Fruit, Flesh And Spirit
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, 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. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:19-25
Most people, I imagine cannot tell what kind of fruit a tree will bear just by looking at it until it begins to produce its fruit. Until we know what kind of fruit it bears we do not know what kind of tree it is or what kind of fruit to expect from it. So, it is with the nature of people. Those who are born of the Spirit of God will bear fruit consistent with their reborn nature. Those who are only born of the spirit of this world will bear the fruit of this world.
Jesus’ sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1-7:27) is probably the most comprehensive of all His messages regarding daily Christian living that bears fruit worthy of the glory of God.
A portion of that message is a warning to be aware of false prophets.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 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 7:13-20
In that day, as in ours, there were those who sought to gain wealth and power by professing themselves to be men of great insight and learning to foretell the future and by their false teaching and manipulation gather to themselves many followers ignorant of the truth but eager or desperate to grasp the false hope offered by such men because of their desperate situations. Still others followed them hoping to also cash in on the wealth extorted from the rich and poor alike who didn’t truly know God.
So Jesus, comes to shine the light of truth on them and their false ways, to arm the people with the means of discerning between what is true and what is false.
You shall know them by their fruit. The contrasts are clear.
Those who are born of the Spirit, bear the fruit of the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
Those who are only born of the flesh do the works of the flesh.
The works of the flesh are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.
It is worth noting that the Scriptures say the fruit (singular) not fruits (plural) of the Spirit, while by contrast the Scriptures speak of the works (plural) not work (singular) of the flesh. This is important because there is only One Spirit that bears fruit and that fruit though multi-faceted is a single fruit.
Now, Love is the fundamental motivation for all that we do as reborn spirits and at the center of our daily walk as Christians is faith.
We are saved by grace through faith [Ephesians 2:8].
Without faith it is impossible to please God [Hebrews 11:6],
by faith we know and understand [Hebrews 11:3],
we are justified by faith [Romans 3:28],
we have access to God’s grace by faith [Romans 5:2]
But faith works by love [Galatians 5:6] and as the just we live and walk by faith [Hebrews 10:38]. God is Love. Being born again we are born of God’s love. It is part of our new spirit DNA as reborn spirits through faith in Jesus Christ. We now have God’s nature in us. His love is being shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit [Romans 5:5].
So, we could say that the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE and that LOVE manifests itself in joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. If we truly love by the Spirit of God we will produce love in all these ways. And finally, in all these ways we will reflect the love of God to the world.
The works of the flesh proceed from the death of sin, because, the wages of sin is death. There is no love in them, therefore, there is no life. The way to them is wide, and sadly, many choose to walk in it. But, the way to life is narrow. It is singular. There is One Lord, One God, One Father, One Savior. It is Jesus. The Way, The Truth and The Life. He is The Way that leads joyfully to life and that more abundantly.
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23