|THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
T. David Sustar
HIS GLORY REIGNS
February 22, 2008
"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."
Clyne W. Buxton calls the the fruit of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians "Paul's measure of spirituality" and explains as
1. Love - the ability to reach beyond yourself
2. Joy - demonstrates a sense of security
3. Peace - the result of living in serenity with God and others
4. Patience - the ability to live through difficulties and circumstances until God's will is revealed
5. Kindness - enough interest in those about us to be involved
6. Goodness - honorable, upright living, conditioned with generosity
7. Faithfulness - complete dependability, reliability, and loyalty
8. Gentleness - akin to kindness and goodness; has the additional quality of strength under divine control
9. Self-control - this fruit is all-important. Otherwise, we will enslave ourselves to drives and appetites which will ruin
The Word of God continually draws a striking contrast between the flesh and the Spirit. When the apostle Paul wrote
the Galatians, he reminded them of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), listing at least 17 terrible deeds a man
might commit without God in his life.
Two words are contrasted: works and fruit. Works of the flesh - fruit of the Spirit. Works speak of effort, mechanics,
toil and labor. It is reminiscent of the old covenant, under which men by their own unaided efforts tried to live up to the
exacting standards of God's holiness. That requirement led only to despair. But fruit - how different. It does not
involve work but is the result of just receiving, yielding and accepting. The supreme revelation of the new covenant is
that the transformation of character into the likeness of Christ comes not by painful striving but by beholding and
believing and by the operation of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer.
If there is criticism of the church today by the world, we are reported as people who say we love Christ yet fail to follow
Him. Often we're seen over-dramatizing our external works at the neglect of the real truth He taught. Perhaps we have
tried so long to appear righteous on the outside that we have forgotten Christ is Lord of the heart. And the heart is a
temple, not a theater where productions of vainglory are staged. What concerns God most is not elaborate ritual,
not even perfect doctrine, but right living.
A MATTER OF CHARACTER
We need to remind ourselves that character is not so much a thing as it is a track record of all our behavior. The
aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature is not acquired in a moment of time. Character needs
formation, and that formation may take a long time. Once formed, it does give one a pattern of stability and reliability
but not an end to growth. Character needs to be exercised like a muscle so that it may deepen and develop with each
Those who study human nature tell us character comes from a number of sources. First, there are the genetical,
inherited traits which reveal our innate capacities and weaknesses. There comprise the raw material of character.
Next, there are all those things that work on a person from the outside. These passive elements of character
formation may include, but not be limited to: 1) accidents of our own history and upbringing, exerting good or bad
influences; 2) the impact of society and culture; and 3) the important factor of education, the systematic training of
mind and spirit. Beyond this, there is an active side to the formation of character. To some extent each one of us
chooses to be the kind of person he or she is.
The Biblical Perspective of Character
For the Christian we would add one more factor to the development of character - divine grace. Christians believe that
the attainment of character is not just an accident of birth or environment or the fruit of unaided human struggle. We
believe there is a coworking of God in all this, coming through prayer, the Holy Spirit and life in the Christian
community, and that this opening to God is of the highest importance. The key element of commitment having been
found, we may respond to the challenge Jesus made: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33. The coming of God's kingdom in the world and the
service of that kingdom become the focus of interest and endeavor and give the distinctive shape to the believer's
character. The guiding principle of life, now firmly fixed by the Holy Spirit within, calls for faithful worship and service to
the Lord. "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called." 1 Corinthians 7:20, the Word commands.
Although Christians joyfully respond, they do so understanding the great privilege and responsibility pressed upon
them, for "...And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth
fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred." Mark 4:20. God wants us to be good, but He wants us to be
'good for something.' He wants us to bear fruit. This cannot be done unless we remain in Him and He remains in us.
The Test of Character
It is precisely at this point, the point of responsibility, that most of us balk or at least hesitate in our experience with the
Lord. It seems that two irreconcilable principles attempt to take charge of our lives. One says, "Jesus Christ is my
Savior," and the other says, "But I will do exactly as I wish with my life." In other words, I want Him to save me from hell
but not to be the Lord of my life.
Salvation is more than mere forgiveness of sins; it involves the implanting of a new nature. In the words of John
Wesley, the new birth is "that great change which God works in the soul when He brings it into life; when He raises it
from the death of sin to the life of righteousness." Peter declared that regeneration is a creative act of God by which
we are begotten unto a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). It can be said that the Father wills life, the Son is life, and the Spirit
gives life. This life flows from a divine connection: "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 15:5 This life flow from a divine
John 15 reveals a spiritual progression in the life of the believer. We are to produce fruit (15:2), more fruit (15:2) and
much fruit (15:5). All this occurs under the gentle hand of the Father, the husbandman, who takes away those
branches that do not produce and purges those which do that they may bring forth more fruit. As we abide in Christ
and He in us, we bring forth much fruit. This occurs as we more correctly align ourselves with the character of Christ.
Identification with Him has definite results: "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorn, 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
Fruitfulness is simply the result of a living and vital relationship with God. A fruit tree naturally brings forth fruit in its
season. Orange, peach or apple trees, when properly located and watered, bring forth fruit after their kind. In like
manner, our character is revealed by our fruit. Being "in Christ" creates the climate or atmosphere in which the Holy
Spirit can operate. Those desiring spiritual gifts would do well to note that these gifts only operate correctly through
the expressions of the fruit of the Spirit. One person has observed that the dove, which is the symbol of the Holy
Spirit, has nine major flight feathers in each wing. How symbolic that is of the need of balance between the nine gifts
of the Spirit and the nine fruit of the Spirit. As a dove cannot fly with only one wing, so our ministry and the church can
never get off the ground without both the fruit and the gifts of the spirit.
Fruit, Not Fruits
The works of the flesh are plural; the fruit of the Spirit is singular and consists of three groups of virtues:
1. Personal fruit - love, joy, and peace
2. Outreaching fruit to others - longsuffering, gentleness, and goodness
3. Up-reaching fruit, toward God - faith, meekness, and temperance.
These are the essential elements of Christian character. We must remind ourselves, however, that they are not
self-helps or works by which we gain His favor. They are not toys by which we impress other believers out of a false
spirituality. The fruit is a divine product borne out of a relation with Christ and maintained by the Holy Spirit.
In this sense fruit is not only singular, it is also collective. While the flesh spreads out in many directions with its evil
works, the Spirit follows one direction, one purpose, one motivation, and produces one fruit. This points out the idea
of unity, conformity and wholeness. The different graces are supplied by one Spirit. As you can see, the fruit covers
our complete responsibility toward God, ourselves and others. It covers the whole ground of the Law:
1. Duty toward God
2. Duty toward others
3. Duty toward self.
Dwight L. Moody saw the divisions of the fruit of the Spirit in a different way. In his book Secret Power, he notes three
divisions. Love, peace, and joy are all to God; goodness, longsuffering, and gentleness are toward men; and faith,
temperance and meekness are in relation to ourselves. However we divide this single grace, it provides the bedrock of
our faith and the holy soil from which greater grace grows.
The Prism of the Spirit
This revelation of Christ is through the Spirit of God: the Holy Spirit can be seen as the prism of the soul. A prism is a
clear piece of glass which allows light to flow through it and then seemingly separates that light into the colors of the
rainbow. The Corinthians were told by Paul, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath
shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Corinthians
4:6. When the light Paul mentioned, "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" shines
in our hearts, the Holy Spirit catches it and separates it. When it flows through Him, it comes out as love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. All the characteristics that make us Christlike
and are called the "fruit of the Spirit."
Christ Demands Fruit, Not Just Leaves
When Christ is lifted up, men will be drawn to Him. We will know the reality of becoming fishers of men. The harvest of
character will produce the harvest of souls. We will not be like those of Israel who made great pretensions and did little
or nothing of real value to mankind. Their leaves waved in the wind, masking a life sustained only by traditional habits.
It is much easier to grow leaves than to grow fruit! However, we must remind ourselves that the Judge is standing at
the door and nothing escapes His all-seeing eye. Judgment will begin at His house, and that judgment will not be
influenced by any outward show.
Only the pure in heart will see God. When He judges His church, our destiny will not be determined by the beauty of
the architecture, the eloquence of the preaching, the harmony of the singing, or the amount of tithes and offering we
give. His judgment will be according to whether we have lived holy and dedicated lives, revealing His virtues to a lost
world and bringing men and women to salvation.
Whatever an individual is determines what he or she will do both now and in eternity. The key to choosing our eternal
destiny is given to us in Revelation 20:6. If we want to be in the rapture of the church, we must be "blessed and holy."
If we want to miss the flames of hell, we must be "blessed and holy." If we want to be priests of God and of the Lord
Jesus Christ, we must be "blessed and holy." If we want to reign with Him a thousand years, we must be "blessed and
holy." It is a matter of character.
The Works of the Flesh
The apostle Paul pointed out that our sins are a sign that we are losing a spiritual war, "For the flesh lusteth against
the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things
that ye would." Galatians 5:17 This urgent appeal is made because the arm of the flesh will fail you! Living in
self-indulgence will destroy your life. The list of the works of the flesh reveals degradation and shame, which will result
in eternal separation from God. The good news is worth repeating, "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 5:24,25.
"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." Galatians 5:19-21
Look at the glorious deliverance He has brought us. We are no longer slaves to self, nor are we in bondage to sin.
We have been delivered from:
1. Adultery - this destroyer of the sanctity of the home and family in which a married person voluntarily cohabits with
any other than his or her lawful spouse.
2. Fornication - the voluntary sexual communion between an unmarried person and one of the opposite sex.
3. Uncleanness - lustful impurities in general;
4. Lasciviousness - wantonness; sexual vices of all kinds;
5. Idolatry - worship of idols;
6. Witchcraft - secret tampering with the powers of evil and also drugs; the ministering of drugs (pharmakeia);
7. Hatred - the opposite of love; a very strong dislike with ill will, hostility and enmity;
8. Variance - rivalry and discord which leads to quarreling and wrangling, debates and strife;
9. Emulations - jealous indignation;
10. Wrath - passionate fierceness from stirring emotions, then explosions;
11. Strife - contentions and factions; party spirit;
12. Seditions - disunity, divisions;
13. Heresies - preferences, where sects arise;
14. Envyings - feelings of ill will;
15. Murders - slaying and slaughtering;
16. Drunkenness - intoxications, drunken excesses;
17. Revellings - carousal, rioting, drinking parties.
And the apostle Paul added "and such like" to let us know that this list was not exhaustive, just representative. Enough
deeds are listed to let us know there are many divisive works of Satan which are used to destroy peace and unity, as
well as souls.
Our Only Escape - Living and Walking in the Spirit
Our only hope for purity and peace is to live and walk in the Spirit. The Greek phrase the apostle used really means
"let us also go on walking by the Spirit." It is a continual action. Let us make our steps by the help and guidance of
the Spirit. Here is the principle: Christians, through their identification with Christ, are done with the deeds of the
earthly nature. The sinful past, by God's grace, is dead and buried.
That is why the apostle Paul talked about crucifixion and life, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that
the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin."
Romans 6:6-8. Yet we know from bitter experience that our earthly passions are not actually dead; they still torment
us. Although we know the final victory will come, we must seek to live now as if our earthly passions were dead:
"Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your
members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the
dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." Romans 6:11-13
The Spirit-Controlled Life
A spiritual person is not so much a person possessing a strong spiritual character as he is a person filled with the Holy
Spirit. The glory of the new creation is not only that the human spirit is recreated, but is also fits it for the abode of
God himself and makes it dependent upon Him for its life. The highest spirituality, therefore, is that crucified life,
entirely dependent upon and completely possessed by the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Wilbur Chapman had what he called his "rule for Christian living." He said, "That rule that governs my life is this:
Anything that dims my vision of Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps my prayer life, or makes
Christian work difficult, is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it."
The spiritual man does not seek sensualism. His life is centered in God, and his delight is in His will and fellowship. By
the very nature of things, "they that are after the Spirit (do mind) the things of the Spirit" (Romans 8:5). What a joy it is
to mind the things of the Spirit:
1. He is the Spirit of life (Romans 8:11).
2. He is the Spirit of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13).
3. He is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17).
4. He is the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29).
5. He is the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4).
6. He is the Spirit of power (2 Timothy 1:7).
It is so much better to live this way than by the dictates of the flesh.
Our Walk in the Spirit
The apostle Paul called our Christian experience a "walk." He defined that walk as the Spirit's leadership (Galatians
5:18), producing Christ's character (Galatians 5:22,23), the fruit of the Spirit. The Christian life is commonly described
in the Bible as a walk - placing one foot before the other to reach our destination. "The steps of a good man
are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way." Psalm 37:23.
In our daily walk the Holy Spirit transforms our emotional lives, helping us deal with anger, guilt, and anxiety. He
creates life-building emotions to take their place such as love, joy, and peace. The Holy Spirit strengthens our
devotional lives, enabling us to perceive truth, read God's Word, pray and trust God. The Holy Spirit also enables us
to live victoriously, fostering our Christian growth, enabling us to witness and empowering us for service.
If we live in the Spirit, we will walk in the Spirit in...
1. Love - that has all the qualities of 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
2. Joy - that is full of faith and rejoicing.
3. Peace - from the fact that sins are forgiven and we are whole, sound, and complete in Christ.
4. Longsuffering - patience and forbearance that will surprise ourselves.
5. Gentleness - kindness and tenderness which at times may require helping the less fortunate.
6. Goodness - a reflection of the moral qualities of God in truth and righteousness.
7. Faith - faithful to duty which will one day bring a "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," from the Lord.
8. Meekness - controlled strength, like that of Christ and Moses; power to get the job done with gentleness.
9. Temperance - all thoughts, words, impulses and actions under the control of the Holy Spirit.
When we live and walk in the Spirit, exemplifying Christ's character through the fruit and gifts of the Spirit, we will know
the reality of Psalm 1:3: "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his
season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." The fruit of character will produce the
harvest of souls!
A Layman's Guide to the Fruit of the Spirit, by T. David Sustar, Copyright 1990, Pathway Press.
|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES