Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Paul contrasted the last few verses with the word “but”. The fruit of the Spirit is the opposite of the works of the flesh. As we noted yesterday, there are many works of the flesh. There is one fruit of the Spirit. Many people talk of the fruits of the Spirit. That is not what God says here.
The fruit mentioned here is that fruit that grows on the good tree that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 7. There are many aspects to this fruit. The first is love. The Love of God indwells the true child of God. It is God that enables the true child of God to love others. The truth will set a person free. Yesterday we had to speak of some things that some of those reading these devotionals will not have liked. The love of God motivated me to write those things. Those who want to be silent regarding the truth demonstrate a hatred for God and for others. Keep in mind that Paul gave a very serious warning at the end of yesterday’s test. God is no pushover. He does not bend just because. He is righteous. He provides all that is needed for us to be righteous. His standards are right and they are attainable for the true child of God. The key is to be a true child of God.
The second aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is joy. We want joy in our lives. I read recently that Joe Biden wanted “Facebook” to remove all humour from its site. I also read of a “comedian” in Canada that was being prosecuted because he said some things that offended others. I want to be clear that I do not support comedians. I believe it is foolish to waste time to listen to these empty heads. However, in a free country, they have the right to waste their time if they so choose. They will not waste mine.
True joy comes from knowing the true God and living for Him. The Bible tells us:
Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
The angels in heaven rejoice over a lost sinner that repents and is saved. Those who are already saved, have eternal life. It is great when another lost person turns to God and is saved.
The third aspect listed is peace. God is the God of peace. Jesus Christ is declared to be the “prince of peace.” Jesus calmed the sea and proclaimed His peace while travelling on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus offered the disciples His peace after His resurrection. They were fearful. They did not need to be fearful. Jesus tells us that His peace is different than what the world offers.
The apostle Paul spoke of the peace of God ruling in our hearts. We need that peace. Only those who are truly saved can have this peace. He blesses the saved with His peace. If you are looking for peace today, you will not find it in a bottle or in some other diversion. You will only find it in knowing God’s forgiveness.
Next we see longsuffering. The Bible tells us that God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish. Jesus demonstrated longsuffering with the Pharisees but also with the disciples. He also demonstrated that in His messages to the pastors of the seven churches in Revelation 2&3. Longsuffering does not mean overlooking. God knows when man sins. All sin is a transgression of God’s law. No sin can enter heaven. When a child of God sins, he or she must confess that sin to God to be forgiven. God does not forgive sin that we try to bury. It must be acknowledged to be forgiven.
Gentleness has to do with moral excellence. This is only possible when the child of God is walking in the Spirit. All of the fruit of the Spirit can only be produced in the Spirit.
Goodness is uprightness of heart and life. It is that element of kindness toward others. Why do we help others? It is out of the kindness of our hearts. That kindness comes from the Holy Spirit. It is different than that of the world. The world may do things for others, but they also expect something back. They do it as a means of earning favour with God. This is an impossibility. The saved person is upright in heart and life because he or she is saved. It is God that gives His child the ability to exercise goodness.
Faith is also important for the child of God. We trust God because He is God. We do not need to “throw out the fleece” to be sure we are hearing Him correctly. We trust God because we know He is absolutely trustworthy. Thus we can make wise decisions regarding housing and employment and in which church to attend, etc. We know that God is right and we (those who are saved) pray to God and by faith we do that which we know to be right. We know that because we read and study God’s Word and we seek wise counsel from other true saints.
Meekness is strength under God’s control. Jesus described Moses as a meek man. Moses faced much opposition. Every day he got up and he faced the people. He loved them and he taught them the Word of God. They “rewarded” him many times by grumbling and complaining. He prayed to God for them and continued to lead them. He failed on a few occasions and eventually could not enter the promised land because he broke an important command that God gave him. He spoiled an important picture. Jesus still described him as a meek man. We know that Jesus is meek and lowly. He drove out the money changers because He is meek. He taught the essentials of the temple and when He saw the false teachers defiling His Father’s house in spite of the teaching, He dealt forcefully with them.
Temperance is self-control. For the Christian it is actually Spirit control. It is the Holy Spirit that controls the humble child of God so that our response to different situations is right. When the child of God is walking in the Spirit he will know how to handle any and every situation he faces. We need the Holy Spirit in control in order to have the right emotional response to the things we face in life.
Paul stated that there is no law limiting the exercise of any aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. In life, we will find some people who seem to be more submissive to God and thus exercise more of the fruit of the Spirit than others. This is something that the true child of God must learn as he or she walks with God.
Notice in verse 24 that they that are Christ’s (that refers to all that are saved), have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. When the true child of God is saved, they have turned to God in repentance and they have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. We have talked of this before. True saints do not bring their sin to God and ask Him to sanctify it. They do not want to continue in sin. They want to be set free from sin. That is why they turn to God. There are many who want some relief for the moment, but they do not want to be changed. Many want to go to heaven, but they do not want to live as a child of God now. They assume heaven will be like this earth. They want to sit down and have a drink with their buddies, etc.
Paul tells us that the saved person has crucified the flesh. I spoke with a professing Christian awhile back about his lifestyle. It does not add up to what the Bible says. He proved where his heart is at by telling me that he was glad that I was not God. He assumed that God would understand and accept his sinful activities and that God would overlook it all when he dies. I am not God. I have a Bible. That Bible is the Word of God.
Verse 25 begins with that little word “if”. God never forces anyone to think they are saved when they are not. He often gives that opportunity for personal examination. If a person has received eternal life, then that person needs to walk in the light of that eternal life. In Philippians 3:20 Paul stated it this way:
Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
The word “conversation” there speaks of lifestyle. The true child of God needs to live on this earth with a constant thought of heaven in mind. We need to conduct ourselves here as we would conduct ourselves in heaven. The Holy Spirit indwelling the true child of God guides us in this endeavour. Here we live in a sin cursed world. However, the true child of God does not need to be participating in the sin that engulfs so many.
In verse 26 we are cautioned regarding vain glory. Vain glory is the desire for self-praise. Some people think they have to be praised for everything they do. When they fail they are in the dumps. They need others to make them feel good about themselves. They cannot handle reality. If a person wants to do things right, they need to be right with God. They need to learn the importance of true humility and of trusting in the Lord in all things. God sometimes says no through failure. God knows what He wants for each of His children. James was directed to tell us that a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. He cannot know what to do because he is not fully trusting in the Lord.
In our text Paul tells us that this vain glory leads to provoking one another and envying one another. It is not good. It creates an unhealthy competitive attitude that tears people and relationships apart. A Christian cannot function this way. A true church cannot function this way. Purity is the key. Purity begins at “home”, in the life of the true child of God. As he or she grows in the Lord, he will be more effective in encouraging others to grow in the Lord as well.
As we see in these verses, the Christian life cannot be lived in the flesh. Lost people can try to live clean lives. Some will look fairly good, but none will impress God. Be sure you are saved and then walk in the Spirit. God’s salvation changes the heart of the recipient. God is great and greatly to be praised.