by Dr. Ray Self
The Fruit of the Spirit
"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)
The fruit is the practical manifestation of Christian life. Character gives a demonstration of the reality of Christ within. More damage to the witness of Christ has been done by a lack of fruit than any other single thing.
Jesus told us to be fruit observers. We are not to judge but to observe. We are not passing judgment when we see something for what it is. If I see apples on a tree, I am not passing judgment on the tree by calling it an apple tree. If I see the fruit of the flesh then I know it is the flesh. If I see the fruit of the Holy Spirit then I know it is the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 7:15-16 warns us to: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Ye shall know them by their fruits. A false prophet is to be determined by his or her fruit. The gifts can be deceiving because Satan is also supernatural and can replicate the gifts. The devil cannot duplicate true fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit are God's standard of measurement.
True Christian virtues are the fruit of the Holy Spirit, not the fruit of human effort. Fruit bearing comes by living with the indwelling fruit giver (the Holy Spirit.). The fruit of the Spirit are the character of Christ produced by the Spirit of Christ in the believer. Natural human character comes by the exercise of the will, our culture, science, philosophy, education, ethics, etc. All of these efforts are commendable but they are just like waxed fruit compared to the real fruit of the Spirit. The problem with human produced fruit is that it varies, is undependable, and is subject to the overwhelming desires of the flesh. Man cannot produce living fruit. Man can only manufacture dead things. What man produces will always be dead. Only God can produce life and living things.
When Christ is formed in the believer, fruit is a natural result. The fruit grows through faith, obedience, and prayer. The more we are filled with the Holy Spirit the more fruit we will have. The fruit of the Spirit is synonymous with the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus preached to us about godly fruit. The writers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote of the fruit of the Spirit in I Corinthians 13 and Philippians 4:8. Peter wrote about fruit in II Peter 1:4-8: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
The fruit of the flesh is in sharp contrast to the fruit of the Spirit. A Spirit-filled person is recognized by his or her fruit. A carnal person is recognized by his or her works (see Galatians 5:19-21). The struggle is the battle between self and Christ. When self wins, we become self-centered. When Christ wins, we become Christ-centered. A Christ-centered life will have the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit. Theologian Samuel Chadwick said, "The flesh produces works, the Spirit produces fruit; one comes from the human factory, one comes from God’s garden." An old time preacher once said, "I have two natures, one I love and one I hate, but the one I feed will dominate."
The first secret of fruit bearing is revealed in John 15:4: "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me." Jesus is telling us that we cannot do this ourselves. Fruit bearing comes from an abiding relationship with Christ. This intimate relationship comes through the working of the Holy Spirit in the believer revealing Christ to the heart of the believer. Abiding is by the constant leading of the Holy Spirit.
The fruit does not automatically come with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It comes from abiding with Christ by setting your mind on the things of the Spirit. I have known many a Christian who was baptized by the Spirit but soon allowed their own flesh to take over. The believer must choose to abide and not allow the carnal nature to control his life. The Spirit is revealing Christ, so abiding in Christ means abiding with the Holy Spirit. "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit" (Romans 8:5). If we walk in the flesh instead of the Spirit we will have a fruitless life. "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Romans 8:13).
John 15:2 tells us that, "Every branch of Mine that bears no fruit, He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit." Pruning is the removing from our lives, the things that are not of God. This is something that God will do when we submit to Him. Pruning allows for increased growth and increased fruit in our lives. No one should despise God’s pruning, but should live in expectation and faith of greater things to come when pruning occurs.
God has an amazing way of shaking away things in our lives that are not in His divine will. Hebrews 12:26-27 says, "Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, 'Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.' And this word, 'Yet once more,' signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." The shaking that God does can involve people, relationships, various circumstances, heart attitudes, and mindsets. Anything that is blocking or hindering His plans for us He will shake. This shaking can be a little scary at first, but we can know for sure that what is left afterwards is of God and it is best for us. The only things that cannot be shaken away are the things that are of God, because He is unmovable in His will for us.
Chapter Seven Review – The Holy Spirit - Lesson 7
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