By Gary D. Erickson
I. FRUIT GROWN BY THE SPIRIT (Galatians 5:17-26):
A. The analogy is easily understood. The agricultural theme is frequent in the Bible. Even though people in Bible times were more in contact with nature, the fruit tree analogy is still relevant.
B. There are two types of goodness:
1. Negative goodness, such as not doing evil things (adultery, murder, lust, drunkenness, and so forth), is not the same as growing the fruit of goodness. We may not do evil things, but do we produce qualities that can be observed by others? Abstinence from doing bad deeds is not enough.
2. Positive goodness is producing the fruit of the Spirit. These beautiful graces produced by the Spirit must also be seen in the Christian life.
C. There is a difference between works and fruit.
1. A machine in a factory can manufacture gadgets, but not fruit. Fruit must grow out of life. For the Christian, fruit must grow out of the life of the indwelling Spirit. The word Spirit in Galatians 5:25 is spelled with a capital S, meaning the Holy Spirit.
2. When we think of works we think of labor, pain, sacrifice, and discipline (dead works – Hebrews 9: 14). When we think of fruit we think of life, development, and beauty. We see it happening naturally and quietly.
D. Other things are compared to fruit in the Bible:
1. Souls won to the Lord: Oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, … that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles (Romans 1: 13).
2. Holy living: But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Romans 6:22).
3. Gifts brought to God: For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution … When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit … (Romans 15:26-28).
4. Good works: That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Colossians 1:10).
5. Praise: By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name (Hebrews 13:15).
E. The fruit of the Spirit are different from the gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12). Fruit has to do with character and gifts have to do with service.
1. The Christmas tree is endowed with ornaments that make it beautiful. The decorations reveal nothing about the quality of the tree. Fruit on a tree speak directly to the quality of the tree. So do the fruit of the Spirit. They give evidence to the quality of a person’s relationship with God. The more a life is yielded, the more quality and quantity of fruit it produces!
II. THE NINE FRUIT:
A. These nine characteristics are God’s graces which He expects in every Christian.
1. The god-ward fruit: These three fruit strongly affect our relationship with God.
a. Love: (Greek = agape, divine love). It is mentioned first because all the others grow from this one. It is a gift of God: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:5). This love expects nothing in return, is selfless, and is a decision of the will.
b. Joy: (Greek = chara, delight). This is that inward peace and sufficiency that is not affected by outward circumstances (Philippians 4:10-20). It is holy optimism.
(1). These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full (John 15:11).
c. Peace: (Greek = eirene, unity, concord). And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). Peace is a freedom from worry.
2. The man-ward fruit: These fruit involve our relationship with our fellow man.
a. Long-suffering: (Greek = makrothumia). This is a courageous endurance that will not quit. This virtue will not avenge itself (persistence, tenacity, or endurance).
b. Gentleness: (Greek = chrestotes). Kindness, altruism, using proper etiquette, or polite.
c. Goodness: (Greek = agathosune). This is love in action. The acts of doing good deeds.
3. The self-ward fruit: These three fruit involve the development of inner graces.
a. Faith: (Greek = pistis, faithfulness. steadfastness). Faithfulness and dependability. Every man is given a measure of faith (Romans12:3), but not all have the fruit of faith. It is also a gift of the Spirit (I Corinthians12:9).
b. Meekness: (Greek = praotes, mildness). This means having power, but under control. It is not shyness or poor self esteem, but having emotional balance under stress.
c. Temperance: (egkrates, self restraint). Self-control, discipline, having dignity.
B. The fruit of the Spirit are compared to the works of the flesh in the preceding verses (Galatians 5:19-21). These sins are the product of a life given over to the flesh.
1. Adultery: (Greek = moicheia, unlawful sexual intercourse with the spouse of another.)
2. Fornication: (Greek = pomeia, illicit sexual intercourse.)
3. Uncleanness: (Greek = akatharsia, morally unclean due to sensuality and evil doctrines.)
4. Lasciviousness: (Greek = aselgeia, excess, absence of restraint, indecency, wanton.)
5. Idolatry: (Greek = eidololatria, sacrifices to demons.)
6. Witchcraft: (Greek = pharmakia. the use of medicine, drugs, spells, and so forth.)
7. Hatred: (Greek = echthra, strong dislike or ill will, hate.)
8. Variance: (Greek = eris, to cut apart, divide in two, strife.)
9. Emulations: (Greek = zelos, zeal, jealousy.)
10. Wrath: (Greek = thumos, hot passionate anger.)
11. Strife: (Greek = eris, contention, the expression of enmity.)
12. Seditions: (Greek = dichostasia, a standing apart. dissension, division.)
13. Heresies: (Greek = hairesis, self-willed opinion.)
14. Envyings: (Greek = ‘phthonos, the feeling of displeasure produced by witnessing the prosperity of others.)
15. Murders: (Greek = phonos. murder).
16. Drunkenness: (Greek = methe, habitual intoxication.)
17. Revellings: (Greek = komos, carousal, decadent behavior resulting from drunkenness.)
III. FRUIT MUST GROW:
A. Just as fruit cannot grow in every climate, spiritual fruit has to be cultivated and have the environment conducive to growth. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).
1. Abiding in Christ produces fruit (John 15: 1-8). I am the vine, ye are the branches: (Verse 5).
2. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (II Corinthians 3:18).
B. Fruit is grown to be consumed and not to be displayed. Self-righteousness is for self-glory, but the fruit of the Spirit is for God’s glory.
C. There is no law against such virtues.
1. The works of the flesh must be regulated by the laws of society, but these good virtues would never be challenged. Society would never object to the prevalence of the fruit of the Spirit.
D. The parable of the farmer who sowed his seed and the soils varied in their productivity (Matthew 13:1-8). Some produced 100 fold, 60 fold, and 30 fold. We are the soil and the Holy Spirit is the seed. God is expecting a return on His investment.
E. Jesus cursed the fig tree that produced no fruit symbolizing His disdain for fruitlessness.
F. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7:20-21).
The fruit of the Spirit are nothing other than the virtues of Christ. -F.D.E. Schleiermacher (1768-1834), DerChristliche, II, par. 125.
The fruits of the Spirit are the virtues he produces in the character of a Christian. The gifts of the Spirit are the abilities entrusted to the Christian. Fruits have to do with character, gifts with service. The fruits are a description of what a Christian is meant to be; the gifts are indicative of what a Christian is meant to do. -Stephen F. Winward, Fruit of the Spirit, Inter-Varsity Press, Grand Rapids, MI, 1981, p. 47.
Fruit is singular. Like a diamond, one cut alone is not impressive, but the many angular cuts together form a beautiful image. These virtues are not grown independently, but harmoniously. The Holy Spirit’s influence on the Christian’s life produces the fruit of the Spirit.-Erickson.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them (Matthew 7: 16-20).
God’s enabling grace and man’s strenuous effort belong together. Agriculture supplies a good analogy. Because ‘the earth produces of itself, ‘the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth’ (Mark 4:28; James 5:7). He certainly doesn’t try to produce it! Yet before the waiting and the growth comes the ploughing, harrowing, sowing; and after comes the harvesting, threshing, grinding, baking. -Winward, Ibid.
Virtue is its own reward.- Cicero, De finibus, III.
Jesus compared His own life to a seed. ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit’ (John 12:24). To produce fruit, we must die in repentance, be buried in baptism, and be resurrected by the Spirit. -Erickson.
This article “The Fruit of the Spirit” by Gary D. Erickson is excerpted from his teaching notes, Fruit of the Spirit 1999.