Here’s a little word study about that fruit description.
Fruit means produce, as from a fruit tree; also the result of efforts, such as fruit of your labor.
Those nine character attributes show up and begin to develop as the result of having God’s Spirit dwell inside of you. By the way – these aren’t ordinary human traits, they are supernatural. God’s love. God’s joy. God’s peace, etc., etc.
Love, joy, peace – those familiar words have the usual meanings. Longsuffering means being patient with circumstances, remaining the same and keeping the same attitude no matter what happens around you. Goodness means integrity, honesty, morality. Meekness means mildness, gentleness; also controlled strength, as a horse that has been tamed and bridled. Temperance means self-control; similar to controlled strength in some ways.
All of these describe God’s character, which will become our character as the Holy Spirit lives in us, leads us, teaches us, co-labors with us in various assignments.
Notice what isn’t in that list? Holiness. Why is that? God is holy, it’s certainly part of his character. He tells us, “Be ye holy.” So why is it missing from this list?
The word for holiness has two meanings:
- 100% one thing, pure, such as pure gold. (See earlier post, Be Ye Holy, https://estherspetition.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/bush-burning-holy/)
- Separated for one specific use, such as a pan used only for frying food
The first is a status, the second is an action. And in order to be the first one, you need to do the second one. It isn’t something that grows like fruit. It either is, or it is not. It’s an action of your will, a choice that begins with choosing to say Yes to Jesus as Savior and Lord.
2 Cor. 7:1 says, ” Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
“Cleanse” simply means to make clean, such as bathing, washing our hands, or scrubbing dirty pots and pans. Our flesh and our spirit need a bath. But we must cleanse ourselves? I always thought God did that – you know, he catches the fish (us), then he cleans them.
And he does, with his Word. Jesus told the disciples that they were clean, by the words he had spoken to them. Also see Ephesians 5:26. This looks like a contradiction… keep reading.
“Perfecting” means accomplishing or completing, as finishing a job.
2 Cor. 6:16-18 specifies what the promises from 7:1 are: “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” Those are spectacular promises!
“Walk in them” is interesting language. Literally it means walk around inside of them. I like that. “My people” means a people group of the same tribe, origin, culture, and language. “Receive you” means favor you, show favor to you.
II Peter 1:3 says, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” Okay, now that we have faith in him, the knowledge of Jesus contains everything we need to live successfully.
He goes on to say that we should add some things to our faith – the very same things mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. All of those attributes are found in the knowledge of Jesus, and all are able to grow and mature.
However – and this is a big however – this knowledge isn’t dropped into our brains automatically when we are born again. It takes studying, appropriating, and practice. Like muscles, these attributes will grow with use.
We are co-laborers with Christ. Note, that word includes labor. Work. He doesn’t do all the work to produce character in us, or holiness in us. We have to do some of the work ourselves. He won’t force us to do our part.
And that explains a lot, doesn’t it.