In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul expresses the need for true, genuine faith in Christ. He also encourages the church to see the conflict between the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). We must choose whether to feed our soul or our flesh. Paul provides a list of nine great characteristics of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” The fruit of the Spirit can be divided into three main groups: 1) Bearing Natural Fruit For God - “love, joy, peace”; 2) Bearing Natural Fruit For Others - “longsuffering, kindness, goodness”; 3) Bearing Natural Fruit For Ourselves - “faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Let’s consider the first of these three groups…
Love should be natural because God is love (I John 4:8). It was His love that compelled Him to send Jesus to the cross (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, I John 3:16, 4:16). Several commandments teach us to love God, love one another, love our enemies, and love ourselves. God is a God of love. Therefore, He wants His children to have the spirit of love (John 13:34-35). Paul defines love to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 13:1-13). Are you bearing the fruit of love?
Joy should be natural because God is joy (I Timothy 1:11). God has always been full of joy (Genesis 1-2, Isaiah 62:5). Jesus came to help His disciples fill their cups to overflowing (John 15:11). We need to be joyful if we hope to win others to Christ. People need to see that godly living is the way to true happiness. Unfortunately, there are many “sour” Christians who fail to adequately represent the image of Jesus. Paul loved to talk about joy (Romans 15:13, Philippians 1:2, 7, 4:4). Are you bearing the fruit of joy?
Peace should be natural because God is peace (Romans 15:33). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encouraged the people to be “peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). Satan loves to cause division but God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33). He wants us to have the same mind and judgment (I Corinthians 1:10). Christians should hate conflict. We should seek to reconcile ourselves and others to God. Paul teaches on this elsewhere (Romans 16:20, I Thessalonians 5:23-24, II Timothy 2:22). Are you bearing the fruit of peace?
The natural work of God’s Holy Spirit is to help us to bear similar characteristics to God, our Heavenly Father. We are His children and we should be conforming to His image. When we are connected to the Jesus the True Vine (John 15:1-8) it will produce natural fruit in our lives. Jesus is the source of all spiritual life (John 14:6). As we grow in Christ we begin to bear fruit for God, for others, and for ourselves. This will be the evidence of a changed life.
In our next article we will consider the need to bear natural fruit for ourselves. Keep studying and have a great week!
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds
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