The fruit of the Spirit and shortcut Spirituality
Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
The process of generating fruit in a plant is astonishing, it involves pollination which moves pollen from the stamens to the stigma of the flower. A zygote is formed upon completion of the subsequent fertilization process and the ovules develop into seeds. (There are varied processed that take place, this is a generalization). The outer wall covers the seed and is called the pericarp. It may be hard as in nuts or fleshy as in berries. Nourishment and water are brought to the plant through the sunshine from the ground through the roots. The fleshy or hardened fruit develops over time, in a wondrous engineering marvel, that bespeaks power in the hand of the Designer, God.
This is perhaps why the God-breathed scriptures use “fruit” as the term to illustrate those virtues (for lack of a better word) that manifest the Life of Christ in a believer. He is a new creation, and has the indwelling Spirit Who brings about the fruit that God desires. While the gospel of Christ is a simple message to receive, the process of fruit-bearing, is not so simple and its mechanisms are often only understood by reading scripture and by retrospect and hindsight.
For example, Hebrews 12:11 tells us: “no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised thereby.” A key word here is “afterward.” The believer goes through the varied trials of a pathway in a world hostile to both himself and that which is good in God’s sight. It is not until after the training process (in given situations) that he can look back and see how the fruit came about.
For example. How did I learn to love the assembly and other believers in true daily practice? How is patience learned? Self control? Did I wake up one day and these virtues were present?
Hebrews 12:8 reminds us that the chastening hand of God is something all believers partake in, otherwise they are bastards (an old word for illegitimate-ie…born out of wedlock). How does one get to grow and manifest the peaceful fruit of righteousness? And how is the fruit of the Spirit manifested? The believer learns first a positional truth that (Galatians 5:24) those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. They then see the admonition in verse 25 “ If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” If we were to put this in a sequential order:
The new birth & impartation of a new nature (2 Cor 5:17)
The believer learns about his position in Christ, the sinful self having been crucified with Christ. (Gal 5:24)
The believer then has liberty to walk with God by the Spirit and the Word, and not through the Law principle (Romans 7:1-4) which makes demands his flesh cannot meet.
By ongoing discipline & chastisement from a loving Father, the believer (now a Son!) learns in practice to live out what he has already, positionally. (Heb 12)
Fruit is produced in this walk (Romans 7:4b, and Galatians 5:24), to God’s glory and to the benefit of his fellow believers.
This process, and its challenges… bring us to a danger, and the hard pathway is in contrast today with much of Christendom that seeks shortcuts to spirituality. There are many movements that abound that provide false and “quick” routes of seeming spirituality that are in actuality carnal.
1. Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism – The outward Hebrew forms (the canopy, the Torah scrolls) are mixed with Hebrew language terminology (Yeshua instead of Jesus, Ha-shem, Elohim, etc). These become badges of spirituality and satisfies that desire for something tangible and “more.” When coupled with a kind of self righteous denial of seeming pagan practice in Christendom (like Easter & Christmas) can yield a type of apparent outward spirituality that is deadly indeed. It is the establishing of one’s own righteousness. (Romans 10:3). While HR & MJ often accept justification by faith alone, they move the sanctification and walk of the believer under the sphere of Law, setting them up for failure. The adjustment the movement makes is to choose a part of the Torah that can seemingly be kept, and divides that law into unscriptural pieces. When we read Galatians the Law of Moses is considered in whole.
2. Charismatic Movement – Here is a hodgepodge of spirituality that is counterfeit. Tongues, Prophecies, Words of knowledge and Wisdom, Speaking Blessings, Positive Confession….all are types of an outward veneer of a new kind of shallow and false spirituality. Worship becomes a kind of sacramental thing, where God is approached by worship instead of the shed blood of Christ. Miracles and Testimonies are exalted and vastly exaggerated and rarely verifiable. It allows a person to obtain a show of life, while denying the power. There is also a danger in its aversion to what it sees as ‘negativity.’ The very negative things that the Bible teaches like discipline, chastening, rebuke, and correction, are in this movement, inoculated against by the injection of the pain killers of positive confession.
3. The Sacraments of Roman Catholicism - This is a long and ongoing scourge that bears no fruit for God. The sacramental system, the priesthood and its hierarchy, the exaltation of Mary and Saints; are barriers to the biblical spirituality and fruit bearing that are results of the new life in Christ and His ongoing work in His children. The order is reversed, where good works contribute to justification, instead of being the result of the new life already received (with the fruit and good works following)
There are doubtless other examples of false spirituality and false fruit bearing like the Conservative/Political movement, often called God/Guns/Country, which falsely equates the Christian life with “American Patriotism”. We should be glad for good government and freedoms, but never equate the spiritual life and fruit bearing of a believer with such a thing. Remember that we live in the Times of the Gentiles, and America is part of that system. There are systems like Mormonism, with its clean cut missionaries, conservatively dressed wives and seeming ideal families. There are 24 hour prayer rooms that allow for devotion to find a venue for the frustrated person to quickly move forward.
We may also run into a false spirituality that is apologetic and only sees what is wrong in other groups-becoming a badge of “I must be right because I can find wrongness in others”. In short, shortcut spirituality abounds in many forms. It often has outward and attractive means to obtain its end. But it never succeeds. Its attractiveness is often strengthened by seeing the hypocrisy and shortcoming of fellow believers. What a contrast with “longsuffering.” But then again, if I seek the shortcut, I won’t be able to be longsuffering with a fellow believer, and neither of us bear fruit. A sad circular cycle.
Hebrew Roots - fails because it puts people under the Law principle, and the Law principle is condemned in Galatians. Law makes demands of men, that they cannot measure up to. It frequently denies the authority of the Pauline epistles.
Charismatic spirituality - fails because it uses outward forms and mysticism as its basis instead of truth. It has pride and a self centered-ness at its core. It replaces truth with experience, and often has the baggage of false conversions.
Roman Catholicism - fails because it reverses the order and puts good works before justification and makes those works essential to justification. It fails because if the system itself is followed and trusted instead of Christ, there is no Spiritual life, and no dead corpse can bring forth fruit.
The fruit of the Spirit is just that - FRUIT. It is the lifelong process of manifesting the life of Christ that was already received at initial conversion. The believer grows and manifests love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Chastening, rebukes, and discipline are often the tools used by the loving hand of God to make us fruitful.
If there is a shortcut so to speak, it is the washing of water by the Word. For most of us though, this is coupled by painful but very beneficial experience in discipline from above. Afterwards it yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby.
Beware of the shortcuts, they are train wrecks. And yes, God can and does use such circumstances in the lives of His own, and they find out the hard way that the way of the transgressor is hard.
written by wbc