“And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:” (1Pet 1:17).
Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I will abide in you. Just as the branch cannot produce fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me (Jn 15:4).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22,23).
The ‘fruit’ is so named because it is a result of the germination of a seed. What seed? The Word of God (Luke 8:11). The Word here is two-fold: The Word of God made flesh – Jesus Christ (Jn 1:1,14), and the written Words of God – the Bible (Jn 3:34). So, to bear the fruit of the Spirit, you must ‘swallow’ the Word made flesh (Jn 6:51) and the written Word – Holy Bible. Yes, you must eat the flesh of Jesus and drink His blood by faith for Him to become part of you, and you part of Him (Luke 22:19,20). Jesus himself says, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world”. And, “…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn 6:51,63).
When you give your life to Christ, and He dwells in you, that is, you actually let Him do so by voluntarily yielding to His Lordship in obedience to His words, the result is that you will bear fruits; firstly, of repentance, and secondly, of the Spirit (Matt 3:8; Gal 5:22,23). The fruits of repentance is what will serve as evidence that you have being born into the family of God. It is this fruits of repentance, that will then be amplified or energized by the divine attributes of the Holy Spirit Who now dwells in you, the believer, fusing them into the fruit of the Spirit – the divine empowerment against sin (Jn 1:12). It’s a divine mystery that surpasses human reasoning and understanding. One needs to be in it to experience it. No wonder, Christ describes the life of a Born-Again Christian who is born of the Spirit, as the mystery of a blowing wind. No one knows where the wind comes from, nor where it goes; but all we can observe is its moving effects on things around, trees, grasses, etc (Jn 3:8). Such is the life of a truly redeemed child of God. The first sign and wonder that should be visible in the life of a professor of faith and allegiance to Jesus Christ is the miracle of a new and righteous living, witnessed to by his/her neighbour.
Again, we need not worry about the mechanics of the mystery of living a righteous life in our own world, because it’s not going to be in our power to work it out. All we’re required to do is yield ourselves, voluntarily by faith, to the Holy Spirit in true repentance and commitment to obeying the written words of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. That’s all!
So, the fruit is given to us as a ‘grace gift’ to empower the believer against sin, and it works fully at Sanctification experience. (Please, take note that Sanctification is a grace work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer for the transformation of life and character. So when a believer is sanctified, he/she has a measure of the filling of the Holy Spirit for a change of life through a heart purified. This is differentiated from having the baptism of the Holy Ghost experience which comes in full measure and with fire, which is usually given to empower the believer for service (Matt 3:11; Acts 1:8). One operation of the Spirit is for living a life acceptable to a holy God, the other is for service, to win souls to Him). And, as we said before, the measure of possession of the fruit from one believer to the other has grades depending on the level of our yieldedness to the things of the Spirit – that is, (1) our attendance to prayer (both personal and corporate), (2) our commitment to the words of God (reading, meditating and doing it), (3) our participation in the work of Evangelism.
Another determining factor to fruit-bearing is the state of the heart of the believer. Let’s look at the explanation of Jesus on various human Heart conditions and how they respond to the seed of God’s word to produce fruit as written in the ‘Parable of the Sower’.
Jesus speaks about;
(1) Heart of the soil ‘by the way side’.
“When anyone hears the word about the kingdom yet doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path”.
(2) Heart of the soil of ‘the stony ground’.
“As for what was sown on the stony ground, this is the person who hears the word and accepts it joyfully at once, but since he doesn’t have any root in himself, he lasts for only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes along because of the word, he immediately falls away”.
(3) Heart of the soil ‘among the thorn bushes’.
“As for what was sown among the thorn bushes, this is the person who hears the word, but the worries of life and the deceitful pleasures of wealth choke the word so that it can’t produce a crop”.
(4) Heart of the ‘good soil’.
“But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the person who hears the word, understands it, and produces a crop that yields 100, 60, or 30 times what was sown” (Matt 13:19-23).
Again, this is where Sanctification of the heart experience comes in handy to the believer in Christ (See my post: YOU TOO CAN BE HOLY).
Remember, bearing the fruit of the Spirit is a ‘grace-gift’ given by the Father to help us live in opposition to the works of the flesh WITH EASE. “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom 8:13).
Having had some background knowledge, let us go into the study of the attributes of each of the component parts of the fruit we are expected to bear to qualify for entrance into the glorious City at the end of our sojourn here.
Love has been described as a profound and caring affection towards someone. This is excluding sensual, erotic and lustful love prevalent in our society today. That deals in the realms of the flesh.
“He that loves not knows not God; for God is love” (Jn 4:8). God’s love is pure, holy, giving and sacrificial. Jesus describes the love that is expected of the believer here, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matt 22:37-39). Our love must first be towards God, supremely. Then, the litmus test for God’s kind of love for our fellow man is: doing to others what we expect them do to us.
Furthermore, “Love is always patient; love is always kind; love is never envious or arrogant with pride. Nor is she conceited, and she is never rude; she never thinks just of herself or ever gets annoyed. She never is resentful; is never glad with sin; she’s always glad to side with truth, and pleased that truth will win. She bears up under everything; believes the best in all; there is no limit to her hope, and never will she fall” (1Cor 13:4-7).
HOW IT WORKS
A time will come in the life of a believer (like it came for Abraham) when you will be called upon to choose between God and your mother, God and your wife or husband, God and your children; at such a time, you must choose God over all. That will be your love for God, most supreme.
Again, in your interaction with people, there will be people you like naturally and, people you dislike naturally (they’ve never offended you), or maybe they offended you in the past, your God’s kind of love, borne by the indwelling Holy Spirit, will be to love them all. How? You will make sure you do good to those you don’t like, deliberately, as well as those you like. It will seem mechanical at the start, but later, as you persist, it will become natural to you through the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit. That is real love. It also fosters forgiveness.
The dictionary describes Joy as a feeling of extreme happiness or cheerfulness, especially related to the acquisition or expectation of something good. But the joy of the believer does not always have to be about what is seen, but what is expected by faith. The joy of the Holy Spirit that depends not on earthly joys.
For instance, the joy of salvation, of sin forgiven, that we can be called children of God and escape the damnation of hell fire. It is also a deliberate joy we exercise by choice in the face of life’s depressing situations. Have you heard some people saying, “I cannot pretend, if I’m not happy, I must show it!”, that’s not what we believers in Christ are called to do. We are called to see with an eye of faith before we can handle with the hand of reality (Heb 11:1). “Let the weak say I am strong”, so commanded our God; is that a call to pretend? No. God knows that when we ‘pretend’ to express strength by faith in the face of weakness, His authority (which He has given us to call what is not out of nothing to come to existence) will come into effect and will work for us, making strength to replace our weakness, eventually. That goes for joy and every other thing we desire from God.
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and JOY in the Holy Ghost” (Rom 14:1). Joy is opposite of sadness, gloominess and a long face. Sometimes, joy is not the absence of life’s challenges but a courage and a choice to do as the Lord pleases in the face of it. Joy exhibited by a believer in adversity sends shock waves into the kingdom of darkness; sets it in confusion and pulls down the strongholds. No wonder the Lord admonishes us, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (Jn 14:1).
Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil 4:4). Prophet Habbakuk also says, Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places” (Hab 3:17-19).
A believer who fails to allow the joy of the Holy Spirit to control his/her heart (by deliberately yielding to joy) will find it difficult to respond to life in faith. And anything done without faith is sin, and that will eventually be leading to sinful words, actions and decisions. “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom 14:23b).
Please, join me in the concluding part 3, as we will go straight to the remaining 7 attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit.
Before then, Godspeed to you and to me in the narrow way, in Jesus Name. God bless you.
Thanks to Bro. Raphael