Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 6, 1958
NUMBER 43, PAGE 4-5b

"The Fruit Of The Spirit"

This issue is devoted to the study of the above theme. It is a follow-up to a previous issue which dealt with The Works Of The Flesh. The former paper was wholly negative. The works of the flesh were identified and opposed. They are sinful and should have absolutely no place in the life of a child of God. Christians are anti these things. This issue is positive in its approach. We are for — pro — all the things named as a part of the fruit of the Spirit. In the articles appearing herein the various elements composing "the fruit of the Spirit" are identified and discussed.

In Galatians 5:19-21, the apostle Paul enumerated some of the works of the flesh and tells us that they who "practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Immediately following this and in contrast with it, the apostle says:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law." (Verses 22-23.)

A very vivid and graphic contrast is recognized at once between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. On the one hand, the works of the flesh make a shameful and terrible picture. The other is at once altogether lovely and beautiful. One is to be shunned and abhorred. The other to be desired and sought. Christians must abstain from the one and cleave to the other. The practicing of the one means eternal destruction, while having the latter will mean final acceptance by God.

There are two levels or two planes upon which children of God may live — a lower and a higher, or carnal and a spiritual. Those who practice the works of the flesh live on the lower or carnal level. The higher, spiritual plane is where the fruit of the Spirit is manifested. One cannot live a faithful Christian life without bearing the fruit of the Spirit. To bear fruit is the supreme and ultimate purpose of the Christian life. "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit ... He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit . . . Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples." (John 15:1-8.) Paul said: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God." (Rom. 8:14.) Only those led or guided by the Spirit are children of God. Thus in obeying the gospel and living in harmony therewith, one becomes a Christian and lives the kind of life a Christian should live. This person is being led by the Spirit and in the life of such an individual there will be produced "the fruit of the Spirit." These elements (Gal. 5:22-23.) are called "the fruit of the Spirit" because these things are the inevitable result produced in the life of one who follows the leadership of the Spirit. It should be remembered that it takes conscious and determined effort on the part of the individual to follow or be led by the Holy Spirit. Constant attention should be given to this all-important matter in order for "the fruit of the Spirit" not to become "dried" or "shriveled" in our lives. This fruit is not produced by hap-hazard, careless, half-hearted or part-time obedience to the Spirit's leadership. It would be well if many members of the church would give this point the serious attention it deserves. Those who are known as "Sunday morning Christians;" those who seldom or never pray; those who give but little attention to learning God's word; those who begrudgingly serve the Lord and who cling to the world cannot possibly produce the fruit of the Spirit to a "ripened" and accepted degree.

The test of the Christian life is "the fruit of the Spirit." It is as easy to recognize such as it is the works of the flesh. "By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." (Matt. 7:16-18.) So faithful Christians are known by the fruit of the Spirit.

It will be observed that Paul speaks of "fruit" and not "fruits" — plural. Why? Perhaps the singular number is employed to emphasize that the combination of graces described is in its entirety the proper outcome in each individual of the Spirit's guidance, and the character which the Spirit would make of every soul subject to His dominion, comprises all these features; so that the absence of any one mars in a degree the perfection of the product. This means that it takes all nine of these components and no mere selection of graces out of them, to form the one fruit of the Spirit. Christian character must be fully and harmoniously developed. Christians must mature into the likeness of Christ and this cannot be accomplished except by the full application of the Spirit's teaching in our lives.

The nine graces throw themselves naturally into three groups, each group consisting of three — the first group, "love, joy, peace," touching our relations to God; the second group, "longsuffering, kindness, goodness," have to do with our relations to our fellow-men; and the third group, "faithfulness, meekness, self-control," deal with the regulation and conduct of our own individual life. It is not to be understood that the nine different elements mentioned are the only "fruit" of the Spirit. This seems to be only a reasonable sample of what the whole fruit is composed. That there are other graces belonging to this class appears evident when Paul says, "against such there is no law."

"Some church members are such driveling believers that they do not let the Holy Spirit produce fruit in their lives. Christians may 'quench' the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19.), and are warned against such. They may 'grieve' the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30.), and are warned against this. Those who grieve the Holy Spirit and quench the Holy Spirit cannot bear the fruit of the Spirit .... The fruit of the Spirit is no shock of spasmodic piety; the fruit of meekness and peace are a check on the vibrations of emotions between extremes. The Christian development advances in the line of Christian duties; the fruit of the Spirit is born in the normal Christian life; as Christians obey the truth of God and live faithful to his word, the fruit of the Spirit is the natural result." (H. Leo Boles)

"Against such there is not law." There is no law to violate, no law to condemn, no law to enslave. There is no law to condemn such persons. These are not things which the law denounces. Who would want to make a law that would forbid such graces? Would good men do so? Surely not. Evil men could not do so for such things would work nothing but good to even them. God has made a law about these things, but his law requires these graces rather than forbidding them.

As Christians we must see to it that we are following the leadership of God's Spirit, as such leadership is exercised through the inspired word, in order that in our lives "the fruit of the Spirit" may be truly produced. Let us learn well the meaning of the terms used to describe this "fruit" in order that we may really know what must be produced. Only in this way can we stand before the Lord in that day and expect his approval.

— C. A. H.