I remember a professor in college once asking our class, does a peach tree bear peaches because it’s a peach tree? Or is it a peach tree because it bears peaches?

And who cares? Far more importantly…

When led by selfishness, you’ll bear the fruit of the flesh. When led by the Spirit, you’ll bear the fruit of the Spirit.

And just as importantly, you can’t have it both ways.

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

~ Galatians 5:17 NIV

The Apostle Paul gives us a lengthy list of examples of the kind of fruit we bear when we’re driven by selfish desire rather than the Spirit’s influence, “being sexually unfaithful, not being pure, taking part in sexual sins, [20] worshiping gods, doing witchcraft, hating, making trouble, being jealous, being angry, being selfish, making people angry with each other, causing divisions among people, [21] feeling envy, being drunk, having wild and wasteful parties, and doing other things like these.” (Galatians 5:19-21 NCV)

And then he gives us another list, the well-known and much beloved fruit of the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

I like to think of these two ways of living in terms of our nature. When I’m living a naturally natural life, things go badly. But when I’m living a supernaturally natural life, I bear sweet fruit. I say “supernaturally natural” because when you’re filled with the Spirit (a supernatural influence operating within you), you will naturally bear the Spirit’s fruit.

In other words, when you’re filled with the Spirit, bearing the Holy Spirit’s fruit is like second nature. It just comes from you because it’s who you are on the inside.

That’s why it’s important to note that these are not the “fruits” of the Spirit (plural), as though there is a list of nine specific possible outcomes, some of which you may or may not bear on a given day, but rather these nine traits, taken together, are the “fruit” (singular) of the Spirit. When you’re Spirit-filled, you become spiritually fruitful in a multitude of ways.

The fruit of the Spirit is definitely not a list of activities to try to do in your own power. Rather the fruit of the Spirit is simply the natural product of living in tune with, filled with, and in submission to the influence of the Spirit of God, moment by moment.

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