The Fruit of the Spirit

taken from the June 1996 newsletter of
Deeper Life Ministries

Numerous times in the Apostle Paul's writings, he shows the contrast between the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh is the hothouse of wrong desire and thus of sin and all its consequences. Following the flesh, minding the flesh, or walking after the flesh leads to a darkened mind and a dulled conscience. Misery, bondage, despair, quarreling, frustration, hatred, bitterness, and gloom are associated with the works and ways of the flesh.

The Spirit of God stands in opposition to the flesh and to all its thinking and all its ways. When a person opens his heart to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit takes up residence within, a holy war is declared on the flesh. There may be no bargaining. There is to be no compromise. The Scriptures make no bones about this: "To be carnally minded is death. . . . The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:6-8).

To be filled with the Spirit, to be spiritually minded, to walk after the Spirit requires that we "mortify" the flesh, that is put it to death and thus render it powerless.

When we do this, the Holy Spirit is free to do His primary work in us, the work of reproducing the likeness of Jesus in our words, our attitudes, and our conduct. This reproduction of Jesus in believers is the primary evidence of the Holy Spirit's indwelling. Paul refers to it as the "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22).

The ugly truth is that too many people today are wanting the benefits of the indwelling Spirit (satisfaction and joy) while still hanging on to the attitudes and actions motivated by the flesh. It cannot be so. The Spirit of God does not produce likeness to Jesus in those who are minded to follow the flesh. War must be declared first.

When the Holy Spirit of God has His way in the heart of man, the evidence is not primarily what such a man can do but what he becomes. He is a person characterized by:

  1. LOVE: a sacrificial commitment to the good of those around him.

  2. JOY: an unquenchable spirit of gratitude and praise focused on the unmerited goodness of God.

  3. PEACE: an inner calm, that results from thorough cleansing from sin and restored relationship with God.

  4. LONGSUFFERING: a willingness to bear with difficult people in the process of helping them God-ward.

  5. GENTLENESS: a kind sensitivity toward the feelings and needs of others.

  6. GOODNESS: a freedom from all guile or hypocrisy.

  7. FAITH: an absolute trust in God and a certainty that His will for my life is best.

  8. MEEKNESS: a gentle, humble manner in responding to provocation.

  9. TEMPERANCE: an inner strength to keep all appetites and affections in proper bounds.
These qualities form the fruit of the Spirit, the day-by-day evidence that the flesh has been rendered inoperative and the Holy Spirit of God has taken up permanent residence.

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