The Fruit of the Spirit
The Holy Spirit | The Fruit of the Spirit
As mentioned earlier, just because a believer may possess a particular gift does not mean he or she is more spiritual or more special to God than another person who does not have the gift. The fruit of the Spirit is a better gauge of a person's character, and draws a clearer contrast between the lifestyle of the Spirit-filled believer and that of the sinful human nature - "by their fruits ye shall know them." Paul outlines the works of the fleshly nature and the fruit of the Spirit in his epistle to the Galatians:
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:16-26).
Contrasted to the works of the flesh is a single-minded lifestyle called the fruit of the Spirit. This is produced in the believer as he or she allows the Holy Spirit to direct and influence their lives, as they crucify the flesh and its lusts, and as they walk in fellowship with God and in the Spirit. Paul wrote to the Romans, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." (Romans 8:5-9).
Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord." (Ephesians 5:8-10). And to the church at Colosse, Paul penned, "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." (Colossians 3:12-15).
The fruit of the Spirit, as outlined in Galatians, is:
1. Love (from the Greek agape) - a caring self-less love seeking the highest good of another person without motive for personal gain.
2. Joy (from the Greek chara) - the feeling of gladness based on the love, grace, promises, and presence of God that belong to those who love and profess Christ.
3. Peace (from the Greek eirene) - the quietness of heart and mind based on the knowledge that all is well between the believer and God, or that God is ultimately in control of life's circumstances.
4. Longsuffering (from the Greek makrothumia) - endurance, patience, or being slow to anger or despair.
5. Gentleness (from the Greek chrestotes) - not wanting to cause hurt or pain to another person.
6. Goodness (from the Greek agathosune) - hunger for truth and righteousness and hatred for evil, which can be expressed in acts of kindness or rebuking evil or error.
7. Faith (from the Greek pistis) - faithfulness, firm loyalty, or adherence to a person to whom one is united by promise, commitment, trustworthiness, and honesty.
8. Meekness (from the Greek prautes) - restraint combined with strength and courage; it describes a person who shows restraint in a threatening situation when most would react in anger.
9. Temperance (from the Greek egkrateia) - having control or mastery over one's desires or passions; moderation, faithfulness to vows, purity and chastity.
Paul's final comment on the fruit of the Spirit - "against such there is no law" - indicates that there are no restrictions to the lifestyle indicated by the fruits of the Spirit. Christians can practice these virtues without limitations; they will never find a law prohibiting one from living by these principles.
Leonard Ravenhill writes, "In Europe Pentecost Sunday is always called Whitsunday (White Sunday), and the children usually dress in white. The disciples were "made white" at the first Pentecost - that is, their hearts were "purified by faith" (Acts 15:8, 9). This purification is a lost accent these days in interpreting the Baptism with Spirit. Under the title of Spirit-filled churches, there are some weird and wanton things operating at present. If too much stress has not been made of the gifts of the Spirit, then too little has been said of the fruit of the Spirit. Note how few books are available on the fruits of the Spirit, but how many on the gifts of the Spirit. Yet the Son of God said, "By their fruits ye shall know them." The first essential for the coming of the Holy Ghost into a heart today is that the heart should be cleansed from sin, for the Holy Spirit does not fill an unclean heart. What God has cleansed, He then fills. Finally, whom God fills, He uses. A holy life is the authentic sign of being filled with the Spirit."