The Fruit of the Spirit
July 31st, 1966 @ 10:50 AM
The Fruit of the Spirit
Dr. W. A. Criswell
On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is a meaningful day to me in a special way, for this Sunday sees the last sermon that the pastor is preaching on the Holy Spirit in this long, long series that has lasted for over a year. Twenty-eight of those sermons will be published in a book. The manuscript is fast taking form and will be sent to the publishers in the next few weeks. I felt that in that book on the Holy Spirit—it will be entitled The Holy Spirit in Today’s World—I felt that it needed a sermon, a message that would climax, that would consummate the work of the Spirit in our lives. So the sermon is prepared, and this will be the twenty-eighth one in the book, entitled The Fruit of the Spirit. And the message is an exegesis, an exposition of Galatians 5:16-26. And if you would like to open your Bible to that passage, you can follow the message, for it is an exposition of this section in the fifth chapter of the Book of Galatians. Beginning at verse 16:
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…
But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, 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.
And 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.
Seven times in this brief passage is the Spirit named, such as walk in the Spirit, led of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, live in the Spirit. And the passage is written against a background of conflict and civil war in our souls. For you are not one; you are two. There is light and darkness in you; there is good and bad in you. And if you are saved, there is the Spirit of Christ in you [1 Corinthians 6:19-20], and also the spirit of depravity. Would it not be so fine if, when we were saved, we had one nature—we had a lamb’s heart? But when we are saved we have a lamb’s heart alongside a pig’s heart. We have a heavenly, divine nature; we have an Adamic and sinful nature.
There are two natures on the inside of every Christian. One is fleshly: Paul called it sarx, and by the word sarx, which is the Greek word for flesh, he means the summation of all of the propensities and affinities for depravity and sin in our lives. All of us have that sarx, depraved nature [Galatians 5:17]. We also are born again, anothen, from above [John 3:3]: we have a divine nature, we are regenerated [Titus 3:5], and the Spirit of God lives in our souls [Romans 8:9]. And Paul says these two are contrary, the one to the other, for the Spirit wars against the flesh, and the flesh, the sarx, wars against the pneuma, the Spirit [Galatians 5:17]. And that conflict that you see and feel in you is at the very heart of the universe. There is war and confrontation and strife in the whole creation of God [Romans 8:22]. It is even in heaven.
In the twelfth chapter of the Revelation, it is written, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels” [Revelation 12:7]. At the heart of this universe there is conflict and strife and civil war, and you and what you feel is but a reflection of that confrontation, that violent strife. Nor will we ever be delivered from it until the consummation of the age. Not until Satan is bound and cast into hell fire [Revelation 20:10-15] will there be a new heaven and a new earth in which dwelleth righteousness [2 Peter 3:13]. And as long as we live in this sarx, and as long as we are a part of this universe, we shall know tension, and conflict, and strife, and war [Ephesians 6:12]. Even Paul cried in the seventh chapter of Romans, “O wretched, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?” [Romans 7:24].
Our worst enemy is ourselves, always. Augustine prayed, “O God, deliver me from that evil man, myself.” All of the fire that Satan could drag out of hell could do us no harm at all were it not that our natures are combustible and fuel for the burning. The threat that underlies all of our lives is the powder in the magazine of our natures. Any fuse can set it afire and blow it up. You are like that. Every man is a potential murderer.
There are conditions and there are situations under which any man that lives could be convicted of bloodshed and manslaughter. There is no deliverance in this life and in this flesh from those seeds of violence that are planted in us all, born in us all. And our worst sins are sins that arise out of the depravity of our souls, out of the depths of our nature; not peripheral sins, not emotional sins, not sins of the day, or of the hour, or of the moment, but sins that arise out of the depths of our soul, volitional and planned and executed. We’re like that.
Cain killed his brother, Abel [Genesis 4:8-9]. His sacrifice was accepted; Cain’s was not [Genesis 4: 3-4]. The brethren of Joseph hated him, for they had no coat of many colors [Genesis 37:3-4]. Saul sulked and was eaten up of envy as he heard the women of his Israel sing, “Saul has slain his thousands, but David has slain his tens of thousands” [1 Samuel 18:7-8]. Judas, who took out of the bag what was placed therein, seeing the cause lost, thought to retrieve at least thirty pieces of silver; eaten up with greed and covetousness [Matthew 26:14-16]. The elder brother, in the parable told by the Lord Jesus, stayed outside the house sulking, pouting, hating because the father had welcomed back his younger brother, the prodigal son [Luke 15:21-28].
These sins and a thousand like them are not peripheral, epidermis; they are foundational. They come out of the depths of the depravity of our souls. There is conflict in every life, and it would be indeed a sorry picture and a troubled and wearisome story had it not been for the mercy and grace of God. For the apostle continues––after he has named these unnamable and dark sins––he continues, “But.” “But”––did you ever see so disjunctive a conjunction? Did you ever see so separated and divided a monosyllable? “But”—and how many times do you find it in the Word? “But God” [Ephesians 2:4]; “But we see Jesus” [Hebrews 2:9]; “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” [Galatians 5:22-23]. What an astonishing thing! “But the fruit,” singular, karpos, singular, the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22]. Why, I have just read, “the works of the sarx” [Galatians 5:19]: the depraved human nature, the works, plural, and he names them: one, two, three, four, five, six, eight, nine, ten, twelve, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen of them he names. Then he says, “and such like” [Galatians 5:19-21]. He could have named fifty; he could have named five hundred, for the works of the flesh are multitudinous and diverse, and they are conflicting and contentious, and each one vies with the other for the mastery.
But the fruit, the karpos, the fruit of the Spirit is one! [Galatians 5:22]. All is consistent, and each one of these glorious graces, the fruit of the Spirit, does not take away from any other grace but adds to the richness and the beauty of the whole; the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23]. Well, you could call that glorious work of God in our lives by any one of any of the nine names. The fruit of the Spirit, love, and it includes the whole; or faith, and it includes the whole; or longsuffering or meekness, and it includes the whole [Galatians 5:22-23]. One carries all of the fruits, the nine graces of the Spirit of God; the fruit of the Spirit is one [Galatians 5:22], and it is a product of the holy regenerating nature that God has wrought in us [Titus 3:5].
It is not our natural nature that produces these glorious graces, for by nature we are children of wrath and given to trespass and to sin [Ephesians 2:1-3]. And however a man may make resolutions, however he may reform, and however he may say, “I’m going to obey rules, I’m going to keep these creeds, and I’m going to follow after these procedures,” yet he finds himself as dismally unsuccessful after his resolution as he found himself before. To take an extreme case of it, I read this week of a man who was in the penitentiary, and he so reformed and he so spoke of his good resolutions that a newspaper man picked it up, and he was pardoned. The criminal was pardoned and given a fine job, and in three months he was back in the penitentiary for armed robbery. We are like that. Ah, the resolutions that we make, and the good intentions by which we resolve, and all of these rules and laws that we’re going to keep—we’re going to be decorous; we’re going to be exemplary paragons of excellence—and the next day we are as sorry and as unfruitful as we were before the resolutions were made.
The fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22]; it is the Spirit that is in the sanctifying business, and it is the Spirit that delivers us into the gracious, godly, glorious hands of the Lord. The fruit of the Spirit for fruitage is found in the rootage of the Spirit of God. It is not we, I say, that produce these graces. It is the Spirit of God in us [Galatians 5:22-23], and that means the Spirit must live in us. These graces do not come out of a dead tree or out of a dead post. You cannot hang outwardly upon the life, as you decorate a Christmas tree with tinsel or tinfoil or toys or ornaments, these graces of God, but they come out of a life that is quickened and regenerated by the Spirit of God [Galatians 5:22-23]. And to find the fruit is not a surprise for us. The surprise is that there would be no fruit in the child of God. We’re not surprised to see an apple tree covered with apples. We’re not surprised to see grapes hanging down from a grape vine. The surprise is to see an apple tree and it doesn’t bear apples or to see grape vines and there are no grapes.
As the Lord said in the parable, “Three years have I come and this fig tree does not bear; cut it down: why cumbereth it the ground?” [Luke 13:7]. Or as in the cursing of the fig tree on the part of our Lord—and it withered away, nothing but leaves [Mark 11:12-14]. “By their fruits shall ye know them” [Matthew 7:20]. “Herein are ye My disciples, that ye bear much fruit” [John 15:8]. The graces, the fruit of the Spirit is the marvel and natural and expected blessing of the life in a child of God. The fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace. Now, do you notice that there are nine of them? Nine of them: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance [Galatians 5:22-23]. That immediately attracts my deepest interest and attention, because when I preached on the gifts of the Spirit in the twelfth chapter of the Book of 1 Corinthians, verses 8 through 10, there are nine of them; nine of the gifts of the Spirit; nine, nine [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” [1 Corinthians 12:7]. To one is given the Spirit of wisdom, to another one knowledge, to another faith, to another the gifts of healing, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy. There are nine gifts of the Spirit [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. And when I turn to the fruit of the Spirit there are nine graces [Galatians 5:22-23].
What is the difference? The difference is very obvious. The ninefold gifts of the Holy Spirit are for power [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]; they are for ministry; they are for the work of God. We are given the Spirit of prophecy, or of preaching, or of great faith, or of wisdom, or of knowledge, in order that we might work good, blessedly, for our precious Lord [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. But the nine graces are for character [Galatians 5:22-23]; they are for the blessing, the sweetness, the glory, the preciousness of our lives, the nine graces of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23]. The ninefold gifts of the Spirit are severally divided [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. You have one, you have one, you have two, you have four, somebody might have five of them. They are severally divided among the people of the Lord [1 Corinthians 12:8-10], but the graces of the Spirit is one, the fruit of the Spirit. All of us are to exhibit all nine graces of the Holy Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23]. The gifts of the Spirit are sovereignly bestowed. We can ask God for one, but it’s in His gracious hands whether we are given it or not [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. But all nine of the graces of the Spirit are for every Christian. We are to glorify the Lord and shine for the Lord, exhibiting all nine of them [Galatians 5:22-23].
Now, somebody may have one gift and find no lack of joy or feeling of attainment and achievement in glorifying God in his one gift, just one. You have one gift of the Spirit, and you can magnify the Lord and glorify God in that one gift [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. Not so with the graces, for every one of the graces is imperfect, doesn’t reach perfection, isn’t found in beautiful expression, unless it carries with it all of the other graces. I want to illustrate that. The first grace that Paul names is love, the grace of love: “The fruit of the Spirit is love” [Galatians 5:22]. But love cannot find its complete expression unless it is accompanied by all of the other graces of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23]. Now Paul will write of it. Love does not find its complete expression without the grace of longsuffering [Galatians 5:22], so Paul writes, “Love suffereth long” [1 Corinthians 13:4]—nor does love find its complete expression, nor does its reach its consummation and perfection without the grace of kindness—“and is kind” [1 Corinthians 13:4].
Love does not find its perfect expression without being accompanied by the grace of meekness [Galatians 5:23]. “Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” [1 Corinthians 13:4]. Love does not find its perfect expression, its consummation, its true glory without the grace of temperance [Galatians 5:23]: “doth not behave itself unseemly” [1 Corinthians 13:5]. It does not find its perfect expression without peace [Galatians 5:23]: “is not easily provoked” [1 Corinthians 13:5]; does not find its perfect expression without the marvelous gift—precious––of goodness [Galatians 5:23]: “thinketh no evil” [1 Corinthians 13:5].
Love does not find its perfect expression without the gift of joy [Galatians 5:23]: “rejoiceth not in inequity, but rejoiceth in the truth” [1 Corinthians 13:6]. Nor does love find its perfect expression unless it is accompanied by faith [Galatians 5:22]: “believeth all things” [1 Corinthians 13:7]. You never have one of the graces unless it is accompanied by all other eight of them, and it takes nine of them to make the child of God beautiful in his life [Galatians 5:23]. There is a fruit, singular, of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22], and all nine graces shine in the life of God’s child [Galatians 5:22-23].
Now do you notice there are three triads, there are three trilogies? [Galatians 5:22-23]. Love, joy, peace; those three graces pertain to God. Longsuffering, gentleness, goodness; those three graces pertain to our fellow man. Faith, meekness, temperance; those three graces pertain to us. All nine of them are God-ward and man-ward. They are perpendicular and horizontal. They flow down from heaven; they flow out toward men [Galatians 5:22-23].
Now for a moment let us look at the nine graces, the fruit of the Spirit. The first is love, agape, love [Galatians 5:22]. Love is of God, “For God is love”; 1 John 4:8. God is agape love. And the Lord replied, saying:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, strength and body: this is the first commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law [Romans 13:10]. “By this shall all men know you are My disciples, that ye love one another” [John 13:35]. This is the first and the pristine grace above all. O Lord, how do you love people you don’t love, and how do you like people you don’t like, and how do you appreciate people you don’t appreciate? Well brother, you don’t. It’s something God has to do for you [Romans 5:5]. “O God,” sometimes you can pray, “just help me to bear that critter over there; O God! O Lord!” Well, it’s something the Lord has to do for you, to love, to love, which sometimes is very difficult. The first grace: to love, love God and love men, people [Galatians 5:22].
The second grace: joy, joy [Galatians 5:22]. What is joy, chara, joy? Why, you’ll be surprised at what it is. First Thessalonians 1:6, writing to the church at Thessalonica: “having received the word,” you dear people there in Thessalonica, the capital city of Macedonia, “having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit” [1 Thessalonians 1:6] That makes anybody shake his head: having received the word in much affliction—trial, tribulation, persecution, loss of property, incarceration, thrust in dungeon, beat—having received the word in much affliction, with joy in the Holy Spirit [1 Thessalonians 1:6]. Joy? What kind of a grace is joy that can be glad and triumphant in beatings, and scourgings, and dungeons, and persecution, and violation of property rights, and the taking away of your position of justice and righteousness, and privileges before the law, and maybe finally crucified or burned at the stake? What kind of a joy is that?
I tell you, you can read Christian history from its beginning to its ending, and you will find that grace in every one of God’s great servants! They may be burning at the stake, but they’ll be singing songs and praising God. They may be having their heads chopped off, or they may be thrown into boiling cauldrons of oil, or they may be crucified with their heads down, they may be tormented and tortured or left to rot in a filthy dungeon, but they have joy, victory. In the passage of Scripture that you read, it was Thursday night, late at night that Jesus said those words, and the next morning at nine o’clock He was nailed to a tree [Matthew 27:46-50]. Yet He spoke of His joy that He was giving to the disciples [John 15:11]. What kind of a joy is that?
Silas and Paul, taken before the magistrates and the Roman procurator at Philippi, beat until the blood ran down their backs and then thrust into the innermost dungeon, let down through a hole in the ground in a cave, filthy, dirty, ill-smelling, untouched by light, never clean [Acts 16:19-24]—and at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God [Acts 16:25]. No wonder the next verse says, “And the prisoners heard them” [Acts 16:25]. Anybody would. What kind of people are these that can be beat, and persecuted, and thrust in a dungeon, hated, despised, but praising God? My brother, that is the fruit of the Spirit.
Joy? The world has laughter, and merriment, and entertainment, and revelry. Oh, what a glorious time they have; stay up all night long, get drunk, drunker than the night before, carrying on in a riotous way. That is the world, and they call it a good time, but they don’t know joy; that is a grace of the Spirit, love, joy, peace [Ephesians 5:22]. Peace, that’s a beautiful Greek word: Irene, i-r-e-n-e, Irene, eirēnē in Greek; peace. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God” [Romans 5:1]; “And may the peace that passeth all understanding” bless and sanctify your soul for ever [Philippians 4:7]. Peace, peace. There’ll be peace in the valley by and by. Peace, perfect peace, a grace of the Spirit.
Longsuffering [Galatians 5:22], makrothumia: makron is a Greek word, an adverb for “from afar,” and the verb, the substantive here means “just, just, just waiting on God”; oh, so slow, waiting on God. Like “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay!” [Romans 12:19]. You don’t need to be troubled and worried about all of these things, and how we must find vengeance, and we must bring to justice these that have done such and such to us. “I must retaliate; eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth!” That’ll eat you up. “This guy hates me. I hate him!” “He hit me. I’ll hit him!” “He stole from me. I’ll steal from him!” “He did me wrong. I’ll do him twice as wrong!” That’ll eat you up. Longsuffering, the grace is looking at you; let God do it. He will. He will. In His own way, God has ways of bringing to justice. The Judge of all the earth will do right. You don’t need to take part in it. You wouldn’t know how quite, if you did. Leave it to God; longsuffering. Man do you wrong, turn him over to God. Don’t you do it. Let God do it.
Longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith [Galatians 5:22]; that’s only one mentioned in the nine of the gifts and the nine of the graces [1 Corinthians 12:9]. The gift of faith, faith; the gift is for work, it’s for march, it’s for thrust, it’s for doing things in the name of God. If you have faith as the grain of a mustard seed you can say to that mountain, “Be moved and cast into the sea” [Matthew 17:20], and it would be done. Now that’s faith, the gift, to stand on the promises of God and do great things for God. Faith, the grace, is to rest in the Lord, to rest in the Lord, free from cankering care and corroding anxiety. Ah, if I had more of it, faith to rest in Jesus [1 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22]. Wait; rest; look to God. Trust in the Lord.
Oh, sometimes I share in conversations, and I agree the world is bound for hell, and nothing awaits us but darkness, and judgment, and visitation, and vengeance! The whole earth has disintegrated––inside, outside, political, economic, social, every way. I can just agree with that so easily. Look at these cities. Look at these nations. Look at these atheists. Look at these communists. Look at these socialists. Look at all of these riots. Look, look, look! I can agree with that. Then I go home and get to myself, and I say, “Why, I thought you believed in God. I thought you’d been preaching up there in that pulpit that the sovereign reins of this universe were in the hands of the Almighty! I thought you have said that the Book says that God shall reign through human history through His own elective purposes, these grave matters that pertain to the kingdom of Jesus.” And when I get to thinking about that, I rest my soul in the Lord. I ought to preach the best I can, do the best I can, work the best I can, try the best I can, contribute the best I can; then, having done it, leave it with God! To rest in the Lord, faith; the Lord will see us through [1 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22].
Meekness, temperance, these graces, the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:23]; somebody said, “This is a portrait of Christ.” That’s right. This is a portrait of the Lord Jesus, every one shining out of His eyes, seen in the glory of His countenance, attending every gesture and word and step of His ministry—this is a portrait of Christ. But He never wrote it like that. Paul wrote it as a portrait of you, you. This is to be the child of God, full of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness [Galatians 5:22]. This is a child of the King, you! O Lord, may the Savior have more of us. God be good to us, and may every grace shine in our lives as unto the Lord.
Now we must sing our song, our time is done, and while we sing it, somebody you give himself to Jesus [Romans 10:9-10], a family you coming into the fellowship of the church, while we make appeal, while we sing the song, in this balcony round, on this lower floor, “Pastor, I give you my hand. I’ve given my heart to God” [Ephesians 2:8-9]. Or “Pastor, this is my wife; these are our children. All of us are coming today.” On the first note of that first stanza, come. When you stand up, stand up coming. “I have decided for the Lord and here I am,” or “I have decided to put my life in the circle and circumference and fellowship of this precious congregation, and here I come. Here I am.” Make it now. Make it now, come, come now, while we stand and while we sing.