FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 25
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – THE CONCLUSION
ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
The concept of the Holy Spirit is not new. The Trinity has been alive and well long before creation! God is, was and always will be. Indeed, the Holy Spirit was present at creation when he “hovered over the waters” and gave form and structure to the universe the Father had created. The Holy Spirit worked not just in the broad creation activity but also within specific people who God prepared, with His Spirit, to do His work throughout the millennia.
We read in Exodus 31:1-5 where God told Moses that He had filled Bezalel with the spirit of God, “in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship to devise cunning works, to work in gold, in silver and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship” for the building of the tabernacle and of the fixtures to be used in the worship of God. Clearly, God prepared His people to properly worship him, even in the wilderness, by providing gifts to certain people to do specific work that He had ordained for them to do.
In the New Testament days the Holy Spirit came down and filled the believers and gave them specific gifts for the same reason He gifted people in the Old Testament days, to do the specific work that God wanted them to do His worship and for His church. The gifts of the Spirit are listed in various places including in Romans 12 and Ephesians 4.
But separate from the gifts of the Spirit are the fruit of the Spirit – the fruit being what grows out of the Spirit’s presence in our life. Fruit is not the result of our own work – we cannot create the fruit and we cannot earn the fruit: we have it because the Spirit lives within us and we can only give the fruit life as it grows through the Spirit’s power.
You will recall that the primary characteristic of the various gifts of the Spirit is that they are active and visible. The gifts are not inside the believer or quiet. They are in full sight of others and almost always they are exercised for the benefit of other people. In short, the gifts of the Spirit usually get a lot of press.
Not so with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Generally speaking, the fruit of the Spirit is quiet, internal. There may be actions that come out of the fruit of the Spirit in the believer, and those actions would be observed by others, but the fruit itself is internal to the believer personally. The Holy Spirit’s fruit for each and every Christian is found in Galatians 5:22-23. The following verses note these attributes of our God, and of His Son – attributes, fruit, that we are to grow as we conform to the likeness of Christ:
Love – Matthew 22:37-40
Joy – John 16:33
Peace – Philippians 4:9
Patience – Colossians 3:12
Kindness – Luke 6:35
Goodness – Titus 3:4-5
Faithfulness – Matthew 23:23
Gentleness, Humility, Meekness – Matthew 5:9
Self-Control – 2 Timothy 1:7
Paul concludes this listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 with the statement “Against such there is no law.” At first glance, this could be considered a parallelism where Paul is comparing the works of the flesh listed in earlier verses that are clearly against the law with the fruit of the Spirit that is just as clearly lawful. Calvin, in his commentary on Galatians, says:
Some understand these words as meaning simply that the law is not directed against good works. But Paul’s real meaning is deeper and less obvious; namely, that, where the Spirit reigns, the law has no longer any dominion. By molding our hearts to his own righteousness, the Lord delivers us from the severity of the law, so that [we are] not regulated by its covenant, nor our consciences bound by its sentence of condemnation. Yet the law continues to teach and exhort, and thus performs its own office; but our subjection to it is withdrawn by the Spirit of adoption.
This catalogue of spiritual virtues is not exhaustive. Paul hints at this when he refers to the fruit of the Spirit as “such things” (Gal. 5:23). Some graces that are not on this list, such as hope, for example, or godliness, appear elsewhere in the New Testament. Once again, the point is not so much the specific character traits as it is the entire lifestyle they represent.
The contrast between the special produce of the Spirit and the bitter fruit of the sinful nature could hardly be sharper. The fruit of the Spirit is the very opposite of the works of the flesh. The Spirit brings forth good fruit from a good tree, the product of a whole new spiritual nature in Christ. Further, we do not grow this fruit on our own. This is why it is called the fruit of the Spirit rather than the works of the Spirit. Mr. S. H. Hooke comments:
“A vine does not produce grapes by Act of Parliament; they are the fruit of the vines own life; so the conduct which conforms to the standard of the Kingdom is not produced by any demand, not even God’s, but it is the fruit of that divine nature which God gives as the result of what he has done in and by Christ.” This fruit of the Spirit is the natural product of his gracious inward influences, the spontaneous and inevitable result of his uniting us to Jesus Christ. It will take time to grow, but grow it must, for God will make it grow. What we are to do in the meantime is cultivate this spiritual fruit.
Walk in the Spirit
Although the virtues in Galatians 5 are given by God through the Spirit, we cannot use the metaphor of fruit in a way that would stress only the “given” quality of the virtues and thus imply an ethical passivity on the Christian’s part. Indeed, combined with the givenness of these virtues by God is the believer’s active involvement in expressing them in his or her own lifestyle – or as Paul puts it pointedly a couple verses later: “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
The point of the phrase “let us keep in step with the Spirit” puts the emphasis on the obligation of Christian living as being neither based on legal prescriptions nor being based on the dictates of the flesh but to the Spirit, who directs and enables and who is fully sufficient both for bringing to birth a believer’s new life “in Christ” and for effecting a truly Christian lifestyle.
The purpose of this study is to remind us that we are far more in need of growth in the fruit of the Spirit than we thought. We tend to look at our natural strengths as a sign that we are Christ-like. Though God makes the world a very good place because he grants so many people natural strengths, they are not the same as the fruit of the Spirit. Indeed, we have seen that most of the fruit of the Spirit mandates actions that are contrary to our earthly inclinations.
This is true because the fruit of the Spirit is intended to transform us into the likeness of Jesus Christ. It is His nature that we are to develop while here on earth and it is His nature that will be a witness of His power to the world around us.
- So, even though there will be no more weekly studies in this series, from this day forward you can walk in the Spirit.
- Allow the characteristics of our Lord to become evident in your life so that we truly are being transformed into the image of our Savior.
- Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
- Let the Spirit enliven and magnify these qualities in your life as you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Walk in the Spirit.
PRAYER [a portion of a Puritan’s prayer]: Father, Lord of the Universe and Creator of all things, we come before you at the conclusion of this study on the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Lord, the Holy Spirit was given to increase your graces in our heart. We cannot preserve or improve on them unless the Holy Spirit works continually in us. May the Holy Spirit confirm our trust in you and your promised help and let us walk humbly in reliance on the Holy Spirit as we live our lives before you. We ask this in your beloved name, Lord Jesus, Amen.