Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4
The Christian life is to be a fruitful life, but apart from the work of the Spirit of God in the life of the believer there would be no fruit for God whatsoever. Here are three important basic truths about a fruitful life in Christ.
1. Under the New Covenant, All Believers Are Indwelt by the Holy Spirit
This means that the Holy Spirit is present with every believer to bring Christ’s work and life to that individual (Romans 8:9). Even believers in the Corinthian church who were not behaving at all like Christians continued to have the Spirit’s indwelling presence (I Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). The Holy Spirit was not sent to believers to replace Christ. He was sent to apply Christ’s work and bring Christ’s life to the believer (Ephesians 2:22).
2.Fruit Is What Christ’s Life in Us through the Holy Spirit Produces Both in Us and Through Us
We can make a distinction between the fruit of our service (John 15:17) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23). The fruit of our service can be thought of as the good works and the result of those works when God uses them as means to affect and transform others. The fruit of the Spirit can be thought of as the character of Christlikeness that is produced in the life of a believer over time. Though we can make a distinction between these two kinds of fruit, real fruit in ministry cannot effectively happen without the fruit of the Spirit (I Corinthians 13:1-3).
3. The Fruit of the Spirit are Contrasted with the Works of the Sinful Nature in Galatians 5:19-24; the Fruit of the Spirit belong to the Believer and Should Be Cultivated in Our Lives
This contrast is to be thought of as two different ways to live. The works of the flesh (sinful nature) are seen as the works of an unregenerate heart (an unsaved person) while the fruit of the Spirit are the character traits of Christlikeness being worked into our lives by the Holy Spirit (5:21,24). Though believers still struggle greatly (because the sinful nature has not been irradiated), this struggle is not to be thought of as an up-for-grabs battle. There is a winner and it is Christ in us! The fruit of the Spirit can be thought of as a cluster of fruit, like a single jewel with nine facets. Also, the fruit of the Spirit are not necessarily exhausted by the nine words in the passage, as the additional wording “against such things” implies that there are additional ways to describe the fruit.
Fruit in our lives is a very real goal. By God’s grace and through His Spirit’s work, those in Christ are to make progress in the faith. Though our progress may be slow, it is, nonetheless real. We should praise the Lord for the ministry of the Holy Spirit who brings the reality of Christ’s work and Christ’s very life into our hearts!