Summary: A detailed series on each of the nine Fruit of the Spirit! Each characteristic listed is a sermon. However, I have combined the lesson into one packet.
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
It is imperative that we understand that the marks of true spirituality and the signs of maturity in Christian growth are found not in the gifts of the Spirit, rather they are found in producing the fruit of the Spirit. 1st Corinthians 13:1-2 – “If I speak in the tongues of men and angels (gift of the Spirit) but have not love, (fruit of the Spirit) I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, (all gifts of the Spirit) but have not love, I am nothing (fruit of the Spirit).”
The list of the Fruit of the Spirit is found in Galations 5:22-23 - “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
The bible tells us in 1st John 4:8b) – “… God is Love.” Let me challenge you with this. The fruit of the Spirit is LOVE. Out of that love will manifest the other 8 characteristics of the Spirit of God. The fruit of the Spirit is not a collection of unrelated fruits, which can either be selected or neglected according to our personal preference, our situation or circumstance, or our agenda. It comes as a whole package that can only be cultivated and matured by a pursued and maintained relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. The Bible confirms this in John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Each of the nine fruit or character traits can be seen in the life of Christ. Not only is He our pattern and example for a fruitful, fruit filled life, He is also our source for leading a fruitful, fruit filled life. This is clearly seen in John 15:4 – “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
The characteristics of God, found in the fruit of the Spirit, are not merely a suggestion for a fulfilled life. This is a command that we are to obey. Deuteronomy 6:5 – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. When having a discussion with the Saduccees and Pharisees, Jesus was asked the question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And He (Jesus) said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, you shall love you neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
We need to understand that what makes the fruit of the Spirit such a crucial study, is because it deals directly with our character. Character deals directly with our integrity, and our integrity speaks of who we are when no one else is looking. Our integrity shouts to the heavens as to what is really inside us.
God will use trials to show us what is on the inside of us, and that is the proving ground. When the pressure is on, and the world is squeezing tightly, just like a tube of toothpaste (for lack of a better analogy) – something has to come out.
Our character is much more important than any gift that we possess. As a matter of fact, if we are operating in the gifts of the Spirit without the fruit of the Spirit, we will be doing damage to the Gospel. Matthew 7:16-23 – “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
I hope that we can begin to see the seriousness of this teaching. This is by no means an elementary teaching but a very foundational and fundamental lesson that is to be practiced, cultivated and matured by a pursued and maintained relationship with Jesus Christ. Fail to bear fruit, and we will