Today I want to talk about the fruit of the spirit, which should be developing in our lives. Jesus said in Matthew 12:33 that a tree is known by the fruit that it bears. In light of this, trees meant people, and the fruit were their actions and attitudes. The disciples were called Christians because their behavior, activities, and speech were “Christlike.” Paul covered this in detail in his letter to the Galatians, beginning in chapter 5 verse 16 through 26:
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
“To walk in the Spirit” first means that the Holy Spirit lives inside of us. Second, it means that we are to be open and sensitive to His influence. Third, it means that we allow Him to change our attitudes, to shape our life as the Spirit leads us. We can tell if someone walks in the Spirit because they will begin to act a lot like Jesus. Jesus told us that the mission of the Holy Spirit would be to promote and speak of Him (John 14:16–17, 14:26, 15:26, 16:13–15) and He always points us to Jesus. When we walk in the Spirit, we listen to what the Holy Spirit says, and He guides us to become more like Jesus.
If we are led by the Spirit, then we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. This does not mean that we will not want to. The desire is usually still lurking back there somewhere waiting for a weak moment to pounce on you as soon as you will give into the temptation.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
This effectively “writes” the law of God on our hearts, inside of us. This is the great work of the New Covenant, that was promised in the Old Testament in Jeremiah 31:33: “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
The Holy Spirit will lead us far beyond the requirements of the law. When He is involved in your decisions, you are not going to steal, or commit adultery, or hate others, because He will convict you instantly. You won’t have to wait for judgement day, He lives inside of you and will instantly tell you that is a bad idea.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul covers a list of bad fruit. The word flesh here does not refer to our physical body, but to our old self centered nature and its desires. We cannot actually see the flesh that Paul is talking about, for it is not our skin, but like the wind, we can see the effects of it. If someone has this type of fruit growing in their lives, then they are not being led by the Spirit. They will not enter the kingdom of God, which according to Romans 14:17 is “Righteousness, Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit.” There will be no true peace or joy in their lives.
Heaven should not be the goal of the Christian; that is merely our retirement plan. Our career is becoming more and more like Jesus today. Our eternal life has already begun. You are who you are, and leaving this life and entering heaven is no more than changing clothes. Don’t think that you will suddenly become someone else. If you have accepted Jesus, you are already “born again” and you have begun your new life.
The Apostle John wrote: “…we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:2-3 ESV).
We are to be purifying ourself and becoming more like Jesus day by day, from the inside out.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.(Galatians 5:16–25 ESV).
Jesus was a living example of the fruit of the Spirit, and as we become more like Him, this good fruit will begin to appear in our lives. A great friend and mentor of mine passed away this week and we attended his funeral. He was 84 years old, and had accepted Jesus when he was 12. I had known him over 25 years. He was an electronics technician, and he helped me get started in the computer business. We both loved Jesus, loved technology, loved music, and we became friends for life. As I sat there and thought about him, it occurred to me that he had every single one of these fruits evident in his life. He was gentle, kind, loving, and was completely faithful. He said what he meant, and he meant what he said. He had taken on the very nature of Jesus.
My point is that the fruit of the Spirit is obtainable right now for each of us. If we allow the Holy Spirit to slowly change us over the years, we will gradually become more, and more like Jesus. Oh yes, there is grace to cover our mistakes, and yes there is forgiveness that will cover the darkest of sins, but bad fruit should not be the normal.
The South Carolina motto is “While I breathe, I hope.” In the same way, while we breathe, we can still change our course. No matter what has been in the past, we can trade our bad fruit in for good fruit, but the day will finally come when we will die, or Jesus will return for the harvest. On that day, we can talk all we want about the kind of tree we are, but it is the fruit that we have produced that will tell Him all that He needs to know. A tree is known by the fruit that it bears. He will separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, the book of life will be closed, and there will be no more names added.
You can pray this with me if you like:
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please forgive me of anything that I have done wrong in the past. Cleanse me from the inside out and give me the grace to become better. Jesus come into my life, lead me, guide me, and be my Lord and Savior today. In Your name I pray. Amen.
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