When the Gospel is preached and there is true conversion, your life changes (fruit of the Spirit).
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
Paul – why does he use fruit? Why not say, traits? He’s using an analogy of botanical growth. Bearing fruit is as gradual as the growth rate of a blade of grass. You can never see it while it is happening. Take for example a young boy or girl. We may say to our child whom we see everyday, I think you’ve grown, but I’m not sure. Growth is so small, so gradual that you can’t see it.
Spiritual growth of fruit is gradual. It’s mysterious. We can’t self-generate growth. We can’t will growth, even physical growth, you can’t will it. How much more we are utterly powerless to grow ourselves spiritually. It’s the fruit OF THE SPIRIT. The Spirit does the growth and we can’t fully explain it. It’s mysterious. And it’s seasonal. No growth, nothing, nothing, week after week, then a sudden spurt of growth.
Growth can never be measured. It can only be tested. Let’s take a runner. You ask a runner, do you feel faster now than you were last year? It’s hard to say. Until you are tested. The stopwatch comes out and you can measure it. Same goes for spiritual life. Have you grown in the fruit of the Spirit? It’s hard to tell until you’re tested. A trial comes. Trouble hits. You are in a jam. Someone speaks a harsh word to you and you don’t react with harshness. And you realize, wow, I’ve grown in patience. I never would have been this patient last year.
Christian growth is inevitable. If you have the Spirit of God within you, you will grow. You must. It’s like an acorn. It grows into a tree and it is powerful enough to split the sidewalk. An acorn vs. a thousand pound slab of concrete. Who wins? It’s no contest. The acorn will always win. A tree grows and it splits the pavement. Botanical growth has this kind of power in its gradual-ness. How much more powerful is the fruit of the Spirit?
Growth is internal. There is a difference between mechanical growth, which you can see, and organic growth, which is more internal. For example, you can make a pile of bricks. And the pile may be growing, but it is not growing organically. It’s mechanical. It’s not the same as the way a child grows.
Growth is also symmetric. Notice that it says in Gal 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruits. The subject is singular and the predicate is plural. Did you ever notice that? Paul is breaking the rules of grammar to make a point. Real Christian change – all of these things–love, joy, peace, and so forth–are one. It is a singular fruit.
Jonathan Edwards helps unlock the mystery of Gal 5:22 by his use of the word “concatenated.” The graces of Christianity are “concatenated,” or linked together, connected. Apply this to Gal 5–it’s one singular fruit. Think of the fruit of Spirit as a singular cluster of fruit, all linked up and dependent on one another.
There’s a symmetry. For example, peace and humility. What if you are proud, but you are at peace all the time. Then, it’s a counterfeit peace. True peace comes from humility. The root of worry, or the lack of peace is pride. It’s a refusal to take a humble posture before God. Anyone who worries thinks they know what they need. An arrogant person is very sure of what he needs. This is the complete opposite of a person who is at peace out of his humility. God, I know you are always there. Lord, you know what I need. I don’t know. I put myself in your hands. I’m a child. You’re my Father. Peace is always connected to humility. If you are proud, you think you are at peace, but your “peace” is the result of wise choices you made, the job security you have, and so forth.
Some people are very gentle but they are not faithful. Faithfulness here refers to loyalty and courage. You can be gentle, but that may simply be your temperament. A personality trait. Some are just sweethearts by nature. It’s your Myers Briggs-ness. You are sweet but you’re a coward. You have a natural sweetness, but you are too afraid to hurt anyone. If you are cowardly and you’re gentle, then you’re not really gentle.
Concatenation of the graces. Peace and joy are present consistently. You have integrity. Meaning you’re consistent, however you slice you, in whatever situation, you’re always the same. It’s not true peace and joy if those are absent when circumstances change or if they fly away when you’re around a different set of people.
Tim Keller helps to discern true fruit from false fruit.
He takes a fruit and then defines what that fruit is, gives the opposite of that fruit and then he presents a counterfeit form of the fruit. These characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit are going to blend and start sounding like one another because remember, it’s one singular fruit. Too much to digest here so I just want to expose you to these ideas to give you something to think about later.
Fruit of Love
Definition – To serve a person for their good and intrinsic value, not for what the person brings you.
Opposite – Fear, which manifests itself in 1 of 2 ways: either self-protection, you withdraw because you don’t want to be hurt OR you abuse people because you make sure that they never hurt you. In both cases, the driving force is fear.
Counterfeit love – Selfish affection. You seem like you are rescuing someone but you really rescuing self. Attracted not to a person, but to how this person’s love makes you feel about yourself. We this in relationships. People “in love” are more in love with romance than the person themselves. Romance makes you feel good and so you ending up using the other person.
Fruit of Joy
Definition – Delight in God and his salvation for sheer beauty and worth of who he is.
Opposite – Hopelessness, despair. Those are the absence of joy.
Counterfeit – Elation that comes with blessings not the Blesser! Mood swings based on circumstances. These are clues that our joy is not coming from the Lord because this joy doesn’t fluctuate with the circumstances.
Fruit of Peace
Definition – Confidence and rest in the wisdom and sovereignty of God more than having confidence in yourself.
Opposite – Anxiety and worry
Counterfeit – Indifference, apathy, not caring about something. “I don’t care.” Apathy is a poor man’s peace. You can maintain a false peace if you shield your heart from things that should cause you concern, you look away and say, I don’t care about that. It’s a coping mechanism.
Fruit of Patience
Definition – Ability to take trouble (from others or life) without blowing or having a meltdown or becoming angry. To suffer joyfully because we can identify a bit more with Christ’s suffering on our behalf.
Opposite – Resentment toward God and others. Wanting to throw in the towel. When I became a Christian, this is not what I signed up for.
Counterfeit – Cynicism – things will never change. Or self-righteousness – “This is too small to be bothered about.”
Fruit of Kindness
Definition – Practical kindness (good deeds) with vulnerability out of deep inner security. When you are a secure person because of God, you can be kind toward others.
Opposite – Envy. Inability to rejoice in other’s joy. Why? Because you feel insecure. How come that good thing is not happening to me?
Counterfeit – You will do kind deeds but in a manipulative way to build yourself up. “Right hand knowing what left hand is doing.” You do something nice in order to congratulate yourself or take credit for your self-righteousness.
Fruit of Goodness
Definition – Integrity, honesty, transparency. Being the same in one situation as another. Consistency. You are the same in front of someone you like and someone you don’t like.
Opposite – Phoniness; hypocrisy.
Counterfeit – Truth without love. “Getting it off the chest” for your sake. When you get annoyed, you may say things to that person in a way that you wouldn’t normally say to a person whom you like. A person with the fruit of goodness will seek the good of the other person always, seek to build up always, no matter who it is that is in front of you.
Fruit of Faithfulness
Definition – Loyalty. Courage. Being courageous consistently. To be principle-driven, committed, utterly reliable. True to one’s word.
Opposite – Opportunist. Fair-weather friend. Quick to change sides because you lack courage to stand your ground based on your convictions from God’s Word.
Counterfeit – Love without truth. Sentimentality. Being loyal when you should be willing to confront or challenge.
Fruit of Gentleness
Definition – Humility – best definition is self-forgetfulness. Not thinking less of yourself, but thinking about yourself less. Thinking more about God and the needs of others and less and less about yourself.
Opposite – Superiority, proud, ego boast, self-absorbed.
Counterfeit – Inferiority or insecurity – these people may come across as gentle, but they are just as self-absorbed as proud people. In their self-consciousness, they are just as self-absorbed as people who are constantly thinking about how great they are.
Fruit of Self-Control
Definition – Ability to choose the important thing over the urgent. There are always urgent things, pressing things, things that seem like they require our immediate attention. At the end of the day, we need self-control to choose what is most important over these other secondary things.
Opposite – An uncontrolled person driven by impulses. A distracted person.
Counterfeit – Willpower through pride. I am better than this. I am above those distractions and addictions. A strong-willed person can overcome simply through effort and pride.
Final question, how do we bear fruit? Fruit-bearing requires two things. First, v24–
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
You have to crucify the sinful nature. Does that mean just stopping certain behaviors? That’s like cutting off a branch. You have to deal with the root, not the branches. Our sin arises because there are things in our hearts that we desire more than Jesus. There is something at the root level that is more important to you than Jesus Christ and that thing is running your life and creating the works of the flesh. Those things need to be crucified. You need to go home and identify the things that need to be crucified.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Second, you need to live by the Spirit and keep in step with the Spirit as he directs your attention to the beauty of Christ. Now we are full circle. We are back to the gospel. Jesus is the gospel embodied.
If you understand the gospel and you are truly converted, your life will change. Fruit will be born as you continue to reckon your flesh as dead and as you rely on the Spirit, whose sole job is to point you back to Christ, not just for salvation, but for your sanctification.