FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Greetings precious people. In todayís article I would like for us to continue to look at the subject of fruit. Fruit as we saw from last weekís article is that which comes from a personís life. It usually comes in the form of words and actions and at times inaction.
The Bible, Godís Word, reveals that there ore three types of fruit that a person can bear in their life. It can be bad fruit (we looked at this in last weekís article and can be seen in the Scriptures in the Book of Galatians chapter 5 verses 19-21. Both Christian and non-Christian can bear this kind of fruit.
The next two types of fruit can only come from the life of a Christian, for they are the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit that the Holy Spirit initiates and cultivates in the life of a believer. Once again I feel it necessary to clarify what it is to be a Christian, for there are many in our society that believe with all their heart that they are a Christian when they are in fact not. Think of the utter terror that a person will experience on that Day of Judgement when they stand before Jesus Christ and hear Him say the damning words, "I never knew you, depart from Me." That person who thought that they were a Christian all their life will be condemned to Hell for all Eternity.
Look at the context of Jesus saying these words. In Matthew 7:15-27, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 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?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
There are many that believe that just because the say or think that they are a Christian that they are going to Heaven. The previous listed verses and many others like them make it clear that this is not what gets a person to Heaven. As Jesus said to a very "good man" in John 3:3-7, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again."
It is being born of the Spirit that enables a person to begin to experience the Fruit of the Spirit in their life. Being born of the Spirit occurs when a person repents of their sin and turns to faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his/her sins and the salvation of their soul. Now the Holy Spirit can begin to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in that life.
Letís begin to take a look at what this fruit is. In Galatians 5:22-23, we read, " But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." You may have noticed that the word "fruit" in the above verses is in the singular form even though there are a number of traits mentioned. Some have suggested that "The Fruit" which is mentioned here is Love and those which follow are the by-products of Love. Others suggest that the nine listed traits make up the one whole. Whichever it is, the fruit that is mentioned in the above verse is far superior to the fruit of the flesh and to be desired more that anything else.
First mentioned is Love. The word for Love that is used here is the Greek word Agape. Agape is the deep love that God has for mankind, it is characterized as being unconditional, beyond ones ability to comprehend apart from the enlightening work of the Holy Spirit, a giving, self-sacrificing love. Not only is this the Love that God has for His children but it is also the Love that God places within the heart of His children that they may love others in this way. We read in Romans 5:5, "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
This great Love that God has for us is incomprehensible to the natural mind. Why would God give His only Son to die for a sinful man like myself? It does not make sense. Would you give your son or daughter to suffer and die a horrible death for someone that cared nothing for you or your sacrifice? It would not make sense to make such a sacrifice. Yet God has done this for you and I and much, much more.
The apostle Paul knew the importance of Godís children coming to a greater understanding of Godís Love so he prayed this prayer. In Ephesians 3:14-21, "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." And in Ephesians 2:4-7, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."
The more we understand the great Love that God has for us the easier it is for the Christian to love one another as God has loved us. If we are honest and know how we really are, what is said in Ephesians seems utterly impossible and unreasonable. In Ephesians 4:31-32, "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you."
As I begin to understand how kind, loving, and forgiving God is to me it becomes easier to be so with others. And not only do I become a benefactor but all those around me, as they are able to taste of this wonderful fruit. All this is part of the word of the Holy Spirit.
Let me ask you dear ones, what fruit are you partaking of? What kind of fruit are those around you tasting from the actions and words of your life? Is it good fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, or is it the rotten old fruit of the flesh? Let God have His way in your life today and bring about the wonderful fruit of the Spirit.
Next time we will continue our study of the Fruit of the Spirit. Until then may the Lord richly bless you my beloved.
If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests you can contact me at: Calvary Chapel of Alpine, P.O. Box 1528, Alpine, Ca. 91903 or call 619-445-2589, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Macintyre is pastor of Calvary Chapel of Alpine