By R.L. Stroup
Without God, man is hopelessly lost! “They are all under sin . . . there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:9-10).
Man’s difficulty goes far beyond the surface; his problem is in his roots. He is born in sin. Doing evil is natural for him for “a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:17).
It is easy, therefore, to understand Jesus’ words to Nicodemus: “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).
Jesus told Nicodemus, “That which is born of flesh is flesh” (John 3:6). Later, the Apostle Paul elaborated with these words: “The works (or the fruit) of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
Is it any wonder, therefore, that Jesus said, “Ye must be born again”? The new birth brings glorious change in an individual, for “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6) and, “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).
It is utterly impossible for unregenerate man to produce the fruit of the Spirit in himself. “Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs” (James 3:12)? One can only live a holy
life through the power of the new birth and a fresh, daily experience with God. “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. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
Let us then “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14). The Holy Ghost is practical. He is given to us that He might guide us into all truth; He comes that He might direct us in our daily decisions; for “If ye live alter the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13). So, Paul
exhorts, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). In other words, let’s use what God has given to us.
It has often been noted that Paul refers to the “fruit” (singular) of the Spirit rather than to the “fruits” (plural) of the Spirit. One theory states that the “fruit” (singular) of the Spirit is “love” (singular) and that the other attributes listed, such as joy, peace, longsuffering, etc. are used to define “love”. This theory finds support in I Corinthians 13:4-8: “Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
Other Scriptures refer to “love” as being separate from these other attributes: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness,
longsuffering . . . and above all these things put on charity (love), which is the bond of perfectness” (Colosians 3:12, 14). “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 (love)” (I Peter 1:5-7).
Either way, we may safely conclude that “love” is to be the motive behind all of the other “fruit” for, “though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And
though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (I Corinthians 13:2-3).
Why is it so important that “love” be manifested in our lives? First of all, Jesus stated , “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first
and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Furthermore, love for our brethren is a true test of our love for God: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen” (I John 4:20)?
The love of God in our lives also testifies of the reality of the new birth: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (I
Why is it so important that “love” be manifested in our lives? The ultimate answer, of course, is souls. Evangelism is more than preaching the gospel; it is more than teaching a home Bible study or giving
someone a tract. Evangelism is a lifestyle. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).
Through the fruit of the Spirit we can attract people to our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter said that we are to behave in such a manner that when “they speak against you as evildoers, they may be your good works (fruit), which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (I Peter 2:12). We must win people to ourselves before we can win them to our God.
Christians are to be fruitful trees; they are to be “meat” to the hungry and “medicine” to the hurting. The Prophet Ezekiel pictured it this way: “And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on
that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of
the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine” (Ezekiel 47:12).
Yes, the ultimate goal of a godly, fruitful life is souls. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).
Let us, therefore, “above all . . . put on charity (love), which is the bond of perfectness” (Colossians 3:14).
(The above information was published by the INDIANA APOSTOLIC TRUMPET, July 1986)
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