“The Fruit of the Spirit… Against Such There Is No Law”
By way of introduction to this subject, please consider the following points.
First, study the qualities of “the fruit of the Spirit” as that which is the exact opposite of a life filled with “the works of the flesh.” One list is revoltingly awful; one list is beautifully appealing. The “works of the flesh” show the outward products of a worldly life; the “fruit of the Spirit” shows the inner attitudes of a spiritual life. Satan uses the lusts and the things of this world to appeal to our fleshly appetite (cf. Gal. 5:16-18), but God uses spiritual qualities that are directly tied to His nature to inspire us to attain these godly qualities.
Second, please note carefully that Paul describes these qualities with a singular term—“the fruit of the Spirit.” He does not refer to them as “fruits,” but he rather addresses them as “fruit.” Contrast this with “works,” and we see many demonstrations of a worldly life, but only one singular description (cf. Matt. 6:22) of a spiritual life—a life that works to instill all of these qualities from one divine source. I realize that some may think that I am overstretching this, but I think not—the apostle Paul made a valid argument over the distinction between singular and plural tenses (cf. Gal. 3:16). Thus, while many may try to portray vividly these godly qualities as a cornucopia of different types of fruit, I believe Paul is rather describing sections of a singular fruit. Better yet, consider the next point to glean an even better illustration.
Third, just as many of the “works of the flesh” could be tied or connected together, we ought to see these qualities comprising “the fruit of the Spirit” as being joined together in a cluster. They relate to one another; they dovetail into each other. Each one thereafter promotes and encourages the next. In other words, there is a connection between them as we move from love to temperance. Thus, from the importance of the first attribute listed (“love”), we ought to visualize these as layers within a fruit, with love being at the core, and all of the rest of them emanating out from the center.
Fourth, if we are going to attain “the fruit of the Spirit” in our lives, it will not come automatically. With diligence, we are going to have to work on it (cf. 2 Pet. 1:5-8). We must allow the gospel to have its proper effect in our hearts and minds by promoting our thinking into the thinking of Jesus Christ (cf. Gal. 5:13-16, 25-26; Phil. 2:5-8). When we do so, we will have these qualities demonstrated in our lives!
Fifth, after listing these qualities, Paul concludes: “against such there is no law.” These characteristics and attributes of life are opened to us to develop and grow as long as we live. The field is wide open. We will never obtain the fullest degree of the things that Paul mentions here, which is one reason that he said, “…against such there is no law.” There is a continual opportunity for us to increase in these. If we lived to be as old as Methuselah, there would still be room for the development and growth of these principles in our lives. We never will overdo love; we never will overdo joy as described in the Bible, and such like. This is what keeps Christianity fresh—the possibility of growth. In other words, “the fruit of the Spirit” meets all the demands of the law of Christ. There are no laws that work against these qualities and virtues. There is a continual opportunity for us to increase in these.
In conclusion, the heart of religion lies in our understanding of “the fruit of the Spirit.” This is religion in practice! This is the effect of the gospel in our lives! We must avoid the fleshly life with all of its manifestations and seek to develop in our hearts and minds “the fruit of the Spirit.” Here is the very practical side of Christianity. This is what the grace of God is intended to produce. Can we see these in our lives?