When we live in the flesh or out of carnality, what is produced out of our actions is not life-giving, nor is it life receiving. Instead, it ends in destruction, for they shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
However, there is a way of life that makes you come alive, indeed, come alive.
Here’s what Paul says, 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. Galatians 5:22 -23
As one man said, this is not a list of virtues to keep so that you will not do the vices listed before.
Most of our mindset when reading this text is to think. Don’t do these things (the vices). Instead, do these things (the virtues). In either case, the emphasis was on what you should not do and what you should do instead. That is definitely not what Paul is talking about here. Paul is not saying, “Don’t try to obey all the rules in the Old Testament law; here is a much easier set of rules to obey instead.” That would be to replace one wrong attitude with another one. Paul is not talking about rules at all.
Look at the metaphor Paul uses, fruit! All those attributes he wrote are wrapped up in a singular fruit—the fruit of the Spirit.
Fruit is a natural product of our lives because we walk in, are led by, and live in the Spirit. If a tree is alive, it will bear fruit. That is the nature of being a living tree! Fruit is what you get when a tree has life within it. Does a dead tree produce fruit? It has many of the characteristics of a tree, but if it’s not producing, it is a dead tree. Read John 15 (the True Vine).
The Greek word translated “fruit” refers to the natural product of a living thing. Paul used “fruit” to help us understand the development of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside every believer. The fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit, not by the Christian. The Greek word is singular, showing that “fruit” is a unified whole, not independent characteristics. As we grow and mature in Christ, all the attributes of Christ will be manifested in our lives.
Here are the attributes of Christ that we will show.
Love – true love is a choice and not a feeling. Jesus chose to love me; even when I was unlovable, He loved. (1 John 4:7-8)
Joy – the Greek word translated as “joy” in Galatians 5 means “gladness and delight” – It’s a feeling of gladness based on our circumstances. Some would say happiness which is based on happenings. Sadly, the world’s joy cannot last because it is based on fleeting, physical circumstances. But the joy of the Lord is established in our spiritual, eternal circumstances (John 15:4-11; Romans 15:13)
Peace – for many, peace is the absence of conflict. However, we are always at war as believers, so peace has to mean more than just that. We have peace with God (Romans 5:1), meaning our broken relationship has been restored. We are at peace now! Once, we were lacking; currently, we lack no-thing; we are at peace because in Christ we’re complete. (Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27; Philippians 4:4-9; Judges 6:24; Romans 8:6; James 3:18; Job 22:21-22; 2 Thessalonians 3:16)
Longsuffering – the word in Greek means to be “long-tempered” or patient. Some would say the people who are longsuffering are pushovers, weak, or meek. But, on the contrary, this shows strong character, boldness, and willingness not to make hasty or rash decisions. (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 1:11-12; Romans 5:3-4)
Kindness & Goodness – these two are so closely related that I have combined them. Together, they give us the concept that we must not only possess Christlike goodness, but we also must show it by the actions we take towards others. Titus 3:4 shows us precisely this concept. It was God’s kindness and goodness in action. He was full of goodness but was kind enough to show it to every person. Thus, God demonstrates (Romans 5:8). I love that it was not a one-time thing; He continues to demonstrate this to us. Jesus was selfless, compassionate, and merciful in extending His love to us; that’s kindness. He was pure, holy, and righteous; that’s godliness or goodness! (Exodus 34:6; Mark 10:18; James 1:17; Matthew 7:11; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 4:32; Luke 6:35; Colossians 3:12-13)
Faithfulness – To be “faithful” is to be reliable or trustworthy. Are we reliable when it comes to walking with Jesus? For example, Adam had a morning appointment with God, he missed it, and God went looking for Adam. Do you keep your appointments with God, or is God out looking for you too? Once we were faithful to our carnal man, are we now devoted to walking in, being led by, and living in the Spirit?
2 Thessalonians 1:4 We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.
What will your life tell? ( 1 Corinthians 4:2; Hebrews 10:23; Revelation 2:10; Matthew 25:21)
Gentleness is the grace of the soul; it is living in humility. Many mistake humility as weakness. Gentleness is equal to meekness; it is strength under control. Paul even said in writing to Timothy that he would correct his adversaries with gentleness (2 Timothy 2:25). Paul further taught that we should restore those who have been caught in sin through a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1). Gentleness isn’t self-seeking or self-absorbed; it’s quite the opposite. It is necessary to keep the body of Christ in a place of harmony and unity(Ephesians 4:2). (Philippians 4:5; Psalm 18:35; 1 Timothy 6:11-12)
Self-Control – the only possible way to have the control to abstain from the works of the flesh is to be led by the Spirit. It is not enough to run from something; you must be running towards something. You can run towards God by being led by the Spirit. As you are running towards God, drawing nearer to Him, every step takes you further from the “works of the flesh”! Saying yes to the Spirit is a hard no to the flesh! (Proverbs 25:28; Romans 7:18; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Timothy 3:2-3; Titus 2:11-12)
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
The New King James Version. (1982). (Tt 2:11–14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The New King James Version. (1982). (2 Pe 1:5–11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.