Paul says in Galatians, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (vv. 5.22,22) The verse starts by saying, “But.” These verses are in direct opposition to the previous context, which is the obvious acts of the sinful nature. To obtain the fruits of the Holy Spirit, man must live in opposition to the acts of the sinful nature: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (vv. 5.19-21). The following are biblical definitions of some of these fruits.
Joy. Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is intermittent; this makes me happy, this doesn’t. Joy is the result of consistent contentment with what God has provided. (For an example of this type of contentment, see Nehemiah 8.10.)
Peace. This is a supernatural peace. It is far more than a moment of tranquility after a long day. It is the indescribable “peace that transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4.7).
Patience. This is what is often referred to as longsuffering. It is perseverance and persistence at it’s best. By nature, we get frustrated with all sorts of things, but through the Holy Spirit, we can endure all things and we can do all things. The key element of patience is knowing that all things which God has called us to will happen in His timing if we are patient and wait on Him.
Goodness. This is fairly synonymous with godliness since all goodness comes from God. However, goodness has more to do with motive than action. All people do good things, but often out of selfish ambition—“I gave to charity because I needed a tax write off.” Goodness is far more. It is the characteristic result of the act of selflessness.
The most important thing to remember regarding the fruits of the Holy Spirit is that man will not obtain the full extent of the virtuous fruit while on earth. Letting go of the acts of the sinful nature, causes one to draw nearer to Christ and experience a greater depth of the fruit. Many people will ask why they lack joy or peace. The answer is that they probably are not completely lacking, but that they have very little because they have not fully opposed the acts of the sinful nature.
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