19. The Fruit Of The Spirit


“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23.

In a previous lesson, we found that the new birth is spiritual and that the one born of the Spirit must bring forth fruit to please God. In this lesson, we will examine some of these fruits.


In the parable of the true vine, John 15:1-16, Jesus teaches that he is the vine and that his disciples are the branches. But, he says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2.

This is a stern warning that the Christian must be productive. We may bear fruit in at least two senses, the souls that we win to Christ, and the Christian virtues that we develop which are called the “fruit of the Spirit” or the “fruit of righteousness.” We are here concerned with the spiritual characteristics rather than the winning of souls.


The scriptures give several illustrations to show that the Christian life is one of spiritual development. It is pictured as a battle. “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life.” 1 Timothy 6:12.

Paul describes the Christian’s armour as follows: “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:14-17.

You will note that the armour is complete except for the back. In the Christian battle, there is no place for retreat. But so long as we press forward, we are fully protected from the devil.

Again, the Christian life is described as a race. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2.

A victorious race requires the best that the runner has. No Christian can win his race and the prize at the end of the way unless he puts forth his best and develops the fruit of the Spirit.

The Christian life is also portrayed as a growth. Peter teaches, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18.

In Hebrews 5:11-6:2, the inspired writer shows that the new-born Christian is a babe in Christ, requiring milk, but that as he grows to spiritual maturity he should take solid food, and no longer subsist on milk.

Each day we should grow spiritually, developing the fruit of the Spirit. The one who does not grow will become a dwarf, spiritually stunted and unworthy of eternal life.

Each of the figures we have noticed presents the same thought, that the Christian life is one of progressive spiritual development accomplished by the constant effort of the child of God to be a better Christian.


In Galatians 5:22-23 (which we previously noticed) nine things are listed as being fruit of the Spirit.

There are other similar lists of Christian virtues in the New Testament, probably the most notable being the Christian graces given in 2 Peter 1:5-7. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”

Combining these two passages, let us notice more closely the fruit which the Christian should bear.


In enumerating the Christian graces, Peter shows that they must be built upon faith. But Paul calls faith a fruit of the Spirit. This shows that while one cannot become a Christian without some faith, as he grows in Christ his faith should increase daily.

In this sense, it is a fruit of the Spirit. There are many degrees of faith. We must strive to have that childlike faith in our Heavenly Father that will cause us to trust him implicitly and that will wipe away every doubt and fear which forces its way into our lives.


Peace of mind accompanies faith. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.

It requires faith to overcome anxiety. But when by faith and prayer we remove our doubts and fears in this way, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” will be ours since it is the doubts, fears and anxieties which prevent our having peace in the first place. Truly, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” 1 John 5:4.


Closely akin to peace is joy. Christians should be happy people. The scriptures abound in admonitions to rejoice. “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4. “Rejoicing in hope.” Romans 12:12. “Rejoice evermore.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16. “But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13.

If we develop the other fruits of the Spirit, we will be happy in serving Christ. To the consecrated Christian the yoke of Christ is easy and his burden is light. He serves, not because he is afraid to do otherwise, but because he loves Christ and loves his service.


Virtue is moral goodness, the courageous determination to do what is right at all times. “Integrity” partially expressed the thought involved in this word. If he possesses virtue the Christian is known by his fellows to be one whose word is as good as his bond, and who will not sell out his convictions, regardless of the price.


The knowledge which is a fruit of the Spirit is not knowledge of material things as valuable as that may be. Rather, it is the knowledge which comes from diligent study of God’s word.

Paul admonished Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15.

The A.S.V. substitutes “give diligence” for “study” in this verse. The thought in both expressions is that of diligent application of one’s efforts to gain a greater understanding of the divine will.

In this day in which all have access to the written word, there is no excuse for ignorance of spiritual matters. In fact, we must gain knowledge if we are even to learn what the fruit of the Spirit is.


Many people think of temperance as being abstinence from strong drink. The scriptural meaning of the word is self-control. One who possesses this trait will have his body under subjection at all times. He will not lose his temper, nor will he allow any habit to gain mastery over him. Of course, this is difficult to accomplish.

Paul said of himself, “I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:27.

Self-control requires recognition of one’s weaknesses, earnest effort to overcome them, and the help of the One through whom we can accomplish all things.


Patience is actually a form of self-control. It grows out of the realisation that we cannot have everything we want, and that we must often wait long for those things which we do receive.

Often, we become impatient with others because they do not come up to our standards. But if we recognise that we do not come up to God’s standard of perfection, and yet that he bears with us patiently, we will be more willing to be longsuffering with others.


The dictionary states that meek means to be “mild of temper, patient under injuries, long-suffering.” Meekness, then, carries the idea of gentleness of temper. One may be meek, and still zealous for the cause of Christ.

We must bear our sufferings patiently, and when harmed by others return only good for evil. For Jesus teaches, “Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matthew 10:16.


It is difficult to separate some of the fruits of the Spirit. One produces another. Meekness and gentleness breed brotherly kindness. The true basis of brotherly kindness is found in the application of the golden rule.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12. If we treat others as we would like them to treat us, we will learn the meaning of brotherly kindness.


The Greek word from which “godliness” is derived means to show piety or reverence toward God. This we do in our worship of him and in our consecration to his service.

True godliness is not found in mere lip service or perfunctory actions rendered in worship. The one who offers such to God possesses only “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” 2 Timothy 3:5.

God wants those who serve from their hearts with devotion. Of course, it is most important that we worship him in the manner he has prescribed but forms apart from true reverence do not please him.


No fruit of the Spirit is more highly stressed in the scriptures than love. It is the crowning grace of the seven listed by Peter. Paul says of it, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13.

The writings of John are so filled with this word that he has been called “the apostle of love.” It was the love of God that went his Son to earth to die for us; it was love that caused Christ to lay down his life for us.

Having thus been shown how to love, we are enjoined, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God … Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” 1 John 4:7, 11. Our love for God will make us dwell with him in pace. And our love for mankind in general will lead us to take the gospel to the lost.


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