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In Chapter 5 of the book of Galatians, we find that there are nine fruits of the spirit listed that are essential to the growth and character of every born again believer. In verses 22 and 23, they are listed: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. In verses 19-21, the works of the flesh are listed also. The fruits of the spirit are designed to offset, displace and counteract the works of the flesh. In other words, love coming from one can counteract hate from another.
Nurturing the fruit of the spirit fortifies the inner man, giving the believer the insight to walk in the spirit. Verse 25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” As we have our minds renewed to the work of Christ we are to acknowledge and receive the fruit of the Spirit as opposed to the works of the flesh. In other words, one is to see and believe themselves to be crucified dead, to the works of the flesh and resurrected in Christ to the fruit of the Spirit. And on a daily basis apply the principle of repentance in accordance with the renewing of oneself to the new man in Christ. Repentance comes from the Greek word metanoeo a 180° turnabout – as we will examine.
Observing the context of the chapter, it is obvious that the topic of discussion is that of man's flesh versus the spirit. There is no direct implication that the spirit referred to is the Holy Spirit. Therefore, taking this into consideration, we can conclude that Paul is probably referring to the spirit dimension in general, which would include the Holy Spirit and the spirit of man.
The word Spirit in verses 22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law,” could probably have been spelled with a small s instead of a capital S. It is translated from the Greek word pneuma. This word is used in various places of the New Testament for the Holy Spirit and for the human spirit as well. If the word spirit is not prefixed with the word Holy, one must gather from the context of the section of the Bible they are reading as to whether or not a reference is being made to the Holy Spirit or human spirit, for the word for spirit in the Greek is the same.
In the context of Galatians 5, we are discussing man in the case of the works of the flesh versus the fruit of the spirit and so we are seeing two dimensions at work in the make-up of man. The fruit of the spirit (human spirit) are produced through the nature of our new life in Christ by the Holy Spirit, 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” and the works of the flesh are produced by the flesh, indirectly influenced by the devil through the seed of sin sown into the soul of man.
Before we define in detail the fruit of the spirit and works of the flesh, let us explore the way in which these particular attributes are cultivated or conceived.
In Genesis 3:15, we find a reference being made to seeds, the seed of the serpent versus the seed of the woman. The seed of the woman is to bruise the serpent's head and the serpent is to bruise his (Jesus') heel. The seed is a reference to Christ who is the Word made flesh. In Mark, Chapter 4, we find Jesus clarifying the parable of the sower to his disciples. In verse 11, “And He said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables.” Jesus said that the Word of God is the seed. Peter said in 1 Peter 1:23, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever,” that we are born with incorruptible seed as opposed to corruptible seed, denoting that there are two opposite seeds.
Going back to Genesis 3:15, we see that the serpent has a seed as well. This is his word or his thought which is being transmitted into the minds of men. God's word or thought is also being transmitted into the minds of men. Through man's environment, his experiences and the things he sees and hears, these transmissions are being made.
Through the will, man decides what seed he is going to cultivate and grow, utilizing the mind to sow a particular seed to the flesh or spirit through the script written into man’s soul.
In Galatians 6:8, Paul says, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.” Again, we find the same word used in the Greek for the human spirit here in this verse, and no direct reference is made to the Holy Spirit. The context again is that of the human flesh versus the human spirit (regenerated through the incorruptible seed implanted and cultivated by the Holy Spirit). In verse 7, the word says, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” We are not going to get away with anything and whatever seeds we sow to our being, are the seeds we will reap - either through our lives, our children or our children’s children’s lives – good or bad.
Generally, the way the seed will be sown is through the human, conscious mind (the things we dwell on with the mind). This is why Paul said in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things,” to dwell on good things, good thoughts, good reports, virtuous things, etc. In essence, the things that we are hearing and seeing are the things we are thinking upon and sowing, either to the flesh or to the spirit.
This is why Paul says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” For further proof, let us look at the first chapter of the book of James and verses 14 and 15, “But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
Notice the word conceived in the verse. This gives us the insight that something has been planted. A particular seed has been conceived concerning the lusts of the flesh and when it is conceived, it brings forth sin. James also gives the antidote as does Paul in the book of Galatians. Verse 21 of the first chapter of James starts out with the word “Wherefore,” meaning taking into consideration the aforementioned, then goes on to say, “lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness.”
The first part of this verse refers to the works of the flesh. The second part, “and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls,” refers to the work of the human spirit if the Word is planted in it. The first part of verse 21 is referring to the seed of the serpent, to lay apart that seed and receive the seed of God's Word, the engrafted Word, which is translated from the Greek word emphutos, meaning implanted.
same way a natural seed is planted into the soil of the earth and covered over
to await germination.
Again, I would like to point out that the conscious mind is the apparatus of our being that is used to sow seed into us, which in turn, changes our behavior patterns.
This is why Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought unto the obedience of Christ.”
With words like imaginations, thought, and war being used in that verse, we can conclude that Paul is saying the mind is the battleground.
Let us now look at the definitions of the works of the flesh so we can recognize what James said we should lay apart. In other words, one must understand what a weed is before they can pluck it up. If you were gardening, you would want to pull up all of the weeds so that your plants could grow freely. The definitions of the works of the flesh are as follows.
Adultery (Gr. Moicheia) - Unlawful sexual relations between men and women, single or married; a married person always being involved, single with married, married with another individual's spouse, etc.
Fornication (Gr. Porneia) - This word includes the sin of adultery as well as all other manner of unlawful sexual relations.
Uncleanness (Gr. Akatharsia) - Referring to extensive unlawful sexual practices, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty and bestiality.
Lasciviousness (Gr. Aselgeia) - Lasciviousness is promoting or partaking in that which tends to produce lewd emotions. Anything tending to foster sex sin and lust. Many worldly pleasures today fall into this category.
Idolatry (Gr. Eidololatreia) - Image worship or anything on which affections are passionately set. Extravagant admiration of an object with the heart.
Witchcraft (Gr. Pharmakeia) - The practice of dealing with evil spirits for exorcising evil spirits or casting spells upon one by means of drugs and/or potions of various kinds used to inflict evil, pain, sickness, hatred, suffering and death.
Hatred (Gr. Echthra) - Bitter dislike, abhorrence, malice or ill-will against anyone. A tendency to hold grudges or be vengefully angry at someone.
Variance (Gr. Eris) - Dissensions, discord, quarrelling, debating and disputes.
Emulation (Gr. Zelos) - The striving to excel at the expense of another. Seeking to surpass or outdo others in uncurbed rivalry in religion, business, society and other fields of endeavor.
Wrath (Gr. Thumos) - Fierce indignation, raging, determined and lasting anger.
Strife (Gr. Eritheia) - Disputations and strife about words, angry contentions, contests for superiority or advantage. A strenuous endeavor to equal or pay back the wrongs done to one.
Seditions (Gr. Dichostsis) - Parties and factions, popular disorder, stirring up of strife in religion, government, home or any other place.
Heresies (Gr. Hairesis) - A shooting off. It simply refers to varying doctrinal viewpoints which isolate and divide the body of Christ and are not in harmony with the scriptures as a whole.
Envying (Gr. Phthonos) - Pain, ill-will and jealousy at the good will or blessing of another.
Murders (Gr. Phonos) - To kill, to spoil, or mar the happiness of another.
Drunkenness (Gr. Methe) - Living an intoxicated life; a slave to drink, also drinking bouts.
Revellings (Gr. Komos) - Lascivious and boisterous feasting with obscene music and other sinful activities, worldly pleasures and carousings.
Of course, we are to understand that from each one of these weeds or works of the flesh, there are branches and other varying facets rooted in them.
* It is important to realize that the work of the Holy Spirit is done internally, rather than externally or religiously. The tendency of the new believer, when endeavoring to be like Christ, will be to suppress the seed of the serpent or works of the flesh. This is merely a momentary fix and though they are not outwardly performing the works of the flesh, they will find themselves carrying them out in their mind. Eventually, whatever problem they had prior to coming to Christ will manifest itself. Much the same way, a seed lying dormant under a fresh coat of pavement, even though it's suppressed by such a great weight, is able to push through and expose itself for everyone to see. This is why when Jesus said to repent, the Greek word used for repent was metanoeo, which means to make a 180 degree turnabout mentally. Jesus knew that if you would think differently, you would act differently. Instead of working from the outside in, he taught us to change from the inside out. This is also why he said, “now ye are clean through the words which I have spoken unto you,” John 15:3. The words He spoke unto them changed their thinking and in turn, changed their attitudes and habits.
In light of these things, let us therefore be zealous to repent by changing the way we think. If the born again, blood-washed believer will practice these principles, they need never struggle again to be good, for if the right seeds are planted, the right fruit will grow of itself, being that the genetic structure for fruit is in the seed and not in our will. It is impossible to be Christ-like through will power and suppression. Therefore, let us now begin to examine the fruits of the spirit which are given by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.
Love (Gr. Agape) - A divine love, an ardent, tender, self-sacrificial devotion to the well being of others.
Commentary: Jesus Christ displayed this kind of love when he went to the cross for us. He said, “Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13. This love was clearly exemplified in one of Jesus' final statements while hanging on the cross, brutally beaten and tortured by his adversaries. He said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” Luke 23:34.
Joy (Gr. Chara) - A divinely inspired, supernatural joy tending to inspire faith in the face of opposition.
Commentary: Peter spoke of joy unspeakable and full of glory, the kind of joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, which is a heavenly joy. 1 Peter 1:8, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” It is a joy that surpasses our ability to describe it.
Being filled with this kind of joy will at times give one a sense of invincibility because this joy is rooted in the knowledge that God has completely pardoned us and if He is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” It will also manifest itself for blessings received on behalf of others. Even as divine love, divine joy is not selfishly oriented. Jesus rejoiced with this kind of joy in Luke 10:21, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.”
Peace (Gr. Eirene) - A divinely implanted peace that surpasses all understanding. Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The state of quietness and security even in the midst of turmoil.
Commentary: Because of its divine nature, it is impenetrable and unaffected by outside, earthly forces. Similarly would be the depth of the sea, though a typhoon is brewing on the surface. It is a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit and will breed confidence. An example of this kind of peace can be found in the life of Christ as he stood before Pilate and his accusers. Matthew 27:12, “And when He was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.”
Longsuffering (Gr. Makrothumia) - To patiently endure and to bear long with the frailties and provocation of others without resentment.
Commentary: Without the fruit of long-suffering, it would be impossible for the born again believer to perform any lasting spiritual works involving other people. Without it, an individual will be inhibited in their faith when it comes to believing God or any particular vision connected with serving God's church. An example of this fruit in the life of Christ can be found in his exhortation to Peter. Matthew 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but, until seventy times seven.”
Gentleness (Gr. Chrestotes) - A disposition of being gentle, soft-spoken and kind, refined in character and conduct.
Commentary: This is a necessary fruit if we desire to grace people, that is to say, give people needed space in order to grow. It is rooted in the grace of God, his gentleness toward us to deal with us as children and not as slaves. We are not to minister with the viewpoint of strict, religious, angry ordinances but rather to help one to see the principles of faith and grace so as to change from the inward being. This is why the Word says, “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God,” James 1:20. This does not mean that there is never a time for sternness, but when it is time to be gentle, we will know if we have this fruit. Without this fruit, we will find ourselves striving with others. Examples of this fruit can be found in the life of Christ in Mark 10:14, “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God,” and John 8:10-11, “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
Goodness (Gr. Agathosune) - The state of being good as opposed to evil. To be kind, virtuous and benevolent, God-like in life and conduct. To have the attitude or desire for virtuous things as opposed to evil things.
Commentary: The fruit of goodness will create an appetite in the born again believer for the good things of God and should be fervently cultivated in one's life. We see an obvious evidence of this fruit in the entire life of Christ in all of the Gospels.
Faith (Gr. Pistis) - The living, divinely implanted, acquired and created principle of inward and whole-hearted confidence and a reliance in God and all that He says.
Commentary: It is germinated as all other fruits by the word of God. Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” If one has this kind of faith, one would be called faithful. Abraham was faithful to God's promises. He did not doubt, waiver or draw back and it was counted to him for righteousness. Romans 4:3, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” This fruit will breed faithfulness and devotion to God and all that He says and the individual who cultivates it will not be easily moved by what he or she sees, feels or hears. Of course, we see the fruit of faith going hand-in-hand with faithfulness throughout the life of Christ, from healing the sick to enduring the suffering of the cross. Jesus was faithful, meaning full of faith and devotion to the Father.
Meekness (Gr. Prautes) - A form of gentleness rooted in humility.
Commentary: This helps to keep the believer from obnoxiously boasting before others about their own abilities and self-worth, but rather enables the believer to wait upon the Lord, with reference to glory, that their credit and glory would come from Him, creating a kind of cool, confident authority in the born again believer's spirit.
An example of this is shown in the life of Christ in John 18:4-8, “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am He. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them. As soon then as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked He them again, Whom seek Ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am He: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way.”
Temperance (Gr. Egkrateia) - Self-control and moderation exemplified in the indulgence of appetites and passions, including food, drink, the spending of money and other areas of living.
Commentary: Through the cultivation of this fruit, one will learn when and where not to do certain things. In other words, within the confines of this fruit, one will receive what would be called an inner witness that says to the born again believer, that is enough, you're safe, or you're out.
Temperance helps us to see that too little or too much can effect imbalances in our character, as in the natural world we can see that vitamin overdoses can be as harmful as vitamin deficiencies. Therefore, too much restriction can imbalance the believer even as too much indulgence. Examples of balanced living in the life of Christ can be seen when he prepared a meal for his disciples on the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee or when He ate and drank with publicans and sinners, as well as when He would pray in the mountains or heal the sick.
Because of a strong religious infestation into the church, there has been much imbalance throughout the years, therefore, it is imperative for the born again believer to continue to walk in faith knowing that through faith one is saved as opposed to works. Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
In conclusion, the fruits of the spirit already exist at seed level in the human spirit and must be triggered and activated through cultivating a connection to them through the human soul through meditation. The works of the flesh can be mortified, that is, put to death if one will apply the work of the cross on a daily basis to that area of one’s life. That is, put to death or put to the cross, crucified through the understanding that we are saved by grace through faith, and so, receive the supply of the spirit to walk in resurrection life.
Paul said in Romans 6:11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” and Philemon 1:6, "That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus," teaches that we should acknowledge all of the good things that are in us in Christ Jesus. If we will learn to stay our minds upon the good things of God the fruit of the spirit will be activated, cultivated and they will manifest.