Thursday, July 4, 2024

 Fruit Bearing

Part 3

Pastor Vicky Moots
Kingman, Kansas

As we have seen, in Gal. 5:22-23, the apostle Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit, starting with “love”, followed by 8 more items: joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, meekness and temperance.  If you examine these more closely you will see that these last 8 items would not even be possible without the first one, and that they are all a part of the divine nature of Christ Himself.

So how is it possible that we, as mere humans, can ever hope to bear such fruit as this? It is absolutely impossible for us to do that!  That is why Paul is careful to clarify that it is the fruit of the Spirit, and not the flesh.  In vss. 19-21 he lists some sordid examples of the works of the flesh which all have their root in the old creation life.  These all display the exact opposite of love. 

Only as a new creation can the Holy Spirit flow through our spiritual veins to produce spiritual fruit, just like the sap of the vine flows through its branches.  First of all, we must experience and accept the love of God into our own hearts when we are convicted and convinced by the Holy Spirit that we are sinners and in need of a Savior, as we read in Rom. 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

So, the first step in fruit bearing is to accept and lay hold of God’s love personally.  The Scripture doesn’t just say that God shows love, it says, “God is love” (I John 4:8).  Apart from God, there is no true, unselfish love.  Only as we experience God’s love can we share it with others as our spiritual fruit.  John makes that very clear in I John 4:7 when he says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God [born again], and knoweth God.”

God’s divine love, agape, reaches out to the unlovely.  He sent His Son to die for us when we were yet sinners, when we were still His enemies.  Jesus died for the ones who mocked Him and spit in His face, the ones who laid the stripes upon His back and drove the nails into His hands.  He did that because of love.  Jesus was our earthly example of God’s love in action and in words when He prayed on the cross.  “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34).

We are to follow His example in our fruit bearing by letting His love flow through us to love those who have hurt us.  Jesus told the Pharisees that love was the greatest commandment, and Paul reiterated that in Rom. 13:10 when he said, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”  This is, of course, only true of God’s love, agape, and can only be displayed in our lives as a fruit of the Spirit, not by our own works.  Natural man does not possess this kind of love. 

Jesus said in John 15:9, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”  Can you truly grasp the immensity of that statement? Jesus told His disciples that He loved them with the same kind and depth of love that God, His Father, loved Him!  It is hard to imagine how much God loved His Son.  That is love in its purest form; that is the fruit of the Spirit kind of love.  He goes on further to tell them to continue loving others in that same manner, to continue in His love.  In v. 12 He again tells them to “love one another as I have loved you.”  At the beginning of that verse He said, “This is my commandment.” Jesus gave them only one commandment, not ten.  They were commanded to love with God’s kind of love.  This was the fruit that they were told to bear as a result of abiding in the vine.  He is, of course, also speaking those words to us today as His disciples.  

One of the most important Scriptures regarding God’s love, besides John 3:16, which tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” is found in Rom. 8:38-39.  In these verses Paul tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is Christ Jesus our Lord.” That eliminates everything in God’s creation, including ourselves.  Paul’s words assure us that God will not cut us off from the Vine no matter what happens.  The only cutting that He will do is to prune us, through His Word and through circumstances which He allows, in order to bring us closer to Him, so that we may bear the fruit of His love, the fruit of the Spirit.