The Fruit of the Spirit
July 31st, 1966 @ 8:15 AM
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
7-31-66 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are listening to the Ebenezer Baptist Church, sometimes called the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And I feel exactly like that: I will be here this coming Sunday, but those four weeks thereafter I will be preaching about every day. And I like it that way. I had rather do that than anything I know of. And when I come back, I hope I have a marvelous thing to lay before you.
Now in our Bible, let us turn to Galatians chapter 5. And if you will leave your Bible open there, you can easily follow the message of this morning; Galatians chapter 5. This is the last sermon in that long series on the Holy Spirit, twenty-eight of them of which will be published in a book; and this is the twenty-eighth and the last sermon that will be published in that book. I felt that after the long study on the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit that there ought to be a sermon that concluded it, that consummated it, that climaxed it. So I chose the title The Fruit of the Spirit, which is this passage that we read in the fifth chapter of the Book of Galatians, starting at verse 16:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts 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 ye be led by 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 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.
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 does Paul name the Spirit; among them, “walk in the Spirit” [Galatians 5:16] “led of the Spirit” [Galatians 5:18], “the fruit of the Spirit” [Galatians 5:22], “live in the Spirit” [Galatians 5:25]. And he writes the passage against the dark and conflicting background of the civil war that is all of our souls. For a man is not one thing, he is two things: he is light and darkness, he is good and bad. There are two natures on the inside of a Christian; not one, two. Don’t you wish when you were saved that you had a lamb’s heart, and that was all that you lived with, just that regenerated new soul that God has given you? [John 3:3, 7]. But you still have the pig’s heart; and that black drop that we inherited in our Adamic nature is as much with us when we are saved as before we were saved. And we never escape it until we die. As Paul said, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” [Romans 7:24]
Those two natures are in us all. We have what Paul calls “the flesh,” the sarx, the flesh; and by that word sarx, “flesh” [Galatians 5:17], Paul includes all of the total depravity of our inherited Adamic human nature [Romans 5:12]. We got it from our fathers, and they received it from their fathers, and those fathers received it from theirs, clear back to the transgression of Adam [Genesis 3:1-6]. There is another nature in a Christian: a regenerated nature [John 3:3, 7], a holy nature, a divine seed; one born from above [John 3:3]. And Paul says, “And these two natures are contrary, the one to the other” [Galatians 5:17]. The Spirit of God in us wars against the sarx, our depraved human nature; and our depraved human nature wars against the Spirit [Galatians 5:17]. And that conflict goes on as long as we live.
That conflict is seen everywhere in the universe: there is civil war and strife at the heart of this universe. Reading the Bible, the Scriptures reveal to us that that strife is in heaven itself: “And there was war in heaven: and Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels” [Revelation 12:7]. You will not escape conflict and strife and confrontation in this life and in this present world. It is only at the consummation of the age, when at last Satan is thrown into the fire of hell [Revelation 20:10, 14], that the universe is ever delivered—that includes us—from that strife and that civil war.
Now the works of the flesh are multitudinous and they are in us, and we all feel the drag of that fleshly nature, all of us. However you may be sanctified, however you may pray, and however you may love God, every day will you feel the drag of that human nature. Augustine prayed, “O God, deliver me from that evil man, myself.” All the fire that the devil could drag out of hell would harm us not at all were it not for the combustible fuel in our own lives. It is the powder in the magazine of our human nature that raises the possibility always of the destruction of our spiritual effectiveness.
And the worst sins always are those that arise out of the depraved human soul. Cain lifted his hand in blood and murder against his brother because his sacrifice was not accepted [Genesis 4:3, 5, 8]. Joseph’s brethren hated him because they had no coat of many colors [Genesis 37:3-4]. Moses the man of God smote the rock in anger when God said speak to it that He might be glorified [Numbers 20:8-11]. Saul sulked and was eaten up by jealousy and envy as he heard the women of Israel say, “Saul has slain his thousands, but David hath slain his tens of thousands” [1 Samuel 18:7-8]. Even Elijah sat under a juniper tree praying that he might die, for he said, “I am no better than my fathers” [1 Kings 19:4]. A few days before he thought he had won the world—such an answer from God on Mount Carmel [1 Kings 18:36-40]. Running before Ahab’s chariot to Jezreel [1 Kings 18:44-46], the race at Marathon, from Marathon to Athens, was as nothing compared to the running of Elijah in the Spirit of God upon him; and yet there he sits praying to die [1 Kings 19:1-4]. Jonah had rather see Nineveh destroyed, even though she had repented [Jonah 3:5-10], so violent was his bitterness toward those hasty Assyrians [Jonah 4:1-3]. Judas, in order to retrieve a little out of what he expected, sold his Lord for thirty pieces of silver [Matthew 26:14-16, 47-50]. And the elder brother in the parable told by Jesus wouldn’t come in, sulked, stayed outside, because his prodigal brother had been welcomed back home [Luke 15:25-28]. This is depraved human nature.
Oh! what a sad portrayal, and what a sad presentation! But, did you ever see so disjunctive a conjunction, such a dividing monosyllable as Paul writes here? “But,” and how many times will you find that in the Word of God?—“But, God,” or, “But we see Jesus” [Hebrews 2:9]—“But the fruit of the Spirit…” [Galatians 5:22]. Do you see something that he does? “Now the works of the flesh are manifest,” plural, “the works” [Galatians 5:19]; and when you count them, there are seventeen different darknesses that Paul names here in our lives. And when he has named seventeen of them, he says, “And these are just typical, and such like” [Galatians 5:19-21]. He could have named forty; he could have named a hundred fifty, the works, plural, of the flesh [Galatians 5:19]. They are multitudinous and many, and they conflict one with another; and each one strives and contends for the mastery over the other [Galatians 5:17]. The works, plural, of the flesh are manifest [Galatians 5:19-21]. And how bitterly do we know them. “But the fruit,” singular, “but the fruit of the Spirit” [Galatians 5:22], singular, karpos, fruit, singular, the fruit of the Spirit; it is consistent all the way through. And he names nine graces that characterize, facets of the fruit of the Spirit; not one of them takes away from the other of them, but each one adds to the richness and the beauty of the whole [Galatians 5:22-23]. And whether you say the fruit of the Spirit is love, it includes them all; or the fruit of the Spirit is joy, or the fruit of the Spirit is peace, or the fruit of the Spirit is longsuffering, or gentleness, or kindness, or faith, or meekness, or temperance, one includes them all—the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23].
And they are the harvest that God brings to the glory of Christ in our regenerated soul [Galatians 5:22-23]. We don’t produce them; they are supernatural, and they are God’s gifts to those who have looked in saving faith to Jesus [Matthew 7:16]. For the fruits of the flesh, the harvests of the flesh are bitter, and dark, and lustful, and sinful. This is the fruit of the flesh, the works of the flesh [Galatians 5:19-21]. And how many times does an unregenerated man say, “I’m going to do better. I’m going to turn a new leaf,” and he makes resolutions—we’ve made them—and we make commitments—and we’ve made them—and we say, “I’m going to obey these rules, and I’m going to follow these procedures, and I’m going to take to heart these laws,” and we’ve tried unsuccessfully to live a devout and spiritual life. Like a man I read about this week in the penitentiary, and he made such marvelous resolutions that they paroled him. And the newspapers heard of it, and gave him a fine job. And in three months he was back in the penitentiary for armed robbery. That’s we. That’s we. These, the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22], these graces are not of us, they are of God [Galatians 5:22-23]. The Holy Spirit is in the sanctifying business; that’s what He does! Romans 15:16; 1 Peter 1:2]. And in the human heart and in the human life that’s devoted and committed to Him, He brings forth these marvelous graces. He does [Galatians 5:22-23]. And the life that is not in the Spirit cannot produce these marvelous and wondrous graces [Galatians 5:19-21].
A post can’t bear fruit. A dead tree can’t bear fruit. Nor do these graces come from the outside, but from the inside. They’re not hung on the tree like you decorate at Christmas time, here a tinsel, and here is tinfoil, and here ornaments, and here’s toys. But they come from the inside; they well up in the soul, the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22]. Nor are we to be surprised at their graciousness, and goodness, and gentleness, and kindness, and joy, and peace, and meekness [Galatians 5:22-23], for this is the evidence of the Spirit in the born again regenerated life, in your life [Matthew 7:16]. Our surprise is to be that there is no fruit [Mark 11:12-14]. Our surprise is not that we see apples on an apple tree; we expected apples on an apple tree. Our surprise is not that we see grapes hanging down from a grapevine; we expected to see grapes hanging down from a grapevine. Our surprise would be if there were no apples on the tree and if there were no grapes hanging down on the vine. So the Lord’s surprise is that in us. He told the parable, “Three years have I come and found no fruit on this fig tree; cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?” [Luke 13:7]. And the Lord cursing the fig tree; it’s nothing but leaves, and He cursed the fig tree, and it withered away [Matthew 21:19].
“By their fruits shall ye know them [Matthew 7:20]…Herein is My Father glorified: that ye bear much fruit” [John 15:8]. This is the evidence of the regenerated life: the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control [Galatians 5:22-23].
In your listening to these sermons on the Holy Spirit, you remember, in the twelfth chapter of the first Corinthian letter, there were nine gifts of the Spirit, nine of them: 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, nine of them are named. Do you notice, in the gifts of the Spirit, nine [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]; in the fruit of the Spirit, nine? [Galatians 5:22-23]. Nine gifts of the Spirit, nine graces, the fruit of the Spirit; let’s compare them just for a moment, the gifts of the Spirit and the graces, the fruit of the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are for power, they are for service, they are for ministry: the gift of prophecy, the gift of preaching, the gift of understanding and wisdom, the gift of knowledge, the gift of faith, the gift of glorifying God, all of the gifts of the Spirit are for power and service and ministry [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. But the graces of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23] are for your heart, for your soul, for your life, for your character; that you shine for Jesus and be beautiful and sweet for Jesus.
The gifts of the Spirit are severally divided. You have one, you may have three, you may have five; no one has all of them, but everyone has at least one of them. The gifts of the Spirit are severally divided [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. But every Christian is to have all of the graces of the Spirit, all of them [Galatians 5:22-23]. And the gifts of the Spirit are sovereignly bestowed [1 Corinthians 12:11]. We can ask the Holy Spirit for one, but He chooses, and He bestows it according to His infinite wisdom. But the graces of the Spirit are to crown every Christian life, all of them [Galatians 5:22-23].
A gift of the Spirit can find expression and gladness and joy though it is solitary in the one individual. He has one gift, and he can glorify God and rejoice in that one gift [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. But there is no such a thing as the graces of the Holy Spirit reaching in a perfection or consummation or glory when it abides alone; for the graces of the Spirit carry all the rest of them with it, whichever one [Galatians 5:22-23]. I’m going to take love, for example [Galatians 5:22]. Love according to the apostle Paul as he writes in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, love is not perfected unless it is accompanied by longsuffering: “Love suffereth long” [1 Corinthians 13:4]; one of the graces [Galatians 5:22]. Love is not perfected unless it is accompanied by kindness, “and is kind,” one of the graces [1 Corinthians 13:4]. Love does not reach its perfection unless it is accompanied by meekness [Galatians 5:23]: “Love envieth not, love thought not of itself, is not puffed up” [1 Corinthians 13:4]. Love does not reach its perfection and consummation until it is accompanied by the grace of temperance: “doth not behave itself unseemly” [1 Corinthians 13:5]. Love does not find its ultimate and its perfection unless it is accompanied by the grace of peace [Galatians 5:22]: “Love is not easily provoked” [1 Corinthians 13:5]. It does not reach its consummation unless it is accompanied by the grace of goodness: “thinketh no evil” [1 Corinthians 13:5]. Love does not reach its glorious consummation unless it is accompanied by the grace of joy [Galatians 5:22]: “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” [1 Corinthians 13:5-6]. Love, the grace [Galatians 5:22], does not reach its perfection and consummation unless it is accompanied by the grace in faith [Galatians 5:22]: “believeth all things” [1 Corinthians 13: 7]. You don’t have one grace; you can have one gift, you can have two gifts [1 Corinthians 12:8-10]. But if you are speaking of the Holy Spirit in your life, remaking you, it is singular: the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22]. And love will carry with it joy; and joy will carry with it love; and peace will carry with it love and joy; and longsuffering will carry with it peace, love and joy; and gentleness and goodness will carry with it all of the rest [Galatians 5:22-23]. The graces, the fruit of the Spirit, are all one in the Christian life [Galatians 5:22-23].
Now, in the list of the nine that Paul presents here, there are three groups of three. First: our relation to God; love, joy, and peace [Galatians 5:22]. Second: our relationship to one another; longsuffering, gentleness, goodness [Galatians 5:22]. And third: our relationship to ourselves; faith, meekness, and temperance [Galatians 5:22-23]. They are God-ward; they are man-ward. They are perpendicular; they are horizontal. They come from heaven; they flow toward man.
Now in the little moment that remains, I want to look at them for just a moment. Then we must close. Isn’t it remarkable how time passes when you start talking about the Word of God? That is, if you are saved. A man who is not saved, bored to death, longest, most interminable thing to sit and listen to a man preach on the Bible. But if you’ve been saved, just about the time you think the preacher has started good, it’s time to quit. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness” [Matthew 5:6].
Now in the little moment, and it has to be just a moment, look at them, the karpos, the fruit of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23]. Now, these graces: love, agapē, love, love is of God, for God is agapē, love [1 John 4:8]. “By this shall all men know ye are My disciples: that ye love one another [John 13:35] . . . Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and body, and strength. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. This is the Law and the Prophets” [Matthew 22:37-40]. Love, joy, joy, oh! I wish I could preach a sermon on that. Joy, what is this joy? First Thessalonians 1:6: “Having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit.” Joy, in affliction? Yes. That’s the fruit of the Spirit: in affliction, joy! [Galatians 5:22].
In the passage that you read this morning—and I didn’t know you were going to read that passage—in that passage you read this morning, Jesus is speaking on Thursday night, late at night [John 17:1-12], and at 9:00 o’clock the next morning He is to be crucified [John 19:16-30]; but He speaks of His joy, that the disciples might have, that their joy might be fulfilled [John 17:13]. What joy is that? Crucified, crucified! What joy is this? Paul and Silas on the inside of a dungeon, late at night, their backs bloody, having been beat with many stripes [Acts 16:23-24], and at midnight they are singing praises to God and thanking the Lord [Acts 16:25]. You see, that’s God in us [John 17:13]. The world has laughter, and merriment, and entertainment, and revelry; but only the Christian has joy.
Ooh! I wish we could say a lot about that. Peace, peace: “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God” [Romans 5:1]. You know that’s a beautiful word, “peace”: eirēnē, exactly in Greek, i-r-e-n-e, Irene, “peace.” Longsuffering [Galatians 5:22]: that comes from a Greek word makron, “from afar,” makron is an adverb “from afar, long way”; and this Greek word makrothumia, “to suffer a long way.” “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” [Romans 12:19]. It’s in His hands—longsuffering [Galatians 5:22].
Gentleness, prautēs, gentleness, sweetness, mildness; goodness, agathōsunē, goodness [Galatians 5:22-23]. Faith, the only one in both categories, the gift of faith [1 Corinthians 12:9], and the grace of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22]. The gift of faith is for power: “If a man has faith, even as a grain of mustard seed, he can say to this mountain, Be thou removed and cast into the sea, and it will be done” [Matthew 17:20]. And Elijah prayed that it might not rain; and for three years and six months the earth was brass and iron. Then Elijah prayed that it might rain, and the earth was verdant with the showers from heaven [James 5:17-18]. Faith the gift [1 Corinthians 12:9], is for might and power to seize on the promises of God. Faith the grace [Galatians 5:22], is for character: to rest in God, to trust in God. I don’t need to be busy, busy, busy; and I don’t need to be frustrated. When I am, it’s a weakness of the flesh; I ought to rest in God. He has the answers, He has the sovereign reigns of the universe in His hands; I don’t need to be fretful or full of care or corroding anxiety. I shall rest in God.
Why, my brother, you could preach a sermon on every one of them. Meekness [Galatians 5:22]: “The meek shall inherit the earth” [Matthew 5:5]; not Hitler, not Tojo. The meek shall inherit the earth. Temperance [Galatians 5:23], self-control, enkrateia, self-control: “And when Paul stood in the presence of Felix, he preached to him of righteousness, and of temperance, enkrateia, self-control, and of judgment to come. And Felix trembled” [Acts 24:24-25].
Somebody has said these nine graces are the portrait of Christ. Yes; but they are also the portrait of you. If you have been saved and born again [John 3:3, 7], the fruit of the Spirit is in you: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance [Galatians 5:22-23]. O may the Lord sanctify even to us the presence of Jesus in our hearts, the Spirit of our Lord [2 Corinthians 13:5].
Now we must sing our song. 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; a couple, a youth, a child, as God shall say the word and open the door, come and stand by me. “Here I am, pastor, I make it today. I make it this morning.” In the balcony round, on this lower floor, come now, while we stand and while we sing.