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Section III C

End results – Fruit of the Spirit Ch.5:22-23

Study C1

Study C1 The Fruit of the Spirit: introduction

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Throughout this series we have continually emphasised the difference between the flesh and Spirit. In the previous study we considered the works of the flesh. There we saw that if we no longer walk in the Spirit then the flesh will exhibit its works; the flesh will occupy itself with things in the list that Paul gives, it will give its energy over to those things and in effect work for them. But not so the fruit of the Spirit, it is a result of of a life that abides in Christ. The fruit of Spirit is just that, of the Spirit. It is a direct result of the life in Christ alone, we do not work for the fruit of the Spirit. Any life other than abiding in Christ will only result in the works of the flesh being manifest.

C1.1 Abiding, not working

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.

This well known passage of scripture is part of the Lord’s final discourse to His disciples before the Cross. It covers the three chapters of Jn. 14-16. One very important recurrent theme in this section is the coming of the Holy Spirit, and His work in believers and the world. In the passage quoted above we have, perhaps, the classic teaching on being fruitful for God. Summed up simply: God wants fruit, those branches that don’t bear fruit are cast away, and those that do bear fruit are purged so that more fruit can be borne.

The whole purpose of being part of the Vine is to bear fruit; it is the only reason for which the branches exist. Being in Christ means that our purpose is to bear fruit, that is what God wants from all of His children. We also can note that in this passage that Jesus talks of fruit, more fruit and much fruit. The idea seems to be of going on from increasing from one degree to another; there is an increase as one goes on with the Lord.

Jesus continues to say that we can only bear fruit if we abide in the true Vine, namely Himself. The key words for our purpose in Jn.15 are the words abide, remain and continue, and all these are the same word in the Greek. It is also worthy of note, at this stage, that in these three chapters of John the qualities of love, joy and peace are mentioned Jn.14:27;15:9-10;15:11. These of course being the first three qualities in Paul’s list of the fruit of the Spirit!

Jesus continually emphasised the impossibility of the branch bearing fruit of itself. Time again Jesus talks of ABIDING in Him. Another word for abiding is ‘remaining’, and here we can link back to Galatians. This is just another way of saying ‘walking in the Spirit’. On New birth we are baptised into the life of Christ, and we are then in the Spirit, and there we are to remain and not go off into the realm of the flesh once more. The only way the fruit of Spirit will be manifested in us is if we abide/remain in Him, that is to walk in the Spirit. Then and only then will  fruit be borne in us. It is the natural result of the life in Christ, we can not manufacturer it at all.

As a backdrop to all this two things may be added. In the Song of Songs the bridegroom went down to his garden to see the fruits and the vine that flourished, this a picture of the Lord looking on us to find fruit. SoS. 6:11-13. Secondly it would appear that the physical nation of Israel in the OC was God’s Vine, but they became empty and of no use to Him and so were cast forth. Hos. 10:1-4; Nah.2:2. Mtt.21:33-45. Now we have Jesus being the true Vine; He is the fruitful one, and the branches in Him bear fruit.

C1.2 The Sower

Luke’s account of the parable of the sower gives us another interesting insight into our subject.

And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

In this parable we see four conditions of the human heart, and the response when the word of God is sown. There are two which are of particular concern here. The first one to consider is he who is among the thorns and brings no fruit to perfection. Such an one walks after the flesh and does not abide in the Vine.

The Word is received and they go forth, that is they begin the journey of life in Christ, but the thorns begin to choke that Word. Notice that it is the thorns that do the choking (= suffocate).

Jesus interprets what he meant. There are three specific things that are mentioned: firstly the cares of this life. The idea behind the word is one of distraction, being drawn in different directions. In other words being drawn from the one direction that the Lord has for us, namely seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness. How often we allow the cares of life to crowd, or choke, the things of God in our lives? Instead of following what Peter says in I Pet. 5:7, and to cast our cares on Him such a person allows the cares of this life to preoccupy him thus choking the Word in his heart.

Riches are the second thing mentioned. This being the abundance of external possessions. Not that these in themselves are wrong, but rather the attitude to them. Jesus warned us about the riches of this life. In the parable of the rich fool He made this clear statement:

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth, Lk.12:15.

In the parable that follows we see the man increased, and God called him a fool because he had not laid up treasure towards God. Instead he laid it all up for himself for the later years that he never had. In the NT we have the following warning about riches.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness…. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
I Tim. 6:6-19

Finally we have the pleasures of this life. This is another thorn that chokes the Word. It means to gratify the natural desires or sinful desires of the flesh. We saw in a previous study that natural desires are not sinful in themselves, but necessary,  What is sinful is when we allow them to be the ruling disposition so that we become so preoccupied by them that they simply suffocate the Word of God in our hearts.

Jesus finishes the parable by saying that those who keep the Word bring forth fruit with patience. If those who allow themselves to be choked by the cares of this life, riches and pleasures are those who walk after the flesh, then those who keep the word are those who walk after the Spirit. Having begun they continue in the Spirit. Which are we?

C1.3 Fruits meet

When John the Baptist preached he used an interesting phrase when talking of repentance:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

John the Baptist call for ‘fruits meet for repentance’. The word ‘meet’ means ‘corresponds to’,  the sense being that if a person truly repents then there will be certain results that follow as a matter of course. Luke’s account gives us more detail as to what the Baptist was meaning for his audience, Lk.3:8-14. If the repentance is true then the fruit will be clear and obvious, if that fruit isn’t there then true repentance hasn’t happened.

This is an important point. Fruit will result from certain actions, and that fruit tells us what the source was. This is seen by Jesus’ well know illustration.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The fruit of a tree tells what sort of tree it is. This may be stating the obvious, but it is surprising what people will not face up to. The fruit that is no good comes from a life that is not good. People may claim to be this, that or the other,  yet their lives say something else. It is not what we say or claim that counts, but what fruit results from our lives.

Every person born into this world is born with an evil heart and that life will produces evil fruit at some stage. The words from the Baptist tells us that it is God’s purpose to come down and lay the axe to the evil trees, and cast them into the fire. This he puts in juxtaposition with the baptism in the Spirit, meaning that when a person comes to Christ in true repentance, the cross (the axe) is laid to the root of that person’s life, and the Holy Spirit comes and with fire, burns up the evil tree and then proceeds to make that person a good tree, whose fruit will appear in its season (Ps.1:3).

So when the Scripture describes the fruit of true believers we need to see if our lives show that fruit. If it is not there it’s either because we are not born again, or we are not abiding in Christ, but rather walking in the flesh. We need to be honest before God and measure things up honestly and act accordingly.

C1.4 As He walked

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
I Jn.2:6

It is God’s purpose to conform His people to the image of Christ, and as John tells us that if we claim to abide in Him then we ought to walk as Jesus walked on the earth. It can not be denied that Jesus’ life was one of continual walking in the Spirit, His life wasn’t choked with any of the thorns of the cares, riches and pleasures of this life at all.

In Him the fruit of the Spirit was clearly manifested, and as we consider the fruit of the Spirit in detail we will look at the qualities and how they manifested themselves in the life of Jesus. It goes without saying that no study can be ever exhaustive, but what we do consider will  give food for thought.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Gal. 5:25