The Fruit of the Holy Spirit

“There is a difference between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. … One may have the gift of administration while another may have the gift of giving, teaching, or helps. Conversely, the fruit of the Spirit [‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,’ Gal. 3:22-23] … is to be manifest in every Christian’s life.”

“Someone can be a gifted preacher or teacher, yet show little evidence of growth in spiritual maturity.”

Walk by the Spirit

Paul tells Christians, ‘Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh’ (Gal. 5:16). The term ‘flesh’ sometimes “refers to the physical character or nature of our body.” But in Gal. 5:16, Paul is “not talking about our physical bodies but about our fallen [corrupt] nature, which includes not only our bodies but also our minds, our wills, and our hearts.”

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and… those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). “Paul is not saying that if someone gets drunk once, he will not go to heaven. He is saying if such things define us, if they constitute a lifestyle, that is an indication that we are… still unregenerate and will not be included in the kingdom of God.”

“Paul is admonishing believers not to fall into the works of the flesh but to manifest the fruit of the Spirit. That tells us that even Christians have to battle with the old nature. There is an element of flesh that remains in the Christian that has to come under the constant scrutiny of the Word of God and the discipline of the Holy Spirit, so that we may be convicted of sin and flee from it and seek to cultivate” good fruit.

Spiritual Fruit

“All the fruit we are called to bear imitates the very character of God.” Let us consider a few aspects of the fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness. A gentle or meek person is not one who lacks strength, but “one who has strength but restrains the use of it…. To be gentle is to use less force than possible in a given situation.”

Joy. The joy of the Spirit teaches us to rejoice in all things and not to be grumblers (e.g. Phil. 4:4). “We might suffer all kinds of painful setbacks and afflictions, but those things should not rob us of the foundational joy we have in Christ. We can rejoice in all things because everything else is insignificant compared to the wonderful relationship we enjoy with our heavenly Father through the work of Christ on our behalf. But this joy has to be cultivated. The more we understand our relationship with God, the more we will understand His promises in our lives, and the greater the joy we will experience.”

Patience. Patience in God means “He is not quick to anger. He is not hasty to judge. He is forbearing, and He gives people time to turn to Him. We are to emulate Him is His patience.”

Kindness. “To be kind is simply to be caring and considerate of others.”

[Adapted from chapter 36, Everyone’s a Theologian, by R.C. Sproul]