Fruit of the Spirit: Summary

by | May 22, 2024 | 01 Podcasts, Galatians

Fruit of the Spirit Summary: The fruit of the Spirit are not “feel-good vibes” or moral must-haves. They result from a seismic worldview. They grow from faith taking root in our souls.

Fruit of the Spirit Summary Key Points

  • An analogy to understand the connection between worldview and salvation.
  • The 8 fundamental truths behind the fruit of the Spirit.
  • How to reconcile the fruit as a work of the Spirit with Paul’s exhortation to pursue them.

Previous: Fruit of the Spirit: Self-control

Series: Fruit of the Spirit

Fruit of the Spirit Summary

In this series we have been searching for Paul’s understanding of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5. We have explored various passages in Scripture to learn what the Bible says about these concepts and therefore what Paul was thinking when he wrote the list.

Perspective, not Feelings

I have argued that the items on this list are not feelings. Rather, they are a lifestyle that results from a profound shift in worldview. As the Spirit of God teaches us truth, our perspective changes, and that changes how we choose to act, respond and treat each other.

Results of Maturity

I’ve also argued that these qualities are not optional additions or bonus extras that help you become a nice person or a better disciple of Jesus. Nor are they something that you should pursue in order to grow in spiritual maturity. They are not the cause of spiritual maturity. Rather, they result from spiritual maturity.

The Spirit teaches us truth that truth changes our worldview, and that worldview changes our lifestyle, producing these kinds of results.

I’ve argued that worldview is something that we think with, not something we think about. Your worldview is like putting on a pair of contact lenses. You may forget you have them on, but they shape how you see the world.

When we put on the contact lenses of the gospel worldview, we live differently. We pursue different goals. As we face the choices that life throws at us, we reveal our fundamental beliefs. We won’t be obedient consistently and perfectly in all situations. But the goals we chase reveal our willingness to follow and love God.

I’ve argued that the fruit of the Spirit is the inevitable results of that worldview change of coming to faith. When we come to believe the gospel, these qualities follow. They become the very things we pursue in one out of life.

Let me give you an analogy to explain this connection better.

Red-wire vs Quest

Imagine you are in the latest superhero action-adventure movie. The evil aliens planted a bomb in New York City that will destroy the entire planet. The clock is ticking. You must figure out which wire to cut to diffuse the bomb.

All of a sudden, your sidekick whips a booklet out his pocket and says, “Let’s read the instruction manual!” Even though he can’t read alien, like most instruction manuals, it’s all in pictures. There is a big color picture with scissors cutting the red wire. You now have the right knowledge. As the clock ticks down to zero, you cut the red-wire, saving the planet.

Some people view the gospel like that instruction manual. It gives us the knowledge we need to live a good Christian life. The instructions are things like believe in Jesus, confess your sins, join the church, pray, be kind and pursue the fruit of the Spirit. Our job in this life is to follow the instructions.

Let me give you a better analogy.

This time we are in a fantasy movie. In this movie, a prince falls in love with the princess. But, alas, she is enchanted. Her fairy godmother tells him to break the enchantment and win her heart he must pass three trials.

  1. He must bring back a jewel guarded by a fierce dragon.
  2. He must trek through the desert and solve the riddle of the Sphinx.
  3. He must climb the highest mountain and convince the prophet who lives there that he, the prince, is the wisest man of all.

The prince has all the knowledge that he needs. He knows the three tasks he must accomplish to win his love, free her, and live happily ever after. But he doesn’t know how to accomplish those three tasks. The instructions by themselves don’t teach him how to solve each problem. For those instructions to do him any good, he must be a certain kind of person.

Only a prince who is truly and deeply committed to the princess will attempt to follow these instructions at all. His job is not a matter of cutting the red wire. To have any hope of succeeding, he must have bravery, courage, wisdom and resourcefulness.

How did the prince lure the jewel away from the dragon? Unlike everyone else who charged in with their swords and got burned to a crisp, the prince showed kindness to the dragon. He offered to trade one of the treasures of his kingdom. The dragon voluntarily gave him the jewel in trade.

How did he solve the riddle of the Sphinx? Thanks to his superior homeschooling education, he didn’t quit or jump to quick conclusions. Instead, he spent months researching until he finally found the answer.

How did he prove himself to be the wisest man of all? He had read Socrates. He admitted he didn’t know all the answers.

The instructions provided an opportunity for the prince to reveal his character. They weren’t instructions on how to become dedicated, kind, clever, and humble. The instructions created a set of circumstances in which the prince could demonstrate he was dedicated, kind, clever, and humble. They revealed what kind of person he was as he sought to follow them.

Responding to the Gospel

Understanding the gospel is closer to the quest than the red wire. The gospel will only do you good if you are believe it. The gospel is a message about sin, mercy and eternal life. To embrace it, we must be willing to reject the lies we tell ourselves and embrace the truth.

We must be people of faith.

By nature, all of us are rebels and sinners who mock, scoff and reject the gospel. Left to ourselves, we are trapped in our sins. We reject the gospel every time we hear it. But God, in His mercy, changes us so that we repent of our sins and humbly trust in the blood of Jesus. Through the working of God’s Spirit, we recognize the gospel is true.

We’re still sinners, but now we understand we’re sinners. We recognize we need the grace, mercy and forgiveness made possible by the cross of Christ.

The gospel doesn’t teach us to ‘cut the red wire and you’ll be fine.’ Rather, as the Spirit teaches us, the instructions begin to make sense.

Life throws us challenges, temptations, trials, and opportunities. Like the prince in my fairy tale, life gives us the opportunity to reveal our faith.

Essential Truths of the Gospel

To wrap up this series. I’d like to look at this topic from a different perspective. It seems to me that what informs everything Paul has been saying, what gives structure and meaning to this list of the fruit of the Spirit is this:

In Paul’s view to be a spiritual person is to embrace the truth and live like it’s true.

By truth, I mean those fundamental truths that we call the gospel. Those truths that involve the fundamental questions about who we are as people, who God is, and what is valuable in this life. In one sense, the work of the Spirit can be described simply. The Spirit of God opens our eyes, frees our hearts from the clutches of selfishness, and gives us the ability to see the bigger picture.

That’s a simple way of describing what the Spirit does. But it’s actually multifaceted because when our worldview changes, many other things change as well. The fruit of the Spirit is one way of describing some of those changes.

To summarize, I’d like to review the truth we have been seen behind the fruit of the Spirit. These are the truths that we have seen. Our foundational principles of our new gospel worldview that lead to these fruits of the Spirit.

Truth #1: The God of the Bible is the God we must deal with.

I almost left this one out because it seems so obvious. But most of humanity ignores God. It’s not that the majority of people are atheists. Most people are theists. When you ask people and take polls about whether you believe in some kind of spiritual being, most people agree some kind of superior being exists.

But we lie to ourselves about who that God is. Most of us reject the God who is actually the Creator and Author of the universe, and whose revelations about Himself have been collected into the Bible. We prefer remake God in our image to fit our current worldview.

But when we acknowledge that the God who revealed Himself through His prophets, apostles, and His son, Jesus Christ, then everything else in our worldview changes. When we start to come to know the God of the Bible, as we embrace certain truths about Him, they leave a mark on our characters.

Truth #2: God is the center of the universe. We are equal before Him.

We acknowledge God created all of us, we ourselves are not the center of the universe, and God is the center of the universe. Tat worldview shift makes a huge difference. All of us secretly believe we’re the main characters and everyone else is the supporting cast. We all start from the premise that our needs are more important than everyone else’s.

But the Spirit teaches us that’s a lie. Our Creator gave us each our place in the universe. He is the center of the universe. We are equal before him. I am no more important than you. You are no more important than me. That shift from selfishness to a humble acceptance of our equality changes a lot.

Truth #3: We are sinners.

All of us are selfish to the core. Evil has taken hold of our hearts and we are guilty before God. We act for our own benefit without caring who we hurt in the process. One day, we will face the judgment of God. He has every right to condemn us. He is not obligated to save us. There is nothing we can do to earn His favor.

Why does God offer anyone mercy? Because He is loving and gracious. He’s not merciful because we deserve it. He’s merciful because He chooses to be merciful.

That truth changes our perspective about both ourselves and others. We start to see our friends, neighbors, and even our enemies as equals. We realize we have no right to condemn or judge others, for we are guilty, too. We have no right to expect perfection from others because others need God’s mercy of God, too.

Truth #4: God is actively working for those who trust Him.

In addition to overlooking our sin, God is actively working to remove it. That is an inspiring picture. The more we understand how actively God works for our good, the more we can be generous, compassionate, and forbearing. God is in control of our life and destiny. He weaves everything that happens into His plan to bring us into His kingdom.

We don’t have to demand our share. We don’t have to vindicate ourselves. God has it all under control. Understanding that truth frees us to apply the Golden Rule and treat others as we would wish to be treated.

Truth #5: Knowing God is working for us gives us a great hope.

Hope is central to the fruit of the Spirit. God has made promises. He’s conquering sin, futility, and sorrow and fixing all that is corrupt and broken in this world. None of us can solve those kinds of problems. Yet God has promised He can and will solve them. That gives us this great hope.

Everything we experience in life has a point and a purpose. Our lives are not careening out of control. God has a plan. We are headed to the ultimate happy ending.

The more we understand the hope of the gospel, the more we delight in the promises of God. It doesn’t make life less painful, but it makes it hopeful. Hope gives us a kind of courage and stability. We can stay balanced in the midst of a topsy-turvy world because we are standing on the rock of truth.

Truth #6: We are uniquely connected to other believers.

Our hope connects us to other believers in a way we are not connected to the rest of humanity. The more we see the value of embracing the gospel, the more we see that people embracing it as our people. We have the most in common with them. We share the same hope, the same Lord, the same need for grace and mercy, and we are on this same journey together.

Despite all our differences, we share the most important thing in the universe in common.

Truth #7: Our hope gives us freedom.

Because we hope in God and we trust that He is in control, we can be patient with others. We don’t need to be threatened or offended. Because we know God will make everything right, we can react to hurtful situations with a measure of grace, forgiveness and forbearance.

Our hope teaches us to wait patiently for God. We can rest. We do not have to fight and grab for the stuff of this world. We know we will be okay because God is on our side. He is working everything together for our good. If God is for us, who can be against us? We can wait patiently and trust Him.

Truth #8: Our hope inspires us to love what is right and good.

The world tells us God’s standards of goodness restrict our freedom, and following God means we miss the best in life. But we understand God’s standard of goodness fulfills us. To follow God and seek His will is the way to freedom and eternal life. God is not hindering us. He is fixing and protecting us.

The fruit of the Spirit result from a deepening understanding of these eight truths. The more these truths shape our worldview, the more these qualities of the fruit of the Spirit will become part of our characters.

God’s Work or Our Work?

In Galatians, Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit as a work of God. Yet he also exhorts us to pursue them. How do we put that together? How could it be a work of God and yet we are being told to pursue them? There is a right way and a wrong way to reconcile that problem.

The wrong way is something like this: God places all the resources of the Spirit at our disposal when we put our faith in him. If we fail to appropriate the Spirit’s power, we won’t grow. We’ll still be saved, but we won’t have these fruits, because we haven’t plugged into the right power source.

When I was a new believer, I heard it taught this way. When we come to faith, it says if we are issued a shiny new car. But sadly, most of us push that car around. We need to jump into the driver’s seat and turn on the key. Then we will really make progress. We struggle with sin because we haven’t plugged into the power of the Holy Spirit. We are still pushing the car. If we jump in the driver’s seat and get hold of the power of the Spirit, then our struggles will disappear. God has done His part and now the rest is up to me.

In my opinion, Scripture teaches a very different view.

The Spirit works in all believers, and this fruit will result. We know that the Spirit is at work because we see our lives changing. Every day we are put in situations where we have to choose to follow God or follow the way of the world. Sometimes we choose right and sometimes we choose wrong. When we choose wrong, we regret it and we repent, because ultimately we want to follow God.

These fruits are attractive to us. They don’t seem old-fashioned or burdensome or restrictive. They are qualities we admire and want to have. They represent what we want in life and what we’re shooting for.

The Exhortation is to Believe

When Paul exhorts us to pursue the fruit of the Spirit, he’s calling us to believe. The choice to pursue them is not a choice to find the power source. It’s simply a choice to embrace the truth of the gospel more fully and live like it’s true.

Remember the context of Galatians. In Galatians, Paul is not talking to Christians who have faith, but need to tap into the power source so they grow faster. He’s talking to people who are in danger of abandoning the gospel itself. They are rejecting the mercy of God found in Christ. Instead, they are embracing obedience to the law as the way to earn God’s favor.

The gospel is this two-part picture. First, we have been forgiven so that we might have life. That life is not just continuing to breathe. It is solving this problem of death, sin, corruption, and futility. The cross of Christ solves the problem of our guilt. Jesus makes it possible for God to forgive us because he paid the penalty for our sins.

The second part of the gospel is living our lives differently. When you become a disciple of Jesus, you metaphorically crucify your old worldview. Part of repentance is crying out to God: ‘I don’t want to be this kind of person anymore. I agree with you that I’m sinful. I know my choices are wrong and I’m guilty. I am not the person I want to be. Instead, I want to be holy, worthy and good like you. I recognize I can never fix the problem by myself. I recognize you, Father, don’t owe me anything. I am asking for your mercy and grace because of the blood of Jesus Christ.’

Paul is talking to people who are in danger of abandoning that gospel.

They have been listening to legalists who tell them the cross is no big deal. They need to keep the law. To the Judaizers, the death of Jesus was a legal necessity, but it wasn’t enough. The really important factor is keeping the law.

Paul is talking to people who are facing this choice. Do I believe the gospel that Paul preached when he was here? Or do I believe the teaching of the Judaizers? He exhorts them to pursue the fruit of the Spirit because he wants them to keep believing the gospel.

Saving Faith

The four core convictions of saving faith start changing our worldview. Let me review those quickly.

  1. I am a sinner who is guilty before God.
  2. God is not obligated to save me.
  3. I cannot save myself.
  4. I trust that God will forgive me because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Those four core convictions underline all the truths we’ve been talking about in this series.

The problem of the Judaizers is not unique. All of us are tempted to think that God is pleased with us because of something we’ve done.

All of us are tempted at times to think God approves of me:

  • because I got baptized the right way.
  • Or I take the Lord’s Supper in the right way.
  • Or I go to the right church.
  • Or I study the Bible the right way.
  • Or I belong to the right denomination.
  • Or I serve the poor and do good works more than most people.

That’s the trap of a legalist and we can all fall into it.

The legalist worldview of the Judaizers says, ‘I’m okay because I do things the right way.’ We all face the temptation to believe that. If we finish the sentence ‘the reason I’m okay is…’, with anything other than the cross of Christ, we are in danger of sliding into legalism.

Fruit of the Spirit Summary

Let’s run through the fruit of the Spirit one last time and list the key concepts.

  • The fruit of the Spirit are not feelings.
  • We are not instantly transformed and given the items on this list.
  • The fruit of the Spirit do not cause spiritual growth. They result from spiritual growth.
  • The fruit of the Spirit emerge through the change in our worldview as the Spirit teaches us truth.

Love is acting for someone else’s benefit. Once we understand our place under God and next to our neighbors, we realize we are equal before Him. We become willing to act for the benefit of another, and we recognize we share this unique bond with other believers.

Joy is the natural response to something good coming our way. We rejoice even in our trials because we understand the hope of the gospel in a real and practical way. We know that God is in control and He is working everything for our benefit.

Peace is both a personal lack of anxiety, because we understand God is in control, and a lack of strife among believers, because we stand on the common ground of the gospel.

Patience is long-suffering endurance because we believe God will fulfill His promises. It is enduring with hope, joy and expectation.

Like love, kindness is an action. Kindness is treating someone well regardless of whether they deserve it or how they respond. Kindness is grounded in understanding God’s kindness toward us.

Goodness is the pursuit of what is right, holy and good as opposed what is evil, corrupt and false. Goodness rejects the lie of selfishness and embraces the truth that God is holy and we are not.

Faith or faithfulness is believing the gospel is true and living in light of those truths. It’s not a one-time event. It is an understanding that deepens and matures as the Spirit teaches us.

Gentleness or meekness is that quality of not putting yourself forward or being presumptuous. It is the humility of accepting whatever God gives without grabbing for more. It begins with understanding we are sinners in need of God’s mercy.

Self-control is the recognition that I should not do everything I want to do. It is choosing to follow what God says is true and seek to live within His boundaries.

Because these are fruits of the Spirit, we can rejoice and be grateful that the Spirit will produce these fruits in us. We don’t need to manufacture them. We don’t need to create opportunities to demonstrate them. We will learn them as God takes us through the journey He plans for our lives.

What should you do in response to this list?

You don’t need to try harder. You simply need to believe. The exhortation to pursue the fruits of the Spirit is fundamentally an exhortation to repent and believe the gospel.

If that’s what you want, then I have very good news for you. Jesus tells us that everyone who asks for faith receives it. Everyone who humbly knocks on the door will be forgiven. Those who seek the kingdom of God before everything else will find it.

Ask and you will receive.

Copyright © 2024 · Krisan Marotta, WednesdayintheWord

Photo by Bill Williams on Unsplash

Season 24, episode 12