“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…”
Now we move to a striking contrast from the works of the flesh (Ga 5:19-21) to the fruit of the Spirit with its nine characteristics. There is a contrast between the “works” of the flesh (Ga 5:19) and the “fruit” of the Spirit (Ga 5:22).
The nine characteristic qualities of the Spirit form three triads:
1) fruit directed toward self internally: love, joy, peace
2) fruit directed toward others horizontally: longsuffering, kindness, goodness
3) fruit directed towards God vertically: faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
But the fruit of the Spirit is
Fruit is something produced by living organisms such as trees or vines. Human beings can produce living organisms called children. Metaphorically, the Bible uses “fruit” for character or deeds, such as giving God praise. The character of the fruit comes from the organism that produced it.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).
Walking in fellowship with the Spirit yields the fruit of the Spirit. The Christian does not produce this fruit. He is not the source of the fruit but the Holy Spirit Himself.
The singular form of “fruit” suggests that the Holy Spirit produces a package of character. Love, joy, and peace do not stand alone, but in relation to each other. All nine manifestations of fruit stand in relation to each other. The works of the flesh are mutually antagonistic to each other, but the fruit of the Spirit is the natural, coalescing result of the Holy Spirit controlling our lives.
The Spirit-filled believer always manifests a unity of nine character qualities. He does not love at the exclusion of inner peace. He carries all of these qualities when he is Spirit filled. It is possible to practice two or three fruit of the Spirit, but the Spirit-filled believer produces all of them. Carnal Christians can produce some of these qualities, but only a Spirit-filled believer produces all of them.
The idea here is one of complete submission to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. There are nine divine grapes hanging together in one cluster that come from the Spirit filled life.
The Holy Spirit is the source of the fruit of the Spirit.
Romans and Galatians are parallel books but with different emphases. Romans is the work of the Son of God for us, and Galatians is the work of the Spirit of God in us. After God places enormous credit of His own righteousness to our account, He then piles further blessing on our souls by giving us operating assets to live the Christian life day by day.
Sin “works” in our sin capacity, but fruit comes from the Spirit. He produces the fruit, not us. Fruit comes from the root; qualities of the Spirit come from the Holy Spirit. It is the product of divine energy, the living Holy Spirit. This is a power that comes from within, not without, like the works of the flesh.
The Holy Spirit is the agent of regeneration and comes to indwell each believer at the point of salvation. Then the Spirit goes to work immediately changing the believer. Before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell each believer. He worked around them but not in them. Since Pentecost, we have a close, intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.
The moment we yield ourselves to the Spirit of God, this triggers a process of dynamic Christian living. By this, the Spirit progressively molds us into the image of Christ and, in turn, reproduces the character of Christ in us – the fruit of the Spirit. The purpose of sanctification is that we might become more accurate representatives of His character. God will finish this work when we meet Him face to face.
The Christian who walks in the Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit. The flesh demands certain activity but the fruit of the Spirit naturally produces the character of Christ. The flesh is self-assertive and self-indulgent, but the fruit of the Spirit reaches out to others. The one is human manipulation, but the other is divine production.
The Holy Spirit does not produce some of the fruit of the Spirit in isolation from others. We cannot separate them for our convenience. We cannot isolate one characteristic from another. The Holy Spirit does not first produce love in us and then begins to work on joy at some later point. If that were the case, none of us would live long enough to finish the list!