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Bearing Fruit by Abiding in the Vine - Galatians 5 and John 15

Jesus talks about bearing fruit. Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit. They are talking about the same thing.

Jan 22, 2012 12:00 AM

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Today I want to look with you for a few moments at the flip side of my message from two weeks ago.  We looked at Paul’s list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5, and a sordid list it is.  We defined in brief detail what those sins actually consist of.  But today we want to focus on the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer.  Before we do that, I want to revisit that sordid list for just a moment.  Let me read to you a short news story I saw a few days ago.

Pagan mom challenges Bible giveaway at North Carolina school

By Jonathan Serrie  Published January 19, 2012 |

A pagan mother's challenge to the distribution of donated Bibles at a local school has prompted the Buncombe County Board of Education to reevaluate its policies regarding religious texts.

Ginger Strivelli, who practices Witchcraft, a form of Paganism, said she was upset when her 12-year-old son . . . came home from North Windy Ridge intermediate school with a Bible.  The Gideons International had delivered several boxes of the sacred books to the school office.  The staff allowed interested students to stop by and pick them up.

"Schools should not be giving out one religion's materials and not others," Strivelli said.  According to Strivelli, the principal assured her the school would make available religious texts donated by any group.  But when Strivelli showed up at the school with pagan spell books, she was turned away.

"Buncombe County School officials are currently reviewing relevant policies and practices with school board attorneys," the district announced in a written statement.  "During this review period, no school in the system will be accepting donations of materials that could be viewed as advocating a particular religion or belief."  (So now there will be no Bibles distributed in any schools in that district)

The school board is expected to address the issue at its next meeting Feb. 2.  According to legal experts, the First Amendment gives public schools two clear choices when it comes to the distribution of religious texts.

"You can either open your public school up to all religious material, or you can say no religious material," Michael Broyde, a professor and senior fellow at Emory University's Center for the Study of Law and Religion said.  "You can't say, 'You can distribute religious material, but only from the good mainstream faiths.'"  (I.e., You must be fair and open it up to the bad wacko faiths as well)

And it goes on from there.  All that to say the promotion of sorcery, one of the sins in Pail’s list, is quite alive and doing remarkably well in the public schools of North Carolina in 2012.  Paul’s list of sins is timeless.  Idolatry is not an extinct sin.   Sorcery and witchcraft are not a thing of the past.  This list of the works of the flesh will endure until the Lord returns.  So when I encourage you as I did two weeks ago to avoid such things as Halloween and the Twilight TV programs, it is because Paul says to avoid those things.

Now, let’s turn together once again to the book of Galatians and I want to read to you from chapter 5, and verses 16 through 23.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:16-23 ESV)

Many years ago I was teaching on the topic of holiness and the need for Christians to live godly lives.  This is certainly one of the most basic doctrines of the Bible.  God’s people are to be holy even as He is holy.  Old Testament, New Testament, it doesn’t matter.  We read this throughout the Bible.  It applies to Israel in the Old and to the elect of God in the New.  There are multitudes of passages that instruct us in this matter.

  • The creation of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness is a study in the holiness of God.
  • The Old Testament sacrificial system is built around the concept of holiness.
  • The sin of Adam and his expulsion from the Garden of Eden is about un-holiness.
  • Sodom and Gomorrah teach us of the consequences for people who lack holiness.
  • The nation of Israel was sanctified by God to be His exclusive, holy people.

The pages of the New Testament are replete with commands for personal holiness.  The writer of Hebrews puts it very bluntly by saying without holiness, no one will see the Lord.  Holiness is a theme found on every single page of Scripture.  Even the cover of your Bible probably has the word “Holy” on it.

However, in response to my teaching many years ago, someone who thought I was being legalistic accused me of being a spiritual “fruit inspector”.  It wasn’t a compliment.  I was reminded that personal holiness is optional.  Those who want to delve deep into the Christian life can pursue a godly lifestyle by deciding to make Jesus their Lord.  But holiness is certainly not necessary for salvation.  I was told that yes, we need Jesus as our Savior.  But obeying Him as Lord is totally unnecessary.

Beloved, the only way anyone can come to that conclusion is to entirely ignore the what the Biblical text constantly says.  That is what this person did.  In fact he readily admitted that most of the Bible does not directly pertain to Christians.  None of the Old Testament was written to us.  Obviously, that would include the ten commandments, as well as the rest of the Mosaic Law.  And since we’re no longer under law, but we’re under grace in the Church age, none of that Old Testament stuff applies to us.

I was further instructed that except for the letters Paul wrote during his imprisonments (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon), none of the Bible, including the rest of the New Testament, pertains directly to us.  In my Bible, this would mean that I could virtually ignore all but 14 of the 1241 pages of the text.  According to this theological position, with the exception of the 14 pages of Paul’s prison epistles, the entire Bible is addressed to the Jews exclusively, not to the Church the Body of Christ.  Even more astounding is that this man’s hero is the apostle Paul.

Paul himself was a “fruit inspector”.  That is evident from his words to the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 5 when he commands that church to immediately excommunicate a man for having sexual relations with his own step-mother.  Sometimes the Church needs godly people to be “fruit inspectors”.  (See 1 Corinthians 5:1-3)

In Galatians, Paul uses the word “fruit” to describe the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.  Paul teaches that every genuine Christian, every follower of the Lord Jesus, possesses (or is possessed by) the Spirit of God.  The Scriptures refer to Him as the Holy Spirit not merely to distinguish the Spirit of God from the UNHOLY spirits, or demons.  Rather, He is referred to as the Holy Spirit because He is 1) inherently holy and 2) because He indwells the believer to MAKE HIM or HER HOLY.

The Holy Spirit is perhaps the greatest gift God gives to the Christian.  The Spirit of God, the third Person of the Trinity, lives within us.  He dwells in our hearts to make us compatible with God Himself.  But sadly, in spite of our salvation, in spite of our union with Christ, and in spite of the Spirit’s indwelling presence, somehow we still find the will to sin.  And yet the Holy Spirit remains in us and perseveres in His work to cause us to will and act according to God’s good pleasure and not according to the desires of our flesh.

For someone to oppose that unbelievably gracious work of God in our lives by teaching that holiness is optional is the very definition of quenching the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit’s work is greatly hindered when people teach such things as, “Jesus is not Lord unless you give Him permission to be Lord.  He is too much of a gentleman to impose His will upon us.  He would never insist that we bow to Him as Lord.”  I can’t think of anything that kills the desire for personal holiness and feeds sinful desires more powerfully than that heresy.  Brethren, Jesus is Lord.  And the Holy Spirit’s task is to make the people of God holy by teaching us first to agree with, and then to comply with the will of our Lord.

We want to try to understand this biblical concept of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives as Christians.  When Paul says in Galatians 5 that we are to walk in the Spirit, the evidences that are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In 5:19 Paul says the works of the flesh are not good.  He uses the word “works” or in some translations “deeds”.  But here in verse 22 he refers to the “fruit” of the Spirit.  Why does he choose that word “fruit” to describe what the Spirit does in us and not the word “work”?  It may seem insignificant, but it isn’t accidental.  I believe Paul intentionally uses the word “fruit” and not the word “work” because it is the same word Jesus used.  Look at with me at John 14:15-17.

15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17 ESV)

Here is the promise of the Lord to send to His disciples and to us, the Holy Spirit.  Notice He says the Father will send the Spirit to those who love Jesus and keep His commandments.  The Spirit will come and stay forever with and in His people.  This is a tremendous promise, and surely the disciples did not understand fully what Jesus meant by all of this.  Even we today have difficulty fully grasping all we read concerning the Holy Spirit.  Now skip over to verses 25 & 26.

25 "These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:25-26 ESV)

After the departure of the Lord Jesus, he will send the Holy Spirit.  But let’s back up and look at the bigger picture for a moment.  We see that:

  • The Father has sent His Son to propitiate His own wrath against the sin of His people.
  • The Son sacrifices Himself for their sins and is their substitute in whom the Father is pleased.
  • We know the Father is pleased with the work of Christ because He raises Him from the dead.
  • The Son returns to the Father to prepare a place for the people He has redeemed.
  • Then, at the request of the Lord Jesus, the Father sends the Holy Spirit in the name of the Son to remain with His redeemed people, to be with them and dwell in them and to continue to remind them of everything Jesus taught.


This is the work of the Trinity on behalf of the people of God and it is a marvelous thing in our eyes.  So Jesus tells the disciples He will send the Holy Spirit.  Now look at John 15, beginning at verse 1.

1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another (John 15:1-17 ESV).

What Jesus is saying here in this last conversation with His 11 disciples before His death is this:  “I am leaving.  But don’t let your hearts be troubled.  I am going to send another Helper, Someone who can continue with you and you will carry on as though I were still here.  I am sending you My Spirit, the Holy Spirit.  He will grant you power.  He will be with you, He will be in you , and it is in this way that I will never leave you nor forsake you.  I will continue with you and you will continue in Me.”

“Together, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit will continue this work we’ve begun.  The Father is the vinedresser, I am the Vine, you are My branches.  And you WILL produce fruit.  My Father, the Vinedresser will see to that.  You will be tended and pruned in order to produce spiritual fruit by means of the Helper which My Father and I will send you.  You will produce MUCH fruit because He will come in My name and work in you!  He will abide in you and the main fruit He will produce in you is love.”

So when the Holy Spirit moves Paul to write Galatians 5 and he uses the phrase, “The fruit of the Spirit is . . .”, Paul uses the word “fruit” instead of “work” because he is explaining in greater detail what Jesus was alluding to with His disciples in John 14, 15, and 16.  “Fruit” is the same Greek word Jesus used, and Paul is connecting some of the dots for us.  Jesus said He would send the Spirit and His true disciples would consequently bear spiritual fruit, much fruit, the primary fruit of the Spirit being love; Love for God and for the brethren.

Here is Paul’s list of Spirit-provoked, Spirit-generated fruit in the believer’s life: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Jesus said those who abide in Him were to abide in His love and love one another.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:34-35 ESV).

Jesus said, These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11 ESV).

Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” and “My peace I give to you” (John 14:1 & 27 ESV), which speaks directly to their need for peace and faithfulness instead of fear and worry.

Jesus said, “I am going away and you cannot follow, but I will come again for you” (John 13:33 & 14:3 ESV), which speaks to their need of patience and faith.

Then He says in John 16:13-15,

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

In other words, the Spirit is going to continue the work of God the Father and of Christ in all of His disciples.  The Spirit is going to glorify the Lord Jesus, by teaching us the very things Jesus taught when He was here physically.  What did He teach?  Everything His Father said.  All that the Father has is mine, and the Holy Spirit whom I am sending to you will take what is mine and declare it to you. The entire Trinity is at work in us when the Spirit works in us.

Jesus is the vine, the Father is the vinedresser, and the Spirit produces the fruit in us, the branches.  The Spirit is going to glorify Jesus by producing fruit in the branches (believers) that are connected to the Vine, Christ.  The fruit of the Spirit which Paul speaks of is the same fruit which Jesus spoke of.  They are the same thing.

It is remarkable to see how the plans and purposes of God are accomplished by God in us.  From eternity, God purposed to create a people for Himself, to save them for Himself, and to make them holy unto Himself.  That work continues to this day, even to this hour.  Love, joy, peace, and the other manifestations of the Spirit of God in us are the manifestations of the work of Jesus Christ in us.  He is the Vine, we are in union with Him as the branches, the Father is the Keeper of His vineyard, and the Holy Spirit is the very presence of God within us which produces the inevitable fruit which all God’s people produce.  He produces in us the holiness we must have, without which we would never see God, we would never inherit the kingdom, we would never enjoy eternal life, and we would not be saved.

8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love. (John 15:8-9 ESV)

So how do we abide in His love?  How do we glorify the Father?  How do we prove that we belong to the Lord Jesus?  We walk by the Spirit.  We manifest the fruits of the Spirit of Christ so that we do not fulfill the desires of the flesh.


As I was looking at my notes last night around 10:00, I received this email from Grace Gems entitled Let me try to draw a picture of Biblical holiness (J.C. Ryle, "Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots")

"Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord!" Hebrews 12:14

Are we holy?  Shall we see the Lord?  In this hurrying, bustling world--let us stand still for a few minutes and consider the matter of holiness.  It is a solemn thing to hear the Word of God saying, "Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord!  A man may go great lengths in religion--and yet never reach true holiness.

What is true practical holiness?
It is not knowledge--Balaam had that.
It is not great profession--Judas Iscariot had that.
It is not doing many things--Herod had that.
It is not zeal for certain matters in religion--Jehu had that.
It is not morality and outward respectability of conduct--the rich young ruler had that.
It is not taking pleasure in hearing preachers--the Jews in Ezekiel's time had that.
It is not keeping company with godly people--Joab and Gehazi and Demas had that.

Yet none of these were holy people!  These things alone, are not holiness.  A man may have any one of them--and yet never see the Lord!  Let me try to draw a picture of Biblical holiness, that we may see it clearly before the eyes of our minds.

1.  Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture.

2.  A holy man will endeavor to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment.

3.  A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ.

4.  A holy man will follow after meekness, patience, gentleness, kind tempers, and government of his tongue.

5.  A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial.

6.  A holy man will follow after love and brotherly kindness.

7.  A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence towards others.

8.  A holy man will follow after purity of heart.

9.  A holy man will follow after the fear of God.

10.  A holy man will follow after humility.

11.  A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations in life.

12.  Last--but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual-mindedness.

Let us be sure that the habitual conduct of our lives is one of walking in the Spirit, the Spirit of Christ sent to us by God Himself.



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