The Fruit Of the Spirit
October 14th, 1956 @ 10:50 AM
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-14-56 10:50 a.m.
You’re listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled The Fruit of the Spirit. In our preaching through the Bible, we have come to the middle part of the fifth chapter of the Book of Galatians. Last Sunday, we left off at the fifteenth verse. And this Sunday morning, we begin at the sixteenth verse and so to the end of the chapter – Galatians 5:16-26:
This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
But if we be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Now, the works of the flesh are manifest, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Envyings, 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.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
Our worst enemy is the flesh. The great theologian Augustine [Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 CE] was wont to pray, "Lord, deliver me from that evil man: myself."
All the fire that the devil could bring from hell could do us little harm were there not such combustible material and fuel in ourselves. We sit on a veritable magazine of powder – this old nature, this unregenerate self. Paul described it in that seventeenth verse: "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" [Galatians 5:17]. Our worst enemy is the old self, the old nature, the flesh. Our worst sins are sins of the spirit.
Cain hated Abel because "God had respect unto Abel’s offering: but unto Cain and to his offering, God had not respect" [Genesis 4:4-5]. So Cain looked at his brother Abel, and he hated him because God had respect unto him [Genesis 4:1-16]. Joseph was hated by his brethren because his father, Jacob, had made for the lad a coat of many colors [Genesis 37:1-4, 18-28]. And his father loved him and was good to him, and his brethren hated Joseph because of that goodness: sins of the spirit.
Moses. When God said, "Honor Me and speak to the rock" [Numbers 20:7-8], Moses, in great anger and wrath, lifted up his rod and said, "If it’s water that you want, then I will give you water!" And he struck the rock with his rod in anger and in wrath [Numbers 20:10-12] – sins of the spirit.
Saul sought and his heart was eaten out with envy and jealousy as he heard the women of Israel saying, "Saul hath slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands" [1 Samuel 18:7-9] – sins of the spirit.
Jonah bought his ticket to far away and opposite Tarshish [Jonah 1:1-3]. For when God said, "Preach the gospel to Nineveh," Jonah said in his heart, "I’ll go over there and preach the gospel to Nineveh and they’ll repent and God will spare them. But I want every last one of them burned up with fire" [Jonah 4:1]. When finally the fish got through with him and he condescended to go to Nineveh, brother, did he preach! [Jonah 1:17-3:3]. What a vengeance, what a fire, what a fury, what a scorching in the message that he brought: "Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed! [Jonah 3:4] Hallelujah! God, burn them all up!" That’s the way he preached.
Well, he scared the Ninevites to death. They all repented and turned to God [Jonah 3:5-9], and the Lord said to Jonah, "I’m not going to burn them up. I’ve decided to spare them" [Jonah 3:10]. And Jonah sat down under a gourd vine and hated God and hated the Ninevites – sins of the spirit [Jonah 4:1-11].
When the prodigal came back home and his father rejoiced, "My son who was dead is alive again, and he was lost and is found" [Luke 15:24], and the father rejoiced, the elder brother looked at him and said, "This brother – no, this son of my father – I’ll not even call him my brother who’s wasted his substance with harlots. Look, look! I never at any time transgressed my father’s commandment. I worked long and hard here without error or prodigality all these years, and look, look!" [Luke 15:29-30] And he despised his brother and hated him [Luke 15:11-32] – sins of the spirit.
Thank the Lord for this little disjunctive conjunction. Thank the Lord for this dividing monosyllable "but" – "but the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, and joy, and peace, and longsuffering, and gentleness, and goodness, and faith, and meekness, and temperance, and welcome, and gladness" [Galatians 5:22-23]. But the "fruit of the Spirit" – singular; "the works of the flesh" [Galatians 5:19-21] – divisive, and contrary, and warring. But the fruit, singular, whatever it is, still just the same. If it’s the fruit of the Spirit, call it by any name – "love." Call it "joy." Call it "peace." Call it "goodness." Call it "faith." Call it "meekness." Call it "temperance." Call it anything. It’s the same thing. Singular – it’s the fruit of the Spirit. Doesn’t come by natural generation [John 3:3-8]; it comes by regeneration [Titus 3:4-7]. It comes from the quickening power of the Spirit of God in our hearts [Romans 8:11].
Well, you look around and you say, "Well, I don’t see much evidence in the people I know. They’re just as bad as they can be and yet they belong to that church. They’re just as mean as the old bad man and yet they go down there to that church." Well, brother, you ought to see how we would be had it not been for the Spirit of God in our hearts. Man, you wouldn’t have seen such meanness!
The fruit of the Spirit, regeneration: there’s no child of God but that feels that conflict in his soul – the Spirit against the flesh and the flesh against the Spirit [Galatians 5:17], but the Spirit always has its witness and always has its fruit. There are many, many, many of us who by no means and in no wise measure up to the fullness of the perfection of God [Romans 7:14-25], the glory of Christ, but the fruit of the Spirit is felt and known just the same.
Divided to three parts here, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace [Galatians 5:22]. That’s God-ward. The Spirit changed our adoption: no longer heirs of the wrath to come [1 Thessalonians 1:10], but heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ whereby we cry, "Abba, Father" [Romans 8:15-17] – a new relationship between us and God: love, joy, and peace
A new relationship between us and our brethren. The Holy Spirit has not only made us to know our sonship with God, but the Holy Spirit has made us to know our brotherhood with the saints: longsuffering, gentleness, goodness [Galatians 5:22] – our attitude toward each other – yokefellows, partners, sons in the Father’s house, joint heirs with Christ [Romans 8:14-17].
That’s a wonderful thing God has done for us in His church. We’re not dumb, driven cattle. We’re not under dictators and we are cringing, following. We’re not a hierarchy handing down dictates to a groveling sycophantic group of belongers. We’re not like slaves manacled to the oar and the base, but we’re all sons in the household of God [Galatians 4:7]: yokefellows, brethren, in a great, common determination [Philippians 4:3].
The last is what God has done in our relationships to our own spirits: faith, meekness, temperance [Galatians 5:22-23]. Some of us have a natural inclination to be proud and lifted up, but the Spirit is there teaching us humility and meekness [Galatians 5:23]. Some of us have a natural disposition to be intemperate in our lives. We sort of move or flow in those directions. Many, many of our people are caught in that thing, but the Spirit is there nonetheless pulling, teaching [Galatians 5:16-17].
Many of our people have fallen into great difficulty in trust and in belief. But with all of our doubts and our difficulties, the fruit of the Spirit is faith [Galatians 5:22], and it’s always there. Some of us who’ve been through some of these books and schools sometimes have fallen into the very slough of despot. Sometimes you’re almost persuaded wouldn’t be any more of the real truth of God in the Bible than there is in the Koran, or in the Bhagavad Gita, or in the sayings of Confucius – just products of men’s minds just the same – fall into all kinds of spiritual difficulties. But the testimony of the Spirit there never ceases; never dies: the fruit of the Spirit, faith [Galatians 5:22].
Now, of the group, may I take one? The fruit of the Spirit is love. The first – and they’re all inclusive – but the fruit of the Spirit is love. God hath quickened us [Ephesians 2:1-5] and out of the fullness of a heart that is alive comes the fruit of the Spirit love. You don’t find fruit on a dead tree. I never saw a post blossom and bear fruit. Fruit comes from a live, living tree. So it is with the children of God. The Lord hath quickened us, made us alive [Colossians 2:13], and out of the living soul comes the fruit of the Spirit, love.
The Holy Spirit has made us debtors unto God. The Holy Spirit has made us to know what God has done for us, placed us under an eternal obligation. Those who are unquickened and untouched by the Spirit of God can live their days and the length of their lives and never think of how much they owe to God. But not us. All of us who have been quickened by the Holy Spirit feel in our hearts that vast and tremendous debt that we owe to God. Our blessings are multiplied every day: the air that we breathe, the food that we eat, the shelter under which we abide, the liberties and freedoms of our native land, the privileges we have as a people of God – all are from His gracious hands [1 Timothy 4:1-5; James 1:17]: a debtor to God.
Beside the marvelous and incomparable gift of love in Christ Jesus, if we have any hope for heaven, it’s in Him [John 14:6; 1 Peter 1:3-7]; any forgiveness of sins, it’s in Him [Colossians 2:12-14]. When I die, if I see the face of God, it’s through the goodness and the love and the mercy of Christ: His debtor forever.
Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
Was it for crimes that I have done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
But drops of grief could ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give myself away
‘Tis all that I can do.
["Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?" by Isaac Watts, 1707]
Now, the Holy Spirit does something for a man when he turns back to God with that deep sense of love that manifests itself in gratitude. It’s all in the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit. It’s the Spirit that makes the difference.
Abel brought unto God – and you have it translated "a sacrifice" [Hebrews 11:11]. Abel brought unto God a sacrifice. That’s all right, but the word actually – the Hebrew word actually, the root word actually, its deep meaning, actually, is that simple word "gift." And Abel brought unto God a gift, and his gift was a lamb out of the flock [Genesis 4:4].
And Cain also brought a gift, and his gift was vegetables from his crop [Genesis 4:3]. And the Lord looked down from heaven on those two sons, and He looked at Abel and He looked at Cain, and God said, "Abel’s gift is an acceptable gift. It’s one that delights My heart." And He looked at Cain and He said that "Cain’s gift is one that makes My heart heavy and sad" Genesis 4:4-5].
And you say the difference is because one brought a lamb and one brought a vegetable. Maybe the difference actually led to those two different things, but God said the reason Cain was not acceptable was because of the spirit in his heart. And God said to Cain, "You get your heart right, your spirit right, and I will accept your gift. But if not, it’s because your heart’s not right; your spirit’s not right" [based on Genesis 4:6-7]. It’s the spirit that makes the difference.
Elkanah had two wives. One of them was named Peninnah and the other one was named Hannah. And Peninnah had children which, in that day, was a wonderful mark of perpetuity and the favor of God. But Hannah was barren and sterile [1 Samuel 1:1-2]. And Peninnah took her children and gathered them round herself, and she mocked Hannah, and used her children, the blessings of God, as a medium of persecution and hatred [1 Samuel 1:6-7]. And Hannah bowed down before the Lord and said, "Dear God, if You would give me a son, if You would give me a son, I would give him back to God. If I had a boy, if I had a son, I would give him to God" [1 Samuel 1:10-11] – the difference in the spirit, the fruit of the Spirit.
And Jesus sat over against the treasury and He looked as the people gave to the work of the Lord [Luke 21:1-4]. And there passed by rich men, the Bible says [Mark 12:41], and out of their superfluity, out of their abundance, they gave a tip to God. They gave Him a tip. They put a little in. "And there came by," says the Lord, "there came by a widow, a widow woman" [Mark 12:42] – the old time way of saying it: "a widow woman" – and she placed into the treasury her whole living trusting God for the bread of another day. And the Lord called His disciples unto Him and said, "Do you see that widow woman? Do you see her mingling now in the crowd? See her? She just passed by. And on the inside of that treasury, there is a gift and it represents her whole livelihood, all that she makes. She," says Jesus, "has given more than they all" Mark 12:43-44]. Why? Because of the spirit that lies back of the gift.
I think of us as we try to measure ourselves by the wonderful opportunities God has given us, and you can do it two ways. "What a burden; what a task! Think of what I could do. If I had this, I could buy me another suit. I could buy me another car. I could buy me a fine vacation. But that church and that appeal!" And reluctantly and unhappily and without gladness and without joy and without cheerfulness, here we are doing what we do under an onerous burden and as part of a heavy obligation and an unending task.
I’ll tell you what you’d better do. You’d better say, "Lord, I don’t think I owe You anything at all. I don’t think, Lord, that there ought to be given back to Thee in love and appreciation anything at all. I’m going to keep it to myself." Oh, how much of us is like that!
A little boy had his hand on the inside of a beautiful vase, a costly vase. And the family worked, and worked, and worked and couldn’t get that hand out. The little boy down there in the vase with his hand and couldn’t get it out, couldn’t get it out. And how many times these children are like that. They can get their heads in places and how did they get their heads in there? And you can’t extricate them. Got his hand in the vase, and they worked, and worked, and worked and finally they came to the conclusion there’s no other thing to do but to break this beautiful vase – just bust it and extricate that little boy’s hand.
And one of the members of the family working with the little fellow happened to notice down in there, looking down in that vase, looking down in there, happened to notice the little boy’s hand was clenched like that, and said to him, "Why, son, no wonder we can’t get your hand out. You got your fist doubled. You got your hand clenched. Undo your hand, and it will just come right out."
And the little boy says, "Not so. Not so. Not gonna undo my hand. I’m not going to let go. I got my penny in that hand and if I unclench my fist, I drop my penny!"
That’s the way we are. That’s the way we are. We’ve got something in our hands. We got it in our hands. "This is in my name! It’s made out to me and I got my fist around it!"
Oh, there’s a lot of that in us. There’s a lot of that in us. Why don’t we let it go? "Lord, for a little while am I here and that’s all." Occupy till He comes Luke 19:13] for a little while. "This in my hands for just a while given to me. Now Lord, as God will help me and as I’m able and as the Lord shall prosper and be good to me, Lord, help me to dedicate to Thee all of these rich gifts that the Lord has showered upon us."
Why can’t we be that way and do it gladly with a smile, with a prayer, with a thanksgiving? "Lord, Lord, this is something I’d love to do." And out of the fullness of our hearts, out of the overflowing of our souls: "Thank you, Lord, for the privilege to bring back unto Thee a dedicated gift."
I felt so much a conflicting emotion this last week. All of you know who’ve ever been to church here, I organized here in our church what we call a Good Shepherd Department – a Good Shepherd Department. They’re having church over there now. While we have our services here, they have their services there. I baptized many, many, many from that Good Shepherd Department. It’s a ministry to the poor who are pressed against the heart of this city – people that we help, people that we help a great deal. Some of the sweetest experiences I’ve ever shared in my life has been with that group.
Had those children down here one time about a year ago. The names of each one of them – and call their names and from a Christmas tree, gave each one of them a gift. The little girl and her little brother – little brother seated next to me and the little girl right over there – called her name out and gave her the prettiest doll you ever saw. Ah, that little girl’s wide, wide open eyes! The prettiest little doll. And the little boy seated right next to me, when he saw his sister with that pretty doll, the little boy looked up to me and he says, "Will they call my name? Will they give me something too?"
I said, "Son, they sure will." And if they didn’t, I’d do it myself. "They sure will."
And in a little while they called out that little boy’s name. And he was so astounded and so overcome that he just sat there. And his little sister punched him and said, "Jimmy, they called your name! Jimmy, they called your name! They called your name!" And the little boy up and run up there and got his gift and brought it back to me, and there we unwrapped it together: a fine, pretty little truck where you punch a button and it dump itself. Oh, I don’t know what all that truck would do. And that little boy, that little boy glad beyond words.
Well, they say that’s my pet around here. This last week, you know what that bunch of people did? Dean and some of these fellows said to me, "About our Good Shepherd Department, you know, we have a great campaign and a great appeal. Shall we – shall we ask them for anything? Shall we? Shall we give them a goal?"
I said, "Well, sure. Sure. They’ll just do their utmost that group will. They’ll do their utmost."
So they decided to give them a goal: two units, thousand dollars a unit – give them a goal, big goal. Did you know last week, before this campaign starts, before this appeal is made, did you know that last week the Good Shepherd Department has already subscribed $2,700 to this debt? And they say to me, "And we’ve just started. We’re going to go over three units we are."
That’s the stuff out of which God builds His kingdom. That’s the stuff out of which God grows a great church. That’s the stuff out of which God makes great lives. Not a reluctant, recalcitrant, hardened people that look upon these tasks as burdens, as necessities, as yokes, but looks upon them as just one other opportunity to show God in heaven and our brethren in the body of Christ our deepest profound gratitude to God for all of His wonderful gifts to us. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love" [Galatians 5:22] – glad to do it.
Now I must quit. Every service, every service we give an appeal to our people in prayer: someone in our midst to give his heart in faith to Christ, someone in our midst to put his life with us in this church, and the Lord never fails to give us a harvest – never.
Once in a while, a fellow will come to me and say, "You know, I heard you on the radio. I listen to you on the radio, and I gave my heart to Christ while I was listening to you on the radio." And many, many people come to our church having listened to the services on the radio.
Wherever you are today, wherever you are today, if you’ve never bowed before the Lord and committed all that you have and are to Him, would you do it today? Would you? "I take the Lord as my Savior. I give Him my life. I’ll look to Him in faith in the world that is to come." Would you? Would you? And in the great press of people who are in this auditorium this morning, is there somebody you to give his life to God? Would you come and stand by me? Is there a family of you to put your life with us in the church? However the Lord would say the word and open the door, while we make the appeal, would you come? Would you come while we stand and sing the song?