Summary: This message answers the questions: How do I produce spiritual fruit? and Why do I produce spiritual fruit?
Fruit of the Spirit
The apple tree is undoubtedly the most popular fruit tree in North America. These trees grow everywhere in the US and produce so much fruit that often we don’t know what to do with them. But who doesn’t love the smell of apple pie, apple crisp, apple sauce? Actually there are 8,000 varieties of the apple. There are apples that ripen in July and others in October. Some are best for eating raw, others for cider, others just for sauces. Skins might be red, yellow, orange, green, or brown. And tastes? Sugary sweet, bland, tart or spicy. One gardener (L.H. Bailey) once wrote: “Why do we need so many kinds of apples?. Because there are so many folks. A person has a right to gratify his legitimate tastes. ..there is merit in variety itself. It provides more points of contact with life and leads away from uniformity and monotony.”
We could go on and on but what is the most important fact about the apple tree? THAT IT PRODUCES APPLES! And that is what we are looking at today as we examine our God given gift to be fruit producing Christians. A Christian who doesn’t produce fruit is like an apple tree that doesn’t produce an apple. And just like there are a variety of apple trees and fruit, so there are a variety of believers and fruits. This whole picture brings up some crucial questions for us about our lives and each of us as a fruit bearing person.
The first question is this: What is crucial in bearing spiritual fruit?
No one can manufacture spiritual fruit – it can only be grown from the Holy Spirit.
Today, in our text Paul first mentions the works of the flesh and then later the fruit of the Spirit. It’s important to notice that difference. A machine in a factory works, and turns out a product, but it could never manufacture fruit. Have you ever seen a fruit factory? A fruit manufacturing plant? Certainly there are canneries and fruit processing plants, and fruit packing plants but not a fruit factory. Fruit comes from orchards, from farms. Fruit must grow out of life.
So also with the fruit mentioned here in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. We are unable with our hard work to “manufacture” these fruits.
Just as it’s ridiculous to think we could build fruit, so also it’s just as ridiculous to think that you or I can make ourselves loving, joyful, peaceful, patient with hard determination. We simply cannot make that happen no matter how hard we try. God tells us it’s impossible. We are born dead spiritually with no ability to produce. It would be like expecting a factory to start making apples from a recipe.
But what ARE we able to manufacture then? What things are we able to do with our flesh and ability? The Bible tells us very clearly what the works of the flesh are: (19) “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” I didn’t come up with this list on my own – I wouldn’t dare because these are offensive things. But that is what the Bible says comes naturally from our heart and from our lifestyle. This is “normal” and “expected” for a person who is born in this world. This is the natural man and woman. If God didn’t enter your life and if you had no connection with Christ, this is how you will behave and you should expect to find that and therefore you should also expect it from your non-Christian neighbor.
This impacts our relationships with our non-believing neighbors. You should not be surprised at drunkenness, sexual immorality, anger, occult practices by people around you – by your neighbors and co-workers. For a non-Christian, it would be unusual if this was NOT part of their lifestyle.
So what are the implications from this fact? Don’t look down on people in the world who are practicing these works of the flesh. You wouldn’t expect a car factory to produce apples – neither should you expect non-believers to “know better” than to produce the works of the flesh. They simply can’t do it and this is the great struggle that we all have – as much as we’d love to be loving, kind, peaceful, self-controlled – we simply can’t do it as hard as we try. We keep turning back to the old ways. And then guilt rises and we try harder.
So then where does this fruit come from if we can’t produce it? Paul answers that question with one simple phrase in verse 22 “the fruit of the Spirit.” It ONLY comes by the miraculous work of God’s Spirit.