Posted in discernment, encouragement, ephesians, galatians, holy spirit, jesus

What is the fruit of the Spirit and how does it grow?

EPrata photo

We Christians know that a false teacher is identified by his fruits. It states in Matthew 7:16,

You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

We know that a Christian will be identified by his fruit, too.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

No Christian is ever a fruit-free zone. As John MacArthur said of the Matthew verse,

Now, listen to me, people: all Christians bear fruit. Did you get that? There’s no such thing as a no-fruit Christian. There’s a lot of little fruits, got nothing but a few shriveled raisins hanging on, but there’s no such thing as a no-fruit Christian. If there’s life, there will be product. (source)

So what IS this fruit that is supposed to be visible in us? And notice that in the Galatians verse the word fruit is singular. It’s fruit of the Spirit, not fruits of the Spirit. The difference between the fruits that false teachers or false professors produce and the fruit that the Christian produces is that the former is produced from the flesh and the latter is produced by the Spirit through the Christian. Here’s more, from Matthew Henry:

And here we may observe that as sin is called the work of the flesh, because the flesh, or corrupt nature, is the principle that moves and excites men to it, so grace is said to be the fruit of the Spirit, because it wholly proceeds from the Spirit, as the fruit does from the root: 

and whereas before the apostle had chiefly specified those works of the flesh which were not only hurtful to men themselves but tended to make them so to one another, so here he chiefly takes notice of those fruits of the Spirit which had a tendency to make Christians agreeable one to another, as well as easy to themselves; and this was very suitable to the caution or exhortation he had before given (v. 13), that they should not use their liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 

He particularly recommends to us, 

—love, to God especially, and to one another for his sake,
—joy, by which may be understood cheerfulness in conversation with our friends, or rather a constant delight in God,
—peace, with God and conscience, or a peaceableness of temper and behaviour towards others,
—long-suffering, patience to defer anger, and a contentedness to bear injuries,
—gentleness, such a sweetness of temper, and especially towards our inferiors, as disposes us to be affable and courteous, and easy to be entreated when any have wronged us,
—goodness (kindness, beneficence), which shows itself in a readiness to do good to all as we have opportunity,
—faith, fidelity, justice, and honesty, in what we profess and promise to others,
—meekness, wherewith to govern our passions and resentments, so as not to be easily provoked, and, when we are so, to be soon pacified,—and temperance, in meat and drink, and other enjoyments of life, so as not to be excessive and immoderate in the use of them.

EPrata photo. Figs in Georgia

Source Matthew Henry, (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (pp. 2303–2304). Peabody: Hendrickson.


Here is another great commenter on the Christian’s fruit of the Spirit.

There is a pointed contrast here. As verse 16 indicated, there is no need for a believer to display the works of the flesh. Rather, by the Spirit’s power he can manifest the nine graces that are now listed. It is important to observe that the fruit here described is not produced by a believer, but by the Holy Spirit working through a Christian who is in vital union with Christ (cf. John 15:1–8). The word “fruit” is singular, indicating that these qualities constitute a unity, all of which should be found in a believer who lives under the control of the Spirit. In an ultimate sense this “fruit” is simply the life of Christ lived out in a Christian. It also points to the method whereby Christ is formed in a believer (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 1:21). 

The first three virtues are habits of mind which find their source in God. Love (agapē) is listed first because it is the foundation of the other graces. God is love and loves the world (cf. 1 John 4:8; John 3:16). Such self-sacrificing love that sent Christ to die for sinners is the kind of love that believers who are Spirit-controlled manifest. Joy (chara) is a deep and abiding inner rejoicing which was promised to those who abide in Christ (cf. John 15:11). It does not depend on circumstances because it rests in God’s sovereign control of all things (cf. Rom. 8:28). Peace (eirēnē) is again a gift of Christ (cf. John 14:27). It is an inner repose and quietness, even in the face of adverse circumstances; it defies human understanding (cf. Phil. 4:7). 

The second triad reaches out to others, fortified by love, joy, and peace. Patience (makrothymia) is the quality of forbearance under provocation (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6; Col. 1:11; 3:12). It entertains no thoughts of retaliation even when wrongfully treated. Kindness (chrēstotēs) is benevolence in action such as God demonstrated toward men. Since God is kind toward sinners (cf. Rom. 2:4; Eph. 2:7) a Christian should display the same virtue (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6; Col. 3:12). Goodness (agathōsynē) may be thought of both as an uprightness of soul and as an action reaching out to others to do good even when it is not deserved. 

The final three graces guide the general conduct of a believer who is led by the Spirit. Faithfulness (pistis) is the quality which renders a person trustworthy or reliable, like the faithful servant in Luke 16:10–12. Gentleness (prautēs) marks a person who is submissive to God’s Word (cf. James 1:21) and who is considerate of others when discipline is needed (cf. “gently” in Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:25; “gentle” in 1 Cor. 4:21; Eph. 4:2; “gentleness” in Col. 3:12; 1 Peter 3:16). Self-control (enkrateia; this noun is used in the NT only here and in Acts 24:25; 2 Peter 1:6) denotes self-mastery and no doubt primarily relates to curbing the fleshly impulses just described. Such a quality is impossible to attain apart from the power of God’s Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:16). As a final summary statement Paul affirmed that there are no prohibitions (lit., there is not a law) against such virtues. In a litotes (understatement) he asserted that obviously no one would make laws against people who practice such things.

Source: Campbell, D. K. (1985). Galatians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 608–609). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

EPrata photo. Grapes in Tuscany

A false teacher or false Christian will not consistently be growing in those nine graces. Though a Christian can seem to stall out for a while in his or her growth, the trajectory will always be upward. He will always be increasing. This is because of the gracious ministry of the Holy Spirit, who always points to Christ and is always conforming us in His likeness.

An even more important question than what is the fruit of the Spirit, is how can we work in the Spirit to have Him develop fruit in us? For that, we go back and look at verse 16 in Galatians 5. That verse tells us.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16).

S. Lewis Johnson preached the following on how to walk in the Spirit.

You know, when the Lord Jesus says, “You are fishers of men,” fishermen understand a great deal about witnessing because they know fishing. Fishing enables you to understand a great deal about how to witness. Well if you want to know how to walk by the Spirit, study walking. Have you ever noticed how babies learn to walk? They don’t theorize, they don’t sit in their high chair and look and see father and analyze what he’s doing. You won’t find any child who said, “Walking is rather easy, I’ve analyzed it philosophically. What you do is you put one foot out, transfer your weight to that foot, then move the next foot out, transfer your weight to that foot. Keeping them apart so that you have good balance.” And then the child to take the highchair and put it over its head, slide out and walk. You don’t do that. You don’t find that. You’ll never find it.

Reason I know that is that my children didn’t do it that way. Nor do my grandchildren do it that way. How do babies learn to walk? Well in the first place they roll over on the bed. You remember when they rolled over the first time, “Look, Johnny has rolled over on the bed.” Of course he rolled off and hit his head, but nevertheless he rolled. He’s rolling. And then he’s sitting up. And then he’s crawling. And then he’s on his feet, hanging on to pieces of furniture. And he’s now able to make his way from one piece of furniture to another piece. He collapses against the side of it, but nevertheless he can make it. And finally he takes one step and then collapses. Either sits down from fear or topples over from excess of courage. And soon he’s walking. Very unsteadily. This happens over a period of time. Finally he can walk, but of course he never reaches the place where he cannot fall. And as he gets older and older and reaches his maturity, walks well. (source)

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Most of the Christian life sounds simple to do. But anyone who ever battled the flesh knows that it is not simple. Not at all. It is a daily battle to walk in the Spirit and not stumble. It is a daily battle to pick up one’s cross and follow Jesus. But the Lord is so gracious, He sent the Spirit to dwell IN US (something that amazes me every day). The Spirit’s kindness in molding us like Christ and nudging, prompting, convicting, occasionally chastising us- He is our constant Friend. What a worthy goal- be more like Christ today than tomorrow! What a worthy Helper, aiding us in this walk. His work with His forgiven sinners is so simple but so complex, so magnificent, so eternally glorifying to Jesus, it is astonishing especially given how depraved we really are.

Praise the Spirit today in growing His fruit in you. And pray to request more of the same tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that…

that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (Ephesians 3:16)

Posted in discernment, galatians, grace, jesus, law, paul

Why did Paul spank the Galatians so hard?

Last week I wrote Should We Love False Teachers? in which I took a look at the aforementioned question and put forth an answer. (Answer: no).

O you foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you!?

I’m reading the book of Galatians this month, and the associated commentaries. The book I finished before this was 1 Corinthians, all about that rowdy crowd of raucous Christians Paul had to tame by reminding them that Christian liberty is not license to sin. The book of Galatians is a book about defending salvation by grace and not of works. In it, Paul refutes the Judaizers, a gang of false teachers who upset the Galatians into thinking they had to be circumcised and do other Mosaic law keeping in order to be saved. Paul had to remind the Galatians of their freedom in Christ is given by grace and not of works.

When you start reading the book of Galatians, one thing immediately strands out. Paul cut to the chase. Paul is usually blunt, but in no other book, however, did Paul fail at first to give a loving greeting full of thanks toward the recipients. He always found something to commend, even in the rowdy Corinthians.

Not so with the Galatians.

He says, “Hi, it’s me, Paul, and WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!?!” to paraphrase.

Wait, weren’t the Corinthians worse? Why was Paul being so tough on the Galatians? The answer is, because sinful doctrine is worse than sinful behavior. Here is John MacArthur on the Galatian situation from his commentary.

After exposing the dangers of the false doctrines that threatened the Galatians, Paul exposes the wicked character of the men who espoused the doctrines. Like his Lord, Paul had great patience with those who were caught in even the deepest moral sin. As much as they condemned the sin itself and warned against its consequences, their love for the sinner was always evident. For the oft-divorced woman at Jacob’s well and the woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus’ rebukes were gentle, and His offers of help were kind and encouraging (John 4:7 26; 8:3-11). And even before the hated and larcenous Zaccheus repented and came to saving faith, Jesus was not ashamed to eat with him (Luke 19:1-10).

But for the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees—whose outward lives were ceremonially impeccable, but who refused to recognize their spiritual need and Who continually corrupted the people’s minds with their legalistic perversion of true Judaism—Jesus had only condemnation. The scribes and Pharisees were the primary teachers and interpreters of Scripture. When a man was initiated into the scribal office, he was given a key that symbolized his qualification to teach. Yet Jesus called them hypocrites, deceivers, extortioners, misguided proselytizes, blind guides, fools, inwardly corrupt and foul, partners with those who killed the prophets and murderers themselves, serpents and vipers, and future persecutors of His church (Matt. 23:13-36). Their worst evil, however, was one that Isaiah had prophesied of them more than six hundred years earlier: “In vain do they worship Me, leaching as doctrines the precepts Of men” (Matt. 15:9; cf. Isa. 29:13).

Paul, too, was longsuffering with those who were caught in sin, as his letters to the immature, factious, and immoral believers at Corinth attest. But also like the Lord, the apostle’s most scathing denunciations were reserved for those who pervert God’s truth and lead others into falsehood.

EPrata photo

Paul extols the Law for its place to remind us of mercy. However, misuse of the Law condemns! THAT is the horror of false teachers! Wrong behavior is external and can be corrected, a poisoned heart full of false notions about Jesus is condemning!

Charles Spurgeon said, in his sermon on Galatians 3:13, “The Curse Removed“,

O ye who trust in the law for your salvation! ye have erred from the faith; ye do not understand God’s designs; ye are ignorant of every one of God’s truths. The law was given by Moses to make men feel themselves condemned, but never to save them; its very intention was to “conclude us all in unbelief, and to condemn us all, that he might have mercy upon all.” It was intended by its thunders to crush every hope of self-righteousness, by its lightnings to scathe and demolish every tower of our own works, that we might be brought humbly and simply to accept a finished salvation through the one mighty Mediator

Anyone who believes – or teaches – differently is ignorant:

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. (1 Timothy 6:3-4)

Posted in galatians, good, spurgeon

Do not grow weary in the doing good

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

These days are getting more and more evil. A Christian in an area like ours, the Southern United states, is so far spared the persecution many are experiencing abroad, praise the Lord. However, attitudes toward Christians from secular people are shifting rapidly even here in the so-called ‘bible belt.’ Though we are not persecuted from the outside, many local churches are dying from the inside.

Just as Britain is grappling with the reality that they are a post-Christian nation, a clear look at the US will show that we are too.

Apostasy is rising, which means that people who have called themselves Christians are behaving less and less like our Master and more and more like the world.

I used to think that discernment ministries, such as the ministry the Spirit gave me to perform online and in the real world, was the hardest. I was wrong to think so. Plus, I was in error. It is hard for everybody. I’m nobody special.

The tendency is to excuse themselves because at some time or other they have been victimized.~Charles Spurgeon
For example, I was talking with a sister in the faith who serves in a helps ministry. She has been given a strong desire to serve. Even when people who call themselves Christian ask for help from churches where a sweet women like my sister serves, the seekers of help often display the worst of human attitudes; entitlement, greed, laziness, ingratitude, and anger.

Paul warned Timothy to:

“understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

“Having the appearance of godliness”…Christians who look like they are Christians aren’t really, but will at some point be found to never have known the Lord. (Matthew 7:21-23). This is one of the saddest verses in the entire bible, to me.

Weary traveler by eharsee. reuse allowed

Discernment ministries arise within a church and online when a person has been spiritually gifted with a supernatural ability to distinguish between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error, between holiness and evil. It comes from 1 Corinthians 12:10.

Because it is getting toward the end of the end of the age (we have been in the end of the age since Jesus ascended (1 John 2:18), there are a good many people who succumb to tickled ears, heaping up teachers for themselves, and won’t endure sound doctrine. As I read on Challies’ website, not that they don’t know what sound teaching is, but that they WON’T ENDURE it.

People still refuse to accept such and such is a false teacher, or that a particular doctrine is aberrant, or an activity founded on a scripture is actually a twisted use of that scripture…. Discernment is seen as something unnecessary to a vibrant Christian life. So many people display an attitude of “let’s just agree Jesus is the only thing we need to agree on and leave the rest to God. But that’s not all there is, and still the gift of discernment isn’t adhered to much.

Back to the Galatians verse, Charles Spurgeon said in his exhortation about not being weary in the doing good, as related to teaching Sunday School

“It is true, my Brothers and Sisters, that you are not to save yourselves by doing good. Your motive is not selfish, but because you are saved already, you desire to manifest the power of gratitude and to prove to all the world that those who receive a free salvation are the very men who most cheerfully labor to please God and to bring glory to His name. O you who are debtors to infinite mercy, “Be not weary in doing good.” …

Now, secondly, it appears from the text that in your service YOU WILL MEET WITH EVILS common to Christian workers of all descriptions. You will especially be liable to weariness and faintness. Take the first word as it stands in our version—you will be tempted to grow weary.  …

Do you not think that, at times, our getting lax in Christian work arises from our being very low in Grace? As a rule, you cannot get out of a man that which is not in him. You cannot go forth, yourself, to your class and do your work vigorously if you have lost inward vigor. You cannot minister before the Lord with the unction of the Holy One if that unction is not upon you. If you are not living near to God and in the power of God, then the power of God will not go forth through you to the children in y our care! Therefore I think we should judge, when we become discontented and down-hearted, that we are out of sorts spiritually. Let us say to ourselves, “Come, my Soul! What ails you? This faint heart is a sign that you are out of health. Go to the Great Physician and obtain from Him a tonic which shall brace you! Come, play the man! Have none of these whims! Away with your idleness! The reaping time will come, therefore thrust in the plow.”  

By Benson Kua from Toronto, Canada. Wiki commons

“Sometimes, too—I am ashamed to mention it—I have heard of teachers becoming weary from lack of being appreciated. Their work has not been sufficiently noticed by the pastor and praised by the superintendent. Sufficient notice has not been taken of them and their class by their fellow teachers. I will not say much about this cause of faintness because it is so small an affair that it is quite below a Christian. Appreciation! Do we expect it in this world? The Jewish nation despised and rejected their King and even if we were as holy as the Lord Jesus we might still fail to be rightly judged and properly esteemed. What does it matter? If God accepts us, we need not be dismayed though all should pass us by. 

Perhaps, however, the work itself may suggest to us a little more excuse for being weary. It is hard work to sow on the highway and amidst the thorns—hard work to be casting good seed upon the rock, year after year. Well, if I had done so for many years and was enabled by the Holy Spirit, I would say to myself, “I shall not give up my work because I have not yet received a recompense in it. I perceive that in the Lord’s parable three sowings did not succeed and yet the one piece of good ground paid for all! Perhaps I have gone through my three unsuccessful sowings and now is my time to enjoy my fourth, in which the seed will fall upon good ground.”

Spurgeon always has a good word. In addition, the Good Book says to

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, (Philippians 2:14-15)

Spurgeon again,

“If there are a hundred reasons for giving up your work of faith, there are 50,000 for going on with it! Though there are many arguments for fainting, there are far more arguments for persevering. Though we might be weary and do sometimes feel so, let us wait upon the Lord and renew our strength and we shall mount up with wings as eagles, forget our weariness and be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!” 


Methodist Church Organist has been playing every Sunday for 73 years

Posted in false doctrine, galatians

Did you know Galatians was so harsh?

We tend to think of Revelation being the “hard” chapter. But Paul’s little missive to the Galatians has some tough language in it, and stern words for the Christians of his day and for Christians of all time. Paul sends curses out twice in this short passage. False doctrine is extremely important to tend to. A little leaven spoils the whole lump.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9).

Paul mentions here that:

–Christians desert solid doctrine
–Christians accept a different gospel
–Christians be warned that some come in who trouble us
–Christians be warned that some who come in purposely distort the Gospel
–Do not ‘dialog’ with the Gospel-perverters. Instead, let them be accursed!

Have you ever noticed how difficult sometimes it is to reject a false system because the people in it are so nice? Paul says, “I don’t care if it’s me or if it’s a beautiful angel from heaven, let him be accursed.” So many buy false doctrine because the package is so nice. Don’t you know Satan knows that?” (source)

Far from being tolerant, lackadaisical, inclusive; Christians should be exclusive, intolerant of false doctrine, and vigorous in defending Christ.