FSC - Fruit of the Spirit - What Exactly Is the Fruit?
One last introductory lesson before examining the elements one at a time.
(Click on author’s name for earlier lessons)
Freedom from the flesh and legalism.
Natural man tries to cope with the flesh in two ways
1. Moralists try to suppress the flesh with rules and laws.
2. Libertines celebrate the flesh as the genuine expression of who they are.
Men often write rules to stop the corruption by the flesh.
Unredeemed society drifts back and forth between tyranny and anarchy. There is no happy moderate position.
WORKS vs. FRUIT
A. Knee-jerk reaction –
•Religious works are never a substitute for God’s work “by grace through faith”
•Works are often defined as: “superficial religious activity to propitiate God’s wrath or to evoke His love toward me.” (See Webster’s 1828 Dictionary / Work #14 - In theology, moral duties or external performances, as distinct from grace)
•Fruit is assumed to be that which effortlessly and thoughtlessly flows from one who is indwelled by the Holy Spirit
B. The contrast is with what the “flesh” produces – not what the “law” produces.
The works of the flesh are not superficial activities forced upon those who follow the flesh. They are organic to Spirit-less humanity.
Galatians 6:7-8 shows the real contrast.
1. Corruption is the by-product of the flesh –
Don’t call this fruit - Call it a by-product (See Webster’s 1828 Dictionary / Work #4 - That which is made or done; as good work, or bad work.)
2. Life everlasting is the fruit of sowing to the Spirit
•Life-giving fruit has seeds for more fruit. Love and Joy “abound”
•This is by design (Gen. 1:11; John 15:2, 5).
•Fruit is alive / Works are dead
FRUIT vs. FRUITS
The Passage Reads “The Fruit of the Spirit is …” not “The Fruits of the Spirit are …”
•It is followed by nine qualities with no conjunction:
•How do we reconcile the apparent grammatical contradiction?
Three suggested solutions:
1. The Fruit of the Spirit is LOVE. (Love is the center of the daisy – the other elements are the petals)
•The Practice of Love is joy, peace, longsuffering, etc.
•The Law is fulfilled in LOVE.
•It leads the abiding qualities of faith, hope, and charity.
•Application – The eight elements must all be examined as outcomes of love. The Holy Spirit produces Godly love, and “All of the other qualities associated with having the Holy Spirit flow from the presence of God’s love in you (Stanley, Discover Your Destiny, p. 92).”
“Love is the cement which binds all the other virtues of the fruit of the Spirit together into a united whole. It is the common denominator of all Christian character. One cannot love and fail to have any of the other virtues. To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with love (Duffield and Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, p. 299).”
2. The Fruit of the Spirit is Spiritual Life – the elements of that life are listed.
•Explain an “orange” to one who has never seen an orange
•An orange is rind, pulp, juice, seeds, etc.
•The list are parts of an organic whole
•Application – Without all nine aspects, the fruit is defective. Imagine an orange drained of its juice. See MacArthur, Wesley
3. The Fruit of the Spirit is the singular harvest of multiple Godly attributes (as a cornucopia basket inscribed with the words “the fruit of the land”)*
•This is the manifold produce of a singular land. Its singularity comes from its source.
•The product of fertile, spiritual soil, not of weedy, fleshly land.
•It is the Heaven’s crop quickened by the Holy Spirit.
•Application – As with the trinity, each element has its own distinct personality. However, these nine elements come from divine farmland. The elements must be examined as they relate to God, not necessarily as they are practiced by man. This is Holy Spirit fruit.
Each explanation has its merits and problems. A dogmatic choice seems impossible. The author has chosen the third explanation.
SPIRIT FRUIT vs. CANNED FRUIT
Are unredeemed people capable of demonstrating Holy Spirit fruit?
•Do Atheists love their spouses?
•Can Buddhists personify peace?
•Can Pharisees demonstrate goodness to the poor?
The qualities of Holy Spirit fruit are ultimately found in the character of God.
Because mankind is created in God’s image, there is a part of him that appreciates the list.
•Still, applying the fruit Biblically is extreme and distasteful.
•He is satisfied to enjoy “canned” fruit and artificial fruit.
Imagine a doctor telling a group of diabetics that eating peaches would improve their health.
•One patient buys a crate of fresh peaches
•Another buys a case of canned peaches
•A third stocks up on peach pie filling.
Would you say they are all following the doctor’s orders? Do additives and processing change the character of peaches?
How to distinguish between “real” and “canned”
1. Spiritual fruit directs all glory to God
2. Spiritual fruit is content for God alone to be the audience.
3. Spiritual fruit never causes the producer to become proud or spiritually conceited – he is the branch; Jesus is the vine
4. Spiritual fruit has the character of God as the standard of measure
What is my part in the production of Holy Spirit fruit? Do I play a part, or is it all of God?
… the comparison of natural fruit with the metaphorical fruit of the Spirit’s work in individual Christians breaks down. Naturally good fruit is produced without any effort by a good tree; however, the fruit of the Spirit does not come into being that automatically. Regularly it requires effort on the Christian’s part. It demands a heeding of the commands of Scripture and a cooperation with the Holy Spirit in his work in the believer’s life. The declaration of the Bible, that this fruit is the production of the Holy Spirit, must be balanced with the demands found in the Bible. The declarations of the indicative mood are to be balanced with all of the exhortations of the imperative mood. All of the fruit of the Spirit are, in other biblical references, expected from and commanded of the believer (Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology).
The “fruits” are commands elsewhere in the New Testament (Colossians 3:10-15; 2Pet 1:5-8; 1Thess 5:12-18).
How do I sow to the Spirit (Galatians 6:7-8)?
•Walk in the Spirit – Gal. 5:16
•Judge Sin in your own life first –Gal. 6:4
•Develop a genuine concern for the people (especially in your church) (Gal. 5:13, 15; 6:1, 2, 6)