Evidence of The Spirit
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Last week we looked at how we are walking. Are we conducting ourselves as Christians or are we conducting ourselves as the world? Paul here in this passage in Galatians 5 says in verse 19 that the “deeds of the flesh are evident.” In other words, the “deeds of the flesh” are obvious. One does not need a PhD in Greek languages to figure this out. If do not have the Spirit of Christ in you, which means you are not saved, then this is what your life will be marked by: “immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outburst of anger, disputes,, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…” So, if these things mark your life, or as John says, if you make a practice of these things, you need to consider whether you are truly redeemed. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we are told that when God saves us, we are made into a “new creature”, the old way of life is gone and the new way of life in Christ is present. That is made possible by the working of the Holy Spirit in us.
Now, if you are genuinely saved then your life is going to exhibit certain characteristics which Paul terms “fruits.” If you are genuinely saved your life should stand out from all the lives around you. In verses 22-23 Paul lays out what these Godly attitudes are that characterize the life of people who belong to God by faith in Christ and are then possessed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces in the believer nine characteristics or attitudes that are linked to one another and are commanded of us as believers throughout the New Testament.
The first one Paul mentions may be the most vital, “love.” This word comes from the Greek word agape, this is a love of choice, referring not to an emotional affection, physical attraction, or the bond of family. Instead this refers to respect, devotion, and an affection that leads to a willingness to be self-sacrificing. This is a love that is completely different than what the world calls love.
The next characteristic is “joy.” This is a happiness that is based on the unchanging promises of God and eternal spiritual realities. It is a sense of well being experienced by one who knows that all is well between themselves and God. 1 Peter 1:8 says, “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” Joy is not dependent upon our circumstances of life, and joy even occurs when our circumstances are dire. Joy is a gift from God, and as such believers are not to manufacture it, but rather they are to delight in the blessing they already possess. Romans 14:17 says, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Then there is the characteristic of “peace.” This is the inner calm that results from confidence in one’s saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Then there is the ability to endure injuries that are afflicted by others and the willingness to accept irritating or painful situations. In other words, “patience.”
“Kindness” is the next characteristic, this is a tender concern one has for others, reflected in a desire to treat others, gently, just as the Lord treats all believers. “Goodness” is moral and spiritual excellence that is evidenced in active kindness. Romans 5:7 says, “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; through perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.” As believers we are commanded to exemplify goodness through kindness. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Another characteristic is “faithfulness,” this is loyalty and trustworthiness. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”
The final two characteristics are “gentleness” and “self-control.” “Gentleness” is better translated as “meekness.” It is a humble and gentle attitude that is patiently submissive in every offense, while having no desire for revenge or retribution. In the New Testament, it is used to describe three attitudes: First submission to the will of God. Colossians 3:12 says, “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Second is teach-ability, James 1:21 says, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” Third is the consideration of others, Ephesians 4:2 says, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.” “Gentleness” leads to “self control.” Another way to look at it is “self-control” is “gentleness” in action.
Paul ends these two verses by saying, “against such things there is no law.” When a Christian is walks by the Spirit and their life is obviously filled with these fruits of the Spirit, then he or she needs no law to produce the attitudes and conduct that please and glorify God.
In verse 24 Paul writes, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus (those who have been saved by God) have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” This verse sums up verses 16-23. If you belong to Christ Jesus, then your fleshly desires have been “crucified” or killed, they are now dead. You will no longer desire immorality, impurity, anger, dissension etc... Instead your life will now be filled with the fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” What is your life marked by? If it is marked by the self-evident bad fruit of the flesh, then repent of your sins and call upon the name of Jesus to redeem you and give you a new life in Him.