living Translation, and tonight we're gonna continue from last week. We're gonna talk about godly character. We're gonna talk about godly character. Now, I wanna start off with the same phrase that we looked at last week, the fact that nobody will ever go beyond their character, and that's so important. It's been said that you will never go above the character you possess. So if you're questioning yourself and you're asking, "Why haven't I reached a certain level in my life? Why haven't I been able to accomplish certain things in my life"? It's simply because you can't go above your character, and until you're willing to look at your character and check out what kind of character you have, the level of your character will determine the level of your success. It'll determine your destiny.
Your character will determine your outcome, and so if you're wondering, "What's happening"? It may be a character issue that you need to begin to look at and deal with. And so it's an important thing for us to check out. So last week, here's how we defined "character". "Character" is "Doing what's right". Now, that's, ultimately, character is always the action in the story. Character is doing what's right because it's right and then doing it right. It's doing what's right because it's right and doing it right. Character is doing what's right. We also said that character is what people have come to expect from you. So the actions that you demonstrate and the things that you do where your character is concerned is what people will come to expect from you. We said also that a person's character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and action.
One of the other things I wanna make sure I bring up again is that character is shown in how you deal with things. Character is shown with how you deal with things, and remember this: Character can be demonstrated when nobody's lookin'. It's not, you know, you can polish yourself up when you know people are watching you, but when nobody's looking, will you have the right character? Character is somethin' that you hold fast to inside and that people see on the outside. Now, we're gonna deal with godly character tonight, and as we get into this, it'll really bless you because I believe that character, in the life of a believer, character, in our lives, character, in the lives of people who've made Jesus the Lord of their life, it is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in our lives. Character in the life of the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in our lives. And so that's so very important.
So let's begin this because our Christian character can be summed up by the fruit of the Spirit. Our Christian character can be summed up by the fruit of the Spirit. And so I'm gonna take you to some things tonight that I think will really challenge you. So let's look at Galatians 5:22-23, in the New Living Translation. He says, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and there's no law against these things". Now, here's what I notice. Verse 22, I want you to pick this up, and this is so very important. He says, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit".
So the first thing I want you to get ahold of is this fruit is produced by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit. I wanna bring this point up tonight because it's not you getting into your own performance and comin' up with your own self-effort plan to try to produce the fruit of the Spirit. It is the fruit of the Spirit because the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, produces this fruit, and so let's look at a couple of words. This word "fruit" is important. Why did the apostle Paul, why did he come up with using the word "fruit" here? Well, the Greek word, translated "fruit," refers to the natural product of a living thing, so in the Greek, that word, "fruit," a natural product of a living thing. So in the New Testament, the word "fruit" is used to help us to understand the product of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. And so that's the first thing we should get, the fact that this fruit is a product of the Holy Spirit that lives on the inside of us.
So this is literally gonna be the work of the Holy Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is not gonna be somethin' that you manufacture out of your own self-effort. This is a product of the Holy Spirit. So I want you to just remember this statement. Let's put it like this: The fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit, not by the Christian. The fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit and not by the Christian. I have met so many Christians who are really struggling and working hard to try to manufacture somethin' that they don't produce, that they're not responsible for producin' this. So even the Greek word is a singular word. It's showing that "fruit" is a unified whole and not an independent characteristic. We like to take the fruit of the Spirit and make it independent characteristics, but the very root of that word is a unified whole, it's a unified whole. So as we mature and as we grow - I want you to write those two words down because I know you've gotta be thinkin', "Well, if I'm not going to be the one responsible for producing these things in my life, then, you know, how am I gonna ever get it? How do I cooperate with the Holy Spirit"?
Now, the Holy Spirit is the one that's responsible for producing this product. So what do I need to do as a Christian to cooperate, kind of, putting myself in a position so he can do that? I wanna make sure I'm not doin' somethin' that challenges the product from being available in my life. And so these two words here, "mature" and "grow," "mature" and "grow," what do I need to do so that the product of the Holy Spirit can show up in my life? Mature and grow. As we mature and grow as Christians, all the characteristics of Christ will be manifested in our life as we begin to mature and grow. Now, it's interestin' to me how people like to define "maturity" and how they like to talk about spiritual growth, but we've gotta stay within the context of the Scripture, that what is it that it will be a evidence of your maturity? Well, I wanna simplify it as much as possible. It's when you can start trusting in God and his finished works, so you start trustin' in God more than you trust in yourself.
Spiritual maturity, it's not and does not mean or refer to how long you've been born again. Spiritual maturity is looking at this person who's born again, and now they are growing in their trust where God is concerned. You know, Galatians talks about, as long as you are under the law, you're nothin' but a child. Even though you're an heir to a promise, you're nothin' but a child because you're under the law. Well, under the law, it's about self-preservation. It's about your performance. It's about your self-effort. He says, "You're gonna be a child as long as you're under the law and everything is about you, and you're trusting yourself more than you trust God". To grow and to mature means now that you are growing away from self-preservation to God-preservation. You are growing away from, you know, self-dependence towards God-dependence, and you measure your growth in how you move away from self and begin to grow in your confidence and in your trust where God is concerned.
And so, when we begin to do this, and I can definitely see this now, when we begin to make our mind up to mature and to grow by moving into our trust and confidence for God, then the characteristics of Christ will be manifested in our lives, and the more we grow towards God-dependence and trust towards God, the more the Holy Spirit's gonna be able to work in our lives and see the product of the fruit of the Spirit show up in our lives. And so one of the things you have to recognize, dealin' with fruit is that, like physical fruit needs time to grow, the fruit of the Spirit needs time to grow as well. The fruit of the Spirit will need time to grow as well. It takes time to go from that trustin' yourself to trustin' God, go from self-dependence to God-dependence, and as you mature and grow, then that fruit now begins to manifest and grow in your life, and it takes time to grow fruit in spiritual things just like it takes time to grow fruit in physical, natural things.
So like a successful gardener, for example, he must fight the weeds. He must fight against those weeds in order to enjoy the fruit that he desires to show up in his garden. So, likewise, we must constantly work, and we must rid ourselves and rid our lives of the weeds of our old, sinful nature that wants to choke out the work of the Spirit. Now, I wanna reevaluate somethin' I just said that we must constantly work. Now, if you're hearing as a child, what you're hearing is "I must constantly perform and do somethin' and earn the right for the fruit to grow in my life". No, I wanna stay in the context of the Word. If we will constantly work to keep the weeds out, well, how do you constantly work to keep the weeds out? Well, you go to the definition in the New Testament of work.
Look at this: John chapter 6, verse 29. Let's look at the King James and the New Living Translation. And so this is important because we're talkin' about being successful "gardeners" spiritually so we can see the fruit that we want, and so we're gonna have to constantly work to keep the weeds out of the way. Well, what is "work"? Well, "Jesus answered, and he said unto them, This is the work of God". All right, we're gonna find out what we need to do to keep the weeds out of the way. "This is the work of God, that you believe on him who he has sent". That's the work. You see, if I will spend my time believing on him and trusting him, that's gonna keep the weeds of doubt out. That's gonna keep the weeds of self-preservation out. If I'll do that... see, we're talkin' about spiritual things, and you can't just take what "work" means in the natural and then apply that same meaning to the spiritual. "Work" is a different definition when we come to spiritual things.
Look at what he says in John 6:29, in the New Living Translation. He says, "Jesus told them, This is the only work God wants from you," wow, that's powerful. "This is the only work God wants from you," what is that? "Believe in the one he has sent". "Believe in the one who he has sent". So our work, where God is concerned, is believe, trusting and believing and resting in who Jesus is and what he has been sent to do for us. Now, so that will help and stop the weeds from choking out the production of the fruit that's in your life. I guarantee ya, there are a lot of people who immediately thought, "Well, I gotta keep the sin out my life. I gotta do that," well, you've been tryin' to do that all your life. I'm talkin' about, if you'll just believe God, that's how you keep the stuff out your life.
If you'll start learning how to trust and rely and believe God, the weeds will be out, and you'll start seeing the Holy Spirit producing the fruit of the Spirit in your life by believing him and trusting him, and that's how you keep the weeds out. How do you keep the weeds out? By believing him, trusting him. That's equivalent to maturing and growing, and you'll see the production of the fruit of the Spirit by the Holy Spirit taking place in your life. Now, let's look at Philippians chapter 2, verse 13, in the New Living Translation. The Holy Spirit gives us power. He gives us the power we need to reject those old, sinful desires. The Holy Spirit does. He gives us the power that we need to reject those old, sinful desires. Well, look what he says here. He says, "For God is workin' in you," what is he doin'? He is "giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him".
Again, this is God working in you. This is not you takin' it upon yourself through your own self-effort. This is God working in you, doin' what? Taking away your old desires and giving you the new and the right desires. God doin' work, what? He is taking away your own want-tos and giving you the new want-tos. "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power," power is the ability to get the job done. "He'll give you the desire and the ability to do what pleases him". And so the Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to reject those old, sinful dreams, keep it dreams and desires and all that... that's an interesting thing that I would bring up, and I believe by the Holy Spirit just came out of my mouth. Old, sinful dreams, sometimes the meditating on the wrong things will cause you to even meditate while you sleep.
You know, the Bible says he'll give to you sweet sleep, or he literally will give to you while you are sleeping. You're talkin' about the work of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit can begin to do some things in you if you just learn how to believe and trust and cooperate with him and let him do the work. Now, wherever you are right now tonight, I want you to say this out loud: "I am cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit". Say that again: "I am cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit". God's doin' a work in you right now. God is doin' a work in you. You might not even like yourself right now, but God's doin' a work in you right now. I mean, that just blows my mind that God is workin' in me. And a lot of Christians don't see it that way. They see, you know, "Let me do the religious activity". They're just constantly looking for the activity they can do and all the activity, but I'm telling you, God is working in you. Certainly you don't think you went from crazy to where you are right now by yourself. That's God working in you. He is doing the work and giving you the power to change and changing your desires.
Look at 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse 13. I'm telling you, we can say, "No," to sin and take God's way out by following the Holy Spirit's leading. We absolutely can do that. Let's look at this in the, let's see, the New Living Translation, right quick, for sake of time. 1 Corinthians 10, and verse 13. You can say, "No," to sin. You can take God's way out because you know that the Holy Spirit's workin' in you. He says, "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, tested, or tried, he will show you a way out so that you can endure". This is the work of the Holy Spirit.
I'm just amazed that people really think it's their work that's getting them to that place where they wanna be as a Christian, but what it really is, is sitting back, trustin' in God, you know, believin' that God is workin' on the inside of you and cooperating with him and not tryin' to, you know, insert yourself to try to do somethin' that only the Holy Spirit can do. The Holy Spirit produces the fruit, not you. You cooperate with the Holy Spirit by believing and trusting in him. Now, as we give the Spirit more control of our lives, as we give the Spirit more control of our lives, he begins to do in and through us what only he can do to shape us and to grow us to look like Jesus Christ.
Now, again, I wanna get a little picky here. You know, I said this, "as we give the Spirit more control," but it is said this way in most religious church, you will see people always asking God for more: "Oh, God, give me more of you, Lord, more of you, Lord, more of you, Lord. I just need more of the Holy Ghost. Give me more of God. I just want more of God". Listen, when you got God, you got all of God you need. You got all of him, and here's the deal: It's never you needing more of God. It's always, you know, you giving more of yourself to God... not more of God, but giving more of yourself. We give the Spirit more control of our lives. So the real issue is, as you look at your life and you look at the fruit of the Spirit and the character of your life, are you giving more control to God, or are you goin' around, begging God for more of him? No, he needs more of you. God needs more of you. How much more of you do you need to begin to give to God, how much more?
You know, I look at this, principles of yielding to the Holy Spirit. When you yield to the Holy Spirit... now, this is kind of like, you know, drivin' in traffic. You know, the yield sign? When you yield to the Holy Spirit, that simply means you stop and let this car go in front of you, and then you follow the car. Well, that's what it means when you yield to the Holy Spirit. You stop, you let the Holy Spirit go in front of you, and you follow the Holy Spirit. I think that's what we need to begin to do. I think sometimes we don't pay attention to the yield sign, and we go ahead of the Holy Spirit, and we don't know where we're goin'. And if you're gonna yield to the Holy Spirit, then you're gonna stop, let him go, and then you're gonna follow him. It is time for us, if we're gonna see our character change and if we're gonna see godly character demonstrated by the fruit of the Spirit in our life, it's gonna be because we made a decision to give more control of ourselves over to the Holy Spirit.
We made a decision to say, "Lord, we're gonna give more over to you," and that's just somethin' that each Christian's gotta evaluate. Do you find in your life that you need to give more control of your life to the Holy Spirit, or are you satisfied with "No, I don't want the Holy Spirit to control my life, I wanna control my own life. This my life, and I can live it like I want it". I tell you what. It may challenge what the Holy Spirit's trying to do in producing the product of the fruit of the Spirit in your life. And so you gotta make a decision right now. This is the difference between mature and immaturity? Will you be willin' to give more control of your life to the Holy Spirit, or are you keeping more control of your life with you, and then hopin' and a prayin' that the Holy Ghost can just make ya walk in the fruit of the Spirit?
That's not how that works. That's not how that works. Look at 2 Corinthians chapter 3, verse 18. I find this pretty fascinating. 2 Corinthians 3:18, let's look at that for a moment because God does wanna shape us and grow us to look like Jesus. But he's gonna be the one to do that. He says, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory," how? By the Holy Spirit. "By the Spirit of the Lord". So the Spirit of the Lord has accepted the responsibility of changing us into the same image of Jesus Christ.