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Sabbath School Lessons on Fruit of the Spirit
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 11: The Fruit of the Spirit is Righteousness *
Introduction: Each week we have been going through the list of
Spirit fruits found in Galatians 5:22. Last week we came to the end
of the list in Galatians, so you might be wondering where we found
yet another Spirit fruit? We found it on the "light tree!"
Ephesians 5:9 says "for the fruit of the light consists in all
goodness, righteousness and truth." In the grocery store, the fad
for some time now has been "light" food. This is the food that is
supposed to be more healthy for us. Let's jump into our study of the
Bible once again to find out what it means to have a "light"
spiritual fruit, the fruit called righteousness!
- Finding Righteousness
- Read Romans 3:21-24. How do we become righteous? (It
comes from God, it is free, and it requires faith in
- Read Romans 3:25-28. Can we become righteous by obeying
the Ten Commandments? (No. If we could keep the law we
would have something to boast about. But, righteousness
comes from faith - and we cannot boast in the deeds of
another (Jesus). This righteousness we are told (twice)
is "apart from observing the law.")
- Read Romans 5:17-19. Whose act of obedience is the Bible
speaking about? (Jesus' act of obedience.)
- Does this suggest that I need to worry only about
Jesus' obedience and not my own?
- If that is true, then righteousness truly is a
"light" fruit! What could be easier - let
someone else do the heavy lifting!
- Acting the Part
- Read Romans 3:29-31. How does this conclusion (that "we
uphold the law") logically follow? If we teach that we
cannot become righteous by keeping the law, how does that
uphold it? Doesn't that make the law irrelevant?
- It was someone else who took on the challenge of
keeping the law and that victory applies to me!
This keeping the law stuff is ancient history,
- Read Ephesians 5:1-3. Can you be a "holy person" and be
greedy, sexually immoral, and impure?
- If you say, "no," then must we get rid of our greed,
sexual immorality and impurity to become holy?
- If you say, "yes," then re-read Romans 3:21-24
and Romans 3:28!
- Look again at Ephesians 5:1. What is God telling us when
He says to "imitate" Him? (Romans 3 teaches us that we
are evil, and our only path to righteousness comes from
faith in Jesus. His holy life and death on our behalf,
make us holy. However, a holy people are supposed to act
like they are holy. Therefore we are called to "imitate"
our Holy God.)
- Is an imitation the real thing? (No.)
- So, what does that mean for us? God is the
butter and we are the margarine? God is the
wood and we are the printed plastic? This does
not sound very encouraging, so let's look more
deeply into Ephesians 5.
- Read Ephesians 5:3-7. What has happened to my
righteousness by faith? How can the same man (Paul) be
inspired by the Holy Spirit to write these verses and
Romans 3 & 5? (This "imitation" instruction is serious.
We have a reputation to live up to. Since Jesus made us
holy, we need to act like it. That is why the Ten
Commandments are not some ancient, irrelevant text. They
are at the heart of our "imitation.")
- Are some Christians deceiving us about the fact that
our actions (and the law) do not matter? (Paul warns
us in verse 6 about deception on this very point.)
- How would you sum up the lesson to be learned from Romans
3 and Ephesians 5:3-7? (We cannot earn righteousness by
obeying the law. Jesus did that for us. But, we can lose
our salvation by our evil works.)
- Isn't this just the "backdoor" way of saying that
our works earn our salvation? Sort of like your
employer saying "Your salary is a free gift as long
as you are employed. But, if you don't work, then
you are fired." You might reasonably conclude
working is important. (Look again at Ephesians 5:5.
Paul calls the people who are involved in these evil
works "idolaters." This means they rely on
something other than Jesus. Our works are an
indication of our thought process. Works reflect the
decisions of our mind. They reveal whether we have
faith in Jesus or not. I think of them like the gas
gauge in your car - the gauge does not power the
car, but it reveals how much power is available.)
- Light Fruit
- Read Ephesians 5:8-10. Now we come to the light fruit. If
someone told you to be "light," what would you do, jump?
Move to the moon? Change your name to Edison?
- Does Paul explain what he means by "living as
children of light?" (Yes. He tells us that what
comes out of light living is "goodness,
righteousness and truth.")
- Is this a choice? Or, is this automatic when
we become righteous by faith? (Since Paul tells
us in Ephesians 5:8 to "live as children of
light," this tells us that we have a choice. We
need to choose to live right lives.)
- How should we go about making that choice? Tell me
how to do this, as a practical matter. (Notice
Ephesians 5:10 again: "find out what pleases God."
This is an instruction to read our Bibles, find out
how God wants us to live, and then live life that
- Read Ephesians 5:11-14. Notice that we have an
assignment, as "light fruit," to "expose" the deeds of
darkness. Does that mean we should videotape the sin in
our community? Should we be in the newspapers identifying
- What does the Bible mean when it says "it is light
that makes everything visible?" (The primary way in
which we "expose" the darkness is to be an example
of right-living. I don't think we should be shy
about calling sin by its right name, but I don't
think this is what the Bible is talking about here.)
- In what direction does Ephesians 5:14 say that Jesus
will shine His light? (On us! This strengthens the
idea that our "light" is about our good deeds - not
directly pointing out the bad deeds of others.)
- What is the world's reaction to Christians who are
not "light fruit?" (The world holds them (and
Christianity) up to ridicule. We are saved by grace
alone, but we are in a battle between light and
darkness. How we live not only reveals our loyalty
to the light side, but it helps the light side to
win the battle against darkness.)
- Knowing God
- We have discovered that our right works, our "light," is
an attempt to imitate God and is important to the
conflict between good and evil. That seems to omit a very
important question, what motivates us to do this? Is it
the battle? Is it a desire for conformity with our God?
- Read 1 John 2:1-3. What does the Bible suggest as a
motive for right-living? (Knowing God. As an aside, it is
pretty hard to imitate someone if you do not know them.)
- What is the first thing that the Bible suggests is
important about knowing God? (Jesus died for our
sins, and is currently defending us in heaven.)
- Read 1 John 2:4-6. How does knowing God motivate you to
do what is right, to walk in the light? (God's love for
us motivated Him to live and die on our behalf. That
gives me joy! My death sentence has been lifted! Knowing
that Jesus died to satisfy the requirements of the law,
knowing that the light of my life helps to expose the
darkness of sin, these things motivate me to obey God.
This begins the process in which (verse 5) God's love is
made complete in me.)
- Friend, if you choose, you can be saved by grace alone.
If you have made that choice, then you have an obligation
to act like it. Would you like God's love to be made
complete in you? If so, learn about God so that you can
know Him. In that wonderful process, you will take your
place in the ranks of the "light fruit," those who walk
in the light, those who walk in righteousness.
- Next week: The Fruit of the Spirit is Truth.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.