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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Messages » It’s All About the Fruit-Part II

It’s All About the Fruit-Part II

Last week I talked about the fruit we produce. We saw that everyone produces some kind of fruit, good or bad, and that it is evident to those around us which crop we are growing. This week I am going to go through that same passage and look at each individual fruit or work of the flesh and what it means. So many times we skim over a passage and tell ourselves that we have no problem with the sin or that we are producing the good fruit. In actuality we might find that we aren’t the husbandmen that we should be. Let’s turn again to Galatians chapter five and see what God has for us. I will be using the original Greek words from the Strong’s Concordance to get the meaning of each word.

In verse sixteen Paul says if we walk after the spirit we won’t produce the fruit of the flesh. Since we are comparing the spiritual fruit to actual fruit that would grow in an orchard think about how you would produce good fruit. An orchard keeper must know types of trees or “varieties” to know which one grows best in his area. Some apples grow well in the growing zone we live in and some don’t. If I want to grow apples I need to study up on them, don’t I? We must create the best environment for them at all times. If there are pests we must get rid of them. If the apples need fertilizing we will feed them. Pruning must take place regularly to get rid of overgrowth so that fewer limbs produce better, healthier apples. A few years ago we had apple trees that developed brown spots on the leaves. We had to research what caused it and found that it was called apple rust. After further study we discovered that it came from cedar trees. I love cedar trees but since I wanted good apples I cut all of the cedars down on our property. Case in point-sometimes you need to eliminate seemingly good things in your life to walk in the spirit! Even things that seem harmless should be gotten rid of if they affect your fruit. That, my friend is walking in the Spirit in a nutshell. If we will focus on trying to produce the good fruit we will eliminate the bad fruit.

In verse nineteen Paul says the works of the flesh are manifest. That word means evident or plainly recognized. In other words, when we produce the works of the flesh it is readily seen by everyone. That should cause us concern if we are Christians as we should not want to live a life that is evidently producing sinful things. Now, let’s look at that list. Adultery is the first one. Adultery is when someone is married and has a sexual relationship with someone other than their spouse. I remember when adultery was an outcast sin even among the non-Christians. Now, it seems to be no big deal. The Church once made it clear that this was not to happen in families. It is a fruit of the flesh and not of the Spirit.

The next one is fornication. This word comes from the Greek porneia. It means an illicit or unlawful sexual act. The definition includes outside of marriage, sex with the someone of the same gender, sex with a close relative, etc. From the Greek word we can also gather it means pornography. A sexual act that is outside of God’s plan is work of the flesh. Next we come to uncleanness. This seems to be an innocent word but it is in with the list of things we should get rid of. The Greek word means physical uncleanness or impure living. It also means wasteful or extravagant living. Maybe you remember the story of the prodigal son. The word prodigal actually means wasteful. So a life of uncleanness can be any of these.

Next is lasciviousness. This is certainly a word we don’t use in modern language so you may not know the meaning of it. The Greek word here means unbridled lust, excess, shamelessness or outrageousness. You can see it clearly in some lives, especially the world’s top entertainers. We as Christians can be guilty of it if we don’t control ourselves. Moving on to verse twenty we continue with idolatry. When I was young I could not conceive of someone in our culture worshipping idols. I thought I certainly would never have a problem with this sin. Yet, many years later I found myself with all kinds of idols in my life. Humans make idols out of money, people, sports, hobbies, their jobs, their houses, their automobiles, and the list just goes on. We must make sure we don’t put any material thing or person above Jehovah God.

The next one is witchcraft. Again, this one gets jumped over by many of us. Yet, when we go to the Greek word it is pharmakeia. We get the English word Pharmacy from this and it’s because it deals with drug use. Originally, sorcery and occultism dealt with drugs and so this word was translated as witchcraft. Of course we would understand that it means Satanism but it would also mean drug use. Hatred is next and it comes from the word meaning enmity. Enmity is deep rooted hatred. It can happen to any of us if we open the door to it. It may not seem as bad to you as some of the other sins but it definitely should not be in your orchard.

Next is variance. Without looking at the word origin you might not know this one either. It means contention, strife or wrangling. Verbally wrestling with someone or feeling a rivalry with another is in this category. Emulations are next. If I didn’t know this word I would have guessed it meant to copy or be like someone else (to emulate). Yet, the original word says differently. The word this comes from means zeal, defending anything, fierceness, excitement of mind and fervour of spirit. It still sounds pretty harmless and that is probably because we’ve determined that church services should be pep rallies. Think about it; aren’t churches going more toward excitement and emotional fervour? We must be careful that we don’t confuse emotions with Godliness. Wrath follows next and it means passion and anger. Again, it is an emotion that is of the flesh.

Strife is next and it means electioneering, partisanship and a fractious spirit. It means trying to divide and pull others to your side or to cause division. We see it in families and churches all the time when members decide that they want to live differently and push against leadership. Sedition is a companion word and is the next sin listed. It means divisions and dissention. Following that is heresies and it means divisions because of diversity of opinions. We continue in verse twenty-one with the next one-envy. I’m sure you know what it is to envy but marketing practices often appeal to this work of the flesh and tell you that if you have their product you will be the envy of others (as if that is a good thing). As Christians we should not envy others nor should we live in a manner as to make them envy us.

Next on the list is murder. The word simply means murder and is usually unacceptable in most cultures of the world. But society has lost the fact that killing innocent unborn children is also murder. The world continues to devalue life and as Christians we must make sure we remember the value of all life. The next word is drunkenness. It simply means to be drunk. Being drunk with alcohol is not determined by a sobriety test. If you are a Christian and drink alcohol you need to consider that you don’t know when you are drunk. There isn’t a light on your nose that starts to glow when you get close. The best policy is to abstain from all alcohol and you won’t be guilty of this sin. The final word Paul lists is revellings. This word means wild partying accompanied with alcohol. It is a sin of the flesh in which we desire to get with others and party. With this sin we aren’t satisfied unless we are in the company of many other people and tend to do things we would not normally do outside of that situation.  Paul finishes the list with the words “and such like”. This means it is an open ended list and his term shows that other actions like these are also sin. He finished that verse saying that those which do these things will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven.

Now, let’s look at the fruit we are supposed to bear as Christians. This list is much shorter and is not open ended like the works of the flesh. There are nine of these. The first one is love. Our world has a lot of definitions of this word. The Greek word given here is agape and it means “brotherly love”. This is distinct from sexual love or a strong affection. Since this is brotherly love this is a word of action. Feeling strongly about someone is not brotherly love but doing something sacrificially for them is.

The second fruit is joy. It means gladness and is different than the sinful work of passion or zeal. It means extremely satisfied. Note that the joy that comes from God is not because He gives you what you want. This joy is satisfaction with knowing that God is in control and that He has a perfect plan for your life. The unsaved can have an emotional joy if their situation is favorable according to what they want. Spiritual joy comes only from God and is found by accepting your situation as being in God’s will and on the road to His destination.

The third fruit is peace. The world knows peace as the absence of problems. Christian peace comes from knowing God is in control, no matter what is going on. The Child of God can have this even if those things around him don’t line up with what his mind wants. He accepts that all things are working together for his good.

The fourth fruit is longsuffering. It means steadfastness, patience, endurance, consistency and constancy. Christians should be the most stable people in the world with the Holy Spirit guiding them. Their lives should not change with the people around them nor the situations they encounter. They should be as fixed as the North Star. This fruit only comes from God as the man of the flesh is swayed by various doctrines and philosophies. It’s sad when you see Christians who sway from their walk. James spoke of the double-minded man and said that he was unstable in all his ways.

The fifth fruit is gentleness. This means kindness, moral goodness and integrity. The man of the flesh can be good to people but it generally comes from someone who likes someone else or believes there is something in it for them. They are good to those who are good to them. Christians can have this spiritual fruit in that they can love their enemies and do good to those who do evil to them. It is only acquired through the Holy Spirit of God.

The sixth fruit is goodness. It means goodness or uprightness of heart and life. The world has its own standard of what is good but God establishes the standards we should follow. His righteousness is spelled out all through His Word. We can only have uprightness of heart and life by following His commandments.

The seventh fruit is faith. This word means belief in God and Christ Jesus but it also means faithfulness and fidelity. We could say that the world has faith as it believes in the systems and teachings of this world. For example, people of the world believe in evolution and don’t believe that God created everything. This is a type of faith. They may believe in a certain politician and feel he is going to make their life better. But that is not the kind of faith that is Spiritual. Spiritual faith is believing in the things of God and His Words (something unseen) because of the evidence of the things that are seen. We believe in God because we see His creation and we have faith in His word because we have tried it and found it to be true.

The eighth fruit is meekness. The word means gentleness or mildness. The world looks at this as a handicap or weakness. God says His children should be meek. Christians sometimes follow the sinful fleshly work of emulations (zeal or fervour of spirit). We might think its more Godly to get excited and full of emotion. We sometimes see people in churches jumping, yelling and shouting. Does that sound like meekness to you? We should be cautious to discern between the two.

The last fruit of the Spirit is temperance and it means self-control. It further means one who has mastered his desires, passions and sensual appetites. When we control our flesh it does not control us. If we can control those desires we will allow God to work in us to produce the other fruits. At one time there was a lot of teaching on fasting. I can’t remember when I last heard a sermon on fasting. Many Christians have never fasted even though it is in scripture. They deny themselves nothing. Jesus and His disciples fasted. He stated that certain strongholds could not be overcome except by prayer and fasting (Matt 17:21). Paul talked about husbands and wives denying their passions toward one another in a time of prayer and fasting (1 Cor 7:5). If we get in the habit of self-control as an act of our will we will see the rest of the fruit flourish. Temperance is a lot like pruning. Pruning is limiting and forcing the tree to produce larger fruit on fewer branches. It allows healthy limbs to grow larger and establishes the trees proper growth.

Looking back over all of the Fruit of the Spirit we need to remember one thing. God gives this fruit to us as an outward product of the Christian walk. In other words, it’s not for you but for others. The fruit feeds the lost and hungry. They witness the difference between your life and theirs. When you have these fruits they compare them with the outcome of their own lives and should be drawn to Christ. We should remember that love, joy and peace etc. are outward fruits that, while we may benefit from them are really designed to feed others who don’t have them.

Let me finish today asking by you what fruit grows in your orchard? We see from scripture that the works of the flesh are evident. If you pass by an overgrown field full of brambles and briars you can see that the owner isn’t a farmer. But if you pass by a plot of land full of tall, green corn you know absolutely that the man there is a farmer. Consequently, the works give us away as to who we are and whose we are! Strive to develop the Fruit of the Spirit. Just like real fruit it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years to grow an orchard. And it takes years to grow abundant Spiritual Fruit! Start today and get your orchard going!

Prayer-Father, help us to have the desire for real fruit. Help us to weed out the works of the flesh and to work towards the Fruit of the Spirit. Just as if planning an orchard show us how to plan a Spiritual Orchard that would glorify You. May those who desire to grow in You be blessed today with a new path of living.

In Jesus’ Name–Amen

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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One Response to "It’s All About the Fruit-Part II"

  1. Virginia says:

    Thank you Paul for this wonderful message. I learned a lot today, I didn’t know that there were 9 different things that we should strive towards. I’ve always had faith and knew about that one but didn’t know about the other 8. I truly need to work on these other 8.

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