The Fruit of the Holy Spirit: What Are These All About?

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What Are These All About?

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The Fruit of the Holy Spirit: What Are These All About?

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Are human beings basically good at heart? We might want to think so or wish that were the case, but is it true? What does the Bible say?

Have you really looked into what the Bible reveals about the human heart? You might find its diagnosis and description surprising!

The prophet Jeremiah wrote: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version×
, New Living Translation, emphasis added throughout).

Jesus Christ said, “For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22 Mark 7:21-22 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
American King James Version×
, NLT).

The apostle Paul wrote: “As the Scriptures say, ‘No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one’” (Romans 3:10-12 Romans 3:10-12 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one.
American King James Version×
, NLT).

Other scriptures portray raw human nature in similar ways.

These scriptures are not meant to describe the overall character of every individual. The world has lots of very nice people and lots of people somewhere in between the extremes. Many factors contribute to the formation of a person’s character and personality—family, friends, teachers, religion, laws, environment and everything we allow into our minds.

But people are not inherently righteous. If we were, we would only need to acquire some “improvements” from God. Jesus compared that idea with the foolishness of pouring new wine into old wineskins (Luke 5:36-39 Luke 5:36-39 36 And he spoke also a parable to them; No man puts a piece of a new garment on an old; if otherwise, then both the new makes a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agrees not with the old. 37 And no man puts new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. 38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. 39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desires new: for he said, The old is better.
American King James Version×
). Each person must become a totally “new man” (Ephesians 2:15 Ephesians 2:15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of two one new man, so making peace;
American King James Version×
; Ephesians 4:24 Ephesians 4:24And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
American King James Version×
).

The Bible frequently warns of the evil influences of Satan the devil and the demons, the “world” and “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4 Galatians 1:4Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
American King James Version×
). But while we must resist our spiritual enemies on the outside, our biggest enemy is on the inside— the human heart. We need a spiritual heart transplant!

Needed: a radical transformation of our hearts

What we especially need to understand is God’s plan of salvation revealed in the Bible. That plan involves the process of replacing our natural minds and hearts with the mind and heart of God so we can be admitted into the family of God! This miracle is accomplished primarily by the power of God’s Holy Spirit working within us.

God says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” (Isaiah 55:8 Isaiah 55:8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.
American King James Version×
). Our thoughts and ways must conform to God’s thoughts and ways, which is why Paul wrote that you must “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
American King James Version×
). This is a radical transformation indeed!

In Philippians 2:5 Philippians 2:5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
American King James Version×
Paul wrote, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” That’s what we need! We can have the mind of Christ by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

But just what does the holy, righteous, pure and perfect character of God look like as it’s being developed in a person? What are the virtues, attributes, characteristics and qualities the nature of God expresses? God inspired Paul to list nine key virtues of God’s character in Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

The Greek word translated “fruit” in Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
American King James Version×
is singular because it is referring collectively to nine virtues—that is, the produce of the Spirit or what the Spirit produces—in the life of a Christian in whom that Spirit dwells. However, we sometimes refer to plural “fruits of the Spirit” when we are focusing on the individual virtues.

Can people have those virtues without the Holy Spirit? To some extent, people can have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control without the help of the Holy Spirit. Earlier we mentioned some of the many influences that shape each person’s character and personality, either for the good or bad.

However, without the help of the Holy Spirit, those good qualities will be shallower, weaker, less reliable and less consistent. And while some people have some of those virtues, it is much less likely that they will be filled with all nine virtues.

Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
is quite inspiring since “fruit of the Spirit” refers to the virtues produced by the Holy Spirit rather than by our mere human efforts. With the Holy Spirit, one can have much more of these virtues than he ever could by human effort alone. Knowing this should motivate anyone who has not been baptized to seek to be baptized so he or she can receive God’s Spirit.

Contrasts in Galatians

The book of Galatians is one of Paul’s most corrective epistles or letters. Highly disappointed and alarmed that many Church members who had correctly understood and responded to God’s calling were later led astray by false teachers, he points out numerous contrasts between God’s truth and the false teachings that had infected them.

Paul draws a major contrast between the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21 Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
and the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
. The Greek word for “flesh” is sarx, Paul using a form of this word to refer to the corrupt sinful nature of the human heart. Paul could perhaps have used the word “fruit” (Greek karpos ) in place of the word “works” (Greek erga ) because in this context both terms are referring to products, results or effects .

However, it may be that Paul is subtly pointing out a related problem—the heresy infecting the churches in Galatia that a person can be justified (made spiritually guiltless and righteous)by human works rather than by grace and faith in God (see Galatians 2:16-17 Galatians 2:16-17 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
American King James Version×
; Galatians 3:11 Galatians 3:11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
American King James Version×
; Galatians 3:24 Galatians 3:24Why the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
American King James Version×
; Galatians 5:4 Galatians 5:4Christ is become of no effect to you, whoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.
American King James Version×
).

We suggest you carefully read and think about verses 19-21 to better appreciate the contrast with the wonderful fruit of the Holy Spirit in verses 22-23. Following are brief summaries of each of the nine fruits Paul lists.

The fruit of love 

Love obviously belongs at the head of the list. Godly love is so all-encompassing that it can include all the other fruits.

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16 1 John 4:16And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.
American King James Version×
). The two “great” commandments are to love God and to love all of God’s children, which is everyone (Matthew 22:35-39 Matthew 22:35-39 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
American King James Version×
). That means that the Ten Commandments are telling us exactly how to love God and how to love our neighbors.

Love is a major theme of the Bible, which is God’s “instruction book” for mankind. In the New King James Version, the word “love” appears 362 times.

In the Bible’s use of the word “love,” whether as a verb or a noun, the emphasis is on action and doing, not feelings and emotions. We love God by obeying, worshipping and serving Him. For example, 1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×
tells us, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.”

We love people by how we treat them. God says to love your neighbor as yourself, which means we are to treat others as well as we treat ourselves. The Golden Rule is spelled out in Matthew 7:12 Matthew 7:12Therefore all things whatever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
American King James Version×
: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (NLT).

Godly love is summarized in 1 Corinthians 13, the beautiful “love chapter.” Paul here said if I “have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2 1 Corinthians 13:2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
American King James Version×
).

The fruit of joy

Some people tend to think that joy is not really important, especially if they equate it with just having fun or only a nice aftereffect of some pleasant experience. But real joy is far beyond that.

As a matter of fact, God wants real joy to be one of our high-priority goals. God commands His people to rejoice. “Rejoice” means to think joy and express joy . In the New King James Version, “joy” appears 158 times and “rejoice” appears 199 times!

Once we understand God’s truth, we should feel a sense of “my cup runs over” with gratitude for all that God has done, is doing, and will do for us (see Psalms 23:5 Psalms 23:5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.
American King James Version×
). Rejoicing is a way of expressing that gratitude.

A joyful person uplifts those around him and makes the world a better place. Therefore, expressing ourselves cheerfully is an important responsibility regardless of how we are feeling inside.

All of the fruits of the Spirit are important ingredients to being “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16 Matthew 5:14-16 14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
American King James Version×
). People are much more likely to have a good impression of our religious beliefs if they see joy and the other virtues in our character and personalities.

The fruit of peace

The word “peace” is found in the New King James Version 397 times! The importance of peace can’t be overstated. The world will become a paradise after the “Prince of Peace” returns to the earth (Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
American King James Version×
).

It’s a huge blessing when we can be in a peaceful environment, but by having God’s Spirit within us we can have inner peace even when we are suffering or surrounded by turmoil. Paul sums this up beautifully in Philippians 4:6-7 Philippians 4:6-7 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×
: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT).

The epistles of Paul and Peter begin with the encouraging greeting of “grace to you and peace.” It’s significant that coming under the grace of God at repentance and baptism enables us to have profound peace.

We are to be “peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9 Matthew 5:9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
American King James Version×
; see also Romans 12:18 Romans 12:18If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men.
American King James Version×
). We are well-equipped for that if we have God’s Spirit.

The fruit of longsuffering

The majority of English Bibles translate the Greek word makrothumia as longsuffering, but others translate it with more modern terms such as patience, tolerance or forbearance. The meaning seems to be a combination of all these words. It definitely has a stronger meaning than today’s view of the word patience.

The Greek word makro (from which we get macro ) means “large” or “long.” The root word thumos means “temper.” Therefore, makrothumia literally means long-tempered, the opposite of short-tempered or having a short fuse. Compare with 1 Corinthians 13:4 1 Corinthians 13:4Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,
American King James Version×
: “Love suffers long.”

Jesus Christ is “longsuffering toward us” (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×
). Thankfully He doesn’t lose His temper toward us!

“You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19 James 1:19Why, my beloved brothers, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
American King James Version×
, NLT). Our relationships with others should be “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2 Ephesians 4:2With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love;
American King James Version×
).

The fruit of kindness

The apostle Paul accurately foretold a selfish, cold, unmerciful and hard-hearted world “in the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1-3 2 Timothy 3:1-3 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
American King James Version×
). Many people have been neglected, shunned, abused, ridiculed, bullied and starved for human kindness!

The fruits of the Spirit obviously overlap in practice. Kindness clearly relates to love, longsuffering and gentleness.

Kindness includes being tenderhearted, merciful and compassionate toward others. To exercise kindness often involves some self-sacrifice and generosity on our part, especially of our time. But know that God will bless you for that sacrifice (see Philippians 2:3-4 Philippians 2:3-4 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 5:7 Matthew 5:7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 10:42 Matthew 10:42And whoever shall give to drink to one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, truly I say to you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 25:34-40 Matthew 25:34-40 34 Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36 Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink? 38 When saw we you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? 39 Or when saw we you sick, or in prison, and came to you? 40 And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus Christ practiced a kindness that was radical for that time and culture. He respected, loved, healed and helped every type of person, including women, children, minorities, the poor, the sick and those with disabilities. When He saw suffering, He was “moved with compassion” (Matthew 9:36 Matthew 9:36But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 14:14 Matthew 14:14And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 18:27 Matthew 18:27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
American King James Version×
). We must follow His example!

Some people are kind only to their family and friends, while others treat their families worse than anyone else. Both of those examples are sinful (see Luke 6:27-36 Luke 6:27-36 27 But I say to you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which spitefully use you. 29 And to him that smites you on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that takes away your cloak forbid not to take your coat also. 30 Give to every man that asks of you; and of him that takes away your goods ask them not again. 31 And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise. 32 For if you love them which love you, what thank have you? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if you do good to them which do good to you, what thank have you? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thank have you? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love you your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
American King James Version×
; 1 Timothy 5:8 1 Timothy 5:8But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
American King James Version×
).

The fruit of goodness

In the Bible, the “goodness” of God often refers to His gracious generosity in providing abundantly for mankind’s needs (Psalms 23:6 Psalms 23:6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
American King James Version×
; Psalms 65:11 Psalms 65:11You crown the year with your goodness; and your paths drop fatness.
American King James Version×
). When we know we have been blessed by God, we like to say, “God is good!”

But God’s goodness is much more than those things. It is the very essence of God’s nature—His righteousness and holiness. To the extent that we have God’s goodness, we have godliness or God-likeness.

The Bible gives us God’s complete “instruction in righteous-ness” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.
American King James Version×
). To be good, we must learn what is good and then do good.

God summarizes His standards of goodness in the Ten Commandments. King David wrote, “All Your commandments are [or define] righteousness” (Psalms 119:172 Psalms 119:172My tongue shall speak of your word: for all your commandments are righteousness.
American King James Version×
).

Some people make the mistake of thinking they are good if they have a lot of Bible knowledge. But if they aren’t living by that knowledge, God is more displeased with them than He is with someone who has no knowledge (see James 4:17 James 4:17Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.
American King James Version×
; Luke 12:47-48 Luke 12:47-48 47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For to whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
American King James Version×
). We must be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22 James 1:22But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
American King James Version×
; see James 1:21-25 James 1:21-25 21 Why lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like to a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. 25 But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
American King James Version×
).

The fruit of faithfulness

Most Bible versions translate the Greek word pistis in Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
American King James Version×
as “faithfulness,” although it is usually translated as “faith” in other verses. It seems clear that faithfulness is primarily what Paul was referring to in this verse, but faithfulness is closely related to faith. We could say that faithfulness is being full of faith, which enables a person to persevere and remain steadfast, loyal, trustworthy, devoted and true to his commitments.

When a person is baptized, he is entering a covenant with God and promising to remain faithful to God. “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22 Matthew 10:22And you shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.
American King James Version×
). In a wedding, both the bride and groom promise to remain faithful to each other throughout their lives.

The gift of the Holy Spirit within us greatly strengthens a person’s ability to stay faithful to all his commitments, especially his commitment to God.

All those who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ hope to hear these words when resurrected to eternal life: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:21-23 Matthew 25:21-23 21 His lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.
American King James Version×
).

The fruit of meekness and gentleness

The next Greek word in Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
is praotes. Older English Bibles usually translate it as “meekness,” but since that word has drifted from popular usage, newer Bibles usually translate it as “gentleness.”

People often misunderstand meekness, partly because it rhymes with weakness, but true meekness is a great strength. It’s an ideal word for describing elephants because a tamed elephant is extremely strong yet also very careful and gentle.

Be aware that gentleness refers mostly to actions, whereas meekness refers to attitude as well as actions. Meekness produces gentleness.

Consider the great contrast between meekness and some of the “works of the flesh,” which Paul lists as “hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions” (Galatians 5:19-21 Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, jealousies, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Contentions, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
).

God highly prizes meekness and gentleness. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 Matthew 5:5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
American King James Version×
).

The fruit of self-control

For the last virtue in Galatians 5:23 Galatians 5:23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
, some older Bible versions say “temperance,” but that word has changed somewhat in meaning over time and has come to mean moderation .

“Self-control” is a good translation. It includes self-discipline. A true disciple must be self-disciplined. Many people overeat, overdrink, over-spend and overindulge in lots of things.

It’s fitting that self-control is the last in the list as that implies that we need self-control to maintain all the other virtues in this list.

Of all the things we have to govern in this life, self is often the biggest challenge. We must rule over our appetites, desires, impulses and reactions. Many people are ruled by their feelings and can’t control their anger. In fact, one measure of maturity is emotional control.

We must wage spiritual warfare, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
American King James Version×
).

However, self-control is not human willpower. Ultimately, effective self-control is not self alone controlling self. Shortly before Jesus returned to heaven, He told His disciples that they would soon receive “power from on high” (Luke 24:49 Luke 24:49And, behold, I send the promise of my Father on you: but tarry you in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued with power from on high.
American King James Version×
). That power from God is what we must have to rule over self! And it requires yielding to God working in us.

Concluding words

To conquer the “works of the flesh” and produce the fruit of the Spirit, we need the gift of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

In the next chapter of Galatians is this inspiring message from Paul: “If you live to satisfy your sinful self, the harvest you will get from that will be eternal death. But if you live to please the Spirit, your harvest from the Spirit will be eternal life. We must not get tired of doing good. We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time. We must not give up” (Galatians 6:8-9 Galatians 6:8-9 8 For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
American King James Version×
, Easy-to-Read Version).

So, how do you measure up? Does your life show the fruit of God’s Spirit? If not, what’s stopping you from doing what God says you should do to receive the great blessings that come with that?

 


 

Other Fruit of the Holy Spirit

The word “fruit” can mean benefits, effects or results. There certainly are many benefits of having the gift of the Holy Spirit besides the nine fundamental qualities listed in Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
as the fruit of the Spirit. Let’s notice some others presented in Scripture.

• Ephesians 5:9 Ephesians 5:9(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
American King James Version×
actually has the same phrase found in Galatians 5:22 Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
American King James Version×
—“fruit of the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:8-9 Ephesians 5:8-9 8 For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
American King James Version×
says: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth” (emphasis added throughout). These form a good summary of the results God’s Spirit will produce in the lives of believers, which are listed in greater detail in Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
.

• In Romans 14:17 Romans 14:17For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×
, Paul spoke of the “righteousness, peace, and joy produced by the Holy Spirit” (International Standard Version). This overlaps the list in Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
American King James Version×
and adds the crucial element of righteousness.

• God’s Spirit miraculously enables a person to deeply understand God’s spiritual truth. Without the help of God’s Spirit, a person is spiritually blind (see 2 Corinthians 3:14 2 Corinthians 3:14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remains the same veil not taken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ.
American King James Version×
; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 13:16-17 Matthew 13:16-17 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly I say to you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.
American King James Version×
). Particularly profound is what 1 Corinthians 2 says about the “deep things of God” being a “mystery” and “hidden” until God reveals them “through His Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:7-10 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. 10 But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
American King James Version×
). “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except [by] the Spirit of God” (verse 11, English Standard Version).

• Another wonderful result of God’s Spirit at work in a person’s life is brought out in 2 Timothy 1:6-7 2 Timothy 1:6-7 6 Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
American King James Version×
, where Paul tells us the “gift of God” is not “a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

• God uses His Spirit to lead and guide us, even to “teach” us what to say when we’re under pressure (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version×
; Luke 12:11-12 Luke 12:11-12 11 And when they bring you to the synagogues, and to magistrates, and powers, take you no thought how or what thing you shall answer, or what you shall say: 12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what you ought to say.
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). Jesus also said the Holy Spirit will “bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26 John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
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).

• In Ephesians 1:13-14 Ephesians 1:13-14 13 In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.
American King James Version×
, Paul speaks of “the gospel of your salvation” and goes on to say: “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, [which] is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (New International Version; see also 2 Corinthians 1:22 2 Corinthians 1:22Who has also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
American King James Version×
; 2 Corinthians 5:5 2 Corinthians 5:5Now he that has worked us for the selfsame thing is God, who also has given to us the earnest of the Spirit.
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). That perspective gives us a firm foundation for our faith.

• When God gives anyone a spiritual gift, it is by His Holy Spirit that He does so (see Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12).

• With God’s Spirit dwelling in us, we have a close, intimate relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9 1 Corinthians 1:9God is faithful, by whom you were called to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×
; 1 John 1:3-7 1 John 1:3-7 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we to you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we to you, that your joy may be full. 5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.
American King James Version×
). And along with Paul, we can say, “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×
).

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