The Place of Character and Charisma in Relationships (Gal. 5:16-26)

It is the character and charisma (power) of God in us that enables true covenant. Galatians 5:16 says, “walk in the Spirit and you won’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” The term “flesh” here refers more specifically to the carnal nature, not the physical body. The same chapter compares the deeds of the carnal nature to the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, the context of this whole section of scripture deals with relationship, especially between believers. This section is bracketed by “love fulfilling the law” (5:14) and “bearing each others burdens.” ( 6:2) “Walking in the Spirit” means how we live, our lifestyle. What sustains us?
The carnal nature destroys relationships. The fruit of the Spirit maintains covenant relationships. Our actions should reflect where we live. If we are “born again”, then we live in Christ. Unfortunately, sometimes our actions are more like the folks down the street who don’t know Christ. His Kingdom rule needs to be extended into every area of our life; our relationships, work, finances, feelings, and even our thoughts. The Bible says, “Bring every thought captive to Christ.” (2Cor 10:5) We are God’s workmanship; all we do should reflect that work. The testimony of our moral standards should confirm the testimony of the Word. We are ambassadors for Christ.
The root word for character means “to engrave” or “brand.” Character is the sum of all one’s inner qualities. The key question is: “do we exhibit Godly character or carnal character?” The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of Godly character. The discipline of the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Holy Spirit. One can’t be a disciple if one doesn’t undergo discipline. You can’t lead or disciple others, if you are not disciplined. The Bible says, “Whom the Father loves He disciplines.” Self discipline or control is submission of the will to the Holy Spirit. What does self control mean? It means having the carnal nature in submission to God By the power of God. It doesn’t mean exercise of the self will absent the power of God.
Charisma is the supernatural power of God. It is the power to minister and the power to persevere and be faithful. One of the ways that it comes is by the discipline of the Holy Spirit. Real charisma produces the fruit of the Spirit. Daniel experienced charismatic power, including prophecy, revelations, words of knowledge and words of wisdom. He had a disciplined prayer life. He submitted his will to the Holy Spirit.
There must be a balance between charisma and character. Chapter 12-14 of 1Corinthians deals with charismatic gifts. But, the real theme of those chapters is unity, cooperation and covenant relationships. The gifts are dealt with in the context of community life. 1Cor 12:7 says they are “for the common good..”
Charisma without character will come off phony and hypocritical. One who seeks charisma but resists the character building discipline of the Holy Spirit will be easily led into deception by supernatural forces opposed to God. Carnal efforts to develop character without the charisma of God are doomed to failure. True character development leads to a greater awareness of our inability to produce fruit without the full power of God. Godly character is only produced by the power of God.
So how do we deal with imbalance? First we need to discern the fake from the real. Jesus said you will know a tree by its fruit. People try to imitate real charisma, but false manifestations never bear the fruit of the Spirit. Instead, people get hurt. People try to develop character in their own strength. This leads to religious hypocrisy and legalism. People try to disciple in a carnal fashion by manipulating and controlling others. The answer to these problems is proper use, not disuse. The scripture is our authoritative standard.

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