Ok, so the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, … It seems a secular ( non-Christian thus not Spirit filled), could possess these same fruits … Yes? If so, how would inspecting the fruit of someone’s life say anything about their life in Christ?
@marrcp The fruit of the Spirit is true love for God and for neighbor - it is not just being a nice person. The joy being described is not happiness - it is a joy overflowing from the presence of God’s love in our hearts - something an unbeliever cannot have experienced. The goodness described goes beyond being a good neighbor and has to do with self-sacrificial love coming from a transformed heart. Both Paul and Jesus make it clear that the fruit of the Spirit only can be produced when we are rooted in Christ and filled with the Spirit - when we are made into a wholly new creation.
That said, I think it is safer to evaluate our own hearts rather than to go around as fruit inspectors
Another way to punctuate this is “love” followed by a colon ( love: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control ). It is thus possible to read the eight characteristics following “love” as defining love. NET Bible
Romans 8:5-8 - Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
John 15:5-12 - “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Well said. I appreciate the timely and thoughtful response.
Thank You -
@marrcp Sure thing - I think Ravi has some great illustrations in this talk about how the problem we face goes all the way down to our heart. We need a heart transformation to deal with how bent / distorted we are at a fundamental level. We cannot truly keep God’s law or walk in purity / goodness / beauty without God.
Very good question, i asked myself that very same thing couple of years ago a Christian and nonBeliver can both Love, be Patient, Kind, be Strong, full of Joy and so forth, so how can i tell the difference "if there are any" between their "Fruits" vs the Fruits of the Spirit. Im preety sure their are differences but really havent given that much thought to it.
Concerning what the Fruits of an Individual says about their life in Christ is also a good question.
If you meet a person who has Incredible Nerve Racking Patients, you can bet that his/her Expierences in Christ had to do with Waiting, waiting and learning to be Patient through all sorts of Hardships that he or she had to Endure while Patiently waiting on Jesus. Its tough watching everyone passing you by and "Progressing" while your on a standstill.
You dont want to play Boardgames that require Patients with these People, because they Learned to take Years into Account waiting, even Decades and not just Hours or Days.
If you meet someone whos Fruit is Joy, you can bet that Persons Expierences with Christ had to with learning how to Live in Joy and be Joyfull while facing various Hardships in Life, Ugliness, Observing Depressing Scenerios, Darkness, Painfull Circumstances, even on them.
Again You dont want to play Boardgames were the last Person who loses Joy is declared the Winner. These people take in Account and are Prepared to Hear, See and Endure things Physically and Spiritually that would Strip away the Joy of an Average Person in about 2-3 Seconds.
Same Goes with Love, Peace, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self Control…These people who have Perfected these Fruits are on a whole different level in Jesus and had it really really really Tough, i mean think about all the Scenarios that they had to learn to Overcome, think about their Sins that rose up like Pride, Greed, Jealousy, Envy, Sloth, Adultery. Think about the Attacks of Satan that they had to Endure, think about going through the same Situation, or Scenario over and over again until they got it Right.
Sometimes i look at people like Ravi or Dr Charles Stanley and think “Man i cant imagine the things they had to go through or still are going through”.
@marrcp You are right that non-Christians can certainly have love, joy, patience, etc., But if these are not produced by the Spirit, then they are not fruit of the Spirit, as genuine as they may seem. We have the fruit of the Spirit only by having the Spirit, and we receive the Spirit of God only through Jesus, the Son of God.
Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them.” He also said that we cannot bear fruit on our own, but only as we abide in Him (John 15:4). I think this means that the same tests that John says apply to spirits (1 John 4:1-2) we can also apply to fruit. What is our testimony about Jesus?
I like the comment by @SeanO
it is safer to evaluate our own hearts rather than to go around as fruit inspectors
Jesus also did not put the pruning shears in our hands to go around cutting others off. Our Father is the husbandman (John 15:1). This leaves us withh the plea of the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart” (Psalm 139:23). May our lives be so full of love for Christ and full of His Spirit that anyone who samples our fruit will taste and see that the Lord is good.