Over the past few weeks we have been talking about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and some of the clear commands from the Word of God concerning the Spirit. We have looked at the commands that we not grieve or quench the Spirit. And that we are to walk in the Spirit, pray in the Spirit, and to be filled with the Spirit.
In John chapter 15 Jesus taught His disciples concerning the importance of bearing fruit. It is clear from this chapter that He wants us to bear fruit...more fruit...and much fruit, because this is the way we glorify Him. The word "fruit" is used in a number of different ways in the Scripture. It describes people won to Christ (Ro. 1:13), holy living (Ro. 6:22), gifts brought to God (Ro. 15:26-28), good works (Col. 1:10), and praise (Heb. 13:15). In our passage this evening the "fruit of the Spirit" has to do with character. It is the character of the Holy Spirit that God wants to see in our lives. So tonight, let's consider the matter of the fruit of the Spirit.
I. Note the Contrast between Works and Fruit.
A. Work is the result of effort being put forth.
1. A machine in a factory works, and turns out a product.
2. But you cannot manufacture fruit.
3. You may be able to imitate and counterfeit color, shape, smell, and even taste...but it is still a manufactured product.
B. Fruit is the natural result of proper growth.
1. "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so." cf Ge. 1:11
2. God created all in this manner.
3. He commanded Adam & Eve to be fruitful and multiply that the earth might be filled.
4. When Jesus came upon the fig tree, He expected it to be bearing figs.
5. If a couple are unable to have children, the concern is that something is wrong!
6. Fruit-bearing is the natural result of proper growth.
C. Fruit is the manifestation of character.
1. Jesus said, "The tree is known by its fruit." cf Mt. 12:33
2. The men who went into the promised land to spy brought back the fruit of the land to illustrate the marvelous character of that place. cf Nu. 13:26
3. Speaking of those who would be His disciples Jesus said, "Ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples." cf Jn. 15:8
4. Whether it is the tree, the land, or the person...their character is manifested by their fruit.
II. The Fruit of the Spirit.
A. Note that this is the fruit of the Spirit.
1. That means that it is not worked up by our efforts...
2. Rather, it is the natural result of an individual's growth in the Spirit.
3. This is what should happen in our lives as a direct result of the indwelling Spirit, being filled with the Spirit, and walking or being led by the Spirit.
B. Note the divisions of qualities.
1. The first three deals with our relation to our Heavenly Father.
a. This is Divine love, not sensual love or brotherly love.
b. Then joy...that inward peace and sufficiency that is not effected by outward circumstances.
c. Then comes peace...and Paul wrote that it was the peace that passeth all understanding.
2. The next three have to do with our relationship to others.
a. Longsuffering: courageous endurance without quitting.
b. Gentleness: kindness to others.
c. Goodness: this is love in action.
Note: A believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit will be longsuffering and will not seek to avenge himself. He will be kind and gentle, even with the most offensive. And he will sow goodness where others sow evil. Human nature cannot accomplish these things...this is the manifestation of the Spirit of God.
3. The final three deal with our relationship to ourselves.
a. Faith: dependability.
b. Meekness: this is the right use of power and authority under control.
Note: Meekness does not equal weakness; Jesus was meek, but He wasn't weak!
c. Temperance: self-control.
C. How to recognize counterfeits.
1. It is possible for the flesh to counterfeit some of the fruit of the Spirit.
2. But the flesh cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit!
3. When the Spirit produces fruit, God gets the glory.
4. When the flesh is at work, the person is inwardly proud of themselves and pleased when others compliment them.
5. The fruit of the Spirit is to make us more like Christ for His glory, not for the praise of men.
If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, as we are commanded to be, the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in our lives. The character of Christ will flow out of our lives. Note: v19-21 The other side of the coin is seen here. If we aren't filled with the Spirit, then we are filled with selfishness and carnality. Which is it for us this evening? Why not come this evening and yield yourself to God, ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit, determine to walk with Him each step of the way.