The Bible has much to say about fruit. It is mentioned some 106 times in the Old Testament and 70 times in the New. Spiritual fruit is the evidence of a life changed by and controlled by God. Even under the covenant of law, a believer produced good fruit only by God’s power, not his own. “From Me comes your fruit,” the Lord declared to ancient Israel (Hos. 14:8). In the New Testament such things as praise of the Lord (Heb. 13:15), winning converts to Christ (1 Cor. 16:15), and godly work in general (Col. 1:10) are spoken of as spiritual fruit produced through believers.
As we begin this sermon series that I’ve entitled: Attributes of the Spirit-filled Life I want us to discover the real evidence of the filling of the God’s Holy Spirit. It evidenced not by the fantastic, but by the fruit. With due respect to our Charismatic brethren, I believe that much of what passes for the filling of the Holy Spirit these days is deceptive, demonic, and dangerous. But love, and joy, and peace, and patience, and kindness, and goodness, and faithfulness, and gentleness, and self-control—these are the real indicators of the Spirit’s filling.
Tonight we plunge right in by looking at the first manifestation of the Spirit-filled life. It is characterized by love.
Love has become a confusing word in our language. When we say, “I love “X”—and you fill in the “X” what are expressing. Is love an sensation? Is love an ardor? Is love an feeling? The use of the word has become so polluted in our society. We use the word to refer to affection and compassion, to devotion and emotion. We say we love God, love our spouses, love Mexican food, and love football. What does the word mean for us as Christians?
For the believer, the best place to go to find an explanation of love is the timeless authority of Scriptures. In the last intimate encounter between Jesus and His disciples on the last night of His life, He told His disciples: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” (John 13:34-35, NIV).
That is how people will know we are His followers. According to Jesus, love is the distinguishing mark of discipleship and the most important of virtues that believers need to develop and cultivate. For the first three centuries of the Church, mutual affection was the characteristic the pagans most closely associated with the early Christians. “My, how they love each other!” they would say.
In this evening’s text, the Apostle Paul paints the most remarkable image of love that has ever been penned by man.
CON. In the play My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle is being courted by Freddy, who writes to her daily of his love for her. Eliza’s response to his notes is to cry out in frustration: "Words! Words! I’m so sick of words! . . . Don’t talk of stars, Burning above, If you’re in love, Show me! Don’t talk of love lasting through time. Make me no undying vow, Show me now! The last, and perhaps the most important of the Seven Cardinal Virtues is love.