The Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22-25: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such, there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Notice that it is “fruit of the Spirit”. It’s not “works of the Spirit’, neither is it “fruit of the flesh”.
The word “works” implies “labor, strain, and effort” Fruit doesn’t come from the flesh because our old sin nature can only produce “works” (Heb. 9:14 says, “dead works”), but the Spirit produces living fruit. This is in line with God’s plan from the beginning of the world.
Let’s turn to Genesis 1:11. “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its own kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.”
“. . . and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its own kind, whose seed is in itself”
This means apples will produce apples with apple seed, oranges will reproduce with orange seed, grapes with grape seed, etc., so each fruit will continue to reproduce their own kind.
In the spiritual sense, this would mean that as we walk in the Spirit and shed our love to others, our love begets love, our joy begets joy, peace begets peace, and so on. It’s a sowing and reaping principle.
It’s living fruit because it keeps on living through the lives of Believers as they plant seeds in the world.
Back in verse 22 of Galatians 5, notice, too, that “fruit” is singular. It’s not “fruits of the Spirit are” but “fruit of the Spirit is”. What difference does that make? It makes a lot of difference because if you read “fruit” as singular it reads like this, “the fruit of the Spirit is love“
The word for Love in this verse is “agape” which is God’s kind of love. The highest form of love. It’s the kind of love that God the Father has for you, to love you so much that He sacrificed His only Son for you.
It’s the kind of love Jesus has for you, that He was willing to die that you might live. It’s the kind of Love that the Holy Spirit has, that of all the dwelling places, in or out of this world, He chose to live inside you.
In John 15:5 Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
Jesus is the vine. Love flows inside the branches. Love provides the nourishment to produce joy, peace, longsuffering (or patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (or self-control).
Just as it says in verse 5, we have to abide in (or stay with) Christ.
That may mean going through some tough times because it means we will have to deny the flesh to abide with Christ. We’ll have to offer our bodies up as living sacrifices.
Do you know the problem I have with offering up my body a living sacrifice? Every time I get on the altar, someone lights a fire under it, it gets hot and I jump back off. I can’t take the heat.
That’s not abiding in the vine. The branch has to stay linked up with the Vine.
The Fruit of the Spirit doesn’t grow overnight. Every Born-Again Believer has the seed planted in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. It has to be planted, weeded and cultivated.
It has to be watered, weeded and fertilized.
These are all accomplished as we read the Word of God, as we fellowship, and as we yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit. As we begin to grow in the knowledge of the Lord, the fruit in us begins to grow.
Let’s turn to Psalm 1:1-3. It says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not .in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord: and in his law doth he meditates day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brinqeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
Look at that again. It says, “and he shall be like a tree PLANTED by the rivers of water”
These are God’s trees and they’re planted. That means they’re not wild trees from seed that happened to fall out of a tree and have taken root.
The trees are symbolic of Born Again Believers. I think it would be a good idea to underline the words, “that bringeth forth his fruit in HIS season” because Fruit is produced in God’s time, not ours.
Isaiah 61:3 tells us, “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness: that they might be called TREES of righteousness, the PLANTING of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”
If the trees are Born-Again Believers, the “rivers of water’ must be the Word of God.
Turn back to Is 55:10, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
God wants His Word to come down like rain and water the earth. As Believers take in the Water of the Word we grow and produce fruit.
Let’s review the fruit of the Spirit.
Go back to Galatians 5:22 and we’ll look at the list of fruit.
To begin, there is love and we’ve already talked about that. What I didn’t mention is that Agape Love or God’s kind of love is unconditional. God doesn’t love us out of emotion; He loves us because that’s His nature. That’s Who He is. God doesn’t “have” love. He IS love.
1 John 4:8, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”
He will never love us any more than He does right now and the ultimate sign of His love for us is the Cross.
As we walk in the Spirit, God’s unconditional love flows out of us. We find ourselves loving others regardless of who or what they are. This is a kind of love that the world doesn’t understand but needs so much.
The next fruit is Joy. Joy isn’t the same as happiness. Happiness is based on circumstances. This Joy is based on a God Who never changes. He is the source of our joy and strength.
Next is Peace. We need the peace of God when we go through the storms of life. We can draw on the peace of the Lord Who calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee by speaking to it. We can speak the Word to our circumstances and have peace about it.
Longsuffering is next. Longsuffering is patience. Does yours ever run out? This is one area that seems to be common with most people, especially with Believers. We want to serve the Lord but we don’t like waiting while He prepares us. We need supernatural patience which only comes from the Holy Spirit. We have to remember Psalm 1, it’s always in “His season”.
Gentleness, or kindness. This simply means being a nice person, not for gain, but out of love and compassion. It means to say, “hello” or to smile when we meet someone and not wait for the other to act first. It means to offer help to someone who is in need. To treat people the same way you would like to be treated.
Goodness. This goes hand in hand with gentleness. It’s to be a blessing to others by being kind, caring and loving. To look for the good in a person, knowing that the Holy Spirit can take care of the bad.
Faith is the next one. It really means “faithfulness” and is different than “faith”.
Faithfulness means that you can be counted on. You are dependable.
It means you will do what you say.
It means if you’re married, you will be faithful to your spouse & family.
If you’re not married it means you will be faithful to the Word of God and abstain from sex until marriage.
If you’re working for someone it means you’ll be faithful to your employer.
It means you will be faithful to pay your bills when due.
It means you’ll be faithful to your country and vote, pay taxes, etc.
The next fruit is Meekness. Being “Meek’ isn’t the same as being weak.
Meekness is letting the Holy Spirit work in and through you without question, without trying to reason out the purpose of His leading.
The Bible says that Moses was the meekest man on the face of the earth in his time. But he wasn’t weak. It took a lot of courage to lead 2 1/2 million complaining Jews out of Egypt.
In Matthew 11:29, Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Jesus says He is meek, yet He made a whip and ran the moneychangers out of the Temple.
He took on the Pharisees and Scribes, something unheard of in His day because of their influence in society and religion.
He created all things, and someday will be King, but humbled Himself and was born in a manger instead of a castle or mansion.
When on Calvary, He could have spoken one word and changed everything but out of meekness he “for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross”. (Hebrews 12:2)
Meekness means when we walk in the Spirit we need to be submissive and not let our egos get in the way.
The last fruit of the Spirit is Temperance or self-control. We all may have to bite the bullet on this one but it’s one we all need because we have trouble controlling our tongues, trouble controlling our minds, controlling our flesh and, most of all, controlling our appetites.
If we do it on our own we usually find ourselves ‘out of control”. Only the Holy Spirit can bring us under control. He renews our minds and helps us to come into obedience to God.
Well, those are the fruits of the Spirit.
The last part of Galatians 5:25 says, “Against such, there is no law”
You can’t legislate law against love, joy, peace, etc.
By the same token, you can’t walk in the Spirit just by keeping the law. The Holy Spirit helps us to fulfill the law by the first fruit, which is love.
To walk in the Spirit takes the leading of the Holy Spirit and a Believer who is willing to be led.
The Holy Spirit is always in front, gently leading and preparing the way.
He’s never behind, pushing.
Let me give you an illustration to help make my point.
When I was young I had a secret desire to learn to fly an airplane. I used to build those model airplanes, WWI, two-winged planes with the open cockpits.
Back then we used balsa wood and paper. (The fun went out of it when someone thought of making them in plastic but they were much easier to build) I liked to imagine that I was in one of those small planes, having a “dogfight” in the air with the enemy.
Somewhere I picked up a kit that was supposed to teach you how to fly. It consisted of a flying manual and a cardboard cockpit with gauges and controls printed on it. It was really impressive looking. It was so real to me that I used to sit in front of that cockpit at our dining room table and fly that table all over the globe. And you know what? After just 2 or 3 lessons I was certain that I knew how to fly a real plane if someone would give me a chance.
My problem at that time was my age. At 10 it wasn’t very likely that anyone was going to loan me their plane so I could prove my point.
So, let’s make up a scenario. Let’s compare my experience as a young “pilot” flying a cardboard airplane with a Born-Again Believer who would rather try to keep all the Ten Commandments instead of letting the Holy Spirit guide him in his walk with the Lord.
Here’s the scenario:
I have a friend who is a licensed pilot, who we’ll call Jack.
Let’s say that I was 10 years old and I asked Jack to go up in a plane with me, to sit in the cockpit and be my instructor. And let’s say he agreed to do it. I would fly the plane but Jack would be at my side to help when I needed it.
In reality, Jack would be my co-pilot.
Now, I would have my instruction book on flying so I feel his being there wasn’t really necessary.
In my mind, his sitting next to me would be for “appearances sake” because, well, you know how people are when they see a 10-year-old flying an airplane. They just lose all confidence in you.
But I have been studying the book and even have portions of it memorized.
So, Jack and I are in the cockpit, I take the joystick (the steering wheel), I rev up the engines and get us off the ground in fine shape.
We’re up in the air and the plane is leveled off. We’re really enjoying the view from up here. The people below look like ants and the cars look like toys.
We’re soaring like the eagles.
Pretty soon soaring like an eagle gets boring and this ten-year-old decides he wants to go faster.
My co-pilot, Jack, advises me to continue to soar like an eagle. So I listen to him for a while but later I want to try a dive and make the tailspin like they do in the movies.
Jack warns me that the wings might break off.
I want to see how high we can go but Jack says we might pass out from lack of oxygen.
I want to try to do a "loop the loop" and Jack says, ‘you’re not ready for that yet . . . and neither am I”
I turn the plane to the east and Jack warns of a storm coming from that direction.
About this time I’m wondering, “How does he know all that stuff?”
I’m also beginning to wonder about the book of instructions because it never mentions any of these things. I get the book (Bible) back out and look through it to see if I missed something.
The first page says, “In the beginning, man wanted to fly”. Then it goes on to tell that there was a man (symbolic of God) from another country who came up with a plan so anyone who wanted could fly and soar like an eagle.
He passed his plan on to another man (Jesus) who agreed to work on it with him.
This second man dedicated his life to that purpose. He was the first to fly so others could follow. Then, one day he retired.
Now, the book said that he’s coming out of retirement someday. Until then, we’ve got the instruction book. The book says that until He comes back we need to have a co-pilot when we fly.
I’ve noticed something odd about the flying manual. There’s more emphasis on having another person with you than there are instructions on how to fly by yourself. There are plenty of rules and regulations but it says we need someone who will be with us if we ever get into trouble.
Someone, who loves flying and loves me enough to lead me away from storms and into the open skies.
It says we’ll need someone who can put the “joy” into the joystick.
Someone who can help us keep the peace so we’re not shooting other planes down.
It has to be someone who can teach us to be patient when we’re flying in the dark of night when it seems that the light of day will never come.
Someone, who knows how to land a plane with gentleness.
It will take someone with enough goodness in them to care about me and my ability to fly.
The book says that I won’t need to know all there is to know about airplanes and flying if this person will teach me to have faith enough to believe that the plane is going to stay in the air.
Flying can be a matter of life or death. So it has to be someone, by whose example, I can learn to be meek and listen to advise rather than go it alone and in the process, making regrettable mistakes
Someone who knows what all the controls on the instrument panel are for and who can teach me all about control. Someone who can help me keep my self-control and not do something that will cause me harm.
But here’s the problem: I would rather fly on my own.
I keep reading the instruction book to learn how to fly on my own but the book offers only one alternative to having a co-pilot. It says I have to know all there is about the laws of physics, chemistry, electricity, weather, etc.
For instance: The manual says the law of thermodynamics is about heat being converted into energy. It says that’s important because that’s what makes the engine run.
Okay, I’ve got that down “pat’.
Then it says Pascal’s law is about pressure is evenly applied to a liquid enclosed in a container. That has to do with hydraulics.
There are laws about wind passing over the wings to cause a lift.
That’s funny. I never knew that before.
Then there are laws to do with magnetism, which it says is important for reading the compass and know which direction I’m going.
I thought I just had to know how to go “up”.
The book goes on and explains that there are laws concerning mechanics, heat, light, electricity, sound, electronics and then it gets into the really hard stuff like molecular structure, protons, neutrons, etc.
Reading the manual is as boring as soaring like an eagle so I say to myself, “I’ve got plenty of time. I’ll just learn one of these at a time. Then I can fly on my own.”
We’re still soaring steadily. Then I see another plane in the sky and turn the plane towards it. This is going to be great; it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, pretending to be John Wayne who’s going to knock an enemy plane out of the sky!
I turn and ask my co-pilot, Jack if he checked the ammunition before taking off. He mentions something about “peace” and how we shouldn’t be fighting with other planes. I don’t remember what else he said except practicing self-control or something like that.
Jack is beginning to get on my nerves. I hand him the only parachute and, with a smile, ask him to show me how it goes on.
I couldn’t have asked for a nicer co-pilot than Jack. But, it’s been too much of a struggle with him, he doesn’t want to do the things that I want to do.
I know he’s usually right. He advises me for my own good but there are so many things I haven’t tried with the plane and I can’t do them with him constantly advising me not to do what I want to do.
So, I open the door and give him a little shove. Out he goes! His parachute opens and he’s slowly floating in the air.
Finally, now I’m on my own and can do what I want without him trying to ruin all my fun. If any problems come up, I’ve got the manual with the laws, rules & regulations and it’s just a matter of looking them up.
I turn back to shooting down that other plane when all of a sudden my plane jerks and sputters.
Oh, oh, the fuel gauge is on empty. I look in the book and in what seems like an eternity, I find the problem. One of the laws has been broken.
The law of thermodynamics says that without fuel heat can’t be converted into energy. It’s funny that I missed that; otherwise, I would have checked it before taking off.
Now the tailspin begins to spin. This is what I wanted to do so badly and Jack wouldn’t let me. But for some reason I can’t stop it.
I’m headed down fast and I’m discovering Newton’s’ Law of Gravity which states: What goes up must come down.
Where’s Jack when I need him?
There he is, just below me floating down. He sees me and asks, “Need help?”
Now I’ve passed him and looking up I reply, “No problem I’ll figure it out, somehow”.
Jack smiles, waves and says, “Have fun”.
Okay. So I broke one little law by not filling the fuel tank. I’ll just pull back on the stick a little harder.
No use. The ground is coming up fast and I’m on my way to earning my wings. Not as a pilot but as a heavenly host.
End of scenario.
The Holy Spirit is our co-pilot. We have the instruction book (Bible) but it takes more than that to fly. And it takes more than that to walk the walk. It takes the Holy Spirit to understand the book.
He’s our helper to keep us out of trouble. And the best part about Him is: He’ll never bail out on you.
Let’s go back to Galatians 5:24, “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
In Gal. 2:20 we learn that we were crucified with Christ. And here again, the word is “crucified”, past tense.
When Christ died, we died. Now we’re raised up in a new spirit, with a resurrected, living Christ. We’ve conquered death and hell because He did.
And the victory was achieved not by struggling, but by surrendering to Christ. That’s the way our walk in the Spirit should be, a yielding to Him, and not a struggle with Him.
Galatians 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”
The word “if” could also be “since” because Paul never doubted the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life or the Galatians. Then it would read “Since we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”
The word “walk” means to keep “in step”. In this case, it would be to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. It’s like “following the leader”. He leads, we follow.
The last verse in chapter 5 is verse 26, “Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”
Paul could have ended with verse 25 and I think we would have felt a lot better if he had.
But, he had to “step on our toes” one more time.
In order for fruit to grow there has to be a proper climate and the same is true of the fruit of the Spirit.
He says to us as well as to the church in Galatia; don’t let your pride enter into your walk. Don’t give in to envy and don’t cause problems within a fellowship by needless talk or gossip. It just slows the growing process.
Finally, we should remember that fruit is produced to be eaten. Not to satisfy our own hunger, but the hunger of others in & world that is starving for:
If the Body of Christ will produce the fruit, a starving world will eat, and God will get the glory.