REVIEW & INTRODUCTION
As most of you know, we have been camping on the subject of the Holy Spirit throughout this calendar year here at High Point Church. And by now, I hope you can see just how important the Holy Spirit is in our lives—for we have been studying various aspects of Him here in 2019:
So, with that being said, we will be winding up our teachings here in 2019 on the Holy Spirit by looking at the Fruit of the Spirit—that is, the nine characteristics that the Holy Spirit is meant to produce in our lives.
Now, of course, these are located in Galatians 5:22-23, where the apostle Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” And by “virtue” of the fact that these nine virtues manifest character in our lives, it should show us that character in the Christian’s life is another very vital part of what the Holy Spirit is meant to produce in our lives.
Now I know that if you and I were able to look at our hearts, the majority of Spirit-filled Christians would much rather see signs, wonders and miracles manifest in us than these fruit, but these gifts are not the end all. Sure, we need the power. We absolutely need the gifts of the Holy Spirit active and operating in our lives, but not at the exclusion of the fruit of the Spirit. The Bible is clear that it is not our gifts that lets us know that we are born again Christians; the apostle John says it is our love of the brethren (see First John 3:14).
The truth is, that these nine virtues are the fruit that someone is living a spiritual life. In other words, these fruit are the tell-tell sign of whether someone is spiritual of not. No, it’s not how much we speak in tongues or how many miracles we see in our lives; it’s how much we genuinely love people and how much joy & peace we are producing in our lives. This is the fruit of true spirituality.
So, I say all of this to say, we need these nine virtues produced in our lives alongside of the nine gifts of the Spirit in order to make the kind of impact on this world God has called us to.
So, let’s begin this week looking at these verses in Galatians chapter 5:
FRUIT THAT FULFILLS THE LAW
First of all, what did Paul mean when he said at the end of verse 23— “Against such there is no law”? He was essentially saying, “There is obviously no law out there against the people who produce these nine virtues in their life.” So, when these fruit are being produced in our lives and we abide by them, we are not violating any commandment. Rather, we are actually fulfilling the righteous requirement of God’s law—that is, the royal law of love.
You see, religion loves rules, commandments, and laws. The reason why is because it likes to have boundaries to where it can know what not to do—for then what it will do is strictly adhere to that list of do’s & don’ts. But this religious spirit never addresses the truly important things like why are we doing what we are doing or why are we not doing what we are not doing. In other words, religion remains external, never dealing with the heart.
But herein lies the difference between the old and new covenants: The law preached “Thou shalt not … lie, steal, kill, etc.” but Jesus preached “Thou shalt … love you neighbor as yourself, love one another as I have loved you, do good, give, forgive, etc.” Let me say it this way: the law said, “Thou shalt not…” and grace says, “Thou shalt love, be joyful, have peace, be kind, do good, be longsuffering, faithful, gentle and self-controlled.” Again, why? Because by producing this fruit, we automatically fulfill the law of God. We don’t have to worry about not doing something because when we, through the power of the strength and leadership of the Spirit, do what is right, we are automatically avoiding the things that are wrong. This is the more excellent way, church—the way of the Waymaker Himself. Amen!
WORKS (PLURAL) VERSUS FRUIT (SINGULAR)
Now let’s back up to the beginning of verse 22—for I want you to notice that little relatively obscure word at the beginning of verse 22, the word “But.” Whenever you see a conjunction like that used to begin a verse, you need to consider what the author said before it. And in this case, it is clear to me that the apostle Paul was making a distinction between these fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh that he referred to in verses 19-21.
And this is a BIG “But,” saints—because there is a big difference between not doing evil things (i.e. the works of the flesh) and doing good things (i.e. producing the fruit of the Spirit)! For example, a religious person might be able to abstain from stealing, but can he or she actually produce joy in their life? Yes, they might be able to boast that they have not murdered anyone, but have they truly loved their enemies? “Negative goodness” is only religious, but producing these fruit are what makes one spiritual.
“But” the fact is, there is a big difference between how both the flesh and Spirit manifest things in our lives. Paul describes the flesh as producing “works” and the Spirit as producing “fruit”—which again, there is a difference between how fruit is produced versus how something “works” to produce something.
You see, in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit, the works of the flesh are not produced; they are “manufactured.” A machine in a factory “works” and can manufacture a product, but it can never “produce” fruit. Fruit only comes from something that has life and there is not much effort at all in this fruit-bearing process. But when it comes to the word “work,” we think of labor, toil, strain, and effort. This does not mean that the fleshly works are not automatically generated, but rather shows us what comes with the flesh—all of these negative qualities that we associate with “work.” So, the flesh will keep you longer than you want to stay (like work) and pay you what you definitely don’t want to be paid (like most jobs).
“But” that is not how the Lord has designed for us to live the Christian life. We are not machines that work, manufacturing this fruit. No, we are fruit bearing trees that naturally (i.e. organically) produce fruit for the glory of God. It is not meant to be arduous or laborious. Rather it is meant to be free-flowing, natural producing of these virtues in our life because of Who we are abiding in and Who we have abiding in us. (We will get into much of this momentarily).
Now let’s move on in Galatians 5:22 and look at how the apostle Paul specifically calls these nine virtues—the fruit of the Spirit. And I want you to notice that the word “fruit” is singular, in contrast to the “works” (plural) of the flesh. The fact that Paul uses fruit singular here suggests to us that these virtues/qualities are in unison—perhaps like a cluster of grapes as opposed to different pieces of fruit.
This also serves in contrast to the gifts of the Spirit that are distributed to each one individually to where one Christian might tend towards one gift, and another operates in two totally different gifts. The fruit of the Spirit are not like this because every believer is expected to produce all nine of these fruit in their lives. So, lest we say something like, “Well, I tend to produce kindness in my life, but self-control is not my fruit,” we need to understand that we all have the same Spirit and, therefore, are expected to produce the same fruit. Amen?
THE PARADISE OF HIS PRESENCE
But like I just made the point of, because these virtues are called “fruit,” they are things that are produced in our lives, not through hard-work, toil, and labor. As a matter of fact, the “fruit” of the cursed ground was a product of the curse on mankind after Adam’s transgression, not the blessing God intended for mankind to live in. The Lord told Adam— “… Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground …” (Genesis 3:17-18)
So, this laboring and hard work to both produce and maintain the fruit of the ground was a product of the curse, not the blessing. The world has surely modeled this to us as well—for we are trained that with hard work, discipline, and effort, we will be fruitful in life. But not so in the kingdom of God. In it, we are fruitful simply by grace, not works.
And this curse came as a result of Adam’s transgression, didn’t it? But this was never God’s plan for man. His will was that we continue to live in a fruitful Paradise where we simply enjoy life with God in the Garden and are not living by the sweat of our brow. And from the physical standpoint, while we certainly still live on the fallen, sin-cursed earth that will one day be redeemed to become the new earth, the fact is that part of our lives has already experienced redemption—that is, our spirits.
But what the First Adam lost through His sinful act, the Last Adam has regained through His righteous deed! In other words, while we had inherited death through Adam’s transgression, through the new-birth, we now have a new inheritance; yes, through Christ’s resurrection we have an inheritance of life. Glory! Amen. So, Jesus did not come to initially put us back in the Garden; He came to put the Garden back in us! What I mean by that is that through the new birth and the indwelling Holy Spirit, paradise has been restored in our spirit-man.
This is why the first key to producing the fruit of the Spirit is being born again. Without the new birth, it is impossible for us to produce His fruit—for His seed was never placed in us to begin with. Then how could we ever truly be fruitful? (I will get more into this momentarily)
So, the Lord has set things up in our spiritual walk like He did in the Garden. No longer are we to produce fruit through our labor and toil; now we produce fruit simply through abiding in the Paradise of His presence. (Which leads me to key #2 to bearing the fruit of the Spirit)
THE FRUIT OF ABIDING
Jesus taught us this in John 15:1-8, when He taught His disciples the principle of abiding in Himself, the True Vine. In this parable, Jesus was illustrating to them (and us) what life is to be like in the kingdom.
Now we have camped on this particular teaching of Jesus back at the end of 2018, so I am not going to spend a lot of time on this, but we need to understand that the New Covenant process of fruitfulness is simple, and not arduous.
Jesus began by saying, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” (verse 1)
Now by Jesus referring to Himself as the “True” Vine, He is apparently implying that there are false vines out there too—that is, there are belief systems, mentalities and philosophies that even good Christians can tend to rely on, thinking they will make us fruitful. But the truth is that there is only one “True Vine” that can supply us with the “Way” to fruitfulness, the “Truth” that makes free, and the “Life” that we desire because Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Therefore, there is no other vine that can cause us to yield fruit that remains. Amen!
So, always be careful in both putting your trust in anything or anyone (including yourself) for the fruit you desire to see in your life. No, the fruit of the Spirit that God desires for us to produce comes only through maintaining an abiding relationship with the True Vine, Himself.
That is why Jesus went on to say in verses 4-5— “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
So, we see here that just as a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, likewise we are not going to be able to bear this fruit of the Spirit in our lives of ourselves. In other words, our determination, hard work and will-power is not going to get it done. No, in order to bear the fruit of the Spirit, we have to abide in the True Vine—for apart from Him, we can do absolutely nothing.
Now as we’ve learned before, 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.
So, if you are like the majority of Christians out there who do not make dwelling in His presence a daily priority in your life, you must do this if you are going to bear any abiding fruit. But the good news is, Jesus said here that the one who abides in Him and He in them will bear “much fruit.” That’s where I want to live, saints! How about you? For as Jesus goes on to say in verse 8, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
Church, our aim ought to be set this high—that we bear much fruit, are considered His disciples, and glorifying the Father as a result!
THE SEED OF THE SPIRIT
So, that is why Paul, through the Holy Spirit, calls these nine virtues of character—the fruit of the Spirit. But now I want you to notice how they are not just called fruit, but are called the fruit of something—namely, the fruit of the Spirit.
If we back up and consider the context of Galatians chapter 5, we will discover that this fruit Paul is describing is the fruit of both walking in the Spirit (see verse 16) and being led by the Spirit (see verse 18). In other words, as we live our lives in the realm of the Holy Spirit and are led, directed and guided by Him, these nine virtues will be the by-product. Amen?
So, if someone is not exhibiting these nine fruit in their lives, what can we conclude? That they are not walking in the Spirit, nor are they being led by the Spirit. You see, church, if one claims to be Spirit-filled and is not producing these characteristics of the Holy Spirit, then something is wrong with that picture. Either God is a liar or they are. Which one do you think is more likely?
So, what did the apostle Paul mean when he described these virtues as the fruit of the Spirit? Well, there is a couple of different ways one could look at this:
Number one, it is important to understand that in the original language words like pnuema (the Greek word for “Spirit”) did not have capitalized letters. So, in this case, the term “Spirit” was capitalized by the translators.
So, was Paul referring to the Holy Spirit here or to our new, recreated spirit? Well, I believe it is referring to both, and let me explain why:
While the Holy Spirit is the agent by which we have been born again and Who comes to take up residency in our spirit upon salvation, the fact is, if we have been born of Him, then why would our reborn spirit not have the same attributes? Let me ask it this way— since “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (see First Corinthians 6:17) then wouldn’t this fruit of the Spirit also be the nature of our born-again spirits?
My point is that it doesn’t really matter whether one believes this is the fruit of the Holy Spirit or the fruit of our born-again spirit. The bottom line is that it is the power of the Holy Spirit that helps a believer produce this fruit in their lives and He does this by giving us the life in the first place and then working together with our regenerated spirit to produce the fruit from that seed that He placed within us. Therefore, the fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of a spiritually alive and Spirit-empowered life!
But here is a good point that needs to be understood about the fruit of the Spirit: Our spirits always have these attributes regardless of what we feel in our emotions. Failure to understand this has caused many of us to think we would be hypocrites to express joy when we feel depressed. However, it is only our soulish part that gets depressed. Our spirits are always bearing the fruit of “love, joy, peace,” etc. The truth is, our spirits are never depressed, just our souls. On the contrary, our spirits are full of joy, since that is a fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, we who understand this have the choice of letting our souls depress us or letting the Holy Spirit, through our born-again spirits, release the joy and peace spoken of here. And it works this way with all of the fruit of the Spirit. They are a part of our new nature. So, it is our choice whether we are going to operate out of that nature or if we are going to let our carnal nature dictate what we produce. (This will be a point you will see threaded throughout this teaching as we specifically look at all nine fruit.)
But 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 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.
BEHOLDING HIS IMAGE
Now notice how we are 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:
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 in 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).
So, here is what I want you to take away today from this introduction into the Fruit of the Spirit: It is that these nine virtues are not produced in our lives by human effort. They are not walked in through will-power or by any fleshly energy on our part. No, they are a product of being born of the Spirit, walking in the Spirit and being led by the Spirit.
All of this can be summarized in three words— Born, Abide, and Behold: First, we must be born again—receiving the nature that contains all nine of these virtues. Then we must yield to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to where He is infusing us with the supernatural ability to exhibit these qualities in our lives on a consistent basis. This is the abiding part. Finally, we need to behold the One who possesses this fruit and let His example reflect in our own lives.
So, if you are a born-again believer, these fruit reside in you right now! Now all you must do to see them manifested in your life is stay connected to the source by abiding in fellowship with the Lord and letting the Holy Spirit both rest upon you and energize you. At the same, simply keep your eyes on God, beholding this fruit in His nature. In doing so, you will become what you behold. This is what the Holy Spirit is here to do—to produce His fruit in you. Amen.