“But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
In today’s Scripture passage, the Apostle Paul spoke about the life that follows the Holy Spirit, and the life that seeks the flesh. We have both these tendencies, right? However, as the righteous, what we yearn for and desire the most is to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is written, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). There are nine fruits of the Spirit listed here, and the Lord told us to always bear these fruits of the Spirit in our lives.
While the Apostle Paul called what is sought by the flesh of mankind as the “works of the flesh,” regarding the outputs of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, he described them as “the fruit of the Spirit,” rather than “the works of the Spirit.” Paul said that the works of the flesh are these: “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21). These works are all from the flesh. In contrast, the fruit of the Holy Spirit is borne through God, and therefore it is not a work. As our Lord is the God who dwells in our hearts as the Holy Spirit, He makes us bear the fruit of the Spirit.
What I should point out clearly here is that anyone who has not been saved from all his sins can never bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. If a sinner, not a righteous person, tries to bear the fruit of the Spirit, he will fail inevitably, just as any tree other than an apple tree would fail to bear apples even if it were to try. Think about it. No tree can bear apples unless it’s an apple tree. When a sinner who has not received the Holy Spirit tries to bear the fruit of the Spirit, it’s like a thorn bush trying to bear apples.
In contrast, the righteous who have received the remission of their sins can bear the fruit of the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit now dwells in their hearts. Yet it is still possible even for the righteous to live according to their flesh. Even though we have received the remission of our sins, because we still have the flesh, it’s true that we sometimes follow the works of the flesh. Nevertheless, sinners can never bear any fruit of the Spirit.
What Does God Want from Us?
God wants us to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and once we start bearing the fruit of the Spirit, He strengthens us more so that we may bear even more fruits.
First, God said that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace. By nature, love, joy, and peace are not found in mankind. True love is not found in mankind, but God alone. However, once we have experienced the love of God through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we can practice this love of God and bear the fruit of the Spirit. This true love that God has given us is the Holy Spirit’s fruit that God has bestowed upon us.
This love of God has made it possible for us to be saved from the sins of the world. I admonish you to reflect upon God’s love from the depth of your hearts. In other words, rather than wondering what we should do on our own, let’s first think about God’s love. Were it not for the love of God and the gospel of the water and the Spirit, would we have received the remission of our sins? How else could we have been saved from our sins but for the love of God?
It is this love of God that has saved you and me from all our sins. It’s because God loved us so much that He saved us from sin, He came to this earth incarnated in the flesh, took upon all our sins of the world by being baptized by John the Baptist, died on the Cross for us, and rose from the dead again in three days. Now Jesus Christ is sitting at the right hand of the throne of God the Father, and He also promised to return to this world again. The gospel of the water and the Spirit is the greatest gift of salvation that He has bestowed freely to all who love God.
It is because God’s love abides in our hearts that the remission of sin and the Holy Spirit have come into our hearts. To those who have been born again by believing in our Lord and the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God has given them the gift of the Holy Spirit to make them His people (Acts 2:38). God wants everyone to be saved and become His own people by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
The first fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. The love mentioned here is the love of Truth that has saved you and me from the sins of the world (2 Thessalonians 2:10). That’s why God’s love is called as a fruit of the Spirit. None other than the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the love of God. By clothing us in His love through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, God has saved us from all the sins of the world; through us, God wants to save the sinners of the world; and those who have reached salvation are now to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Joy in Our Hearts
The second fruit of the Holy Spirit is joy. Joy refers to the happiness of the heart. It is because of the love God has given us that our hearts are happy and rejoiced. We are sinless now, for our God has washed away all our sins once for all with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. What a joy is this? It’s because God loved us first that He has saved us, and it’s also because God has given us joy that our hearts can rejoice. Now that we have attained true joy, we are able to share this joy with everyone else.
We should not try to succeed in our lives of faith through some sort of carnal achievements. This cannot be described as a successful life of faith. It is only by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we can lead our lives of faith successfully. The true life of faith is one that bears the fruit of the Holy Spirit by following the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The real life of faith is to share the joy of believing in the Truth that God loves us, has saved us from our sins, and given us joy and peace; that Jesus, God Himself, has broken down the wall of sin that had stood between God and us; and that we are no longer His enemies but rather His own children. When we live with our hearts meditating and trusting in the fact that God has given us peace, joy, and salvation, then the fruit of the Holy Spirit is born on its own. Our hearts will be overflowing with joy if we appreciate God’s love in our lives.
We have to appreciate the gift that God has given us in our lives. None other than this is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Lord said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29). Carrying out God’s work is none other than to mediate on what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, to be thankful for it, and to believe in it in our lives. When we trust in the God-given grace and wholeheartedly appreciate it in our lives, we can reconcile the enemies of God with Him, and we can also live with joy in this desolate world, all because of God’s gospel. Even though there is no joy in this world by nature, because of the joy that we have received from God, we can still share this joy with others for the rest of our lives. It’s precisely because we are loved by God that we can share this love.
As I have already mentioned, those who have not received the remission of their sins have absolutely nothing to do with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Even for those who have received the remission of their sins, they can still be both spiritually and carnally minded, and so it’s still possible for them to follow the works of the flesh. What are the works of the flesh? They are what please one’s body, such as fornication, uncleanness, and lewdness. We the righteous may also follow such works of the flesh. However, we know what the works of our flesh are, and we do not seek these carnal works all the time.
It is the Holy Spirit’s fruit for us the born-again to walk according to God’s pleasure while living in this world, and this is a precious gift that God has given especially to us the righteous. To us, who have been born again of water and the Spirit, God has clothed us with His love, and bestowed us with joy, gladness, happiness, and peace. Through His Son, God has given us longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We must remember that God has endured us for a long time and bestowed us with His grace so that the entire human race may be saved through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and that God has given all these fruits of the Holy Spirit to those who have been saved by faith.
We remember clearly that God has indeed saved us by giving us the gospel of the water and the Spirit. It’s precisely because of God’s love for us that we are rejoiced. We believe that He has saved us from all our sins and that we have received every blessing owing to His love. For those whose hearts cherish and believe in what God has done for all human beings, God has indeed endured them for a long period of time and saved them all.
God’s Mercy Abiding in Our Hearts
The next fruits of the Holy Spirit are kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. This kindness refers to God’s mercy for us. In human relationships, there are some people who deserve our mercy, while there are others who don’t deserve our compassion at all. However, God’s mercy is such that He has compassion even for the vilest of all, on whom no human being could ever have any pity.
What exactly, then, does this great mercy of God mean? It refers to the fact that God has compassion for those who absolutely do not deserve any compassion at all, the ingrates who have stood against Him. This is God’s mercy. When we turned into God’s enemies, God still loved us and gave up His Son freely for us, all in order to save us from sin (Romans 5:10).
The believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have now received this love of mercy, and that is why they yearn for this mercy of God to descend on the other sinners as well. What the born-again Christians should do is to preach to everyone else the gospel of the water and the Spirit, so that even the most wretched people with twisted minds may be remitted from all their sins. To lead even one’s own enemies and persecutors to be saved from sin is God’s kindness bestowed through the righteous. We are preaching to sinners to be saved through the gospel of the water and the Spirit precisely because they will inevitably end up in hell if they continue to remain as sinners like this. It is such a desire to which the Holy Spirit inspires us all.
Goodness is another fruit of the Spirit that God has given us because of the gospel of the water and the Spirit that we believe in. God did not treat us ill. On the contrary, God had compassion for us and treated us with His goodness. That is why we are now bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Since we have received everything good from God, we are able to bear the fruit of goodness through the love of God. It is from God that we have received the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. We can bear these fruits by meditating on these gifts in our hearts. A cow has four stomachs, and it regurgitates the cud to chew it down again. Like this, it is a blessed life for us to also cherish all the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, continue to ruminate on them, and thank Him for them. This is the very life that bears the fruit of the Spirit in abundance.
Like this, to live in God’s love and all His blessings is to live bearing the fruit of the Spirit. We are also faithful to God because before us, Jesus Himself was faithful to God the Father to His death in order to save us from sin. Since we have received such a great love, it is only proper for us to be faithful to God.
That we the righteous have gentle spirits now is also because of God. Even though our natural character is simply nasty, we still abide in God’s Church with one heart, something that would not have been possible were it not for the gentle hearts that God has given us. For us the born-again, there are times when we display a truly amazing gentleness that cannot be expected from any other human being. There are times when we marvel, “How could that man have become so gentle? It’s so unlike him!” But, in hindsight, we realize that it’s all because the Spirit of the Lord now dwells in our hearts that we have become so gentle.
By nature, every human being loves only the pleasures of his own flesh, and therefore he cannot help but seek after such carnal desires. Fundamentally speaking, there is no gentleness to mankind by nature. For those who have not been born again and live only according to their flesh, their basic nature is such that they are satisfied only if they can get twice the revenge whenever someone else hurts them. When looked at the flesh of mankind alone, human beings are a brood of evildoers by their basic nature, and therefore fundamentally speaking, they have no self-control, nor any gentleness, nor any goodness. What does every religion of this world seek? It seeks idolatry and hypocrisy. It’s because people have no goodness themselves that they have made up idols and religions, trying to seek after other supposed virtues.
Goodness refers to God’s good intention. According to this goodness, God has already saved us from sin over 2,000 years ago through the water, the blood, and the Spirit. For those who believe in the gospel of the water, the blood, and the Spirit, God’s Spirit comes into their hearts, makes them bear the fruit of the Spirit, and leads them to do God’s work. In other words, even though they may be utterly ruthless and evil in their human nature, if they have the Holy Spirit in them, then the Spirit holds their hearts steadfast and makes them bear the fruit of goodness. When one receives the remission of his sins by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, at the very same moment the Holy Spirit comes into his heart, the Spirit makes him good, disciplined, and gentle, and uses him as His instrument for God’s work.
Although we often reveal rudeness from our carnal attributes, those of us who have been born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have gentle spirits. We are incapable of hurting or ruining anyone else. On the contrary, we always think about what others might need and how we might be able to help them. Just as the Bible says, “The wicked borrows and does not repay, But the righteous shows mercy and gives” (Psalm 37:21), we the born-again are a sharing people. When we don’t have the material means, we share our hearts, and when this is not possible, we pray in faith, and we share the Truth with love.
We try to help others with the various gifts that we have received from God. When Peter came across a crippled man, he raised him back on his feet by faith, saying to him, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). “I have no money. I have no honor that you seek, nor anything else. But what I have is more precious, and it is the very love of salvation that God has given me. If you accept this love, you can also dust off your sins and rise up to walk on the righteous path like me.” With this kind of faith, Peter raised the lame man by giving him what he had received from God.
We the born-again are also all evil in our flesh. However, once Jesus Christ comes into our hearts, the Holy Spirit makes us bear the fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes us bear His nine fruits. We bear these nine fruits of the Spirit because He has given them to us. He makes us become gentle, possess joy and happiness, and indulge in God’s love in due time. It is by this love that we come to live.
What does it mean for us to lead our lives of faith properly? It is to ruminate on what God has given us with our hearts, and to bear the God-given fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Just as it is written, “Against such there is no law,” we have no choice but to share with others the love of God that we have received. Since the righteous live by trusting in God’s work with their hearts, they are more inclined toward the Spirit. Some of our works may not be completed to perfection, but, even so, if we still are abiding in the love of Christ and following it, then this should be enough for us. Even if a certain work of God is not completed to our satisfaction as we had hoped for, if our love is really found in this work, then it is still good.
We must lead our lives of faith trusting in and following the grace of salvation with which God has clothed us. If we live ruminating on God’s love with our hearts, if we live to share this love of God with our neighbors, and if we are loved by our brothers and sisters, then we can live a spiritual life of faith, a life that bears the fruit of the Spirit in abundance. All of us must live according to the Holy Spirit and abide in the gospel of the water and the Spirit.