“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22).
We will come to the conclusion of our Mission Festival this Sunday. I hope you will be able to join us for our banquet beginning at 5:00 p.m. We will have video greetings and updates from the various missionaries and agencies that we support as a church. Also, don’t forget about our mission project, blessing the children of our missionaries with a gift and cards, as well as providing scholarships to Native American pastors and their wives to attend a conference in Mississippi.
On Sunday morning, we will have an update on Young Life during the Sunday school hour. During our worship service, we will be concluding our Mission Series, “The Mission of God” as we look at John 12:20-32 – “A Fruitful Life.”
When we think about “fruit” in the Bible, we either go all the way back to the Garden and ponder what fruit Adam and Eve ate. And that’s not a bad place to begin. There were two trees highlighted in Eden, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. Obedience to God’s command to not eat of that fruit would produce a life of perpetual eating from the Tree of Life.
But we know how that played out. Adam and Eve did eat, and not only plunged themselves into sin, but us as well as their posterity. These trees were symbolic of what God is doing in our lives. We are not trees, but rather branches. A branch that is cut off from the tree will be useless save for the fire. That was our lot. But even as God pronounced curses on the ground and childbearing, he first cursed the serpent, but also made the first proclamation of the Gospel. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
The offspring of the woman would bring redemption to God’s people. That offspring would appear in the call of Abram. “Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’” (Gen. 12:7). Paul emphatically tells us what God means. “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16).
That word “offspring” is the word seed. Jesus tells his disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus was talking about his impending death, a death that would result in life eternal for all who would look to him in faith. And that life in Christ is to be a fruitful life.
The previous verses before the “fruit” verse in Galatians reminds us of what we were: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, division, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like those.” These were the evidences of a life apart from Christ. The only outcome for such a life is the endure the wrath and punishment of God.
Again, when Jesus was talking about the seed dying, he was talking about his death. His death would produce fruit in US! Paul used “fruit” to help us understand the product of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside every believer. The fruit of the Spirit is produced by the Spirit, not by the Christian. Again, the word is singular, showing that “fruit” is a unified whole, not independent characteristics. As we grow, all the characteristics of Christ will be manifested in our lives.
Yet, like physical fruit needs time to grow, the fruit of the Spirit will not ripen in our lives overnight. Like a successful gardener must battle against weeds to enjoy the sweet fruit they desire, we must constantly be putting to death the deeds of our old sin nature.
The Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to do this. We can say “no” to sin and “put on” that which God provides. As we rest in the finished work of Christ, the Spirit begins to do in and through us what only he can do – to shape us and grow us to look like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). And we can confidently persevere to the end, knowing that “…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
Since God’s goal for all his children is for us to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29), the Holy Spirit constantly works to rid our lives of the “acts of the sinful nature” (Gal 5:19-21) and to display his fruit instead. Therefore, the presence of the “fruit of the Spirit” is evidence that our character is becoming more like Christ’s.