Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit

4) The opposite of the works of the flesh is the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Notice that the fruit of the Spirit is described immediately after the works of the flesh. Notice also that "fruit" is singular. And notice that this is the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of the Christian. In other words, a genuine Christian will have ALL the virtues listed as the fruit of the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is NOT fellowship with Christ. Luke 13:26-27
"then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.'
27 "But He will say, 'I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.'

The fruit of the Spirit is NOT successful Christian work. Matthew 7:22-23
22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'
23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'

Christians are sometimes surprised to find that a preacher who did a great work for God has gotten into a major sin scandal. Jesus, however, taught that it would be possible for the lost to do great works for Him. The verses preceding this passage talk about identifying false prophets by their fruits. The verses immediately after this passage state that a person who hears Jesus' words but doesn't do them is not saved.

When we see that a person does not have the fruit of the Spirit, we can
safely state that that person is not saved. But someone might object that we are not to judge another person. However, Romans 2:1 describes the sin of judging: Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

Judging is seeing your own sin in someone else, whether or not it is really there. A person sins by judging the "things" that another person does. The fruit produced by the Holy Spirit is not the same thing as the deeds done by a person. Recognizing that a person lacks the fruit of the Spirit is not the same thing as judging a person's actions.