Last night we concluded our study looking at “Walking in the Spirit” in Galatians 5:16-25 Last week we looked at the first four words Paul uses to describe the fruit of the Spirit. This week we finished the list.
“Flesh” = our old, natural nature. “Spirit” = God living in us.
“Fruit” = natural outflow of life of God’s Character.
Love: God is love, Flesh doesn’t love
Joy: God is joyful, Flesh only has joy in desires
Peace: God is at peace, flesh is volatile
Patience: God is eternal and patient, Flesh wants no delay
The Fruit of the Spirit is Kindness.
Lexicon definition: “uprightness in one’s relations with others, the quality of being helpful or beneficial” adj. “pertaining to that which causes no discomfort, morally good, beneficent.”
The Greel word for “kindness” is chrestotes. The uses in the New Testament for this and the adjectival form chrestos are very interesting:
- Mt 11:30 – “My yoke is chrestos”
- Lk 5:39 – “the old wine is chrestos”
- 1 Cor 15:35 – “Bad company corrupts chresta morals”
- Eph 4:32 – “Be chrestoi to one another”
- Ps 37:3 (LXX) – “Trust in the Lord and poiei chrestota”
- Proverbs 2:21 (LXX) – “The chrestoi will inhabit the land”
- 1 Pt 2:3 – “if indeed you’ve tasted that the Lord is chrestos”
- Lk 6:35 – “He is chrestos to the unthankful and the evil”
- Rom 2:4 – “do you presume on the riches of His chrestotetos?”
- Rom 3:5 – “all have turned aside, no one does chrestoteta”
- Col 3:12 – “put on, as God’s chosen…chrestotes”
- Titus 3:4 – “when the chrestotes and loving kindness of our God appeared”
- Eph 2:7 – “to show the immeasurable riches of His grace in chrestoti towards us in Christ Jesus.”
This “kindness” is something of God. It is God’s disposition to be good, helpful, kind, blessing, to all—even the “unthankful and evil” (Lk 6:35). He offers it to those who’ve turned away from it (Rom 3:5), to taste (1 Pet 2:3) and to take on as a yoke (Mt 11:30 that is, the controlling factor in their life). Then, in a spiritual way, it is shown on Christ (Titus 3:4) and received (and displayed) by those whom Christ has saved (Eph 2:7). Thus the Spirit of God, who is in us to lead us, is full of this kindness. And He desires us to manifest this same God-like quality to all around us, especially in the household of faith. We’ll bear it like fruit, we’ll wear it (Col 3:12) and we’ll practice it (Ps 37:3). The flesh doesn’t possess it, and wants its own pleasures so badly that it won’t stoop to be beneficent to anyone who doesn’t directly benefit it. So it works against this waste of time and resources. It only has chrestotes for itself. The Spirit will lead me to be a person shaped by this quality of God, to feel and show this kindness to all.
The Fruit of the Spirit is Goodness.
Lexicon definition: “positive moral quality characterized by interest in the welfare of others.” adj (agathos): “meeting a high standard of quality, worth or merit”
The flesh has no interest in partaking of or manifesting this goodness. It desires to not have to think about it, because it desires to indulge itself in what is often not good. Or at least, it wants to not have to care if what it wants is “good” or not. (In this, the flesh is amoral.) It is not interested in knowing or being held to a standard of “goodness” that may prevent it from expressing or indulging itself to the fullest. Besides, the flesh may sense that it can’t measure up anyway—“no one is agathos except God.” And yet this excellent moral quality which seeks to benefit others is one of God’s most prominent qualities. “God is good!” This means the Spirit is is also supremely good—He is Himself totally excellent and beneficent. He brings His goodness into me. My flesh, which loves to settle for the low, the worthless, and the selfish, must recoil at this High and Holy One entering in. It must sense the death coming to it (“Now I’ll never get my way.”) But the Spirit desires to manifest this same goodness of spirit in me. And He does, as I am led by His good desires, walking in Him as a source of life. I become good, like Him.
The Fruit of the Spirit is Faithfulness.
Lexicon definition: “that which evokes confidence or trust, faithfulness, fidelity, reliability, commitment…the state of believing on the basis of the reliability of someone—trust, faith, confidence.”
This “faith/faithfulness,” like all these perspectives on the fruit of the Spirit, is absolutely central to who God is. Of course faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit, because the Spirit is none other than God Himself. He is the covenantally, infinitely and eternally faithful God, “Faithful and True”—“He cannot deny Himself”—“He cannot lie”—He cannot fail! My flesh desires the right to break any and all bonds for the sake of gratifying its desires. It’s only faithfulness is its commitment to its own pleasure. Thus, the works of the flesh are supremely unfaithful to God and everyone else—they all leave people betrayed and let down for the sake of fulfilling its desires. But if the eternally, unfailingly faithful God moves into me, His Spirit will cause me to be faithful like Him.
How? Here’s an awesome key: of course “pistis” also means “faith.” Here the Holy Spirit says, “My fruit in your life is this faith(fulness)—this believing in Me, the unfailingly faithful God. Left to yourself you would always fail (if only in breaking bonds in the nervous search for gratification), but believe in Me and you will have the resources of My faithfulness to rely on, and in you, I will never fail. I’ll bear my faithfulness like fruit in your life.
The Fruit of the Spirit is Gentleness. (Meekness)
The greek word here is prautes. Lexicon definition: “the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s importance—gentleness, humility, courtesy, meekness.”
- It takes prautes to properly answer unbelievers (1 Pet 3:16).
- It takes prautes to restore a brother caught in sin (Gal 6:1).
- It must be part of how the Lord’s servant must correct opponents (2 Tim 2:25).
- It is one of the chief qualities of Christ (Mt 11:28).
- The praus will inherit the earth (Mt 5:5)–God will give the earth to those who have prautes.
- As part of the adornment of wives it is precious in God’s sight (1 Pet 3:4).
The lexicon definition seems small. This is not so much “not being overly impressed” with yourself, as the flavor you give off when you aren’t. It is the opposite of the energy you give off when you are impressed with yourself. In a Spirit-filled Christian you won’t meet that. The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. And you don’t get it in Christ—that boasting, arrogant rudeness, that “vaunting itself up”—because He is all love, and that is the opposite of love. Prautes makes you easy and enjoyable to deal with. It makes it easier to take correction from you (Gal 6:1) and it makes it easier for people to be argued with and contradicted by you (2 Tim 2:25). It smells of Christ’s easy yoke (Mt 11:28). Does it therefore cause people to want to be yoked with Christ? Probably, because in it they taste Him.
The flesh is opposed to prautes because it is impressed with itself, and it wants others to be. And it sees itself as the most important person in any given situation, and its desires as the most important thing. So it will oppose this meekness which will get in the way of what it wants.
The Fruit of the Spirit is Self-Control.
Lexicon definition: “restraint of one’s desires, emotion or impulses.”
- Athletes need it (1 Cor 9:25).
- It was part of Paul’s extended gospel presentation (Acts 24:25).
- It is to be added to our faith as part of growth to maturity (1 Pet 1:6).
The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, and of God. And He is a person of the Trinity. As such, He is subject to the desires of the complete Godhead (Father, Son, Spirit). He is self controlled in that He does not act outside of God’s desires (His desires), that is, He doesn’t ever act outside of the desires of the Father, Son and Spirit together. (See John 16:13-15)
The Spirit in me will live out this total agreement with the desires of God. He gives me the ability to check myself, to hold myself in control—especially in the area of my passions—to conform to the revealed will of God. More properly, the Spirit desires to hold the desires of my flesh in check (since they will lead to the works of the flesh, see v.17), and as I walk in His desires, I’ll receive strength to do it. The flesh works against this, of course, because it wants no control over the pursuit of its own desires.
- The fruit of the Spirit is God Himself, coming out of me.
- So I don’t work these things up, I—moment by moment—yield to the desires of the Spirit.
- How does this happen? Recap of all 5 studies:
- You hear the message of the Gospel and believe it. (Gal 3:2)
- God sends His Spirit into your heart. (Gal 4:6)
- You continue to experience the Spirit’s working in you as you hear and believe God’s word (3:6)
- In other words: the word teaches us how to know the desires of the Spirit.
- As our minds know more what the desire’s of God’s Spirit are, we are able more and more to yield to Him and allow His desires to take over in every little situation in life.
- Through all this, He is living in us, doing His work.
- With each decision, each moment of life that is ruled by His desires, we’re building our life, one step at a time. We’re walking in the Spirit.
- As we do, we begin to become like God, in these areas. Our characters begin to be like His character. Inside, we become like Him. And it comes out of us too—in all our relationships and circumstances, God’s character begins to become real. We are bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
- Let’s commit to being Christians who keep in the forefront of our mind—what are the desires of the Spirit?
- Let’s always be very clear on what the works of the flesh look like, and what is the fruit of the Spirit.
- Let’s be constantly seeking God for a greater work of the Spirit in our hearts, and let’s seek to be very yielded to Him.