Pastor David B. Curtis

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The Fruit of the Spirit - Part 1

Galatians 5:22

Delivered 06/26/2005

We are studying Galatians 5, which deals with the spiritual life.

Galatians 5:16 (NASB) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

This verse is one of the most important verses on the Christian life in the New Testament. This command is the central concept in Paul's ethical appeal since the Christian life begins with the Spirit:

Galatians 3:3 (NASB) Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Galatians 4:6 (NASB) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"

The only way to continue the Christian life is by the power of the Spirit.

Do you see the contrast in this verse between the Spirit and the flesh? This struggle is made clear in the next verse:

Galatians 5:17 (NASB) For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

What I want us to see from this verse is that struggle is a normal part of the Christian life. Walking by the Spirit is not easy, and it does not happen automatically. Many Christians prefer not to hear this truth, because they want a guarantee that all their problems will be solved if they will follow the right formula. But the conflict between our flesh and the Spirit is continual and inevitable.

Paul says we are to "walk by the Spirit" - this is a present-tense command: "Continue to walk by the Spirit." The Christian walk is a daily routine. Paul goes on to give a promise - "You will not carry out the desire of the flesh."

Now remember, this verse comes after Paul has said that the believers in Galatia had "begun by the Spirit" and "are sons" and "had run well." They were Christians, they all had the Spirit of God indwelling them. Because of that, they all had the capacity to walk by the Spirit. All believers have the capacity to walk by the Spirit, but do we? No! Why not? Because it is a battle, and we are lazy and unmotivated.

Paul is telling the Galatians to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh, and then he gives a list of manifestations of the flesh and Spirit so we can know without a doubt if we are walking by the Spirit or by the flesh:

Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Is there any exhortation or imperatives in these verses? What is Paul telling the Galatians to do in these verses? Nothing! He is simply showing them what the flesh produces. Then he goes on to tell them what the Spirit produces:

Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

What Paul is really talking about here is practical sanctification. Practical sanctification is spiritual growth, it is conformity to Christ likeness. It is walking by the Spirit:

1 John 2:6 (NASB) the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

Do you walk like Christ? How can we learn to live like Christ lived? How do we do it? How do we become sanctified? How do we grow into Christ likeness? How do we walk by the Spirit? These are really all the same questions, with the same answer. Practical sanctification is a matter of "Dependant Discipline." Dependant emphasizes our need for God's power to work in us.

John 15:5 (NASB) "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do some thing.

Sanctification is a matter of trusting God to work in you. But we have a part, God uses means to sanctify us. Discipline sums up our responsibility to grow in sanctification. What is our part, what do we need to do? We need to apply the means of sanctification. Let me give you the mechanics of our part in sanctification.

1. We must spend time in the Word of God:

Colossians 3:16 (NASB) Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Paul tells the Colossians that they are to let the word of Christ "richly dwell within you." Dwell is from the present active imperative of enoikeo, and means: "to live in," or "to be at home." Paul calls upon believers to let the Word take up residence and be at home in their lives. The Word of God needs to inhabit us. This is more than just reading the Bible. Apart from a regular, consistent time in the Word of God, you will never grow in sanctification, and you will never walk by the Spirit.

2. We must confess our sins as they are revealed in God's word:

1 John 1:9 (NASB) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

As we are spending time in God's Word, we will see areas of sin in our lives. We need to confess these sins to God.

3. We must watch how we live:

Ephesians 5:15 (NASB) Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise,

We must be conscious of all we are doing as if we were walking through a mine field. When I was a boy, we had a pool in the very back section of our back yard. Our yard had many clovers in it, which often had bees on them. So when we went from our house to the pool barefooted, we had to walk very cautiously. If we walked carelessly it could end up being very painful. I can remember on many occasions pulling out a bee's stinger from my foot. We must walk in wisdom in every area of our Christian lives.

4. We must choose to obey the Word of God.

We must depend upon the Spirit of God to provide the power. Our daily lives contain a constant stream of moral choices. We choose to lie or tell the truth, to forgive or to harbor resentment, to entertain lustful thoughts or to think on what is good. We choose to respond to opportunities or to ignore them. Life is a series of choices. The choices you make will determine how you live.

We are responsible to discipline ourselves toward spiritual growth, all the while depending on God to work in us. Perhaps the analogy of a farmer will help us understand this.

Consider the farmer and his crops. There are certain "disciplines," or tasks, he must do. He must plow, plant, fertilize, and cultivate. In some areas he must irrigate. But he cannot make the seed germinate and grow. Only God can do that. The farmer, whether he recognizes it or not, depends on God both for the physical and mental ability to do his tasks and for the capital to buy his supplies and equipment. And he obviously depends on God for the growth of his crops.

In the same way, the Christian depends on God to enable him to perform his disciplines. But the performance of the disciplines does not itself produce spiritual growth. Only God can do that.

Walking by the Spirit or growth in sanctification, then, is not a matter of personal discipline plus God's work. It is a matter of dependant discipline, of recognizing that we are dependant on God to enable us to do what we are responsible to do. Then it is a recognition that even when we have performed our duties, we must still look to Him to produce the growth. Paul put it this way:

1 Corinthians 3:7 (NASB) So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.

The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 is similar to the list of qualities in:

2 Peter 1:5-7 (NASB) Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

Whereas, Paul emphasizes the divine source of those qualities, Peter emphasizes the Christian's responsibility to acquire them - "applying all diligence."

Paul says in Galatians 5:16 that if we walk by the Spirit - "You will not carry out the desire of the flesh." We have seen that Paul uses the word "flesh" to mean: "something that is totally human, with no special grace attached." In Paul's use of the term "flesh" in Galatians, he does not simply mean: "possessed of a physical body"; rather, he means: "limited to only a physical body and the physical strength it contains."

So the flesh is what you do in your own power, in your own strength, what you can do yourself - which is legalism. Legalism is anything that I think I can do in order to make myself more righteous before God. It is human achievement; it's a form of self-righteousness. To walk after the flesh is to seek life in terms of what man can accomplish of himself.

To live by the flesh is depending upon the resources and abilities of the physical body, or humanness. To live by the Spirit is depending upon the resources and abilities of the Spirit whom God gives by grace through faith. In both cases, the fundamental issue is "depending." The critical difference is the object of the dependence.

Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The first thing that we need to understand here is what is fruit? The Greek word for "fruit" is karpos. It means: "result, outcome, or fruit."

Romans 1:13 (NASB) And I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented thus far) in order that I might obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles.

He wasn't saying that he wanted to come and eat apples with them. He wanted to produce some spiritual results from their lives.

Romans 15:28 (NASB) Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain.
Philippians 4:17 (NASB) Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit [karpos] which increases to your account.

The "fruit" he is talking about here is a financial gift.

Philippians 1:11 (NASB) having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Righteousness is the fruit of Christ's work in our lives.

So, Paul is talking about the result the Spirit produces, which is Christlikeness. Fruit is not something which is attached to the branch, fastened on from without, but is the organic product of the inner life. Too often attention is directed to the outward services and actions, or the results of these services. Good fruit is a Christlike life produced by Spirit through us as we abide in Christ:

John 15:4-5 (NASB) "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Israel was God's vineyard; notice what the fruit was that He looked for in them:

Isaiah 5:7 (NASB) For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; For righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.

What God wanted from Israel was justice and righteousness. Justice is how we treat our fellow man, the way in which we deal with each other. Righteousness is living in conformity to God's established laws. These are the fruit that God is looking for, and they are produced through us as we abide in Christ.

Notice that these are not the "fruits" of the Spirit - plural, but they are the "fruit" of the Spirit - singular. The nine fruit of the Spirit are like a cluster of grapes all flowing from the grapevine. Paul is not speaking of a series of fruits that would be shared around, so that one believer has one, and another believer has another. Rather, he is referring to a cluster, such that all the qualities are to be manifested in each believer.

Notice that he called what issues from our flesh "deeds" (v.19), but he called what issues from the Holy Spirit "fruit" (v. 22). This contrast is consistent with Paul's emphasis throughout the epistle. He repeatedly contrasted working and trusting.

The fruit of the Spirit is the moral character developed by the power of the Spirit. The nine character qualities are a unity, a perfectly formed Christlike character. Lets look at these nine qualities. As we look at them, remember that this is what your life will look like if you are walking by the Spirit.

LOVE

It's not surprising that love heads the list. Remember the closing verse of I Corinthians 13? "But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

The first place in the list, the place of emphasis, is given to love. Love is the focus of the entire ethical appeal: "serve one another in love" (v. 13). Love fulfills the law (v. 14); love is the expression of faith (v. 6). Love is demonstrated in a tangible way in the sacrificial love of Christ (2:20) and the service of Christians (5:13). All the other moral qualities in the list define and flow from love.

Our culture uses the word "love" to mean just about everything except what the Bible means by it. So Christians are easily misled into thinking love is primarily a feeling, something we fall in or out of. We equate it with lust or sex, we talk about "making love." The word "love," used here is not the Greek word eros. That word is used to describe erotic love, sensual love, what you feel when you "fall in love," a passionate attraction to another person. That kind of love is not even mentioned in the Word of God, though it is a common form of love today. And the word here is not phileo, which means: "affection, friendship, a feeling of warmth toward someone else." This, too, is a universally distributed love, but this is not what is mentioned here. In this verse as in all of Scripture, love is first of all an action.

The word Paul uses here is agape. This Greek word was rarely used in Greek literature prior to the New Testament. In the New Testament, the word agape took on a special meaning; it was used by the New Testament writers to designate a volitional love (as opposed to a purely emotional love), a self-sacrificial love, a love naturally expressed by divinity, but not so easily by humanity. It seems as though the early Christian church took this word out of its obsoleteness and made it a characteristic word for love.

Agape love is a response to someone who is unworthy of love. This concept of love was derived from the cross. God loved the world and gave His Son for it. That was a response to unworthy people, to sinners, to those who were His enemies. That is agape. It is a love that proceeds from the nature of the lover, rather than the worth of the person who is loved. It is a love that gives, a love that seeks the best of the object loved. Agape, is a commitment of the will to cherish and uphold another person. It is the only word ever used to describe God's love. It is a decision that you make and a commitment that you have launched upon to treat another person with concern, with care, with thoughtfulness, and to work for his or her best interests. That is what love is, and this is what Paul is talking about.

As believers, we are commanded to love:

John 15:12 (NASB) "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
1 John 3:11 (NASB) For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;

Just how important is it that we love one another? Paul answers that question in:

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NASB) If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

If a believer does not display agape, he, himself, is nothing! The Greek text at the end of verse 2 does not say that he is nobody, that would be strong. But the Greek text says he is nothing! From this text, we could draw this equation: life minus love equals zero. The loveless person produces nothing, is nothing, and gains nothing. That's how important love is in your life and mine. Do you think that maybe that is overstating it a little bit? Is love really that important?

Mark 12:28-31 (NASB) And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" 29 Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; 30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.' 31 "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

So, Jesus is saying that the greatest commandment is to love. Paul says the same thing in Romans in a little different way:

Romans 13:8 (NASB) Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Peter puts it this way:

1 Peter 4:8 (NASB) Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Look at what God told the children of Israel, about 3500 years ago:

Leviticus 19:18 (NASB) 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

Those verses ought to make it clear enough that love is preeminent. Above everything else, we are called to love God and one another. Is this possible? Not in the flesh. We can only love as we walk by the Spirit. Since this is true, hopefully, you're starting to see how important it is to walk by the Spirit.

JOY

Joy is from the Greek word chara, which means: "a deep-seated gladness regardless of circumstances." Anyone can be happy about good circumstances. Instead, the reality of joy is that it marks the life of the believer even when facing difficulties and trials. I can't help but think of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippian church. He wrote from a prison cell in Rome. You do not detect the least sense of fear or anger or complaint about his circumstances. Instead, the whole epistle is permeated with a sense of joy in the Lord. Over and over he reminds the Philippian believers, who were themselves facing difficult times, to "rejoice in the Lord." Paul knew this joy personally; he could sing when manacled in a dark prison dungeon:

Acts 16:23-25 (NASB) And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; 24 and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;

This is not Paul the super-Christian. This is Paul the Christian walking in the Spirit!

When we live with the consciousness that our sins are forgiven and our enmity with God removed, joy ought to emerge from even the worst times. Yes, there are situations that bring sadness and heart-ache. But the Christian has an eternal hope before him. Such knowledge serves to liberate us from the sullenness of this world into the exuberant joy of belonging to Christ.

Believers, we are commanded to have joy:

Philippians 4:4 (NASB) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

PEACE

This is the Greek word eirene, which means: "an inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances." This peace is a tranquility of mind based on a right relationship to God. It has nothing to do with circumstances. The verb form means: "to bind together." You experience peace when nothing ruffles you, because you know everything is under control. No matter what happens, you know that everything between you and God is right.

As believers, we are commanded to have peace:

Colossians 3:15 (NASB) And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

We are commanded to exhibit spiritual fruit, but we cannot unless we are living in dependence on God.

PATIENCE

This is the Greek word makrothumeo, this word as it is used in the New Testament is a word that almost on every occasion conveys the idea of having an infinite capacity to be injured without paying back. It is used with regard to people, not circumstances. It's having a long fuse. The patient person is able to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person and yet not be upset or angry. Chrysostom, the early church father, said, "It is a word which is used of the man who is wronged and who has it easily in his power to avenge himself but will never do it."

To the Greeks it was a virtue to refuse to tolerate insult or injury and to strike back in retaliation for the slightest offense. To the Greeks of Paul's day, vengeance was a virtue, and the same is defiantly true of our day. We make heroes out of those who fight back at the slightest provocation. In our society, just as in the Greek society of Paul's day, patience is considered a weakness. But the Christian who walks by the Spirit is patient, he has a long fuse.

What are the things that keep us from being patient?

Mistreatment? How do you respond to ridicule, insults, and undeserved rebukes, or outright persecution? When you are a victim of office politics or organizational power plays, do you respond in patience? When you are rejected or mistreated by a spouse, do you respond in patience. How do you treat another believer who is rude to you or gossips about you? I think if we are honest, we will admit we don't always respond patiently.

I think another thing that keeps us from being patient is the shortcomings of others. People are always behaving in ways that, though not directed against us, affect us and irritate or disappoint us. It may be another driver who is driving too slow or in some way doing things that irritate you. It may be a friend who is late for an appointment. It may be a teenager whose pants are ten sizes too big and has a pierced eyebrow and a ponytail. It may be a fellow church member who doesn't raise their children as we think they should.

Impatience with the shortcomings of others often has its roots in pride. John Sanderson observes, "Hardly a day passes but one hears sneering remarks about the stupidity, the awkwardness, the ineptitude of others." Such remarks stem from a feeling that we are smarter or more capable than those with whom we are impatient.

A train was filled with tired people. Most of them had spent the day traveling through the hot dusty plains, and at last evening had come, and they all tried to settle down to a sound sleep. However, at one end of the car a man was holding a tiny baby and as night came on, the baby became restless and cried more and more. Unable to take it any longer, a big brawny man spoke for the rest of the group. "Why don't you take that baby to its mother?" There was a moment's pause and then came the reply. "I'm sorry. I'm doing my best. The baby's mother is in her casket in the baggage car ahead."

Again, there was an awful silence for a moment. Then the big man who asked the cruel question was out of his seat and moved toward the man with the motherless child. He apologized for his impatience and unkind remark. He took the tiny baby in his own arms and told the tired father to get some sleep. Then in loving patience he cared for the little child all through the night.

Patience demonstrates a willingness to take someone's unpleasant character traits in stride and to exhibit enduring patience.

There are several passages that command Christians to be patient:

Colossians 3:12 (NASB) And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

Believer, if you are not patient, you are not walking in the Spirit. It is the flesh that produces idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, and factions.

KINDNESS

This comes from the Greek word chrestotes, which means: "to show oneself useful, to act benevolently: - be kind." The New Testament has much to say about the kindness of God, and, as His children, we are to imitate Him:

Luke 6:35 (NASB) "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Here the Greek word chrestos, is translated: "kind," and in Romans 2:4 the same word is translated: "good" in the NKJV.

Romans 2:4 (NKJV) Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

Kindness and goodness are so closely related that they are often used interchangeably. We are to be kind to one another, we are to be good to each other, we are to be gracious to each other. We see this fleshed out in the story of the good Samaritan. The Samaritan was kind, he responded to the need that he saw.

Kindness manifests compassion this is action comes out of empathy. It may take the form of a kind word, an invitation to lunch, an offer to help. In our cruel and unkind society, we have unlimited opportunities to show the world love through kindness.

Believers are commanded to be kind:

Ephesians 4:32 (NASB) And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

GOODNESS

This is from the Greek word agathosune, which carries the idea of generosity this is how some translate it. Timothy George calls it "benevolence and generosity toward someone else." Generosity may imply financial gifts, but it also suggests the giving of our time and energies to others in practical ways to show our care and concern for them.

We are commanded to be good in:

Galatians 6:10 (NASB) So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

FAITHFULNESS

This is from the Greek word pistis. We admire "faithfulness" in all realms of life. It is that quality of being true, trustworthy, and reliable in all one's dealings with others. Faithfulness means something like "dependability." The person with this quality keeps his word, his promises, and his vows.

The Bible tells us that this is a quality of God:

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NASB) The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.

We see this supremely manifested in our Lord, whom John calls faithful:

Revelation 19:11 (NASB) And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

We are also assured that "faithful is He who calls you, who also will bring it to pass" (1 Thessalonians 5:24). Our God is faithful, and as His children, we are to be faithful:

1 Corinthians 4:2 (NASB) In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy [pistos].

The believer is never to be like the chameleon, which changes colors with the surroundings. He is to be steady and reliable in all circumstances. His friendship and concerns are never to be dictated by what is in it for him or even how much it will cost him. Just as our Lord is faithful in all things, even so He manifests this characteristic in His children who walk by the Spirit.

Believers, look at these two sets of manifestations. Be honest with yourself, is your life characterized by the flesh or the Spirit?

The flesh produces:

Galatians 5:19-21 (NASB) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Spirit produces:

Galatians 5:22-23 (NASB) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Be honest, which set more accurately characterizes you? If it is the deeds of the flesh, you are not walking in the Spirit; you are not living in Dependant Discipline. Let me remind you of the words of our Lord:

John 6:63 (NASB) "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

The Spirit gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The only way we will over come the deeds of the flesh is by walking by the Spirit.

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