The Fruit of the Spirit

Text: Galatians 5:22, 23.

In Charles Spurgeon’s sermon, (‘The Fruits of Grace’, delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, on January 21st, 1892) he highlighted that “the grace of God often comes to the very worst of men.” It is so abundant in saving a great enemy of the early church, Saul of Tarsus, who, while he was “foaming at the mouth with rage against the Christ of God, was met and conquered by eternal love, and his heart was renewed, and he was made an apostle. And oftentimes since then, electing love has chosen those that were most furious against Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit has come upon them, and turned the lions into lambs, and made them lie down at the feet of the Saviour.” Titus 2:11-14. Indeed, “Oh! how wondrous is the sovereignty of God! The devil cannot dye a soul so scarlet in sin but what the blood of Christ can make it white as snow.”

As we consider the fruit of the Spirit today as presented by this transformed apostle, who himself was a recipient of transforming grace, I shall call our attention to certain points in this passage.

“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.

First, it is this grace of God that destroys the manifestation of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) and empowers the believer to bring forth this fruit of the Spirit. A general misconception which must be corrected is that unless a person is baptized in the Holy Ghost, he cannot bring forth this fruit. This is untrue! In every believer, there is a measure of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Him, for at the point of conversion, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16)”. The presence of the Holy Spirit, enables every genuine believer to bear this fruit.

Another point of emphasis is that

it is A FRUIT, not nine. It is a nine-fold fruit that must be borne by every believer. Possessing all constituents of the fruit with the exception of one makes it void, null and rotten. The nine constituents can be likened to the vitamins in a fruit, each having its proper role and duty. Therefore, for the fruit to be whole in duty, it must be whole in constituents.

Finally, it is not the “works of the Spirit“, but “the fruit of the Spirit“. It is not something we labour in our own strength to perform, but a fruit that grows naturally, when its tree is constantly fed with God’s amazing grace.

The Fruit

1. Love

Heb. 13:1; 1Pet. 1:22.

Love is such a unique virtue that has a meaning of itself. It summarizes the whole law of God which qualifies it to wear the crown of headship over all other virtues in this great fruit. While there are various parts to this virtue, the pure, undefiled love of God is expected to radiate through the life of the believer. The discussion of Christ with the Pharisees in Matthew 22:36-40 explains better. We are to love one another, for this is a proof of our discipleship. John 13:35.

According to The People’s New Testament Commentary, love is “the Christian grace which works out the whole law.”

2. Joy

Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 30:5; 51:12; 126:5; 132:9; Isa. 29:19; 35:10; 51:11; 52:9; 60:15; 61:3,7; 65:18,19; Hab. 3:18; Acts 13:52; Rom. 14:17; IThes. 5:16.

Joy is beyond the physical gladness that is experienced. It is far from happiness in that happiness is a function of circumstance, whereas, joy is not. The greatest joy of the believers is the salvation of his soul. Some misinterpret Christianity for a life filled with sorrow and gloom. They walk about morosely excusing their gloom for sobriety.

3. Peace

Mark. 9:50; Luke 24:36; John 16:33; Rom. 14:17; 2Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:7; Heb. 12:14.

The reassuring presence of Christ in this troubled, sin-sick and war-ravaged world helps the believer to live a settled life. He is not moved by what he sees, hears or feels. He is moved only by the written word.

Adam Clarke explains peace as “the calm, quiet, and order, which take place in the justified soul, instead of the doubts, fears, alarms, and dreadful forebodings, which every true penitent less or more feels, and must feel till the assurance of pardon brings peace and satisfaction to the mind. Peace is the first sensible fruit of the pardon of sin.”

4. Longsuffering

Ephe. 4:2; Col. 1:11; 3:12; 2Tim. 3:10.

It is this virtue that helps believers in relating with one another and with unbelievers peacefully. Longsuffering, or forbearance, helps to tolerate others when they displease us. It helps to for forgive those who despitefully use us.

5. Gentleness

2Tim. 2:24; Tit. 2:24; Jam. 3:17

The gentleness been referred to here is not the melancholic temperamental gentleness that has the weakness of envy, insecurity and revenge. Rather, it is the gentleness that is obtained by the breadth of the Holy Ghost upon even the most violent off unbelievers, after his conversion, turning him to a little child. It is this gentleness that makes a believer teachable and open to correction. It also helps him in his relationship with other people. Gentleness also passes for kindness.

“It is a disposition to be pleased; it is mildness of temper, calmness of spirit, an unruffled disposition, and a disposition to treat all with urbanity and politeness. This is one of the regular effects of the Spirit’s operations on the heart. Religion makes no one crabbed, and morose, and sour. It sweetens the temper; corrects an irritable disposition; makes the heart kind; disposes us to make all around us as happy as possible. This is true politeness: a kind of politeness which can far better be learned in the school of Christ than in that of Chesterfield; by the study of the New Testament than under the direction of the dancing-master.” – Albert Barnes

6. Goodness

Matt. 5:16; John 10:32; Acts 9:36; Ephe. 2:10; 1Tim. 2:9,10; 5:10; 6:17,18; 2Tim. 3:16, 17; Titus 2:6, 7, 11-14; 3: 8, 14; Heb. 10:24.

We are to preach, not just by the words of our mouth but by the works of our hands. Our good works are the vehicles on which our messages ride. The reception of our message by the heathen depends largely on the manner of its presentation. Our goodness, or good works, should not be limited to believers, but should be extended to them that are without. Gal. 6:10; 1Pet. 2:12.

7. Faith

Mark 11:22.

After the reception of the saving faith, there is need of faith that trusts God in all situations. This faith strengthens a believer even when the promises are not forth coming as expected. It is faith that makes him faithful – always.

“True religion makes a man faithful. The Christian is faithful as a man; faithful as a neighbour, friend, father, husband, son. He is faithful to his contracts; faithful to his promises. No man can be a Christian who is not thus faithful; and all pretensions to being under the influences of the Spirit, when such fidelity does not exist, are deceitful and vain.” -Albert Barnes

8. Meekness

Matt. 5:5; Num. 12:3; 37:11; 1Pet. 3:4.

Meekness, a virtue that even the Almighty appreciated in the life of Moses, is not expected in any lesser quantity in the saints saved by grace. If the grace was available for Moses, far back in the Old Testament, we can have it in more abundance. In fact, our response to Christ’s call is a call to meekness. Matt. 11:28-30.

“Meekness is patience in the reception of injuries. It is neither meanness, nor a surrender of our rights, nor cowardice; but it is the opposite of sudden anger, of malice, of long-harboured vengeance. Meekness is the reception of injuries with a belief that God will vindicate us (Rom. 12:19). Meekness produces peace. It is proof of true greatness of soul. It comes from a heart too great to be moved by little insults. It looks upon those who offer them with pity.” – Albert Barnes

9. Temperance

2Pet 1:5-8; Philip. 4:5

Temperance, or self control, is the ability to control oneself in all situations. A temperate believer does not react rashly to all that goes on around him. His actions, reactions, passions and desires are regulated and moderated by the Holy Spirit.

“Temperance refers to the power or ascendancy which we have over exciting and evil passions of all kinds. It denotes the self-rule which a man has over the evil propensities of his nature. Our word temperance we use now in a much more limited sense, as referring mainly to abstinence from intoxicating drinks. But the word here used is employed in a much more extended signification. It includes the dominion over all evil propensities; and may denote continence, chastity, self-government, moderation in regard to all indulgences, as well as abstinence from intoxicating drinks. The sense here is, that the influences of the Holy Spirit on the heart make a man moderate in all indulgences; teach him to restrain his passions, and to govern himself; to control his evil propensities, and to subdue all inordinate affection. The Christian will not only abstain from intoxicating drinks, but from all exciting passions; he will be temperate in his manner of living, and in the government of his temper. This may be applied to temperance properly so called with us; but it should not be limited to that. A Christian must be a temperate man; and if the effect of his religion is not to produce this, it is false and vain.” – Albert Barnes

Beloved, how dare we profess to be recipients of the saving grace of God if our lives are void of this fruit? How dare we claim to be hosts of the Spirit divine if His fruit be dead or incomplete in us? We cannot claim to have one of the virtues and miss another, for like the Ten Commandments, breaking one means breaking ten.
We must make deliberate effort to mortify the works of the flesh in us and till the ground of our hearts. This will be followed by the planting of the seed of the word in us. Afterwards, we must seek the Lord till He comes and rain upon our tree that it may bring forth fruit. Then, and only then, can we be saints indeed, complete in Him. (Col. 2:10).

Twitter: @JohnOgunjimi

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