“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
In contrast to the works of the flesh, documented by the Apostle Paul, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The word fruit (καρπὸς; karpos) means in this context a spiritual harvest or obedient deeds. It is also important to note that the word fruit is singular, meaning that the fruit of the Holy Spirit should be viewed as a collective whole. These nine spiritual qualities are a unity which should be found in each believer the Holy Spirit controls.
The nine qualities listed are also sourced and originated solely by the Holy Spirit. This fruit is not produced by the believer, but rather by the Holy Spirit working through the believer who is in union with Christ (John 15:1-8).
Dr. John MacArthur writes that the fruit of the Spirit are, “Godly attitudes that characterize the lives of only those who belong to God by faith in Christ and possess the Spirit of God. The Spirit produces fruit, which consists of nine characteristics or attitudes that are inextricably linked with each and are commanded of believers throughout the NT.”
The mortification of sin is not just about abolishing the works of the flesh, but also manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. Both disciplines are necessary. A believer who just eliminates the negative, without pursuing the positive, fails to understand what true spirituality is in Christ.
The list may be divided into three specific categories. The first three virtues address habits of the mind, or one’s thinking, rooted and grounded in the Lord and His Word.
Please notice that the fruit are all in total prefaced by the present, active state of being verb “is.” This is what the believer in Christ is to be along with what he/she is to do.
The first fruit is love (ἀγάπη; agape). This is a self-sacrificial love of the will. This is the same type of love God has for fallen sinners (John 3:16) and that believers are to have towards one another (I John 4:7-11).
The character of agape love is found in the I Corinthians 13:1-8a. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Dr. MacArthur adds that, “One of several Greek words for love, agape is the love of choice, referring not to an emotional affection, physical attraction, or a familial bond, but to respect, devotion, and affection that leads to willing, self-sacrificial service (John 15:13; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 3:16–17).”
Self-sacrificial agape love is the foundation for all the remaining fruit. If agape love is absent from the believer’s life, there is no possible way the other eight fruit will be evidenced by the believer. In fact, the absence of agape love may be an indication the individual in question is not a believer in Christ at all.
Is agape love evident in your life as a believer in union with Christ? Can you think of any circumstances, or people, of which you find it difficult to demonstrate self-sacrificial love of the will? If so, ask God to give you the discipline and determination to demonstrate such a love in the places, and toward the people, who need it most.
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!