“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Once we receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, our old, sinful nature has been replaced by the new, Christ-like nature. The fruit that results from living a life of obedience to God’s Word and dependence on the guidance of the Holy Spirit identify us as Christ’s followers.
In Philippians 1:11, these are called the “fruits of righteousness.” Paul, in Ephesians 5:9, wrote, “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.”
Salvation is God’s gift of grace. I can do nothing to show myself worthy of God’s acceptance. I can’t brag that my own words or actions get me into heaven. My thoughts, motives, and words are often self-serving. In light of God’s purity and holiness, the good things I do are like dirty rags (Romans 3:10). Because I am a new creation in Christ, He can now use me to do the good works that He planned for me to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
Paul lists nine characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These qualities, when exhibited by the followers of Christ, foster a spirit of unity and service within the church, and they create opportunities to draw unbelievers to salvation in Jesus Christ.
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life….” (Proverbs 11:30). According to Psalm 1, the righteous man delights in God’s Word. He is compared to a well-watered tree that produces seasonal fruit. As we increase in faith by studying God’s Word, prayer, and walking in the Spirit, our roots of faith will grow deeply so that we remain faithful to Him even when times get tough.
I may get produce from a neglected garden, but when I keep the soil fertilized, loose, and weed-free, the crop is larger and of better quality. A garden also needs the right amount of sunshine and water.
Even so, the follower of Christ needs regular time in God’s Word and prayer, and the fellowship of other believers, to build and encourage their faith. The Bible tells us about God and how to live to please and glorify Him. God knows what is best for us because He is our Creator. When we weed out sin by acknowledging and confessing it, and we conduct ourselves in obedience to Him, the Holy Spirit can produce more fruit in and through us.
Because these qualities are attributes of God, we see them in the life of Jesus Christ. Because we share His nature as His followers, the fruit of the Spirit should be apparent in our lives as well.
(coming July 2022)