The Fruit of the Spirit

  • Posted on: 31 July 2022
  • By: Chris Strevel

The Spirit of the living God dwells with us (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 3:16). He is the promised gift of the Father and the Son (John 14:16; 15:26; Acts 1:4). God wants us to know that his Spirit is with us (John 14:17), both for our encouragement and our reverence. Thus, the Spirit gives clear and certain evidence of his presence, namely, love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22-23).

               Before the fruit, he mentions the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19). The flesh is the sinful nature that is war with God. It is the old man that dominates the children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2; Col. 3:6). This old man has been crucified in the believer (Gal. 2:20) by the power of Christ’s death, so that instead of indulging these works, he enables us to repudiate them, put them to death, and replace them with his new life (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:5).

               “Fruit” is a singular noun in Galatians 5:22. The Spirit works the whole life of Christ in us. Love, joy, peace, and all the glories are not slices of a moral pie that we pick and choose. Each is part of our Savior’s beauty and holiness. This fruit is the way he lived, related to people, overcame the devil, and offered himself for our sins as the spotless Lamb of God. He is the fruitful one (John 15:1-8). We bear much fruit in union with him, drawing from his fullness in place of our emptiness (Phil. 1:11).

               One additional idea about the way we view the fruit of the Spirit – his fruit is our outward face to the world. The Spirit’s fruit in our lives reveals the reality of God’s grace. Fruit is Christ’s living light shining in us, exposing the bankruptcy of this dark world and its unbelieving systems. Fruit is Christ’s light scattering the darkness on our street, in the office or field, on the ballfield. Fruit is an unquenchable witness that the exalted Lord transforms men’s lives, taking them out of the kingdom of darkness (Col. 1:13). Fruitful believers are a goad to the world’s conscience and a hopeful pointer to its deliverance.

               The Spirit begins with love, for it is the root of all other graces, the surest evidence that we are joined to Christ in a living relationship, and the most beautiful ornament of our lives. Love with its service, its doing good to all, and its preferring others to self gives a powerful testimony to the world (John 13:35). Love is heaven’s light in our homes – affectionate parents who treat their children with kindness, speak to them of God’s powerful, saving love (Eph. 4:4), and establish in their souls a lifelong dynamic that nothing is sweeter and more satisfying than the love of God. Love in forgiveness shows that quarrels can be resolved with confession and mercy, not pouting and anger. Love delivers from a selfish heart. Love tames pride at the foot of the cross.

               The Spirit begins with love because love is the beating heart of true religion. God saved the world because he is a lover of man (Tit. 3:4). God is love (1 John 4:8). Love is his heart toward us. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:10). Our Savior was pierced because he loved us (Gal. 2:20). Without love, a man does not know God (1 John 4:8). Love for one another is God’s love in us and God loving through us. Love is the vine from which all the other fruits grow: mercy, forgiveness, pity, compassion, kindness, gentleness, longsuffering. The more we love God, the more we will love others.        

               Love shines a bright light among the children of darkness who live in hate (Tit. 3:3). Loving our enemies proclaims to the world that God loves sinners (Matt. 5:44-45). Love confronts and conquers hate (Rom 12:21). Love exposes Satan’s hatred for men, his murderous intentions, and his divisive malice. Love scatters Satan’s hating kingdom when believers forgive, bless when cursed, and bear injuries without reviling. The soldiers spit upon Christ, and he forgave them. Our sins are that spit, but he forgave us. We do not answer hate with hate, for God loves us, and we are witnesses to his love.

               God’s love is our joy and feeds joy. There can be no higher joy for the creature than to know its Maker’s pleasure in it; there can be no higher love for the redeemed creature than to know its Maker has died to save it. God has done this for us in his Son. Joy defines us because we are loved by the God of love. He is settled in his love for us and rejoices over us (Zeph. 3:17). Joy is not tied to our circumstances, marriage, income, or health. Our joy is the believing response to God’s joy in us and his reconciling grace to us. Our Savior spoke of this very joy when he said he went to the cross for the joy set before him – the joy of delivering us from sin, Satan, and death; the joy of securing us to be his wife. He gained this joy in the path of obedience. We know joy as we follow his path of love and obedience (John 15:9-11). Paul and Silas sang in the Philippian jail not because they were simpletons but because they knew they were suffering for obeying God (Acts 5:41).

               Joy is a command – what a pleasing command! Rejoice in the Lord. Joy woos children. Joy quenches complaining. Joy in the Lord gives strength to serve him in great difficulties and pleasure in doing so (Neh. 8:10). Joy in the Lord exposes the world’s hollow joys and helps us forsake them (Heb. 11:25). Joy in the Lord energizes worship and makes the hardest service he might ask a delight. “I will not offer to the Lord that which costs me nothing.” Joy is the assurance that God is causing all things to work together for good in our lives. Joy is God’s love applied to our souls by the Spirit. Joy expands our souls and deepens our affections so that we sing and rejoice. Joy is faith’s song singing back to our Father for mercy and grace.

               The peace the Spirit works in us is the application to our souls of Christ‘s peace purchased at the cross. He is our peace. Peace is harmony with God, the conviction that we are one with him by virtue of redemption accomplished, in fellowship with him, loved by him, and cared for by him. We have this peace in Christ, who is our peace (Eph. 2:14). Peace comes when we look not at our works but at his. Our peace can be strongly attacked by our circumstances, but it cannot be overcome by our circumstances – if we remember what our peace is. Peace is not everything going our way; peace is God’s reconciled, loving face smiling upon us, to which the Spirit bears inward testimony that we are God’s adopted children (Rom. 8:15-16). Because God is full of grace toward us, peace boldly says that whatever happens to us and in the world is our Father’s eternal plan and absolutely necessary for his glory and our good.

               At peace with God, we can pursue peace with others. The cross of peace drives a fatal stake into the self-asserting will. We do not have to be right and be thought right at all costs. What counts to the believer is that God is right and righteous, that his will is upheld. God is the great peacemaker. As his children, we are to be “at peace among ourselves” (1 Thess. 5:13). Peace with one another is not always possible. “If it be possible, as much as it lies in you, live at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Follow God’s path of peace, and enjoy the Spirit’s fruit of peace. Remove the cause of the offense by admitting sin, applying Christ’s sacrifice, and therefore obtaining Christ’s peace. In his peace, “be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.” We must forgive as we have been forgiven. As we are committed to “letting the peace of God rule in our hearts” (Col. 3:15), grudges can be buried, wrongs righted, slights ignored, and pride humbled. He did all this for us. What counts is not that we win but that the Lamb of God who paid the chastisement of our peace is magnified.

               Since we have such a gift, God’s own Spirit dwelling in us and working Christ’s life in us, we have every reason for hope this week – not in ourselves but in his faithfulness. Since God is with us and working in us, we must take our problems and sins, our fears and burdens to him. The Spirit of Christ dwells with us! He is able to do in us what we cannot. Let us praise and trust him. The Lord is fulfilling his promise that I will walk with you and dwell with you. As he does, he will continue to make us new creatures so that we love, rejoice, and live in peace with him and with one another.

 

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