The Christian life is lived not under one’s own power, strength, or ability, but in the power, strength, and ability of Christ which eliminates our human boasting. The believer’s union to Christ is a central doctrine to know and understand, not only in our justification, but also in our sanctification. Once we’ve been united to Christ by faith, it is He that works in and through us for His own good pleasure. Failure will be the necessary and only result of a life lived in our own strength.
Any discussion on the fruit of the Spirit as laid out in Galatians 5 must begin with the simple fact that the list gives fruits of the Spirit, not fruits of human effort and achievement. Thus any discussion on faithfulness as a fruit of the Spirit also begins there. Faithfulness in the life of a believer is a product of the work of the Holy Spirit, working in him or her to accomplish all that God desires in our sanctification. That is not to say, however, that we don’t have a responsibility within the sovereign plan of God. As in all things biblical, there is a mysterious and glorious cohesion between the work of our sovereign God and our responsibility to obey and, as Paul says, work out our salvation with fear and trembling. So while we need to of first importance acknowledge that faithfulness within the life of a believer is a work of God, we also must be clear that Scripture gives clear commands and indications of what faithfulness as a fruit of the Spirit must look like. Any faithfulness that is a work of the Spirit must resemble the Scriptural precedent of what faithfulness is and does. To do so, 1 Timothy 1:12-20 is a key passage to examine what faithfulness in the Christian life looks like. It is here that Paul states explicitly that God “judged me faithful, appointing me to His service” (1 Tim. 1:12). How then does Paul explain what that faithfulness looks like? He seems to give four characteristics that describe a faithful Christian life.
Paul opens the pericope with this: “I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful.” The first descriptor of a faithful Christian life is that it is Christ-empowered. Paul acknowledges from the outset that any work done in his ministry, any effort he put in, any souls won for the Gospel are a work of Christ within Him, giving Him the necessary strength to persevere. All service in the Kingdom is done through the work of the King within and through. As Paul says in Galatians 6:14, “Far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ….” The Christian life is lived not under one’s own power, strength, or ability, but in the power, strength, and ability of Christ which eliminates our human boasting.