Attractive Christians and Tasty Churches (Galatians 5:22-26)

Attractive Christians and Tasty Churches

The fruit of the Spirit–Galatians 5:22-26  Part 2

Why would anyone want to be more like a charismatic? I am a die-hard secessionist—and I am a non-charismatic in every way. But when I heard about another conference where they will expose the errant doctrines of charismatic theology, I said, “Yes!” But I had a concern. Even though I am in complete agreement (more than you can imagine) with what will be taught at the conference, I immediately expressed one concern to some men about the danger of overreaction. We all tend to overreact to error. And as a result, we miss some vital truths in our Christian faith.

We don’t believe in the sign gifts, but now in Reformed churches, there is little teaching on the exercise of the other spiritual gifts today–like from 1 Peter 4:10 to 11. We don’t believe in a second or later baptism of the Holy Spirit. But now Reformed churches rarely teach about the filling of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18. We don’t interpret “where two or three are gathered in my name” incorrectly, but we often ignore the omnipresence of God and His presence as ubiquitous (He is fully present in our midst).

I literally could go on, but I’m hoping you catch my drift–we are guilty of overreaction. The pendulum swings too far, especially concerning the role of the Holy Spirit–living filled with the Spirit, developing a walk in the Spirit, which are super solid and super essential to your sanctification and spiritual health. So today’s passage is a good boost, a motivational kick, a spiritual gas on your fire. You and I must pursue manifesting the fruit of the Spirit–it must be seen.

Open your Bibles to Galatians 5:22 to 25. I just randomly picked this passage today, because we need to be more fruitful. No, I chose this passage because you all need to be more concerned about the Spirit. No, I wanted us to be a church that produces more fruit. No, I am hoping there will be more evidences of the Spirit in your life and our church. No, I am praying the fruit makes singles a little more picky and marrieds, more hopeful. No, I am desiring you to be clear on whether you are truly saved or self-deceived.

All those are true, except I didn’t pick this passage–this is the passage we are expositing because it falls after verse 21 as we work our way through God’s Word in Galatians verse by verse, trying to determine only the author’s intended meaning. I didn’t do any picking, and what that means is this–today God wants you here to understand, embrace, and apply the fruit of the Spirit from your outline.

Let’s start by reading the passage out loud together, starting in verse 22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:22 to 26). Today, you need to know the function of the fruit, the flavor of the fruit, and the fingerprints of the fruit of the Spirit. Number one, you need to show the fruit.

#1  Demonstrate the FUNCTION of the FRUIT  Verses 19 to 21

There are several truths that spring from this text which will cause you to think correctly about fruit, about ministry, about character, and about growth. Read Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is . . .” Notice what precedes verse 5:22–Galatians 5:19, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident.” Then 5:21, “Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” There’s a big difference between the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.

First  Manifesting the fruit of the Spirit is a SUPERNATURAL action

Contrasting the deeds of the flesh in verses 19 to 21 is the fruit of the Spirit in verse 22. The deeds of the flesh are done by a person’s own efforts, whether he’s saved or unsaved. On the other hand, the fruit of the Spirit is produced by God’s own Spirit, and only in the lives of those who belong to the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ. You do the deeds of the flesh—God does the fruit of the Spirit. One is accomplished by your efforts, the other by God’s effort. One is through self and the other is through the Spirit–it is the fruit of the Spirit.

You know this–every true Christian is indwelt with the Spirit of God. Romans 8:9, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” But in God’s plan, we cooperate with the Spirit in us, by being filled with the Spirit. Being indwelt means we have all the Spirit–being filled means the Spirit has all of us.

Ephesians 5:18b says, “Be filled with the Spirit”–the verb is a continual, ongoing command for all of you to live every moment dependent upon the Spirit. The command “filled” is linked to Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” So “filled” is dependence on the Spirit as we walk in obedience to God’s Word. You should add, making certain there is no unconfessed sin in our lives, and wanting God’s will above any and all things in our lives, like desiring God’s service over what we want, and telling God’s message of salvation over what we might say.

It’s like walking with a one-year-old–we are dependent upon our Father and hold his hand through this life, but we exercise our will to step out in obedience to Him. As we live life filled with the Spirit, we’ll develop a habitual walk in the Spirit, where He is more manifested than we are. Only God produces fruit, we do flesh deeds. Galatians 2:20 says it clearly, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” As I live dependent upon the Spirit, walking in obedience to the Word of God, God supernaturally works through me to produce His fruit.

Second  Pursuing the Spirit’s fruit helps a believer overcome SIN

Pursuing the spiritual behavior of verse 16, of living dependently obedient as a pattern of life, has a positive effect of causing the true believers in this room to put away the habitual evil deeds of the flesh and allow you more time to produce the good fruit produced by the Spirit. Fleeing and pursuing is a crucial part of your sanctification–when you flee sin, you typically pursue Christ, a 180 degree directional change.

Putting out fires is important, but building character is more important–for as you grow in manifesting the fruit of the Spirit, you will move farther away from the deeds of the flesh. Like having a large bowl–when it’s filled with the Spirit’s fruit, there is little room for actions in the flesh. It is simple geometry–as you pursue Christ, you are walking away from sin. As you pursue showing the fruit of the Spirit, it pushes out the deeds of the flesh.

Third  Make certain you realize producing the Spirit’s fruit is ALL or nothing

The big contrast between the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit is that the products of the flesh are plural, whereas the product of the Spirit is singular. What does that mean? The deeds of the flesh are individual, but the fruit of the Spirit is corporate. All the graces of the Spirit are actually one fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is one whole spiritual life that is rooted in the one Spirit of God. These virtues are not nine different gems, but nine different facets of the same dazzling gem. The fruit of the spirit is one clump of different grapes.

Spiritual fruit is different from spiritual gifts, since most Christians only have a handful of gifts–typically two to three. But you do not pick and choose among spiritual fruit the way one sorts through produce at the supermarket. There is only one fruit which every Christian displays, albeit true, in varying quantities and with different degrees of sweetness and intensity.

The contrast between the special produce of the Spirit and the bitter fruit of the flesh could hardly be sharper. The fruit of the Spirit is the very opposite of the works of the flesh. When it comes to godliness the Spirit produces, He brings forth good fruit from a good tree–the product of a whole new spiritual nature in Christ. Although a person may habitually practice one or two or six of the flesh sins, it would be practically impossible for one person to be habitually active in all of them. But the fruit of the Spirit is always produced completely in every believer, no matter how faintly evidenced its various manifestations may be–it’s all or nothing.

Fourth  The true heart of a believer desires MUCH fruit

The Bible teaches a lot about fruit. Fruit is mentioned some 106 times in the Old Testament and 70 times in the New Testament. Even as God’s people functioned under God’s law, believers produced good fruit–never by their own strength, but always by God’s power. God says in Hosea 14:8, “From Me comes your fruit.” In the New Testament, such things as giving praise to the Lord (Hebrews 13:15), winning converts to Christ (1 Corinthians 16:15), and serving Christ in ministry (Colossians 1:10) are spoken of as spiritual fruit produced through believers only when they are filled with the Spirit—meaning, relying on the Holy Spirit and not themselves.

And, the Holy Spirit never fails to produce fruit in a believer’s life–and it is the Lord’s desire and the desire of every believer that we would produce “much fruit”. John 15:8, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” Just as an unredeemed person, who possesses only a fallen, sinful nature, will inevitably manifest that nature (verse 19) with the “deeds of the flesh”.

So, a believer possessing a redeemed new nature will inevitably manifest that new nature with the fruit of the Spirit. The amount of fruit is somewhat and partially dependent upon you. Like this cup, when it is laying down, will not catch any water–like the flesh. But this cup, when it is upright, will be able to contain a lot of water–like the Spirit. So with you–if you’re indifferent to fruit, ministry, making an impact for Christ in this life, then like living in the flesh, God will not work through you to produce fruit. But if you go through life dependent, ready, receptive and willing, with your cup up to be fruitful in service to Christ through your words and actions, then like living in the Spirit, you’ll produce fruit.

Fifth  The fruit of the Spirit is intended to be EVIDENCE of genuine salvation

The deeds of the flesh are easy–the flesh is doing what comes naturally. You don’t have to try to live in the flesh. You don’t have to work at it. But you do have to live dependently, reliantly, wanting to live in the Spirit. And if you’re in Christ, your old man is dead and your new nature will want to produce the fruit of the Spirit. If you have a new inner man, if you have the indwelling Holy Spirit, then you will brandish the fruit of the Spirit–which informs you that the fruit of the Spirit is an outward indicator of true salvation.

Just like the ongoing presence of the deeds of the flesh indicates you are not a Christian–verse 21b, “Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” So, the opposite of that is a Christian professor–a true child of God will be evidenced by the manifestation of Spirit-produced fruit in his life. Jesus affirmed this in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:16 to 18, “’You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.’”

Paul writes the Galatians about the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit, so that they might distinguish between those who claim to be saved, but are not. There are some in their midst who are trusting in their good deeds, sincerity, and worship choices to be saved–and others who are trusting only in grace by faith. Most of those who are turning back to the Law, festivals, circumcision and tradition will manifest the deeds of the flesh. But those who depend on the finished work of Christ for salvation by grace through faith, will manifest the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus clearly said, “You will know them by their fruit”–that’s the function of the fruit. But you are also to . . .

#2  Display the FLAVOR of the fruit  Verses 22 to 23

The flesh produces bad behavior, because it is simply doing what comes naturally. But Jesus said the tree is known by its fruit. So a sinful old nature will produce deeds of the flesh, because the tree is fallen or bad. But the tree which is made new internally will produce sweet fruit from a new nature. What does God’s born-again tree look like? Paul lists nine representative characteristics of the godly fruit produced by the Spirit in a believer’s life, And though they’re multiple characteristics, they are but one fruit and are inseparably related to one another.

Even though they’re individually commanded of believers in the New Testament, the fruit of the Spirit is not produced, nor can they be manifested in isolation from each other. What are they? Galatians 5:22 and 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control.” Look at each facet of this one incredible gem through lots of different Scriptures.

LOVE  The Greek word for love is agape, which was patented by the New Testament writers. It’s a selfless affection that enables you to serve one another and sacrifice for each other. Love is the most important virtue–God calls it the greatest. And God made certain His children would show love, since His love has been shed abroad in our hearts. And God warns us if we don’t love, we are an empty, useless, obnoxious noise. The entire Old Testament Law is summarized by loving our neighbor. In fact, if we have the world’s goods and see a brother in need but close our hearts, the love of God does not abide in us.

If we don’t love others, we don’t love God. And we love God only because He first loved us. Our Lord Jesus is the supreme example of love, by sacrificing Himself for His friends. You and I are to be known for our love–for without it, we can’t claim to be believers. And only the Holy Spirit can empower you to biblically love the Lord and others.

JOY  Used about 70 times in the New Testament, joy is not so much happiness as it is a settled contentment, being in Christ and saved by His sacrifice for us. Joy is not a spontaneous response to some temporary pleasure–it does not depend on circumstances. So how are you doing? If you say, “Fine, under the circumstances.” Then I will ask, “What are you doing under there?” Joy is the deep-down sense of well-being that abides in the heart of a believer who knows all is well between himself and the Lord. Even though we have not seen Christ, we can experience joy inexpressible because we are heaven bound, currently made new, and graciously forgiven.

Christ was motivated by joy to endure the cross for us. Despite the painful rejection, misunderstanding and hatred Christ endured here on Earth, the Lord never lost His joy He had in the relationship with His Father. And that joy He gives to each of you–and it’s a joy God commands of you, to “Rejoice always.” With joy comes peace.

PEACE  A sense of wholeness and well-being. John MacArthur writes, “If joy speaks of the exhilaration of the heart that comes from being right with God, then peace refers to the tranquility of mind that comes from that saving relationship.” The Greek verb peace has to do with binding together; and is reflected in today’s expression, “he has it all together–he’s together, man!” Everything is in place as it ought to be.

Why? Because we know that God causes all things to work together for good. This tranquility can be enjoyed both with God and with others. Since we have peace with God, we are able to make peace with others. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, giving you two truths–not only is Christ 1) supremely peaceful Himself, but 2) He alone gives true peace of heart to those who are His.

Patience is longsuffering in the face of hardship–it’s the ability to undergo adversity. Patience has to do with a tolerance that endures injuries inflicted by others, and a calm willingness to accept situations that are irritating or even painful. A patient person has a slow fuse and is steadfast and persistent, willing to suffer aggravation or even persecution, without complaint. Christ Himself is slow to anger and expects His children to be the same–especially those who minister to others, You are to minister with great patience.

KINDNESS  More than a random act of consideration, kindness actually describes tender concern for others. It is a readiness to help people around us through practical actions of caring. Our Lord Jesus was immensely kind–like when children came to Him, Even His call to salvation, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” is kind.

GOODNESS  A common term for virtue among the pagans, goodness has to do with moral and spiritual excellence that is seen by its sweetness and thoughtfulness. Like Joseph, who was not only righteous, but good, in that he could not bear the thought of disgracing Mary but desired to put her away secretly. Or David, who would have despaired had he not seen the goodness of the Lord. Goodness points to the Lord’s generosity and is seen in our willingness to be generous toward others.

FAITHFULNESS  A heart that is loyal and trustworthy. The faithful person is reliable for important tasks, loyal to friends, and dependable in emergencies. In the midst of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, God is declared as great in His faithfulness. Christ was faithful to come the first time as a Savior, and is faithful to return as a King–being called the One who is faithful and true.

GENTLENESS  Better translated meekness. This is more inward than outward–meekness is a humble and gracious attitude that is patiently submissive under any offense, while being free of any desire for revenge or payback. Meekness is called power under control–the meek believer is not prone to anger, but is humble, sweet and mild, embracing that they deserve wrath, but what they received is mercy. In the New Testament, meekness is used to describe three attitudes–submissiveness, teachableness and consideration of others. And you and I are to wear meekness like our clothes.

SELF-CONTROL  This has to do with restraining your passions and limiting your appetites, especially as it relates to sensual matters like eating, drinking, and sex. This fruit prevents liberty from becoming license in the Christian life. A person with self-control has the restraint and discipline not to be ruled by passion, and therefore is able to resist temptation. The question to ask is, “Am I controlling that thing, or is that thing controlling me?”

This catalogue of spiritual virtues is not exhaustive. Look at verse 23, where Paul hints at this when he refers to the fruit of the Spirit as “against sch things”. Some graces are not on the list, like hope, faith or perseverance, which occur in the New Testament, reminding you that the point is not the specific character traits, as it is the entire lifestyle they represent. This is to be you–you manifest the fruit of the Spirit. And Paul adds, “Against such things there is no law.” This is tasty.

1  Even unbelievers don’t make laws against the fruit of the Spirit, “against such things”. The world generally values the fruit of the Spirit. Even if they consider such things to be signs of weakness, they cannot escape recognizing that God’s fruit is never harmful.

2  There is no law of God against such things, since the Lord wants all men to have this fruit–and Christ gives anyone this fruit when they put their trust in Him as Lord and Savior.

3  Especially for the false teachers who want the Galatians to live by the Law of God, the believer who walks in the Spirit and displays God’s fruit doesn’t need a system of Law to produce the right attitudes or behavior, because the fruit of the Spirit rises within them. It is the fruit of the Spirit that sets you apart and makes Christ attractive, or tasty. Who wouldn’t want to have unlimited love, joy, peace and patience? Which is why Paul concludes this paragraph with . . .

#3  Watch for the FINGERPRINTS of the SPIRIT  Verses 24 to 26

All persons who belong to Christ Jesus by faith in His sacrificial saving work, have crucified their flesh. Galatians 5:24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

First  The Spirit and His fruit cause you to IMPROVE, then triumph, over your flesh  Verse 24

The Greek verb crucified is only used four times in the New Testament when it is not referring to Christ’s crucifixion. But each of them point to something being killed or executed. So here, “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” is dead in the sense of no longer reigning over us or of holding us in inescapable bondage. MacArthur says, “Like a chicken with its head cut off, the flesh has been dealt a death blow, crucified–although it continues to flop around the barnyard of earth until the last nerve is stilled.”

Crucified looks back to the cross, to the time when the death of the flesh was actually accomplished. Yet, because we are still alive on the earth and still possess our humanness, we have not yet entered into the future fullness of that past event. Because the flesh is defeated forever, and we now live in the realm where Christ reigns over us by His Spirit, we should live according to the Spirit and not the flesh.

Second  Fruit of the Spirit demonstrates you have been TRANSFORMED  Verse 25

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Let the Spirit show. The New English Bible gives a helpful paraphrase, “If the Spirit is the continual source of our life, let the Spirit also direct our course.” Paul is telling us to become what we are. All who belong to Christ–live in the Spirit. At regeneration, the Spirit indwells the life of every believer–but even though we are indwelt with the Spirit, we cooperate by being filled with the Spirit.

You and I must keep on living, walking, relying, depending and obeying in the Spirit–which is precisely what the Galatians were failing to do. Paul already asked the Galatians in 3:3, “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” By starting then stopping, the Galatians had fallen out of step with God’s Spirit. The NIV translates this verse accurately capturing Paul’s metaphor–walk is, “Let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

When Paul speaks of keeping in step, he is talking about following orders, from the military, meaning stay in formation. You do not walk or run alone (in the Spirit)–our brothers and sisters are right beside us. Ideally, we are matching them stride for stride, remaining in line, advancing in rows–telling us walking in the Spirit is developed in community together. We need each other’s help!

As long as we maintain good discipline, relationship, with mutual trust and respect, there will not be any pushing or shoving in the ranks–the kind of “provoking” and “spite” that Paul now warns about in verse 26. By staying in formation, depending on the Spirit, not the Law (nor circumcision or Jewish custom), we will maintain our unity in the Spirit. We will help each other carry our wounded, instead of shooting them and grow together.

Third  The work of the Spirit will cause us to remain in UNITY  Verse 26

Walking by the Spirit will cause all of us to treat each other uniquely in unity. Verse 26, “Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” Working together to walk in the Spirit means there are some things we won’t do. We won’t break rank and do our own thing. We won’t fall ot of line and blame others. We won’t think we are something and others are nothing. We won’t want to be someone or have something others have, because we are part of the Lord’s army marching together. We want what the Lord wants for us all–we submit to the Spirit’s direction for our church.

So Paul reminds the Galatians, if you’re filled with the Spirit and walking by the Spirit, then you won’t become, verse 26, “boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” It is true, isn’t it? Fleshly living is always self-centered, self-focused, and self-satisfying. But in contrast,  living by the Spirit is living for Christ and others. To “become boastful” means to boast where there is nothing to boast about—it is empty. This warning fits the Galatians’ drift toward legalism. Legalism always puffs up and tears down others, as it flaunts a person’s own accomplishments by his or her own power. The boastful forget they’ve been shown undeserved grace, mercy, compassion and love.

Paul warns the Galatians to not be “challenging one another.” This Greek verb means to call out a person in a challenge, or provoke a person to anger. It describes a churchgoer with a competitive spirit, who can’t let things lie. They are quick to pick sides, divide up, jump into a fight and challenge every authority. This is an attender who must be right and must have the last word–yet often fails to show grace to anyone. They are not filled with the Spirit or walking in the Spirit, and may not be of the Spirit.

Finally, Paul warns about “envying one another,” which is a sin rooted in inferiority and insecurity. For them, possessions, abilities, and accomplishments take center stage. They may act nice, but what they want is to keep up with the Joneses, from a heart lacking contentment and forgetting their incredible blessings found in Christ. They too are not filled with the Spirit, nor walking in dependence upon God’s Word, but are looking at life only horizontally, instead of vertically.


A  The filling of the Spirit is the first command for MARRIAGE

Turn to Ephesians 5. In verse 18, God says, “Be filled with the Spirit.” Then in verses 19 to 21, Paul describes the result of that filling. Then verse 21 ends with, “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” Then Paul begins the description of marriage in verses 22 with, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”

What you can’t see is this–the verb “subject” is in the Greek text in verse 21, but the verb “subject” is not present in verse 22–there, the verb is assumed in the Greek for wives to submit. That is a normal Greek grammar practice, but what it does prove is being filled with the Spirit is connected to and necessary for marriage. Stop looking to your spouse and start looking to your God. Draw from His strength, let His fruit be manifest in your life so God will transform or improve your marriage.

B  The fruit of the Spirit is what makes Christians and Churches ATTRACTIVE

Jesus says it so clearly in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” For most non-Christians, not sinning doesn’t make you all that attractive–except when they discover you are not enslaved to certain sins. But this verse says when the Spirit’s fruit shines through you–when good deeds are demonstrated through your life, then you will shine. Literally, shine means you become attractive to the lost.

The good news is a message that must be shared. Your life is not enough, but there is no law against the fruit of the Spirit. And “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control” definitely make you a powerful witness of the Gospel of salvation by grace, through faith in Christ alone. We need each other to walk in the Spirit–as a Church, we should expect each other to be filled with the Spirit. So today, commit to walking by the Spirit around the lost.

C  Manifesting the fruit of the Spirit is a GRADUAL and symmetrical process

Like the fruit tree in your backyard, it takes time to produce good fruit. Do not be discouraged–growth takes time. Just like marking your kids’ growth on the door-jam is progressive and gradual, so is the manifestation of fruit through your life. But remember, the progress of the fruit of the Spirit will be all the fruit–not merely one or two. The real fruit of the Spirit always grows together.

D  Manifesting the fruit of the Spirit is INEVITABLE

If you have the Spirit in you, fruit will grow. No fruit, means no faith. If you’ve been a Christian for a few years or more–is there fruit growing in your life? You are saved by faith, not by growing fruit–but you are not saved by fruitless faith. Anyone saved by faith will become a person in whom the fruit of the Spirit grows. And that fruit will be seen, obvious, supernatural and increasing over time. Are you a fruitful Christian? If not, turn to Christ to be born again. Turn to Christ in repentance and faith–hating your sin, but believing He died for sin, then following Him and manifesting His fruit as evidence He is in your life. Let’s pray.

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.

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