And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24, NKJV)
The apostle has contrasted walking in the Spirit with fulfilling the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17). He has pointed out the kind of life the flesh prompts men to pursue (the works of the flesh), with its fatal result (“those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven,” Galatians 5:19-21). The character and conduct formed by the Spirit’s instruction and guidance is fruitful and robust, free from law’s condemnation (Galatians 5:22-23). Those who belong to Christ extinguish the flesh as the controlling factor of their lives (Galatians 2:20). Christians deliberately and methodically eliminate the influences and cravings of the flesh, so the fruit of the Spirit can thrive in their hearts and lives (Colossians 3:5). It is no accident that Christians bear the fruit of the Spirit. Through repentance, the heart has been conditioned to serve a new Master, Christ Jesus. The heart that is humble, repentant and responsive to the gospel is the perfect soil for bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Luke 8:15).
“gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:23, NKJV)
Law defines sin and identifies the sinner: “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 7:20). It is through the commandment that sin is shown to be sin (Romans 7:13). For example, God law identifies the works of the flesh and the condemnation of those who “practice such things” (Galatians 5:19-21). By contrast, there is no censure against the fruit of the Spirit. Indeed, “we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully” (1 Timothy 1:9). Our text does not mean that Christians are immune from law, but that we live under the restraints and blessings of God’s law. That is, we choose not to practice sin, but to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Commit yourself to bearing the fruit of the Spirit, by walking according to the Spirit-revealed law of faith, the gospel of Jesus Christ (Galatians 5:16-18; Romans 3:27).
“And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.” (1 Corinthians 9:25, NKJV)
Just as an athlete must use self-control to win the prize, Christians must exercise self-control to obtain the imperishable crown of eternal life. The fruit of the Spirit yields self-control (Galatians 5:23). Merriam-Webster defines self-control as “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.” The Greek word for self-control is defined by Thayer as “the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites” (167). Self-control is measured by our ability to conform ourselves with complete devotion to the will of Christ (Colossians 3:17). Self-control restrains one from evil and directs one’s conduct in the ways of righteousness. We must control our emotions, impulses and desires to do God’s will (Titus 2:11-12). We also need self-control to abstain from evil (1 Peter 2:11). Self-control is developed by the deliberate choices we make to shun evil and cling to what is good (Romans 12:9).
“Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:5, NKJV)
Gentleness is another word for meekness and is part of the fruit of the Spirit we must bear in our lives (Galatians 5:23). It is a companion of humility and longsuffering in Colossians 3:12, indicating the condition of heart that expresses moral strength in the face of trials, while maintaining a quiet spirit in the face of provocation. Gentleness or meekness is not cowardice, nor is it indecisiveness. It is moral strength which is properly directed to help those who falter, while bearing with troublesome times (Galatians 6:1-2). Gentleness is a humble and kind demeanor in the face of another’s anger. The spirit of gentleness is the soothing quality of gentle conduct that combines with spiritual poise and strength. Gentleness refuses to be harsh or obnoxious in the face of unkind remarks (Numbers 12:1-3). It is the character of Christ Himself (Matthew 11:29). Let us endeavor to imitate Him. Our gentleness will be seen by others and it will be rewarded by the Lord, who is near.
“But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No.” (2 Corinthians 1:18, NKJV)
The fruit of the Spirit contains the attribute of faithfulness (Galatians 5:22). There is a wide range of applications of this trait in the Scriptures, from being faithful to God, to being reliable and trustworthy in one’s character and treatment of others (Galatians 2:20; Titus 2:10). At the heart of faithfulness is one’s reliability, trustworthiness and dependability. God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can always depend of Him and His word. The person who is faithful to God relies on Him, trusting His word and following His directives. We are to always be faithful toward others. Paul was thankful for Philemon because he was hearing of his “love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints” (Philemon 5). Spiritual maturity not only means we are reliable in following the will of God, but by doing so, we are also trustworthy in our dealings with others. Just as the Corinthians could trust Paul’s word in today’s passage, our words must be faithful, reliable, trustworthy. The integrity of faith defines the person who is led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18).
“(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),” (Ephesians 5:9, NKJV)
Goodness signifies an honorable moral constitution that is borne as the Spirit’s fruit in the life (Galatians 5:22). In the absolute sense, God alone is essentially and consummately good; we have all defiled goodness through sin (Matthew 19:17; Romans 3:12, 23). Yet, in Christ, goodness is revived (Romans 12:2). Moral goodness is to be the character and conduct of Christians. Barnabas, for example, was a “good man” (Acts 11:24). He was morally honorable, possessing a nobility of character that was beneficent and charitable toward others. Like the other essential qualities of the fruit of the Spirit, goodness is not restrained (“against such there is no law,” Galatians 5:23). It is not selfish and self-seeking in its treatment of others. Moral goodness not only enlivens one’s soul to develop the moral likeness of Christ, it seeks to relieve and refresh others with righteous examples and exhortations of truth. Moral goodness is not prudishness, it is honorable before God and among men. Goodness benefits one’s own soul, and the general welfare of others. Therefore, goodness compels us to “cling to what is good,” and to then “do good to all” (Romans 12:9; Galatians 6:10).
4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: …6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth…” (2 Corinthians 6:4-7, NKJV)
Kindness is produced in those who are led by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22, 18). It is a mark of those who serve God. According to the apostle in the passage above, God is not served where kindness is absent. Kindness carries the idea of graciousness, usefulness and serviceability toward others. Like love, kindness looks outward toward others, treating them with grace. “Be kind to one another” is not a suggestion, it is a commandment of God (Ephesians 4:32). We cannot mask unkind words and deeds behind the facade of “boldly speaking the truth.” Neither does kindness prevent speaking the truth. Indeed, truth must be spoken boldly in love, not with unkind, harsh and rude words (Ephesians 4:15). Kindness comes from being “tenderhearted” – being compassionate and sympathetic toward others (Ephesians 4:32). The sin of unkindness separates Christians from God and from one another. Works of the flesh like hatred, contentions, jealousies, and outbursts of wrath display themselves in unkind words and treatment of others (Galatians 5:20). By kindness, may we always commend ourselves as ministers of God.
strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; (Colossians 1:11, NKJV)
The fruit of the Spirit is incomplete without longsuffering (Galatians 5:22). It is faithful fortitude in the face of incitement. Longsuffering is patient when provoked. It is being “long-tempered” – the opposite of having a short temper (a short fuse). It is self-restraint that does not hastily retaliate against a wrong that prevents wrathful revenge. It has been described as “that quality of self restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy” (Vine, 377). God’s longsuffering toward sinners is His compassion in action, “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). We must develop the same trait in our treatment of others, balancing compassion with patient persuasion and gentle mercy when wronged. Longsuffering does not fail to react to sin and wrongdoing; it does not overreact to it. Longsuffering is about bringing our passions under the control of God’s truth, patiently and mercifully dealing with one another, instead of hastily saying and doing things that hurt and harm. Longsuffering shows the character of Christ and enhances the opportunity for righteousness to prevail in our treatment of others (see Colossians 3:12-13).
Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27, NKJV)
Peace is an integral part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Peace is not merely the absence of conflict (a cease-fire), it is also the abiding presence of tranquility and harmony. Peace is to be the umpire that rules in our hearts over matters of real or potential conflict. Paul wrote, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Christians are called to “live peaceably with all men” (as much as it depends on you, Romans 12:18). The peace we have with God dispels antagonism toward others. We cannot be at peace with God while at war with members of His “one body” (the church). So, our spiritual development demands that we cast off every attitude and deed that spawns and spreads strife (which God hates, Proverbs 6:16, 19). “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19). Take the initiative and make peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
9 As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9–11, NKJV)
The fruit of the Spirit includes joy (Galatians 5:22). Joy is the gladness and calm delight that results from being in harmony with God and His will. Full joy springs from keeping the commandments of Jesus, for by doing so, we abide in the love of God. Obeying Christ is living by the Spirit, which produces and sustains our joy. Combined with love, joy strengthens and secures our faith. Joy enables our long suffering (Colossians 1:11). Consider Paul’s letter to the Philippians, in which joy in Christ is thematic. Joy in Christ is exhibited in our prayers (1:4), in the progress of our faith (1:25), by our unity in Christ (2:2), by the sacrifice and service of our faith (2:17-18), in our fellowship with faithful workers for Christ (2:29-30), and in our brotherly affection (4:1). Christian friend, live a praise-filled life of joy. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)