"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)
An irresistibly attractive picture of a life lived under the control of the Holy Spirit is found in Galatians 5:22, 23. These verses describe a life of beauty because such a life is filled with the fragrance of the Son of God. No wonder the Psalmist prayed "Let the beauty of the Lord God be upon us" (Psa. 90:17). In Psalm 29:2 we read of "the beauty of holiness." Yes, holiness is a beautiful thing to behold in a person. It is not just a Bible doctrine, it is also a Person. The Lord Jesus Christ is our holiness:
"But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, (holiness) and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)
When a soul is truly born again, it will have aspirations after holiness, because the pardoned sinner always desires to be like his lovely Lord. There is only one way whereby we can magnify the Lord in our lives and that is by manifesting continually His own traits and graces in our daily living. Robert Murray McCheyne prayed, "Oh God, make me as holy as it is possible for a sinner saved by grace this side of heaven to be." The deeper the Christian experience, the higher is the standard of holiness and the greater the sense of spiritual need.
"The evidence that we are born again is that we are producing fruit unto holiness: But now, being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness." (Romans 6:22)
"The Pope's calendar," says Jenkyn, "Only makes saints of the dead, but the Scriptures require sanctity in the living." The Head will not admit of any dead members. "Boast not Christ's work for you," said McCheyne during revival days at St. Peter's Church, Dundee, "unless You can show us the Spirit's work in you." Oh, how many have made "decisions for Christ" who have shown themselves to be sham converts by failing to bear "fruit unto holiness!" It is an utter impossibility to separate salvation from sanctification. All justified people are, in one sense sanctified, and all sanctified people are justified. (Of course, there are no degrees in justification, but there are degrees in sanctification. We grow in sanctification, but we do not grow in justification.)
One who is truly born again will exemplify at least some of the manifestations of the Spirit's fruit. The Lord Jesus said, "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matt. 7:20). A full, normal, mature Christian life ought to manifest all the graces of the Spirit.
Oh how many are crying out and seeking after the gifts of the Spirit, but not His graces! They want power, but not purity. Yet, the quiet influence of a holy life is a mighty weapon in the hands of a holy God. When the great Forth Bridge in Scotland was nearing completion, we are told, on one dull, cold day the builders tried unsuccessfully to bring certain important girders together. Every available device of mechanical power was used without success and, at the end of the day, the builders retired completely baffled. The next morning, however, as the sun shone in summer warmth upon the great masses of steel, the heat produced an expansion which enabled them to make the proper connection. What mechanical power could not do, the quiet influence of the sun's rays accomplished! So it is in much of the work of the Heavenly Paraclete; His power in the life of a believer sometimes works more effectively through the silent influences of LOVE than through the mighty manifestations of miracles. Many a hardened sinner has been brought to saving grace through the attractive life of a Spirit-filled believer. Oh that every child of God would allow the Holy Spirit to have full control in his life just now, so that He may manifest before the world the beauty of Christ through him! Oh how many unlovely Christians there are! If we could only bury out of sight all the unlovely Christians, the world would soon be attracted by the gospel we preach.
In Galatians, the fifth chapter, we have a moral portrait of the Lord Jesus Christ as produced in us by the indwelling, ungrieved, unquenched Spirit of God. In the Upper Room Discourse of our Lord when introducing to His disciples the coming Comforter, He said of Him:
"He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine and shall shew it unto you." (John 16.14)
Here we are told the majestic Redeemer is to be glorified through the reproducing of His life in His redeemed ones by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit never lies dormant and idle in the believer, but seeks to make His presence known by bearing fruit through us.
A peculiar fragrance of Christ-likeness is attached to the memory of Robert Murray McCheyne. He sought after holiness as fervently and assiduously as miners seek after gold. He left behind him a fragrance of Christ so remarkable that Mrs. Andrew Bonar, the wife of his friend and biographer, said of him, "It was not the matter in his messages, nor his manner either; it was just the living epistle of Christa picture so lovely I felt I would have given all the world to be as he was."
Not only is God looking for fruit in us, but so also are the unsaved. It was said of Joseph,
"Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall." (Genesis 49:22)
The people on the other side of the wall are entitled to see the fruit! A missionary doctor once passed through a pagan village in China and helped some poor people there. Some time later another missionary came to witness to them of the Redeemer.
"Oh, yes, I know whom you are talking about," said one woman, "I have seen him!"
Now that we have agreed on the necessity of fruitbearing in every believer, it is important for us to look more closely at "the fruit of the Spirit" in detail, as described by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love . . ." he begins in verse 22. The word "but" suggests a contrast and so we look at verses 19 to 21 to see what it is to which the "but" refers. It is "the works of the flesh!" There is indeed a contrast between the works produced by the flesh and the fruit which is produced by the Holy Spirit. Works are laborious, but fruit is borne. As the branch abides in the tree, it automatically brings forth fruit. Similarly, as the believer abides in the Lord Jesus Christ, he just as inevitably brings forth spiritual fruit (John 15:5).
We notice that the word "works" is plural, while the word "fruit" is singular. We may consider the fruit of the Spirit as being LOVE and all the other graces as just different flavors of that fruit. For instance:
JOY is Love exulting
PEACE is Love reposing
LONGSUFFERING is Love waiting
GENTLENESS is Love stooping to the lowly
GOODNESS is Love shining in deeds
FAITH or FIDELITY is Love proving itself true
MEEKNESS is Love bearing the Cross
TEMPERANCE or SELF CONTROL is Love crucifying the flesh.
The flavors of the Fruit of the Spirit fall into three clusters of three flavors each:
The first three concern our relation to God.
The second three concern our relation to our fellow man.
The third three concern our own inner life.
We may say, the love which the Spirit sheds in our hearts and pours through the believer reaches upward and outward and downward. It reaches up to God, out to our brethren, and down to sinners on the way to hell. When a child of God is under the control of the Spirit:
(1) There will be a love for the Triune God.
There will be a real deep genuine love-life between the believer and his loving heavenly Father. The believer will go into the secret place of prayer and delight to have sweet fellowship with his blessed Lord. And he will revel in the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14).
(2) There will be love for his brothers and sisters in Christ.
Some of us wear a gospel pin in the lapel of our jackets to let the unsaved know we belong to Christ, but I know of a better "gospel pin" that exhibits in no uncertain manner that we are the Lord's; it is the emblem of LOVE:
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35)
Yes, LOVE is the badge of recognition. In John 13:1, we read:
". . . When Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end."
If we are filled with the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, we also will love those who are "of the household of faith."
Do you love your brethren to the very end? Love never takes up an attitude of isolation; it cannot isolate itself. We who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ may not belong to the some nationality or the same denomination, but if we belong to His mystical, supernatural Body, then we will love one another. It is easy to profess holiness without manifesting love!
Two hermits lived in the desert so that they might be away from man and worship the Lord. They loved each other and they loved the Lord. One day, one of them said to the other, "Let's have some fun! Let's start quarreling the way the world does and the way other Christians do."
The other hermit agreed and, picking up a stone, he said, "This is my stone."
"No!" answered his brother, "That is my stone!"
"No! I said it is my stone," insisted the hermit who made the first claim.
"Oh well," replied his companion, "you can take it."
They loved each other so much they could not quarrel when they tried! Would to God we all possessed that spirit of love for our brethren today.
There is a story of an early Christian who was going to the scaffold to die for his faith in the Lord Jesus. A poor brother came to him, weeping and pleading for forgiveness, saying, "Please forgive me, my brother! I have wronged you, I know, but please forgive me!"
The martyr brushed his poor brother to one side and went to the scaffold and died. But the Early Church refused to inscribe his name among the heroes and the martyrs because he was so unloving. Of what use is it to be great and mighty if we have not love?
(3) There will be a love for lost souls.
This love will manifest itself in a passion and an agony for the unsaved which amounts to God's love expressing itself through us. We read in Romans 5:5:
". . . For God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us." (Amplified N.T.)
This agony ought to flood our souls because of the millions who have never heard the glorious gospel of salvation. When we live under the control of the Spirit, we will have the passion of Christ Who said, "Other sheep I have . . ." Other sheep! He was not satisfied. "Other sheep . . . them also I must bring."
It was Bishop Ryle who said so searchingly:
"The selfish professing Christian who wraps himself up in his own conceit of superior knowledge and seems to care nothing of whether others sink or swim, go to Heaven or Hell, so long as HE goes to church in his Sunday best, knows nothing of following Christ's example."
Christ wept for souls. We also will weep for lost souls if we are filled with the Spirit. Henry Martyn, that glorious pioneer missionary to India, in writing of his reaction as he surveyed paganism in the raw, said, "I shivered, as if standing on the neighbourhood of Hell!"
HE was not willing that any should perish;
Am I His follow'r, and can I live
Longer at ease with a soul going downward
Lost for the lack of the help I might give?
A life lived under the control of the blessed Paraclete will be one of holy exultation. Christ was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows (Heb. 1:9); so much so that even just before the conflict of Gethsemane, He sang a hymn. And when one is filled with the Spirit of Christ, there will be singing.
"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess: but be filled with the Spirit: speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." (Ephesians 5:18, 19)
This joy will not be the pseudo joy of worked-up emotions which is sometimes passed off for the Spirit's joy in many evangelical gatherings. Rather, it is the deep, genuine, spontaneous well of emotion that comes to the believer when the Spirit so fills him with holy exultation that he must continually break forth into praising the Lord. It is not a joy manufactured by man, but the product of the indwelling Guest. Joy is the native characteristic of the Christian life so that all believers are exhorted to shout and praise the Lord.
"Let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: Let them ever shout for joy . . ." (Psalm 5:11)
"Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." (Isaiah 12:3)
"Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion. . . ." (Isaiah 12:6)
Are you filled with the joy of the Lord today? Are you praising the Lord? Paget Wilks once said, "Do you know what Satan would like to have? He would like to have every sinner perfectly jolly and happy and every saint perfectly dragged out and miserable. Indeed, a sad Christian is an open contradiction to the glad tidings of the gospel.
When I was first converted, I used to wonder why W. P. Nicholson, the Ulster revivalist, closed his evangelistic meetings with a very strange doxology:
Down in the dumps I'll never go;
That's where the devil keeps me low.
So I'll sing with all my might,
And I'll keep my armor bright,
But down in the dumps I'll never go.
The words and tune used to grate in my ears. How could this possibly be a substitute for the grand and glorious doxology, "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow"? I soon understood, however, the wisdom of my friend. As an evangelist, he knew that possibly one of the greatest tools in the hands of Satan was getting a Christian to lose his joy. A discouraged Christian is rarely ever used by the Lord to do exploits. No wonder Paul prays in Romans 16:13:
"Now the God of hope fill You with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost."
A great preacher in England, in the closing days of his life, was afflicted with a distressing disease which gradually deprived him of the power of speech and the use of his limbs. Toward the end, his condition rapidly grew worse until all he could do was communicate with his loved ones by means of a writing pad. As the anniversary of Christ's resurrection came round in 1960, he grew strangely excited as he always did at the prospect of celebrating the glorious occasion; and when the actual day dawned, he reached for his pad and wrote:
EASTER DAYThe day when one wants to shout. What a pity not to be able to shout! But what a tragedy it would be not to want to shout!
Contemplating on the glories of our God and King, our hearts must ever sing:
I've found the pearl of greatest price,
My heart doth sing for joy;
And sing I must, a Christ I have:
O what a Christ have I!
Christ is my meat, Christ is my drink,
My medicine and my health;
My peace, my strength, my joy, my crown,
My glory and my wealth.
In Isaiah 32:15-17 we read:
". . . Until the Spirit be poured upon us . . . Then . . . shall righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be PEACE . . . and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever."
This prophecy which was given through Isaiah to God's ancient people is realized today in the lives of all those who are under the control of the Spirit.
There are two ways whereby you may have the peace of God continually flooding and filling your heart. First, by turning everything over to Him in prayer and supplication and thanksgiving; and second, by letting your mind dwell on the lovely things which pertain to Him and His love.
"Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 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 . . . think on these things." (Philippians 4:6-8)
It is in the mind that the fiercest battles usually rage. This gives added significance to the comforting words of Isaiah 26:3:
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee. . . ."
It is when we allow the Spirit to center our thoughts on Jehovah that we experience His peace. The mind is at rest because it is filled with the knowledge that the Almighty can and will take care of any situation that we may encounter. Such peace is truly of the Spirit, for it is His work to enlighten the eyes of our understanding that we may know God in Christ.
". . . That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened . . ." (Ephesians 1: 17, 18)
We can fill our minds with whatever we choose. We can choose to fill our minds with the company and conversations of worldly people, or we can choose to meditate on the things of the Lord. If we let our minds be filled with worldly things, we must not be surprised if we lose the peace of God. Donald Gee wisely wrote, "A man might as well complain at having bad dreams if he reads an excitable criminal story before going to bed!"