The Fruit of the Spirit Page 1 (series: Lessons on Galatians)
by John Lowe
January 7, 2013
The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians
Chapter IV.B.2: The Fruit of the Spirit (5:22-26)
Galatians 5:22-26 (KJV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
But the fruit of the Spirit.
“The fruit of the Spirit” can be produced only by the Holy Spirit. The reason the apostle used the word "Spirit" here is most likely to denote that the things he is going to mention do not flow from our own nature. The vices he listed in Chapter IV.B.2 are the "works" or result of the strategies and procedures of the human heart; the virtues which he itemizes here are produced by foreign influence - the activity of the Holy Spirit. That's why Paul does not trace them to our own hearts, even after we have experienced the new birth. He says that they are to be regarded as the result of the Spirit's operations on the soul.
The sinful nature of the human heart and spirit, and the purified state of the soul changed by the grace and Spirit of God are represented by the apostle as trees; one tree yields good fruit and the other bad fruit. The fruit produced by each replicate the nature of the tree which produced it; likewise, the tree reproduces the nature of the seed from which it sprung. The bad seed produced a bad tree, which produced bad fruit; the good seed produced a good tree, which yielded the most excellent kind of fruits. The tree of the flesh with all its bad fruits, we have already seen in Chapter IV.B.2; the tree of the Spirit with its good fruits is described here. Paul is informing the Galatians, and us too, that all virtues, all proper and well-regulated affections, proceed from the Spirit, that is, from the grace of God, and the renewed nature which we derive from Christ. It is as if he had said, "Nothing but evil comes from man; nothing good comes but from the Holy Spirit." There have always been unregenerate men who showed remarkable instances of gentleness, integrity, temperance, and generosity; but it is certain that all were just phony disguises and it was only in the sight of men, and as members of civil society, that they were so hailed for these noble qualities. In the sight of God, nothing is pure but what proceeds from the fountain of all purity.
Paul used the plural when describing a life lived after the flesh (works of the flesh), but here he used the singular (fruit, not fruits, of the Spirit) to describe the life of a follower of Christ. In the big picture, the Spirit has one work to do in all of us. These aren’t the gifts of the Spirit, which are distributed on an individual basis by the will of the Spirit; this is something for every Christian since he is not speaking of a mixture of fruits that would be shared, so that one believer has one, and another believer has another. Instead, he is referring to a cluster in which all the qualities are to be manifested in each believer.”
The works of the flesh seem overwhelming—both in us and around us. God is good enough, and big enough, to change everything with “but the fruit of the Spirit.” The fruit of the Spirit can always conquer the works of the flesh. If we have these fruits we show that we have the Spirit.
Love, as used here is defined as an intense desire to please God, and to do good to mankind; the very soul and spirit of all true religion; the fulfilling of the law, and what gives energy to faith itself. “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6)..
The apostle begins with love, since it is the fulfilling of the law, the greatest of all the graces, and without love a profession of religion is irrelevant. It encompasses all of the following. It may even be said that the following eight terms are just describing what love in action looks like. “It would have been enough to mention only the single fruit of love, for love embraces all the fruits of the Spirit.” It may have as its object:
1. GOD—love for God, of which every man's heart is destitute, being enmity against God until regenerated by the Spirit of God; when he sheds abroad the love of God in the heart, and which is the ground and reason for any man's truly loving God.
2. Christ—love for Christ, which the natural man feels nothing of until the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Christ, opens his eyes to see the loveliness of His person, the suitableness of his grace, righteousness, and fullness, and the necessity of looking to him for life and salvation.
3. Saints—love for the
saints, which a carnal man cannot express until he is renewed by the Holy Ghost, who in regenerating him teaches him to love the brethren; and which is the evidence of his having passed from death to life, through the mighty power of His grace.
4. Church and Scripture—love for the house of God and worship of God, and for the truths and ordinances of the Gospel.
All men have a natural aversion to God, Christ, Christians, church, and the Bible; it is only by this first fruit of the Spirit that he can come to love them all. Love is a translation of the Greek word agape. There were four distinct words for “love.” Eros was the word for romantic or passionate love. Philia was the word for the love we have for those near and dear to us; our family or friends. Storge is the word for the love that shows itself in affection and care, especially family affection. But agape describes a different kind of love. It is a love more of decision than of the spontaneous heart; more a matter of the mind than the heart, because it chooses to love the undeserving. According to Barclay, “Agape has to do with the mind: it is not simply an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts; it is a principle by which we deliberately live.” In another place, he says it “means unconquerable benevolence. It means that no matter what a man may do to us by way of insult or injury or humiliation we will never seek anything else but his highest good. It is, therefore, a feeling of the mind as much as the heart; it concerns the will as much as the emotions. It describes the deliberate effort—which we can make only with the help of God—never to seek anything but the best even for those who seek the worst for us.”
We could say that this is a love of the Spirit, because it is a fruit of the Spirit. This is above and beyond natural affection, or the loyalty to blood or family. This is loving people who aren’t easy to love; loving people you don’t like.
It may be helpful to understand the works of the flesh in the light of this love of the Spirit. Each one of them is a violation or a perversion of this great love.
• Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and lewdness are counterfeits of love among people.
• Idolatry and sorcery are counterfeits of the love of God.
• Hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, and murders are all opposites of love.
• Drunkenness and revelries are sad attempts to fill the void only love can fill.
This shows us the foolishness of excusing the works of the flesh because of “love.” “To talk of ‘love’ when a man covets his neighbor’s wife, or when a woman violates the command, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ is little less than sheer blasphemy against the holiness of love. It is not love, but lust; love is an angel, and lust a devil. The purities of domestic life are defiled, and its honors are disgraced when once the marriage bond is disregarded.” (Spurgeon)
I don’t think Joy, as it is used here, denotes that "joy in the Holy Ghost" which is the subject of Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost”
, but that cheerful behavior towards our fellow-men which is the opposite of gloominess. It is not the joy that comes from earthly things, still less from triumphing over someone else in competition. It is not a joy that comes from what they have, but from what they are; not from where they are, but from whose they are; not from what they enjoy, but from that which was suffered for them by their Lord.” It is a joy whose foundation is God.
One of the greatest marketing strategies ever employed is to position the kingdom of Satan as the place where the fun is and the kingdom of God as the place of gloom and misery. Joy for the Christian comes from several sources; in the love of God; in the evidences of pardon; in communion with the Redeemer, and in His service; in the duties of religion, in trials and hardships, and in the hope of heaven. Joy and peace is the normal state of the Christian who displays his joy in the exultation that arises from a sense of God's mercy communicated to the soul in the pardon of its iniquities, and the prospect of that eternal glory of which it has a foretaste in the pardon of sin “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:20.
. We could say that this is the joy of the Spirit, because it is a higher joy than just the thrill of an exciting experience or a wonderful set of circumstances. It is a joy that can abide and remain, even when circumstances seem terrible. Paul knew this joy personally; he could sing when manacled in a dark prison dungeon! “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25).