Passage: Galatians 5:16-26
Speaker: Kevin Kyle (EPC Chaplain)
Fruit of the Spirit
“Sanctification is a Garden: The fruits of the Spirit have been planted in us by God. Our life is a journey of tending these fruits with the one who planted them.” Kevin Kyle
In Galatians, Paul has been laboring to explain to the church that it is the work of Christ alone that makes a person justified before God. Once the believer acknowledges this, the Holy Spirit begins a transformative work in the believer, conforming their charter to the nature of Christ. This work will inevitably be produced in the believer and Paul calls it the “fruit of the Spirit.” This is a very careful and intentional word choice, not just a metaphor that’s convenient in the moment. First, the word fruit has ties to the Old Testament. Think of the numerous mentions of the word in the book of Isaiah. The prophet wrote of the day that Israel would “blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit” and “they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit” (Isaiah 27:6; 65:21). This is imagery that pointed forward to the day of Christ and how he would fill the whole earth with his promised blessing. Second, Paul uses the word fruit to give the reader a visual. We are justified immediately upon the confession and belief in Christ’s saving work, but like the fruit of a tree, sanctification—our being conformed to Christ’s likeness—is a work that is gradual, inevitable, and rooted in something greater than itself. So, Paul urges the church to “keep in step.” This is an active command that tells the church to nurture and pursue the growth and development of the Spirit’s work in you.
Thinking of Paul’s imagery of fruit, which is something that grows gradually and inevitably, discuss some ways you have seen this gradual growth in you—a noted change that has taken time, but is now more evident as you reflect back.
How does this imagery of growing fruit help shape your understanding of the Christian life?
The fruit of the Spirit is evidence of God’s presence in the believer. What part does the believer play in the process of sanctification? (Phil 2:12-13)
Specifically (and thinking particularly of instruction and examples from the Bible) how can you tend or nurture or work out your salvation? What have been helpful practices in cultivating persevering faith?
If there’s one thing Jesus would want you to walk away believing and receiving as a result of this portion of Scripture, what is that thing?
How have you experienced God’s fruit in your life this week? Are there particular areas you desire to see more fruit? Share as you are comfortable with the group so that you can praise and seek the LORD together in prayer.