But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
The tendency here is to dissect these fruits one by one like we did with the works of the flesh. I could do that [& I might a little], but it misses the point.
The works of the flesh are all about division, separation, and the like. The fruit of the spirit is singular. It is not fruits of the spirit—it is the fruit of the spirit. It is one thing—all of these attributes as a synergistic whole.
This whole concept of the fruit of the spirit has another name and that is the character of Jesus. This list is a description of His personality. This is who He is. This is what God is. This is what He wishes to produce in us—the very nature of God. The Holy Spirit’s job is to bring us back to where we were in the Garden—in the image of God.
Counterfeits: the enemy has counterfeits for all of these attributes. We need to make sure we understand this and what the temptations are.
- Lust instead of love
- Excitement instead of joy
- Allegiance instead of faithfulness
- Image & appearances instead of self-control
- Romance & carefulness instead of gentleness [This one is tough because the greek chrestotes actually means excellence of character as well as gentleness and tenderness.]
- Philanthropy & good works instead of kindness
- Determination & drive instead of patience
- Comfort instead of peace
You may disagree with some of these. I admit that they are all not as clear as the comparison between lust & love or excitement & joy.
However, allowing the Holy spirit to develop this fruit in our lives must be the focus of our lives. Read John 15 to see how Jesus regarded the importance of fruit and fruit-bearing in our lives.
Remember, just like apples come from an apple tree, and oranges from an orange tree, the character of Jesus is birthed in us when we make Him Lord of our life. I use the word “birthed” because, just as we are born as a baby physically, so to are we born as a spiritual baby. In following Jesus we are to grow more and more like Him as we walk with Him.
We can see this clearly in John’s first letter. Here he talks about the character and life of believers as they grow up. We all pass through these stages.
- I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.
- I am writing to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
- I am writing to you who are young in the faith because you have won your battle with the evil one.
- I have written to you who are God’s children because you know the Father.
- I have written to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning.
- I have written to you who are young in the faith because you are strong. God’s word lives in your hearts, and you have won your battle with the evil one. [1 JOHN 2:12–14]
Here we see three levels of spiritual maturity.
- Children: whose sins are forgiven and they know Abba, Daddy.
- Young people: who fight the spiritual warfare battles until they overcome the evil one.
- Mature believers: who know God as a wife knows her husband.
The mature fruit only shows up in the third stage, in my experience. The centrality of this is shown by Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 7:15–20.
We are to be fruit inspectors.
We will know true believers by their fruit, and it will look like Jesus.