The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Goodness


Before one can understand ‘the fruit of the Spirit,’ one must understand the context of Galatians 5 where ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is revealed. In this chapter, Paul exhorts Christians not to allow their liberty to degenerate into a ‘yoke of bondage.’

Some individuals in the Galatian church had ‘fallen from grace’ because they sought to be ‘justified by the law.’ The Judaizing teachers were binding the old law upon the church and, by such, had hindered some in obeying the truth, Galatians 5:7. These false teachers of Judaism were troubling the church, Galatians 5:12.

However, as Christians, we have been called to liberty, liberty from the old law, from sin, and from the bondage of sin. Thus, Paul exhorts, ‘do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh,’ Galatians 5:13.

One reason we ought not to use our liberty as a license to sin is because ‘we walk in the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:16. To ‘walk in the Spirit’ means to walk according to the Spirit’s teaching through His sword ‘which is the word of God,’ Ephesians 6:17.

This is the same as being ‘led by the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18, and it is the opposite of walking after the flesh. The Spirit and the flesh are at odds, Galatians 5:17. They are in constant conflict. They are opposed to one another.

To further illustrate this conflict, Paul contrasts ‘the works of the flesh,’ Galatians 5:19-21 with ‘the fruit of the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:22-23. In verse 16 of Galatians 5, Paul commands, ‘Walk in the Spirit.’ Let’s be sure, that there are certain results of walking in the Spirit. There is the benefit of not fulfilling the lust of the flesh, Galatians 5:16.

The same thought is declared by David in Psalm 119:11, ‘I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.’

When we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, it will protect us against the fiery darts of Satan. Jesus knew this lesson when He was tempted by the devil, Matthew 4. Jesus guarded Himself against each temptation by the Word of God. He answered the tempter’s temptation with ‘it is written,’ Matthew 4:4 / Matthew 4:7 / Matthew 4:10.

Also, if we ‘walk in the Spirit’, we are ‘not under the law,’ Galatians 5:18. ‘The law’ in this verse is the Mosaic Law. Earlier in this chapter, we are told Christ becomes of no effect unto those who justify themselves by ‘the law,’ Galatians 5:4. To return to the Mosaic law is to abandon the law of Christ and to fall from grace. Some believe this means we are not under any law.

However, we are under ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ which frees us from ‘the law of sin and death,’ Romans 8:2. We are to ‘fulfil the law of Christ’ by bearing one another’s burdens, Galatians 6:2. And, we are to look into ‘the perfect law of liberty.’ James 1:25.

Also, consider this, since ‘sin is the transgression of the law,’ 1 John 3:4 to say we aren’t under law is to say we haven’t nor cannot sin. Clearly, we are under law, the law of Christ, but we are not under ‘the law’, the Law of Moses. Further, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ results from walking in the Spirit.

Again, when we engraft God’s Word upon our hearts, ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ will be seen within us. The qualities of ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ will characterise us. The Spirit will produce these qualities within us by the Word He has inspired.

‘The fruit of the Spirit’ is the produce of the Spirit

In other words, it is the product that is produced by the Spirit’s influence. ‘The fruit of the Spirit’ isn’t a Christian nor the fruit of a Christian which some have mistakenly taught. In fact, the fruit of a Christian is more than just a Christian.

It is true that in the natural world, mankind, animals, and plants produce after their kind. Christians should also produce after their kind, and in this sense, the fruit of a Christian is another Christian.

However, Christians produce other fruit besides Christians. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, ‘Thus, by their fruit, you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20

Within the context, Jesus is speaking concerning false teachers who come ‘in sheep’s clothing’ but inwardly are ‘ravening wolves,’ Matthew 7:15.

To illustrate how we can know a false teacher, He taught a good tree produces good fruit, whereas an evil tree produces evil fruit.

Is the only fruit of a false teacher, other false teachers? Of course not! False teachers cause division, false hope, and disillusionment to only name a few. So, it is with Christians. Christians should evangelise, but there are other fruits which they should bear, and one such fruit is the fruit of the Spirit.

Since the fruit of the Spirit is the produce of the Spirit, then how does the Spirit produce the qualities of ‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ in Christians today? The Spirit influences Christians today through the Spirit-inspired Word.

Peter wrote, ‘For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ 2 Peter 1:21

It is this Word that will make us ‘wise for salvation,’ 2 Timothy 3:15 and ‘it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes,’ Romans 1:16. It provides us with ‘everything we need for a godly life,’ 2 Peter 1:3.

Thus, nothing else is needed for it is all-sufficient and will produce the right fruit.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus taught that a sower sowed seed by the wayside, upon a rock, among thorns, and on good ground, Luke 8:5-8. Later, Jesus told us what the seed represents. He said, ‘The seed is the word of God,’ Luke 8:11

So, the Word was sown in the hearts of men, but sadly the hearts of some men were like the soil of the wayside, the rock, and the thorny ground.

Thankfully, when the Word of God is sown in other men whose hearts are like the soil of the good ground, it ‘brings forth fruit with patience,’ that is with constant perseverance, Luke 8:15.

What is the fruit of the Spirit?

It is what the Word provides and produces in the good soil of a person’s heart.

Contrasted to the Spirit produced fruit, ‘the works of the flesh’ are ‘the unfruitful works of darkness,’ Ephesians 5:9+11. In other words, ‘the works of the flesh’ don’t yield a valuable or desirable fruit. The works of the flesh are the evil fruit of the evil tree. They bring forth no blessings and no real benefits.

Please take careful note that unlike the plural ‘acts of the flesh,’ ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ is singular. ‘Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance’ aren’t separate fruits but are characteristics or attributes of the singular ‘fruit of the Spirit.’

Besides these nine characteristics, Paul adds ‘all goodness and righteousness and truth’ in Ephesians 5:9. Thus, giving us a total of eleven attributes of the fruit of the Spirit all of which are virtues of the highest moral and spiritual qualities.

These qualities or characteristics will be manifested in the lives of those ‘who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit’, Romans 8:1 / Romans 8:4 / Galatians 5:16

Like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1, if ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ ‘be in you, and abound, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 2 Peter 1:8

In contrast, if they aren’t manifested in our lives, then we aren’t being ‘led of (or ‘by’) the Spirit,’ Galatians 5:18 / Romans 8:14. And again, like the ‘graces’ of 2 Peter 1:5-7, if they are lacking, then we are ‘near-sighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 2 Peter 1:9. Thus, the proof of the tree is in the fruit.

Jesus said, ‘the tree is known by his fruit’, Matthew 12:33. And, ‘Thus, by their fruit, you will recognize them.’ Matthew 7:20. So, let us determine to always ‘walk after the Spirit’ by following His Word in order that we may manifest these marvellous traits, the fruit of the Spirit.


The next description or sixth attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is ‘goodness’. In the original language, goodness is a moral quality. It is the uprightness of heart and life. Goodness is very closely associated with gentleness. Gentleness describes the kindlier quality of goodness whereas goodness describes the sterner or disciplined aspect.

Sometimes goodness is shown by gentleness, but on other occasions, it is shown by discipline. Therefore, goodness stems from a zeal for the truth which rebukes, corrects, and chastises. To illustrate this definition, consider Jesus as He cleanses the temple.

In John 2:13-17, we read that on the Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem ‘and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting.’

Consequently, He made a scourge, drove them out, poured out their money, and overturned their tables. Upon seeing this, His disciples remembered Psalm 69:9 which says, ‘for zeal for your house consumes me and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.’

Because of a zeal for God, Christ in all goodness corrected the situation in the temple.

Now remember that the Jews had to take their own animal sacrifice from their own homes, Exodus 12:5-6, but what was happening was the money merchants were selling animals at the temple which were blemished to the people coming in. in other words the sacrifices weren’t personal sacrifices any more, it was more of a convenient store.

Also, consider the denouncing of the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:13-19. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, ‘For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 5:20.

To follow after the Scribes and Pharisees was and is a very serious matter for their ways will lead one to destruction.

Jesus, on the other hand, desires ‘all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.’ 1 Timothy 2:4 is clearly revealed by the fact that He willingly gave Himself on the cross. Thus, because of Jesus’ zeal for truth and true righteousness, and His desire for salvation for all men, He warned, ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!’ Matthew 23:13.

A final illustration to help in our understanding of ‘goodness’ is found in Hebrews 12:6, ‘the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.’

Generally, we think about love and goodness in terms of gentleness. However, love and goodness ought also to be thought of as discipline. We as parents should understand this.

Why does the mother slap the hand of the child reaching to the top of the stove? Because she loves that child and doesn’t want any harm to come to him or her. Is this goodness? Of course, it is! Why does God discipline or chastened His children? Because ‘it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.’ Hebrews 12:11

This is God’s goodness in action

Although other forms of this word are used numerous times in Scripture, the noun form in Galatians 5:22 is only used four times.

a. Romans 15:14

b. Ephesians 5:9

c. 2 Thessalonians 1:11

In adjective form, this word describes being good in character and is beneficial in effect. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus, he addressed Him as, ‘Good Master’ or ‘Good Teacher,’ Mark 10:17

Coupled with the fact of his kneeling before Jesus, he was saying Jesus was good in character and beneficial in effect as a teacher.

In reply, Jesus pointedly asked, ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone’. Mark 10:18

The point Jesus made was this, by referring to Him as ‘good,’ the rich young ruler was acknowledging His divine nature.

However, there is another side to this account. The rich young ruler was obviously conceited about his own goodness. When Jesus told him to ‘keep the commandments’, Matthew 19:17 he said, ‘Master, all these have I observed from my youth,’ Mark 10:20. Once again, the good character of Jesus is displayed, Mark 10:21.

In kindness, Jesus invited him to be a disciple, but in goodness, Jesus was stern and candidly pointed out his lacking. As in the fruit of the Spirit, both qualities stem from love. Because of His love, Jesus was direct with the rich young ruler, and in so doing, He convicted him that he was really not as good as he thought. Sadly, instead of repenting, the young man went away grieved.

The opposite of goodness is evil or bad. Concerning the children of promise, Isaac and Jacob, Paul wrote in Romans 9:11, ‘Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand.’

The action of Isaac and Jacob, whether good or evil, didn’t influence God’s choice.

God’s providential plan to bless all the nations of the earth was through Abraham’s and Isaac’s seed. Isaac was blessed over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau not because they were good or bad, but because they were children of promise. Thus, through the seed of Isaac and Jacob, Christ, we, too, are children of promise.

Also, in 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul writes, ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.’

Remember this verse is talking about judgement for the service of the Christian, it’s not talking about salvation.

In the original language, the word ‘bad’ in this verse and the word ‘evil’ in Romans 9:11 are the same. It means base, wrong, or wicked and refers to a person or thing that lacks those qualities they ought to possess whether in action or thoughts.

Similarly, Jesus said, ‘Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.’ John 5:28-29

Those who are characterised by the fruit of the Spirit, ‘goodness’, will be rewarded with eternal life, and those who do evil will be rewarded with death, ‘eternal separation from God’ and damnation.

What does it mean to do good?

Can a person simply do acts of kindness and expect to inherit eternal life? The answer is NO! Remember Jesus said, ‘there is none good but one, that is, God’ Mark 10:18. See also Romans 3:23. Doing good doesn’t take away or ‘balance the scale’ concerning sin.

Instead, the perfect blood of Christ was shed to take away sins, Matthew 26:28 / Ephesians 1:7. Therefore to have forgiveness, one must come into contact with His blood which is a true act of goodness on man’s part. In order to come into contact with the blood of Christ, one must obey the Gospel. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

The fruit of the Spirit is made up of qualities to which all men should aspire. They are qualities that need no law, need no regulation, and need no restraint. They are godly qualities that issue from the foundational principle of love for God and for His creation. If these qualities are applied properly to our lives, they will build a good relationship with God, family, and friends.

Every godly person of the past was characterised by them, and every godly person in the future will be characterised by them. Let us, therefore, strive in earnestness to possess the fruit of the Spirit which is ‘Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, righteousness, and truth’.