So, for the past two weeks, we have been on a new series of teachings on how to be witnesses for the Lord.
We have started out talking about the power to be witnesses because as Jesus taught us in Acts 1:8, before we can be His witnesses in our own proverbial Jerusalem, Judea & Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, we have to receive the promise of power in the person of the Holy Spirit.
You see, far too many Christians who know precious little about the Holy Spirit still try and become good witnesses of the Lord. And these believers certainly mean well, but in their ignorance, they get the cart before the horse. Church, we cannot really be the kind of good & effective witnesses of the Lord that He expects us to be without the power of the Holy Spirit. It is just that simple!
So church, this to me is the absolute first thing we need to know when it comes to being the Lord’s witness—that we cannot do it alone! We need the Helper to help us be the kind of witnesses that we are called to be, and that is because He is the power to be a witness. Yes, we need to be endued with the power of the Holy Ghost as Jesus talked about in Luke chapter 24.
We learned how the word Jesus used here—“endued”—means to be “clothed.” And I’ll tell you, church—the main reason why some Christians aren’t good witnesses is because they aren’t wearing the right clothes! No, I am not referring to our physical clothing, but to the virtues of Christ that we live in. They are wearing their own filthy garments of fleshly efforts, but that’s not what “enables” us to bear witness of the Lord. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit that we need to be clothed in to testify of Jesus properly. And the intended result of us wearing our new clothes is that the unbelievers should be so impressed with our sharp attire that they will want to know who our Father is, if He’ll adopt them, and give them the same clothing too!
We then learned how having the Holy Spirit enabling us to be a quality witness for Jesus works together with a very specific ministry of the Holy Spirit—His commission to “convict.”
You see, it’s sad to say but there have been many believers that think that this is their ministry—to bring people under conviction. But, no, this is the Holy Spirit’s job, not ours. The Bible does not call us “convicters”; it simply calls us witnesses (see John 15:27 & Acts 1:8). And there is a big difference between someone who simply witnesses and someone who does the convicting.
And the good news that we learned from this is that when we do our job of being witnesses, the Holy Spirit can do His job of convicting those we are witnessing to.
Church, this is one of the reasons why witnessing for Christ seems so laborious and, frankly, isn’t what most Christians enjoy doing—because most people ain’t doing it right.
I stated last week that I’m convinced that if the Lord were to write a book on witnessing, chapter one would be entitled “Witnessing Made Fun,” which would be a chapter devoted to the help of the Holy Spirit.
Church, I have seen far too many Christians try and be witnesses for Christ, and while they might have the right words to speak, Scriptures to use, etc., they aren’t utilizing the greatest tool that we have to share the truth with people – the precious Holy Spirit.
You see, we learned that the Holy Spirit is more than just a convicter that leads sinners to repentance; no, He is much more than that, in that He has been sent to help us in every sense of the word.
We looked last week at how Jesus called the Holy Spirit the “Helper” several times in the Gospel of John. This word “Helper” here is, of course, the New King James Version’s translation. If you use the original King James Version, you will find a different word—the term “Comforter.” Other translations use the words “Counselor” or “Advocate.”
But we saw that, although this word is translated a few different ways, by far the most elaborate and detailed translation of this word comes from the Amplified Bible, because its description of this word is, for lack of better words, more “amplified.”
Again, John 16:7 says, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor, Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].”
I believe that this “amplified” description most accurately defines the Greek word into its broad and vast meaning. So, what we did was we looked at each of these words that it uses in order to detail and discuss what the Holy Spirit is specifically called alongside of us to do. We saw that He is our …
So we’ve talked about how the Holy Spirit is the power for us to be witnesses for Christ – by us being baptized in Him, Him coming upon us, and us staying full of Him. And we have also learned that we have to then utilize our fellowship with the Holy Spirit to take advantage of THE Advantage, by our leaning on Him to be our Helper— our Comforter, Counselor, Intercessor, Strengthener, Advocate, and Stand-By.
Now I want us to begin to look at arguably the most important way that the Holy Spirit helps us to be Christ’s witnesses—through His fruit & His gifts.
You see, the New Testament reveals to us that there are two sets of nine things that the Holy Spirit performs in and through our lives, and these play a big role in our ability to effectively be Christ’s witnesses.
A TREE IS KNOWN BY IT’S FRUIT
Now, first of all, I want to say that the most important way the Holy Spirit helps us be Christ’s witnesses is by the fruit He produces in our lives. That’s why it is called the fruit of the Spirit. This means that these nine fruits are what the Holy Spirit is meant to produce in our lives, which are a big part of our witness. Therefore, the love, joy, peace, etc. that we have manifested in our lives speak to and validate our faith to the world around us.
Didn’t Jesus teach us that the world will know that we are His disciples by our love for one another (See John 13:35)? Well, that’s fruit #1, isn’t it? And what Jesus was saying here is that the world isn’t going to necessarily know we are Christians because we have a t-shirt or a bumper sticker; it’s by how we love!
But love isn’t the only fruit that testifies of Him. No, joy is one of the greatest things we possess to be a witness of His goodness.
How many of you know that we serve a Happy God, a God who rejoices over us with gladness? We do! He is not like so many imagine Him to be—a grumpy, hard-faced God. No, He actually knows how to smile, laugh, and have a good time. For the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and JOY in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). That means that in God’s kingdom one of the primary things that we will experience is joy. Yes, folks will be happy there—and this certainly includes the Lord.
Church, this is what the world needs to see in God’s children—the same joy that He possesses.
You know, this is one of the main things most people in this world desire—to be happy and find joy. So when they see true, genuine joy of the Holy Spirit in us, they will want what we have. You can bet the bank on that!
How about peace? That is another virtue that very few people ever find in life, but desperately desire. Well, that too is a fruit of a Spirit-filled & Spirit-empowered life.
Another fruit is goodness, right? Well, what does the Bible teach us leads men to repentance? It is the goodness of God (See Romans 2:4). So how do you figure this works? Is God personally showing forth His goodness from heaven so that unbelievers are repenting hand over fist? No, that’s not how it works. It’s the fruit of His goodness in the lives of His children that will draw men to repentance. Amen?
So my point is that these fruits of the Holy Spirit being produced in our lives is the first and most important part of our witness—for they first of all make what we believe more attractive to others as they see in us the fruit they all long for in their lives. But secondly, it makes witnessing even more fun for us because, when you genuinely love the person you are sharing with, you really have joy in your heart, and walk in this abundance of peace, witnessing just becomes more enjoyable.
So, it’s the love we have for the brethren and even our enemies, the peace we have that enables us to lie down in the den of lions and get a good night’s sleep, and the joy that helps us to sing at midnight in prison—these are the fruit that the world will see that lets them know we are Christ’s disciples. Yes, these are the fruit that cause people to look at these branches and say, “Yup, that’s a Christian tree! And that’s the tree I want to eat from!”
HOW FRUIT IS PRODUCED
So let me quickly give you a couple of ways that you and I can produce more of His fruit in our lives …
Jesus taught us in John chapter 15 that fruit comes in our lives as a result of us abiding in Him, the True Vine. And the word “abiding” is the key word: This word “abide” means to stay, live, remain, or dwell. So, what Jesus is referring to here is living in His presence habitually—that is, spending time in His presence on a daily basis. Church, this is the only way to bear fruit—to be consistently connected to Jesus through spending time in fellowship with Him.
Don’t we like to say, “You’ll become like who you are around”? Yes, corrupt communications (or, fellowship) corrupts good manners (See First Corinthians 15:33). That means that hanging out with the wrong people will influence a person’s lifestyle. Well, if that works negatively, don’t you think it will work positively too?
That’s why “hanging out” with God is one of the main ways a believer can produce the fruit of the Spirit – because these nine fruit are the nature & character of God Himself.
You see, that is why Paul, through the Holy Spirit, calls these nine virtues of character—the fruit of the Spirit. That’s because they are the fruit of a Spirit-filled and Spirit-led life, but they are also the fruit of the Spirit of God Himself. Yes, Paul meant that since they are called “fruit,” they are the fruit that originates from another source of life. In this case, they have come through the Seed of the Spirit. In other words, as fruit, they grow and are produced in our lives after His (the Holy Spirit’s) own kind.
Let me explain what I mean by us looking back at the Book of Genesis …
Do you remember on the third day, after the Lord created the earth, what the Lord said? He said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:11-12). Here we see how God originally designed fruit to be produced:
And I want you to notice that, first of all, in order for the tree to yield fruit, that it must be created as a fruit tree. For example, if the tree is not an apple tree, then what is it not going to produce? Apples! So, the first thing that had to transpire in order for you and I to bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is to be recreated as a fruit-bearing tree. And we know that this occurred by the Holy Spirit when we called on the name of the Lord, were born again, and received the new nature, which we received through the Spirit washing, renewing and regenerating us (Titus 3:5).
So, the Lord created things so that a fruit tree will yield its fruit, but notice that it yields fruit “according to its kind.” I like how the New Living Translation says this. It says, “from which they came.” In other words, a fruit tree is only going to produce the fruit, and the seed in that fruit, from the seed from which they came.
So, the reason it is called the fruit of the Spirit is because it is fruit that is according to His kind, or you could say, it is the fruit that came directly from the seed of the Spirit.
Now notice how we are then told in Genesis 1:11— “whose seed is in itself.” Glory to God, saints! Since the Holy Spirit resides in us, we have the seed living in us that will replicate Himself!
How many of you know that a tree can only bear the fruit that it was created to produce? Likewise, we are only going to be able to produce the fruit of the Spirit because He is the seed that we have living within us and because of the new nature we have been given. Amen? In other words, these nine fruit of the Spirit are a product of the nature living within us.
I don’t believe most Christians have ever considered this—that if these nine virtues are the fruit of the Spirit, then they are attributes of God. It would make sense though—for why would God be producing characteristics in us that He Himself didn’t possess? No, saints, by possessing the fruit of the Spirit, we have love within us—but not only that; He is also joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Let’s look at these:
So, what does this have to do with producing the fruit of the Spirit in ourselves? I’m glad you asked. Second Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Now if we consider the context, we see that Paul was describing the difference between the glory of the Old Covenant and the glory of the New Covenant (which was said to exceed much more in glory [see verse 9]). And he uses the example of Moses putting a veil over his face after He came out of the glory of God on Mount Sinai, describing how the glory we’ve received does not pass away. Now we have had the veil removed and can behold His glory, which results in us being transformed into the same image from glory to glory.
Now, if you recall, Moses desired to see this glory and the Lord responded that He would make all of His goodness pass before him. Therefore, I equate God’s glory with His goodness. So, if we behold God’s glory, we are seeing His goodness.
And here is my point: If we behold the self-control, gentleness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, longsuffering, peace, joy, and love of our God, what does this verse say will happen? We ourselves will be transformed into the same image we are beholding—meaning, you and I will begin to reflect His nature that we are beholding. Yes, we become what we behold, church. So, behold His beauty and watch His fruit become yours, in Jesus name. Amen!
Just consider your own fruit—your children. How do they produce your fruit? First of all, they have to be born of you—holding your nature. Then by abiding with you—they become more like you through their relationship with you. But what we have just seen is a vital part of them becoming like you—they also bring forth your fruit by beholding you—for as they get to know you, observing how you live your life, they grow to become like you.
So sure, it is by being born of those parents and having their nature put in you. Sure, it is by living in the presence of those parents and being raised in their home. But it is also by beholding how those parents do things; that is what produces the fruit of those parents in the child (i.e. fruit).
Church, the greatest way to be a witness for our Lord and Savior is by bearing His fruit. Yes, it is by us exhibiting His love, joy, peace, etc. that people will get to witness Him! This is why the fruit of the Spirit is the most important way that we can be a witness for Him. Amen.