The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22, 23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meek­ness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

A beautiful person is described in these verses. It is the beauty of holiness. It is the beauty of a person in whom dwells the Holy Spirit. You can know where the Holy Spirit dwells, for he is HOLY and His home reflects the beauty of holiness. When He abides in your heart then shining out of you will be the virtues of “love, joy, peace, . . ..” This is what God’s Spirit does within a child born of grace, He makes them beautiful!

This is the beauty of Jesus. Listen to II Cor. 3:18 “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” The work of the Holy Spirit is to conform us to the image of Jesus, so that His love, His joy, (etc.) shine out of us from glory to glory.

The Spirit makes us look like Jesus, (see Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10) to be given the Fruit of the Spirit is to be given the beauty of Jesus. Are you staggered by that?

All the more beautiful is this person when you compare him to the ugly, deformed, hell-bound wretch described in the context. “But the Fruit of the Spirit” indicates that this is a contrast with the person characterized by “the works of the flesh” set forth in vs. 19-21. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lascivious­ness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, var­iance, emulations, wrath, strife, her­esies, envyings, murders, drunken­ness, revellings, and such like:” The deepest heart always reveals itself! And the person in whom sin and lust are the center reveals himself in the works of the flesh. He is dirty, filthy in God’s sight. He leads an ugly life. But where the Holy Spirit dwells in the center, then that person is character­ized not by the works of the flesh but by the fruit of the Spirit. In God’s sight they are beautiful because the image of His Son shines out of them.

Is this fruit seen in you? Do you desire this fruit? Are you characterized by it? What shines out of you in your daily life?

You and I may not simply think of this as some unattainable ideal. We may not imagine that this fruit will be ours when we are older, but for the present impossible and unnecessary. Nor is it true that the first time we taste this fruit will be when Jesus comes for us in our death and we are perfected. We do not read “the fruit of the Spirit will be love” or “the fruit should be”, but we read “the fruit of the Spirit IS love, joy, peace, . . . This fruit is in every one of God’s redeemed, repentant children. The “gifts” of the Spirit (see I Cor. 12:28-31) are different from believer to believer. Some are endowed with the pastor’s office. Others are teachers. The gifts which the Spirit bestows are not all the same. But the Fruit of the Spirit is one and in every child of God.

So the question is: Do you possess this fruit? Does the beauty of Jesus shine from you? In every heart where the Spirit resides, this fruit is seen to God’s glory.

“The Fruit of the Spirit”. Several truths are brought to light in the term “fruit”.

The first thing we want to underline in our hearts and minds is that we read of fruit and not fruits. It is in the singular and not in the plural. Although nine virtues are listed, it does not say “the fruits of the Spirit are”, but “the fruit of the Spirit is”. There is one fruit of the Spirit, not many. That one fruit is composed of different virtues; love, joy, peace, etc., but they are a unity. You must not think of a beautiful bouquet of flowers from which you may pick one, but of a rainbow. In a rainbow there is one light composed of many colors, but one light. The colors of the spectrum are beautifully blended together to make up one ray of light. So is the Fruit of the Spirit.

This means that these virtues are inseparable. We may not think that we can have some of them (two or three, or even seven or eight) and lack others (maybe only one) and still have the fruit of the Spirit. It is not that some of God’s people have more of these good things and others have less. But the Spirit works one fruit composed of nine virtues, just as one ray of light comes from the sun. Don’t say “Well, I can see some of these in me, I desire most of them, but that temperance (self-control, or should I say God-controll­ed?) is something that I don’t want now. Besides I find it hard to be gentle and longsuffering around the home, I’m irritable.” Without any exceptions they are the fruit of the Spirit, blended together and inseparable. One cannot possess “love” and not be “meek”; one cannot have “faith” and lack “goodness” and “temperance”; a person cannot have “peace” if he has not “goodness and faith”. It is one fruit of the Spirit shining in a beautiful spectrum of graces.

Secondly, the word fruit teaches us that these virtues are the work of sovereign grace in us. A fruit is something that is produced. The origin of the fruit is in the tree which produces the fruit. So these virtues are produced in us only as we are connected to the vine, Jesus Christ. When you read of the fruit of the Spirit, then all the goodness in our lives is ascribed to the Holy Spirit! They do not originate in us, but in the Spirit of God who makes His gracious abode in us.

That is exactly why we read of the fruit and not the work of the Spirit. Adultery, fornication, uncleanness; these are the works of the flesh because they originate in man and are what man is capable of doing. Good­ness, love, gentleness; these are fruit, produced by the sovereign grace of God in us. This is both humbling and comforting. Love, joy, peace, and all the rest are not found in us by nature. Nor are they the work of the Spirit and us. But all goodness in the child of God’s life is the product of his or her being joined to Jesus by grace. The Spirit powerfully washes us (I Cor. 6:11), renews us (John 3:3), and then produces in us the beauty of holiness. The glory then is to God! We honor and praise the Spirit. We adore God who by Jesus Christ and through the Spirit produces this sweet and wonderful fruit in our lives.

The Spirit works this within us, and that is important! These nine virtues are not simply external acts which may be mechanically performed. The Holy Spirit is not merely concerned with changing our behavior and deeds. He does not simply paint the outside of the house with a glossy enamel while leaving the inside timbers rotten and the foundation decayed and crumbled. But He works within us so that we are made to be persons of love, joy, peace, . . . and so on. He puts the principle of the new life of Christ in us, and flowing out of that new life is this beautiful fruit.

Finally, a fruit is the goal one has in mind for all his work. A farmer engages in all his backbreaking work for one reason, fruit. He buys expen­sive machinery, plants the seed, sprays for the weeds and bugs, cultivates, spends long hours in irrigating. Why? FRUIT, that is his goal! So the purpose of God in all His gracious work in us was fruit to His Glory!!

It is blasphemous to say that the things of love, joy, peace, goodness and meekness in the Christian’s life are not so important. It is the lie of the devil to say we can live as we want, the only thing important is to have our doctrine correct. Such statements re­veal that a person does not know the doctrine of sovereign grace at all. This fruit of the Spirit is not secondary, but the purpose of God’s work. The purpose of all the saving work of Christ, and thus the purpose of God’s counsel is to produce this fruit in us. Think of the wonderful passage on election in Eph. 1:4, 5. “According as He has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world”. Why? “That we should be holy and without blame before him”. No, let no child of God minimize this fruit in their lives. Our Father’s purpose in saving us is that He may bring forth fruit to His glory.

What is this fruit? It is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, good­ness, faith, meekness, temperance.

Future articles will lead us into a study of these gems.

Right now I want you to take an over-view of all of them.

Display this fruit and you will be ridiculed by the world. Longsuffering? The world says “Let him have it!” Gentleness, Meekness? “It is the self-assertive age and you better grab for yourself.” Faithfulness? “The more you cheat the more well-rounded you are.” Temperance? A chaste person in Christ is laughed at as being inexper­ienced, and everybody does it! How the devil mocks this fruit. AND HOW OFTEN DO NOT WE? So that the person who is meek, gentle, temperate is called “holier than thou”. And how often there is a lack of interest in cultivating these things, while there is plenty of time to engage in the works of the flesh.

But this is serious. Look once more at the man who is described in these virtues of the Spirit. The man who is gentle, meek, good, longsuffering, temperate; you know who he is, don’t you? He is Jesus Christ. Now you know what the fruit of the Spirit really is, do you not? It is to conform us to His image as brothers and sisters of Christ. And you also know that when this fruit is despised, it is Christ that is despised.

“Against such there is no law” There is a law against the works of the flesh. It is the Law of God. That law states that he who performs such things is accursed. That law cannot be repealed or bypassed. But there is no law against the Fruit of the Spirit.

Of this fruit you may eat. It is delicious! There is great benefit in this fruit.

Why? It brings glory to God. “Herein is my Father glorified, that you bring forth much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” John 15:8. There is nothing which brings joy to a child of God as his Father’s glory. True of you? By these fruits produced by the Spirit of Christ in us all the adoration returns to God.

Secondly, this fruit is useful for others. What do the works of the flesh do to your relationships with others? They destroy them. What does adultery do to a young man or woman? It leaves them cheap and with a burden of guilt. What does hatred do to a church or strife to a family? It levels them. But what a blessing for others when this fruit is seen in us. How wonderful it is when your loved one, your brother or sister, your friend, is “longsuffering, gentle, patient, …” Then others see Christ in us and glorify our Father who is in heaven.

Finally, the Fruit of the Spirit is blessed for us. This fruit is a testimony that the Spirit dwells in us. Does the Holy Spirit abide in you? Do you possess the Fruit of the Spirit? The question is not, do you possess them perfectly or as you should? But, is it there? Do you desire it? Do you pray “Lord, work in me more and more to cast off the works of the flesh and clothe me in the beauty of Christ”? The Spirit is in you!

The tasting of the fruit is ours. To be prey to all your passions and lust, to live in hatred and envy, to be in the works of the flesh; how miserable! But to live in love, joy, peace, gentleness, meekness, longsuffering, faith, good­ness, temperance; how sweet to the taste of the person in whom they are found.

It is the beginning of eternal life.