The Fruit of the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is not some mysterious manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  The fruit does not find itself in the heart of man by happenstance.  You and I have to work at it.  It is referenced in Galatians 5.22,23:

Galatians 5.22,23:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

When you place these verses into the overall context, you are reading about a contrast between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.  If you back up to verse 16, you are told to “walk in the Spirit, and  you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”  The idea expressed is that when you live your life being guided by the Holy Spirit, then you will not commit fornication, be a drunkard, be a person of jealousy, or anything else described in verses 19-21.  Instead, your life will be characterized by these wonderful attributes that are called the fruit of the Spirit.



What is the Fruit of the Spirit?

We are interested in the fruit of the Spirit.  What does our passage mean when it refers to the Spirit?  You might find it interesting that reference is made to “the Spirit” at least fifteen different times.  That tells us that the book of Galatians gives a great amount of attention to the Spirit.  But we are trying to figure out what it means when it refers to the Spirit.  

If you back up to Galatians 5.18, you learn that the Spirit leads us.  

Galatians 5.18:  “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

To help us identify the Spirit, you might consider other passages that describe this idea of being led by the Spirit to see if any additional information can be learned.  You will find such a passage in Romans 8.  It is within this chapter that you will read about the working of the Holy Spirit.  In reference to the Holy Spirit, the writer pens these words:

Romans 8.14:  “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

We are not just interested in the Spirit, but in the fruit of the Spirit.  Fruit is produce.  When you go to the grocery store to pick up some nectarines and oranges, you are not going to find them in the bakery, the deli section, or in the snack aisle.  You go to find fruit in the produce section.  Fruit is that which has been produced.  

We are talking about something that is produced as a result of the Holy Spirit.  The fruit of the Sprit is what the Holy Spirit produces in the hearts and in the lives of man.  

In the original language, the word “fruit” is singular.  Imagine a single piece of fruit such as an apple.  An apple has different parts.  There is the core, the skin, the meat, the stem, and the seeds.  All of these parts make up a single apple.  

In the same way, the fruit of the Spirit is a single piece of fruit.  Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are different parts of the singular piece of fruit just as the core, skin, meat, and stem are different parts of a single apple.  

The significance of the fruit being singular is that all of the parts need to be present for the fruit to exist.  All these wonderful attributes that comprise the fruit of the Spirit are a package deal.  They are all wrapped up in a singular fruit.  We don’t have the right to pick one of these attributes at the exclusion of the rest.  

In this single fruit, you will find…

  • Love:  Literally, the idea of love is to desire what is best for the one that is loved.  When the fruit of the Spirit is being produced in a person’s life, he or she is going always want what is best for others.
  • Joy:   The person who has the fruit of the Spirit produced in his or her life is going to a person of joy.  Are you someone who knows real happiness?
  • Peace:  The fruit of the Spirit is produced in a person’s life when that person enjoys a peace of mind and seeks to be at peace with others.
  • Longsuffering:  In the original language, the word "longsuffering" means that you take a long time before you come to the point of getting angry.  Do you control your temper?  Does it take a lot to get you to lash out in anger?  This is the person in whom the Holy Spirit has produced His fruit.
  • Kindness:  Are you kind to others?  Do you live your life always trying to be nice to people?  This is part of the fruit that is produced by the Holy Spirit.
  • Goodness:  The idea of goodness is doing something that is good.  We are told that Jesus went around always doing good (Acts 10.38).  If the fruit of the Spirit is being produced in you, then your life will be characterized as always doing good.
  • Faithfulness:  To be faithful is to be reliable.  People can always depend on you.  A person who has the fruit of the Spirit produced in his or her life is the person who can be counted on to do what you said you were going to do.  
  • Gentleness:  When the fruit of the Spirit is produced in your life, you will not be harsh in correcting someone, but helping someone be corrected with gentleness.
  • Self-control:  We all have wants and desires.  The person in whom the fruit of the Spirit is being produced will override those desires and keep himself under control.

As you review these wonderful attributes, you may conclude that you do very well with some of these.  If you are like me, you may look at some of these and realize that they need a little more attention.  However, every one of them are to be a part of your life as the product of the Holy Spirit.  It is a package deal.  


How is the Fruit of the Spirit Produced?

Do you want the Holy Spirit to produce these wonderful attributes in your life?  How is this accomplished?  Is it by some mysterious, miraculous indwelling?  How is the fruit of the Spirit produced in our lives?

If you go back to Galatians 5.22,23 where you find the fruit of the Spirit, you will also find these words in verse 25:

Galatians 5.25:  “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

If you back up to verse 18, you will read about being led by the Spirit.  When you put these thoughts together, these wonder attributes described as the fruit of the Spirit are produced in us when we are led by the Spirit, living in the Spirit, and walking in the Spirit.  But what does that mean?

To find the answer, we can turn to Romans 8 where you will find a chapter that helps us understand what it means to be led, live, and walk, in the Spirit.


The instruction of the Holy Spirit

In Galatians 5,22,23, we have these attributes that are produced by the Holy Spirit.  Then in verse 25, we are told to live in the Spirit and walk in the Spirit.  Notice how Romans 8 begins and compare that with what we read in Galatians 5.22-25.

Romans 8.1:  “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”  

This is a chapter that tells us how to walk in the Spirit.  If you can learn how to walk in the Spirit, then you will have the fruit of the Spirit produced in your life.

Romans 8.2:  “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” 

It is not uncommon to hear that the Bible is not a book of laws to be obeyed.  Thus many allow certain types of behavior which the Bible does not allow.  Such behavior is justified by trying to characterize the Bible as a book where following law is not emphasized.  However, what we are reading in Romans 8.2 is the law that was given by the Holy Spirit in contrast to the law of sin and death.

Romans 8.3:  “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh”

If you compare this verse to Galatians 4.9, you will discover that the law described as weak is the Law of Moses.  In contrast, the law that came through the Holy Spirit is the New Testament written by the apostles and prophets  (Eph. 3.1-5).  

Romans 4.4:  “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”  

When you read verse 4, you are being told about walking according to the Spirit.  Contextually, you are reading about the law which the Spirit provided – The New Testament.  If you want your life impacted by the Holy Spirit so that you live in a way that can be characterized by love, joy peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,  you want this fruit of the Spirit to develop and grow in your life.  How does the Holy Spirit produce this fruit in you?  It is through reading and following the New Testament.  


The influence of the Holy Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is produced in your life by the influence of the Holy Spirit.  In other words, you allow the Holy Spirit to influence the way you think, and thus the way that you live.

Romans 8.5:  “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”  

Setting your mind refers to thinking in a certain way.  This verse tells us that we are not to think the way the world thinks.  Instead, we are to think the way the Holy Spirit thinks.

Romans 8.6:  “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”  

To think like the world thinks will result in spiritual death.  How does the world think?  According to 1 John 2.15-17, the world pursues the “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”  In contrast, if we think like the Spirit thinks, it results in eternal life and peace.  

Romans 8.7,8:  “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

To think like the world is to make yourself an enemy of God.  Why?  Because those who think like the world do not obey the laws of God making it impossible for them to please God.

We are reading about thinking the way the Holy Spirit thinks.  How do you know what someone else is thinking?  There is only one way to know what someone else is thinking.  That person has to tell you.  If that person does not tell you what he is thinking, you will never know.  

How do we know what and how the Holy Spirit thinks?  The answer is found by going back to Romans 8.2 where we read about the law of the Spirit.  The Bible is a book where the Holy Spirit tells us what He thinks.  

We are not to think the way the world thinks.  We are to think the way the Holy Spirit thinks.  How do we know what the Holy Spirit thinks?  We go to the New Testament.  The influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is when we have been instructed by the Bible, and now are starting to think the way He thinks so that His word is now influencing our lives.  


The indwelling of the Holy Spirit

When you study this particular passage in Romans 8, you are reading about the indwelling of the Spirit.  That leads us to ask how the Holy Spirit dwells in our lives to lead us.  

To answer the question, keep the context in mind.  The Holy Spirit gives us instruction by means of the New Testament.  The Holy Spirit influences our lives when our thoughts are directed by the New Testament.  When you follow the contextual flow, you find that the Holy Spirit dwells in us through the teachings and influence of the New Testament. 

When someone mistreats us, we are instructed in the word that I am not to avenge myself.  When temptation pulls us in a certain direction, we are instructed to resist the devil.  His instructions and His influence dwells in me, and that produces certain behaviors that fall under the category of the various attributes called the fruit of the Spirit.  

Romans 8.9:  “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”  

Notice that the Spirit dwells in us, and we dwell in the Spirit.  It’s describing the relationship that we have with the Spirit.  We have this same kind of relationship with Christ.

Romans 8.10:  “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”  

Notice that Christ is in us.  If you back up to verse 1, it says that “there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  So Christ is in us, and we are in Christ.  Again it’s describing a relationship.

Romans 8.11:  “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”   

We are told repeatedly that the Spirit dwells in us.  But notice how this whole thought is concluded.

Romans 8.12,13:  “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors — not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."

We are not to live according to the flesh.  We are to live according to the Spirit.  What does that mean?  The Spirit has given us instruction through the teachings of the New Testament.  We put that instruction into our lives life, and we live the way His instruction commands that we live.  The way He thinks becomes the way we think.  His thoughts become our thoughts as His word dwells in us and helps us to make decisions on how to function in this life.  That is how the fruit of the Spirit is produced.  

There is nothing mystical about it.  It is letting the Holy Spirit lead the direction of our live through the teachings of the New Testament.

Romans 8.14:  “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”  

How does the Holy Spirit lead us?  He leads us through His instructions, by revealing to us how He thinks which tells us how we need to think, which affects our way of life.  That’s how He leads us.  We are the sons of God if we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us through the instructions of the New Testament.  That’s how the fruit of the Spirit is produced.



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