Summary: When believers are controlled by the Holy Spirit, they manifest: 1) Upward Fruit (Galatians 5:22a) 2) Outward Fruit (Galatians 5:22b) and 3) Inward Fruit (Galatians 5:23)

What qualifies someone for a task? There is a story of the testing of a candidate for missions work: One snowy morning at 5:00 a.m., a missionary candidate rang the bell at a missionary examiner’s home. Ushered into the office, he sat three hours past his appointment time waiting for his interview. At 8:00 A.M. a retired missionary appeared and began his questioning. “Can you spell?” Rather mystified, the candidate answered, “Yes, sir.” All right, spell “baker.” “B-A-K-E-R.” “Fine. Now, do you know anything about numbers?” the examiner continued. “Yes, sir, something.” “Please add two plus two.” “Four,” replied the candidate. “That’s fine,” said the examiner. “I believe you have passed. I’ll tell the board tomorrow.” At the board meeting, the examiner reported on the interview. “He has all the qualifications for a fine missionary. First, I tested him on self-denial, making him arrive at my home at five in the morning. He left a warm bed on a snowy morning without any complaint. Second, I tested him on promptness. He arrived on time. Third, I examined him on patience. I made him wait three hours to see me. Fourth, I tested him on temper. He failed to show any anger or aggravation. Fifth, I tried his humility by asking him questions that a seven-year-old child could answer, and he showed no indignation. So you see, I believe the candidate meets the requirements. He will make the fine missionary we need.” Spirit-given abilities are needed, but Spirit-produced fruit is more significant. (Green, Michael P.: Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 Sermon Illustrations Arranged by Topic and Indexed Exhaustively. Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1989)

It is one thing to overcome the flesh and not do evil things, but quite something else to do good things. The legalist, like the Judaizers, might be able to boast that they are not outwardly guilty of adultery or murder (yet see Matt. 5:21–32), but can anyone see the beautiful graces of the Spirit in his life? Negative goodness is not enough in a life; there must be positive qualities as well. The message of fruit would have spoke to the Galatians because it represented attitudes that control and dictate actions, rather than the actions themselves. Thus, the believer’s manner of life flows from a genuine inner principle, not from adherence to an external law (Edgar H. Andrews: Free in Christ: The Message of Galatians. Evangelical Press. 1996, p. 298)

The spiritual behavior of walking by the Spirit (v. 16) has the negative effect of causing the believer to put away the habitual, ongoing evil deeds of the flesh and positively causes a believer to bear the good fruit produced by the Spirit. Contrasted with the vice list of the deeds of the flesh (Gal. 5:17-21) is a virtue list of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Deeds of the flesh are done by a person’s own efforts, whether they are saved or unsaved. The fruit of the Spirit, on the other hand, is produced by God’s own Spirit and only in the lives of those who belong to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. Notice that Paul does not say, ‘The fruits of the Spirit are …’ but ‘The fruit of the Spirit is …’ He is saying that the ninefold fruit of the Spirit is to be found in every Christian.( Barnes, P. (2006). A Study Commentary on Galatians (p. 262). Darlington, England; Webster, New York: Evangelical Press.) The products of the flesh are plural, for they follow the varied devices of sin, whereas the product of the Spirit is singular. There is one Spirit and the Holy Spirit produces one kind of fruit, that is, Christlikeness.( MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1894). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.) The nine together are the fruit that mark the Christian, like a cluster of nine grapes. … Paul names them the fruit of the Spirit, teaching that the production of the fruit is a supernatural work. The Spirit plants the seed of this fruit when He regenerates us and immediately He begins to cultivate these graces in us. Therefore, the fruit is a necessary evidence of the new birth. The person who is not developing this fruit over a period of time is unregenerate. (Pipa, J. A., Jr. (2010). Galatians: God’s Proclamation of Liberty (p. 208). Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications.)

In Galatians 5:22–23 Paul lists nine representative characteristics of the godly fruit produced by the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life. These are multiple characteristics of but one fruit and are therefore inextricably related to one another. They are not produced nor can they be manifested in isolation from each other. If one wants to see a pattern, it would seem that three groups of three virtues yield a workable scheme. Each of the nine qualities flows into one another, mutually enriching and reinforcing the process of sanctification in the life of the believer.( George, T. (1994). Galatians (Vol. 30, p. 399). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)

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