This is the only way to develop the fruit of the Spirit
Clue: The answer lies in the word “Spirit …”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23.
Not with our own strength
Many Christians, upon being converted and reading about the fruit of the Spirit that they are called to, try and polish up their lives so that more of the fruit listed above comes forth. They labor and strive in their own strength to develop the fruit of the Spirit, but that doesn’t get them very far. Maybe they come to achieve a little more love, a little more goodness, a little more patience, but there comes a point where they fall short, or where they just “can’t bear it anymore.”
The fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of God’s work in our lives when we are obedient to the Holy Spirit, not the fruit of our own strength, and produces “all joy and peace” (Romans 15:13), “all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering.” (Ephesians 4:2) “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.” Ephesians 5:9. “… strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy …” Colossians 1:11. Such abundant fruit-bearing can only occur when we are strengthened with all might by the power of the Holy Spirit, and hence is referred to as the fruit of the Spirit.
Further reading: What is the fruit of the Spirit?
How to develop the fruit of the Spirit
We must be born again, born of the Spirit, if we are to see the kingdom of God, that kingdom that consists of power, righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. All that we can accomplish in our own strength and determination will fall short by comparison. Someone who is born of the Spirit has the power of the Spirit at work in them to change how they are. They no longer have to live according to their human nature—their impatience, their pride, their lack of goodness and gentleness, etc.—but have power from heaven available to help them live a life pleasing to God.
The fruit of the Spirit is contrasted with the works of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21.
The fruit of the Spirit, as opposed to the works of the flesh mentioned above, is manifested in those who walk according to the Spirit: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16. “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:24-25. To “walk in the Spirit” can sound a bit mystical. How do we walk in the Spirit so that the works of the flesh no longer come forth in our life, but rather the fruit of the Spirit?
Further reading: Why do I need the Holy Spirit?
How do we walk in the Spirit?
Jesus says in John 6:63, “The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life.” To walk in the Spirit is to walk in—to obey—Jesus’ words, which He Himself says are “spirit,” by the power of the Holy Spirit. But then we cannot continue to live in such a way that we fulfill the lust of the flesh with its passions and desires. Such a life is possible for every Christian by the power of the Holy Spirit!
It is written in Romans 8:13, “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” We understand from this verse that it is by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the body, and not by our own strength. We also read that we cannot continue to live according to the flesh or we will die. Such an understanding produces a godly fear in us, so that we go boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace to help in the time of need—the time of temptation.
In addition, we read that it is we who are to put to death the deeds of the body, by the Spirit. It is not a work that God has ordained to take place in our lives independent of our will and obedience. It is a work that we must consciously choose and give ourselves to. Then the fruit of the Spirit will come forth in our lives, and we will experience an ever-increasing abundance of life—the life of the Spirit.
Interested in reading about the definition and explanation of each fruit of the Spirit? Click on the individual “fruits” below, or go straight to our topic page about the fruit of the Spirit.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.