22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23b; NIV)
The book of Galatians tell us what is the fruit (note: it is singular, not plural) of the Spirit. However, is it important for the believer to possess it?
In my view, the answer is a strong ‘yes‘, because it seems that it is the presence of fruit (of the Spirit) that a true follower of Jesus Christ is distinguished from a hypocritical one.
In addition, it seems that the presence of the fruit of the Spirit serves as a criterion for whether an individual will enter heaven or not.
16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:16-23; NIV)
Seeing its importance, how then can one obtain the fruit of the Spirit?
The clue is found right after the well-known verses in Galatians that describe the fruit of the Spirit. Namely, it is by “crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires“:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24; NIV; with emphasis added)
Crucifixion is the process of putting something to death. So, when we crucify “the flesh with its passions and desires“, we, in other words, put these things to death.
Now, let’s consider what the flesh entails and how it is manifested:
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. (Galatians 5:19-21b; NIV)
Do you notice the diametric correspondence between the fruit of the Spirit and the acts of the flesh?
For example, you could say that the opposite of “love” is “hatred“. The opposite of “peace” is “discord” or “fits of rage” or “dissensions“. The opposite of “self control” is “sexual immorality” or “debauchery“, and so forth.
It seems then that if a believer was once prone to “dissensions“, for example, but if under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, that tendency has been removed (or “put to death”), then, that individual would naturally be peaceable.
In conclusion, the fruit of the Spirit seems to be obtained through death to the sinful nature.
To put it very practically, you cannot buy the fruit of the Spirit with any amount of money.
Instead, it is by dying to yourself that you obtain the fruit of the Spirit.
Sadly, there are some Christians who like to get into fits of rage. Or perhaps they like the pleasures of sexual immorality. Or perhaps they strife to be number one in everything, even to the detriment of others (“selfish ambition“).
They may say, “Well, this is my personality. This is who I am! I’m sure God understand.”
But they would be deceived to think that God winks at them and closes an eye to their sinful ways.
What such Christians really need to do is to come before God and say, “I need to change“, “I need to repent of my ways“.
More specifically, this individual needs to say “The old me needs to die“.
And, this is precisely why the Lord Jesus Christ says: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24; KJV)
Friend, if the old “you” does not wish to die, if you wish to continue in your old sinful ways, I am afraid there is no way you can obtain the fruit of the Spirit.