Fruit of the Spirit – Introduction


Visitors to New York are still impressed with the Statue of Liberty as it welcomes people to the USA. For years, this copper lady has stood as a beacon of refuge for those 'yearning to breathe free'. She became the symbol of hope for many who sought refuge from political and economic oppression.

Grace stands in the pages of the Bible as the Christian’s Statue of Liberty. For centuries, the frowning standard of the Law stood condemning all humanity. There was no pleasing the Law – it asked too high a morality. A morality that no fallen human could attain. God intended the Law to have this effect. For too long people had imagined that they were only a little damaged by sin and that with enough religious effort they could pull themselves back into line. But they were grossly underestimating the problem.

They had not properly reckoned with the power of Satan and the wickedness of their nature. If only the people could be set free from Satan’s tyranny, would all not be well? No, that is never enough. Individuals who reached America and celebrated their freedom from some earthly dictator had something still to learn. They were just as capable of doing as much evil as had been done to them. So, for sinners condemned by the Law, it would require an almighty power to break the bondage of Satan. And it would take no less power to overcome the weakness of human nature. For Christians, it is the power of a risen Christ that liberates them from the bondage of Satan. And it is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that frees them from a life of sinful domination.

The Bible often uses the word 'flesh' to refer to our fallen human nature. It is the engine that drives sinners. Lust fuels it and it would have destroyed us eternally. Satan knows how to rev that engine, and the sinful world around us offers many wicked roads to travel. When we were saved, we received a new clean motor that is fuelled by the life of God. It is very efficient, and it will literally save our lives. But we are a hybrid! The old 'fleshly' engine is still there, chugging out its poisonous fumes, while the new motor silently impels us on a different track. Sadly, we will be troubled with the old engine until we get our complete body upgrade at the Lord's return.

So how can we have liberty from our old way of life? Firstly, grace stands forth and proclaims the death of Christ for our forgiveness. He has fulfilled the Law as a man, yet has also suffered its curse for our Law-breaking. All who trust Him have been counted by God to have been crucified with Him. In this way, we are free from the Law and its condemnation. And by Christ’s death, we are free from bondage, since through death Christ stripped Satan of his power to hold us. Therefore, grace stands to welcome us into this new life of spiritual liberty. The apostle Paul explained this in his letter to the Galatians. As he reached the climax of his argument in chapter five, he declared; ‘For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore’, Gal. 5. 1 ESV.

Secondly, having begun to stand in liberty, Paul encourages them to walk in the Spirit. It is for us to decide which energy will drive us forward. We can still allow the old engine of the 'flesh' to direct us towards sin, or we can let the new power of the Spirit produce better things in our lives. These better things are called 'the fruit of the Spirit'. Paul lists nine things that the Spirit can produce in our lives. These things are divided into three triplets. There are things that look upward: love, joy and peace. There are things that look outward: patience, kindness and goodness. And there are things that look inward: faith, meekness and self-control. In further articles, their meaning will be explored. Meanwhile, let us assess our lives: what is fuelling my desires today? Which power am I allowing to dominate my direction?