This will be the first in a series of articles concerning the fruit of the Spirit. Before we go into each part of the Spirit’s fruit, we want to see why this topic is so important for Christians. The passage concerning the fruit of the Spirit can be found in Galatians 5:22-23. When we examine the bigger context from Galatians 5:16-26, we will see that the apostle Paul is trying to show a contrast between the “Spirit” vs the “flesh.”
Spirit vs Flesh
Those who do not submit themselves to God follow after the “flesh.” The “flesh” is everything that is opposite to the “Spirit.” When we do not follow after spiritual things, we are walking after the flesh. The works of the flesh are listed in Galatians 5:19-21, and it is to be noted that “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” As Paul also wrote in another passage:
“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:6-8)
We can clearly see that walking after the flesh leads to disastrous consequences. If we are to please God, we must walk after the Spirit i.e. we must follow after spiritual things. When we follow after spiritual things, we will be able to produce the “fruit of the Spirit.”
Fruit of the Spirit
We know what a fruit is. It is the delicious product of a tree that we can partake of and enjoy (e.g. apple, orange, pear etc. etc.). The fruit of the Spirit is that which the Spirit produces. Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
When a person has allowed the Holy Spirit to work in him, the product will be the positive attributes that Paul has listed. The fruit of the Spirit in a person’s life is evidence of a life lived in compliance to the Spirit! Hence, we see the importance of this list of attributes, because a Christian cannot claim to be following the Spirit, and yet does not exhibit love, joy, or peace in his life. As Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16).
Notice the word “fruit” is singular: All the positive attributes listed comprise of the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces, because a life lived in full accordance to the Spirit will yield ALL the attributes listed. A Christian cannot claim to be following the Spirit, and yet refuse to exercise love or self-control in his life. We cannot pick and choose any part of the Spirit’s fruit; Rather, the fruit of the Spirit contains the entire package. As we continue to grow and mature in the Spirit, we acknowledge we may not have mastered the entire list of attributes; however, we must never give up, but continue to work on it. How can we obtain the entire package of the Spirit’s fruit?
Walk in the Spirit
As mentioned, the fruit of the Spirit is that which the Spirit produces. If we want to produce the fruit of the Spirit, we need to allow the Spirit to work in us: we need to live in the Spirit. How can we live in the Spirit?
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25)
In order to produce the fruit of the Spirit, we need to flee the works of the flesh, and instead walk in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit involves walking in accordance to the Spirit’s instructions i.e. God’s word. God’s word is described as the “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). God’s word was given to us by holy men who were guided by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). When our lives are guided by the word of God, that is how the Holy Spirit is able to work in us, and that is how we can develop and produce the fruit of the Spirit!
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
Walking after the Spirit also involves a life of spiritual-mindedness. We are called to mind the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5). This means that we need to focus on spiritual things instead of physical things. It is so easy to get distracted by the things of this world, and this world seeks to pull us away from God (1 John 2:15-17). However, we know from our Lord Jesus that the value of spiritual treasures far outweighs anything that physical treasures can offer us (Matthew 6:19-20). When our lives are focused on spiritual things, that is how we can develop and produce the fruit of the Spirit.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33)
In the next part of this article series, we will examine the first part of the Spirit’s fruit: Love.