Introducing the Fruit of the Spirit - pt. 1

Dr. Steve Viars February 19, 2000 Galatians 5:16-26

- This morning I’d like to begin by asking you a question....How many of you like fruit?
- Would most everyone here agree --- fruit is a good thing....I think most of us would.

- now let me ask you this --- what’s your favorite fruit?  [take input]

- now let me ask you this --- why do you like fruit?  [take input]

- So we all agree, we like fruit.
- one of our senior saints, Marv Davis has taken the fruit experience to a new level.
- he makes a special pie that has three different kinds of fruit in one pie....
- strawberries, blueberries, red raspberries...
- each pie costs at least $10 to make but Marvin will often bring them to our XYZ meetings when the fruit is in season and they are just delicious.

- now let me ask you to get your favorite fruit in mind, in your favorite form (in a pie, or with ice cream, or in a bowl by itself)....please get that picture clearly in focus.
- now let me say this....friends, when God talked about what he wanted to do in your life and mine, one of the significant pictures He used was the word fruit.
- He wants our lives to be fruitful....
- He wants our impact on others to be like biting into ones favorite fruit....
- He wants our character to be that way, He wants our words to be that way....
- for His glory, and for our good.

- now, I’d like to ask you two questions that are associated with all of this.
1) Friend, when you think about your life....about how you’re doing....would the word “fruitful” be a good description?
- does that describe what’s going on on the inside?
- does that describe your words?
- does that describe your friendships?
- does that describe your marriage?
- does that describe your ministry?
- would you say that the direction of your life is one that’s fruitful?

- or would you regrettably say that too often these areas would have to be described with words like barren, or fruitless, or sour, or even rotten?
- is it fruitful, or is it something else?

2)  How does a person become fruitful?
- If its true that God wants our lives to be fruitful, then what does the process look like?
- what’s the purpose?
- and who does what?
- and what’s the result if its done properly and what’s the result if its not?

- with those questions in mind, I’d like to invite you to open your Bible to Galatians chapter 5.
- if you’re new to studying the Bible, you’ll find Galatians 5 on page 149 in the back section of the Bible in the pew in front of you.
- the numbering in those Bibles starts over in the NT---so there are actually two page 149’s---we’re looking at the second one this morning.
- today we’re beginning a brand new series on “Developing the Fruit of the Spirit”.
- we want to take a number of weeks and find out why God used this particular picture to help us understand the work He wants to be doing in us.
- and of course we never study things simply to get information, our prayer is that when we are done with the study, each one of us will be able to say that God has helped to develop more fruitful lives.
- at this point I’d like to read just a couple of verses ---- Galatians 5:16-26

- this series is going to be a study of the different characteristics mentioned in verses 22-23.
- and isn’t reading these verses similar to taking a bite of one of Marv Davis’s pies....wouldn’t it be great if you and I were more characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
- all of us would say that there are things in that list we need to work on, and by doing so it would help us individually, and it would help us corporately.

- now, our plan today is not to dive into the list.
- I mentioned in our Intro. to Faith Class on Wednesday evening that we were going to be starting this series today and so someone asked me afterwards, does that mean we’re going to be studying biblical love today?
- that was a great question because it showed the person knew the first characteristic in the list.
- what I’d like to do instead is spend a couple of Sundays laying some introductory groundwork, so our study of each individual component will hopefully be more effective.
- Today, I’d like us to concentrate our attention on the phrase “fruit of the Spirit”, and look for three truths to help us understand the work God wants to do in us.
- what’s the significance of this phrase “fruit of the Spirit”, and how that can help us embark on this important study.

- let’s begin with this:

I.  God Wants You to Have a Life that is Fruitful.

- right now, I’d like to ask you just to focus on that word “fruit”
- I’ve been trying to encourage us to do that already this morning...because we need to benefit from the fact that of all the things God could have said, of all the pictures He could have painted....the one He used was “fruit”.
- I’d like to encourage you to take some time this week and look up every use of the word fruit in the Bible.
- If your time is crunched, you may want to concentrate especially in the NT, but most of you either have a concordance at the back of your Bible --- which tells selected places where key words in the Bible are used....
- or some of you have an exhaustive concordance, which tells every place every word in the Bible is used....
- and I know that more and more of you have the ability to do this on your computer...[on non-work time, by the way!]
- but what you’ll find is that the word fruit is used 181x in the Bible, fruitful is used 35x, and the plural “fruits” is used 38 times.
- so in other words, the Scripture has a lot to say about that...because God wants you to have a life that is fruitful.

- for sake of time this morning, let me mention three primary categories in which this word is used in the Scriptures.
- many times, God speaks about how He wants you to be:
A.  Fruitful in your character.
- since you’re there in Galatians, let’s look at a couple of uses right around where you are.
- would you please look over to Ephesians --- one book to the right
- Ephesians 5:6-10 - Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),  trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
- do you see the contrast in that passage?....
- there’s the empty words in verse 6 ---- anyone can talk a good game
- and then there’s the fruitful character in verse 9
- Christianity isn’t about what we say we are, Christianity is about what we really are.
- God wants to impact our character.
- please turn over another page or two to Philippians 1:9 - And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
- again, there’s this emphasis on the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ....
- this is about one’s character --- which has impacted from the inside out to the point that even those who know us well would describe our character with words like fruitful....the real thing, tasty and delicious through and through.
- one other I have to show you since we’re so close is in the next epistle --- Colossians 1:9 - For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

- so the Bible says that we should be fruitful in our character.
- another key emphasis is that we should be:
B. Fruitful in your words.
- talking to a believer in Jesus Christ ought to be like eating a piece of fruit....where the nourishment, and the benefit is obvious to the one listening.
- Proverbs 12:14 - A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, And the deeds of a man's hands will return to him.
- Proverbs 13:2 - From the fruit of a man's mouth he enjoys good, But the desire of the treacherous is violence.
- Proverbs 18:20-21 - With the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach will be satisfied; He will be satisfied with the product of his lips.  Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
- now that doesn’t mean that everything we have to say to another person will always be easy to say, or easy to hear....
- we have to balance verses like these with others like “faithful are the wounds of a friend”
- but the bottom line of the words that God uses to describe the way he wants us to speak is the word “fruit”...that should cause each of us to ask some hard questions.

- another emphasis in the Scripture is that God wants you to be:
C. Fruitful in your ministry.
- Paul was talking about the spread of the gospel in Colossians 1:6 when he said - ...which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;
- the ministry of the gospel is something that should be constantly bearing fruit and increasing....
- that’s why Jesus said to his disciples in the upper room, John 15:16 - You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.

- now, when you put all this together, the principle that emerges is that I.  God Wants You to Have a Life that is Fruitful.
- He wants you to be fruitful in your character, He wants you to be fruitful in your words, and He wants you to be fruitful in your ministry.
- now you probably know what’s coming next....I think it would be good for us to ask some evaluative questions....
- friend, if the word God chose to describe the work He wants to do in you is the word fruit....then is that a good description of how things are going with you?
- are you fruitful in your character?
- are you fruitful in your words?
- are you fruitful in your ministry?

- you know, one of the enjoyable things about being a pastor is to watch God develop His fruit in the lives of people....and there are a lot of folks in our church who are making steady progress in these areas....
- I heard a delightful example of it this week....
- I was making some calls this week to folks who had been the hospital, or who had had deaths in the family....
- and I was talking to one of our moms who just recently had a baby....
- and I was just asking if there was any way our church family could help or show love at this time....
- and she said, Oh, so much has been done for me already by people from the church I don’t even know---I really appreciate all the love we’ve been shown....
- and she went on to tell me how her doctor put her on bedrest where she was not supposed to get up, even to cook meals....
- and this was going to be over Christmas Day---and she felt so badly that she wouldn’t be able to cook Christmas Dinner for her family ---- and she said that one of our senior citizens cooked Christmas Dinner for the family and took it to them for Christmas Day.
- friends, that’s the fruit of the Spirit.
- that’s the kind of character and ministry that fit the description we’re talking about this morning.
- getting around a person like that is like biting into a juicy grape, or a perfectly ripened banana, or a big ole strawberry.
- I’m so thankful for those around here who have lives that honestly are becoming more and more fruitful.
- but friends, here’s the other side.....
- one of the haunting phrases in the Bible is the phrase ---- “no fruit”.
- let me ask you to turn over to Luke chapter 13.
- if you do decide this week to study the uses of fruit in the Bible, I would encourage you to pay particular attention to the times the word “no” appears first.
- here’s a couple of examples and then we’re look at Luke 13.
- Luke 8:14 - And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
- Jude 1:12 - These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;
- you see that same theme in the parable of Luke 13
- READ 13:6-9

- I mentioned a moment ago that one of the most delightful things about being a pastor is watching so many of God’s people bear fruit in their personal lives, and their words, and their relationships, and in their ministries.
- do you what one of the troubling things is about being a pastor?
- its the tendency of what we’re seeing in this text....those who would say they’re believers in Christ but there’ fruit.
- no one is coming to Christ as a result of that person’s life....
- no one is being discipled....
- friendships are not being built....
- growth is not taking place.....

- its like biting into a piece of fruit that is hard, or bitter, or rotten.
- and that affects a church in two ways.....
1) Needs go unmet ....where instead of having a fruitful ministry toward other people, where others are edified, and others are befriended, and others are loved, and others are helped....the focus is very selfish....
2) often times unfruitful people are very bitter and critical---which has always amazed me, buts there’s often a direct relationship between the lack of a person’s fruit and abundance of a person’s complaints.

- friend, can I repeat the question I’ve asked several times this morning....are you a fruitful person?
- does that metaphor accurately describe your character, words, ministry?
- many of us would look at that and say, Oh, Oh.
-  I have some habits that are like something other than a delicious piece of fruit.
- that’s why we need to go back to Galatians chapter 5 and add the other three words to this phrase.
- Galatians 5:22 doesn’t just speak about fruit, it speaks about “fruit of the Spirit”.
- the principle is:

II. God Stands Ready to Produce This Fruit in You.

- see, if you and I look at some aspect of our character, or aspect of our words, or aspect of our ministry....and say, there’s a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done there....
- that may be the case, but let’s be sure that we’re not simply viewing that in human terms alone.
- this is the fruit of the Spirit---the hope in all of this is that II. God Stands Ready to Produce This Fruit in You.

- its very important that we remember all through this study that Galatians 5:22 was not given in a vacuum.
- one of the reasons Paul emphasizes this so much is because the Galatian church had gotten carried away with trying to live the Christian life apart from God and His strength and His Word.
- apparently what had happened was that Paul had come through this area on his first missionary journey, led many of these folks to Christ, and organized the church....
- and then after he left, some false teachers came in called the Judaizers, and they told these new believers that if they were going to please God, they also had to keep certain dietary rules, and observe certain holidays, and be circumcised, etc.
- in other words, it wasn’t developing the fruit of the Spirit, it was developing the fruit of the flesh.
- it was no longer relying on the righteousness of Christ, now their stand before God became one of self-righteousness.
- would you turn back to chapter 1 verse 6 to see how significant an issue this was to Paul....
- READ 1:6-10

- You see this same emphasis in chapter 3, verse 1....
- read 3:1-3

- see, they were starting to put their confidence in the flesh, and their ability to please Him apart from God’s Word, and apart from God’s help, and apart from God’s Spirit
- no wonder that after Paul addresses that, he emphasizes that we are talking about the fruit of the Spirit.
- yes, God wants us to live a life that is fruitful, but He is the one who stands ready through His Spirit to enable you to develop and sustain that fruit.

- now, lest we get too hard on the Galatians....let me ask you a hard it ever possible for you or me to try to develop fruit in our lives apart from the Spirit’s help?
- is it possible to learn a few principles, even biblical principles...and then try to apply them without any conscious dependence on the Spirit of God?
- do you think there will be anyone present in our auditorium today who had to address a conflict this week but who didn’t consciously pray to God and ask for His help first?
- do you think there will married folks here today who wrestled through a problem, and maybe even got into some kind of argument this week, but never thought to stop and pray together and ask for God’s help as they try to work the situation out?
- do you think there will be parents here today who are facing a challenge with one of their children....
- and maybe they’re consulting all sorts of secular experts....
- or contemporary philosophies....
- or maybe they’re relying on the way they were raised or the way that just seems to make the most sense....
- but no one is asking what God’s Word says....
- no one is seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit through His Word....

- and in each of these situations and many more that we could mention....there’s some kind of fruit that’s developing....but its not the fruit of the Spirit.
- its just like Zechariah 4:6 says - Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.

- I think as we embark on this study of the fruit of the Spirit, that it would be wise for each of us to think back over last week, or the way we typically live, and ask---what true and practical role does the Holy Spirit play in my life on an average day.....
1) Am I asking Him to develop His fruit in me?
2) Am I depending on His strength?
3) Am I seeking His principles in His Word?
4) If it is His fruit that I genuinely want to develop, am I trying to develop it His way?

- perhaps this would be the best place to ask even a more basic question....
- friend, are you sure that you have established a personal relationship with God?
- we are not born with the Holy Spirit of God resident inside us as part of our standard equipment.
- that would be impossible until something is done about our sin problem.
- but after a person admits their sin, and trusts Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord,  then the Holy Spirit takes up residence inside of us.
- then we become the temple of the Holy Spirit.
- then we are in a position where He can develop His fruit in us.

- so its possible that a person could be here today and would conclude that the reason their life is not as fruitful as God desires because they’ve not yet trusted Christ.
- and friends, if that’s your condition, we would invite you to make the decision to trust Him today.

- Can I ask you at this point to turn over to John chapter 15?
- This passage also helps us with this idea of God standing ready to produce this fruit in you.
- its the fruit “of the Spirit”....and it cannot be produced apart from Him.
- we read John 15:16 let’s look at what the Lord said to His disciples beginning in verse 1 [please be looking for how many times this theme of fruit is mentioned, and how much emphasis is placed on depending on God for the development of the fruit]
- READ John 15:1-8

- did you see the important phrase in verse 5 - “apart from me, you can do nothing”....
- friend, do we really believe that?
- is it reflected in our mindset, is it reflected in our mission, is it reflected in our ministry?
I.  God Wants You to Have a Life that is Fruitful.
II. God Stands Ready to Produce This Fruit in You.

- now, I’d like to ask you to go back to Galatians 5 one last time.
- there’s one more phrase that I’d like us to think about that wraps up what we’re studying, at least for our purposes today.
- this whole discussion began in verse 13...when Paul said....”walk by the Spirit” of God.

- that gives us our third principle for the morning....

III. You Must Decide if You Want to Walk on the Path of Fruitfulness.

- what we’re talking about this morning is not a “let go and let God.”
- its not a belief that God is going to someone zap us apart from our will and our effort.

- that’s why Paul says, you and I have to choose to walk in the Spirit.
- we have to decide if we’re going to consult His Word --- that’s walking in the Spirit.
- we have to decide if we’re going to pray and ask Him to help us --- that’s walking in the Spirit
- we have to decide if we’re going to seek Godly counsel --- that’s walking in the Spirit
- we have to decide if we’re going to live in submission to the authority He’s placed over us --- that’s walking in the Spirit
- we have to decide if we’re going to adopt His goals as our goals --- that’s walking in the Spirit
- we have to decide if we’re going to love people like He loves them --- that’s walking in the Spirit
- we have to decide if we’re going to seek to have a positive spiritual impact on those He’s placed around us --- that’s walking in the Spirit.

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video