The fruit of the Spirit of Jesus Christ A booklet by Rev. Richard Smit RFPA 2012
Smit makes it clear in his introduction that believers bring forth the fruit because we are united to Christ. The Spirit is the bond and the irresistible source of the fruit. Gal.5:22,23 teach that the fruit is one fruit with nine aspects. Why called fruit? Because it is sweet and delightful both to God and the saints. Smit also exhorts from the same passage, the crucifying of the works of the flesh, daily warfare against lusts and submission to God’s pruning.
“ It is important that we seek in daily prayer that God by his Spirit may work in us the fruit of the Spirit.” This assures us, is vital to the communion of saints and equips us to bear one another’s burdens.
Each chapter is followed by helpful questions for discussion which could profitably be a group Bible Study.
The Holy Spirit cultivates and nurtures love by the means of grace, the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments-hence the need to attend a true church. By the living Word, the Spirit cultivates, fertilizes, waters and rigorously prunes us into faithful production of the sweet fruit of love. It is love toward God that delights in the knowledge of him and communion with him. It is also love of the neighbour and the standard is, “as I have loved you.” Unconditional love. His purpose was our salvation. We must address sinners and their offences. Our influence should make them think of their sins and duty to repent.
I would personally add that love in the context of the church is serving others, by showing interest in them, listening to them, teaching and admonishing them,praying for them and helping in any necessary practical ways.
The new life in Christ is one of spiritual joy. Even the wine of the Lord’s Supper signifies this heavenly joy of gladness in him and with our fellow saints. Christ’s words come to us to give us joy (John15:11, I John 1:4). Even in difficult times we rejoice (Phil.4:4). We need the Spirit to produce this. The world is wrong about how to find real joy-like a fish out of water, all they get is misery and death. Joy is only found in God and within God-ordained boundaries. There is no joy walking in sin. Joy is found in communion and friendship with the Sovereign Lord. It is full of contentment and delights to do his will. True joy is everlasting and victorious, based on the substitutionary atonement of Christ. That is why we need to know the doctrines of the Reformed faith. Joy is also found in the assurance of God’s goodness and love toward us for Christ’s sake (Psalm 21:6).Do you believe you are in Christ blessed for ever? This assurance includes the confidence that we belong to him body and soul. We know God in his being. We delight in God’s handiwork displayed. We rejoice in the man of sorrows whose joy was to do the Father’s will. Christ delights to work in us his beauty and joy as the author and finisher of our faith. All things are directed and governed by Christ for our sake and through preserving grace. We lack nothing. He supplies all our needs. We have the privilege of serving him in his church and to spend ourselves for the cause of his kingdom and covenant. By the Spirit we can be joyful in all affliction.
There is none for the wicked (Isaiah 48:22). They are like the troubled sea, ceaselessly restless and refusing to admit their unrighteousness. Men are at war with God and would if they could, destroy him (witness the cross)-their actions testify that hatred of God and the neighbour.
But for God’s people we have John 14:27, Rom.5:1 and Phil.4:6,7. All our sins washed away, peace in reconciliation with our Father, spiritual calm in the midst of calamity because we trust in our God who does all things well and works everything for our good to bless us. Great peace have they that love thy law.
The first three virtues mentioned are inner but the second three are those (perhaps more-JK) evident in dealings with others, especially family and church members.
1. Patience is bearing joyfully and with contentment all the circumstances of our lives especially adversity. Patience is spiritual endurance like that of Job to endure trials and afflictions. Col.1:11 mentions patience and longsuffering as distinct. Longsuffering is related to persons in our lives and is bearing peaceably without resentment and retaliation the sins and weaknesses of those near us in family and church even sins against us. Longsuffering leads to gentleness. Chrysostom calls it the queen of virtues (Love is king).
2. Learning to be longsuffering with one’s parents trains a child to be longsuffering to all in authority later in life.
3. Eli was lax in discipline with his sons, not longsuffering. Longsuffering remains a holy virtue set against all sin and falsehood which purposes salvation.
4. God is longsuffering to all his elect-he wills their eternal salvation and does not hold our sins against us. When we are longsuffering we react to afflictions, temptations and suffering as a result of the sins of others in a Christ-like way. 1 Peter 2:23,24. It does not retaliate. Just as God does not in justice destroy us but deals with us in mercy so it is the ability to be slow to anger and wrath and ready to forgive. Longsuffering leaves judgement to God. An example was Moses and the rebellion of Miriam-he left it to God. It does not mean however we tolerate sin and turn a blind eye to it especially if the Lord’s name is taken in vain.
Gentleness is kindness. Luke 6:35 -God is kind even to the unthankful and evil. We are to be kind to neighbours as God is kind to us Eph.2:7. Examples are the woman caught in adultery and Peter in the courtyard. The aim of kindness is often to bring someone to repentance. Christ in kindness received the infants and we do so in baptism Is.40:11. God is kind to his children Where there is love to Christ in a life there will be gentleness toward one another Col.3:12. This kindness should be unconditional and constant.
Kindness is righteous with a call to forsake sin (woman caught). The opposite is cruelty, harshness, retaliation and bitterness. Kindness does not react angrily to perceived slights or slowness. It is treating family and brethren patiently, serving them. The love of the Spirit of Christ ought to issue in gentleness and kindness. Expect cruelty from the world.
Moral purity and purpose to advance God’s kingdom. Acts that have a proper and honourable purpose with respect to God.The fruit of the spirit is essentially one. Love for neighbour means we will be good to him. It involves the desire for the everlasting happiness of others. We should want to be remembered as one who did good to others. God is abundant in goodness (Ex.34:6). Goodness is the spiritual health and wholesomeness of the sanctified and godly believer. Goodness also describes the purposes of the believer’s actions as God-centred and heavenly orientated. The creation of all things was good because the purpose of them is to glorify Jehovah.
1.God is good (Psalm 25:8) so we are to thank him for our salvation and his provision of everything material and spiritual and that all things are working for our good (Rom.8:28) even the destruction of the wicked. Christ is the Good Shepherd (John 10:4) always seeking our everlasting good. As imitators of God (Eph.5:1) we are to display goodness to others because we are united to Christ and this will help our assurance to grow (III John 11). Examples of God’s goodness-Christ, redemption, prophets, apostles, Scripture, judgment day and glory.
2.Doing good is a witness Matthew 5:16). Goodness may mean rebuke and admonition aiming at the others restoration and the glory of God (Rom.15:14). Goodness means self–sacrifice and denying our own will. Edifying speech is good (Eph.4:29). Goodness is the virtue of a godly wife (Prov.31:11,12). Goodness leads to a happy life (I Peter 3:10, 11). What would you be remembered for? Sporting prowess? It ought to be our goodness toward others, even our enemies, to the intent that they come to enjoy our only comfort in Christ. Doing good is never easy because of our sin and selfishness.
This is loyalty to the Father and Son and being loyal, reliable and dependable towards others who we must serve. Faithfulness to the Father will mean faithfulness in church, marriage, work or school. Christ was faithful in life, faithful especially in going all the way to the cross, faithful in executing God’s decree, faithful as an intercessor. His faithfulness is vital to us as he continues to execute God’s counsel and covenant faithfulness toward us.
1. For holy marriage and any godly friendship, faithfulness ie constant love, commitment, forgiveness and prayerfulness is vital. It means a consistent cleaving to that person, open communication and mutual service.
2. Faithfulness is especially important for church members and office bearers in the church when members stray and need brought back.
3. God’s faithfulness inspires us because despite our unfaithfulness he abides faithful, indeed we depend on God’s faithfulness toward us (I Thess.5:24,II Tim.2:13, I John 1:9).
Israel was unfaithful, something God hates and he had to punish them (Psalm 78:58-64). We must hate unfaithfulness to Christ, disloyalty to God’s truth etc. Rev.2:10 calls us to be faithful even unto death. Christ is the faithful and true witness of Revelation. Living out of God’s truth daily, praying on the basis of his promises and labouring daily though faith in Christ alone is the way of faithfulness. I would add here, ” He that is faithful in little is faithful also in much.” If you cannot be faithful with your money how can God entrust you with spiritual riches? Luke 16:10,11. Faithfulness labours and by God’s grace raises godly children. Faithful office bearers strengthen a congregation. Faithful spouses lead stable, God-glorifying homes.
4. A faithful believer will receive the crown of life and Christ’s ” Well done”.
1. Meekness is bearing suffering and wrong patiently ands sins against you. It is especially required in restoring a backslidden brother.
2. Humility is a state of mind and lowliness before God shown in a willingness to serve others, even in the lowliest of jobs and exemplified par excellence by Christ who went all the way to the humiliation and service of the cross (Phil.2:3-8).
Humility is a right assessment of self in the light of Scripture (Romans 12:3). Our true worth is our standing in Christ totally apart from our works, achievements and our calling.
3. Humility or meekness is a vital fruit of the Spirit nurtured by the faithful preaching of God’s sovereign grace (Psalm 22:25,26 and Canons Head 1 art 13). Moses, John the Baptist and Paul were marked by meekness. Rev. Smit states that selfishness is the enemy of humility because it seeks its own name and glory, not God’s. The opposite of humility is vainglory or pride, seeking the honour and praise of men. Pride may be manifest in ways we may not initially associate with it as in refusing to turn away from false teaching, walking in wickedness, committing offences against others, being discontent with one’s station or gifting, self-pity in affliction and thinking we are better than others. Phil.2:3 describes meekness as ‘lowliness of mind’, that is, how we view ourselves before God and others, based on a true recognition of our creature-hood and sinfulness, we esteem others better than ourselves and that our all is in Christ alone who was ‘meek and lowly’ (Matthew 11:29).Meek ones serve others, care about them, so as to seek their spiritual good, speak up in ministry to them and pray for them. One result is peace (Psalm 37:11) and eventually they will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5). It will speak up when God’s glory or truth is besmirched.
4. Humility is shown in prayerful dependence upon God and submission to oversight.
There is an excellent book on Humility by Andrew Murray which can be read here.
This is also called self-control or self-discipline but in reality it is the spiritual ability to be governed willingly by Christ’s word and Spirit. It involves self-denial. As prophets, priests and kings it is the exercise of this latter calling, the kingly strength to be master over oneself and not let oneself become a slave to whim, uncontrolled passions, the deceitfulness of riches, carnal lusts or peer pressure. It is one of the qualities necessary of an elder (Titus 1:8). Temperance is vital for the worldly athlete and even more so for the faithful Christian (I Cor.9:24-27). The apostle explains that it was necessary for him to be so governed in all areas of his life that he could be effective in his work for the welfare of the church.
1. Affliction and suffering may effectively cause us to bear more fruit as they are a form of pruning which actually cause the budding of fruit as the Christlike response eg to persecution that leads to meekness and joy.
2.Covenant youth must be taught about it, exhorted to bring it forth and shown it by their parents and elders.
3.Fruit in others is attractive and should be imitated. Bearing this fruit especially patience and love will foster friendship and fellowship.
4. True freedom for the believer is being filled with the fruit of the Spirit, which will only happen in glory. It is not the world’s idea of happiness and freedom by fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.
5. What proof have we that we will bear this fruit?
a) The Spirit is the guarantee (down payment).
b) The resurrection of Christ and our union with him.
c) The promises of Scripture eg II Peter 1:3
John 15:1-8 and 16. 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.
16 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.