Greg explains what role the fruit of the Spirit plays in the life of the Christian and whether it's an indicator of regeneration.
00:07 It's a basic teaching of Christianity that when a person receives the free
00:13 gift of forgiveness— In other words, it's not something you earn. You can't buy it.
00:18 You can only receive it, okay? —that something changes inside. It's called
00:26 regeneration, or the new birth, and this new birth has consequences. So there are
00:32 lots of people who say they believe in Jesus, but you look at their lives, and it
00:39 seems there's not the slightest bit of evidence that they're actually trying to
00:43 follow Jesus at all, and that's not a good sign.
00:46 James gives us reason to question the legitimacy of the genuine faith of that
00:53 person. "Show me a faith without works, he says, "and I will show you my faith by my
01:01 works." Now of course, works don't save you, faith does, but a faith that saves is a
01:08 faith that makes a difference in the way we behave. Okay, so this is all standard
01:13 Christianity. Now, the question: The fruits of the
01:16 spirit — are those necessary things or necessary evidences of the fact that
01:23 we're Christians such that if we don't see those fruits of the Spirit in our
01:28 lives, this indicates that we're not really
01:30 Christian? Now, the fruits of the spirit come to us from Galatians, and they are
01:34 love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and
01:41 self-control. They're not instantaneous. They're something that grow over time.
01:45 The best evidence that we are Christians is not the fruit of the Spirit but
01:53 obedience to God in the moral conduct of our lives,
01:58 okay? So let me clarify this so it's not misunderstood. As we become Christians, we
02:03 participate in good works. This is a phrase that's used many times. Titus
02:07 chapter 3, for example, Ephesians chapter 2 — These are two passages that
02:13 talk about by grace we are saved or God saves us, but the result of it is that we
02:21 engage in good works. Now, can you engage your good works without demonstrating
02:26 significant amounts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness,
02:30 faithfulness, and self-control? The answer to that is yes, I think. And that's the
02:35 issue. If you say you're a follower of Christ, but you're living in
02:39 consistent, persistent, willful sin, bad sign. If, rather, the trajectory of your
02:46 life is after the spirit, and you are seeking to live in a way that brings
02:50 pleasure to God then, you know, that's an evidence that you really are born again.
02:57 Well then, where do the fruits of the Spirit fit in? I think the fruits of the
03:00 Spirit are evidence of maturing in Christ, not evidence of being a Christian.
03:07 And I think about some of those fruits myself. You know, I've been a Christian
03:11 for 45 years and, you know, I'm still praying about some of those fruits
03:17 being produced in my life. Think about them: Love. Joy.
03:23 Peace. Patience. Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-control. Did I get them
03:34 all? I'm not sure. But you get the point. Wow. You know, sometimes we are pretty
03:38 good in one, but then the other ones we're not doing so good. Get through a
03:41 hard time, maybe we don't feel so joyful. You have kids, you're raising kids,
03:45 I'm not very patient, you know. So we go back and forth in those kinds of things,
03:49 and generally speaking, I think what ought to be happening is there's a
03:53 general progression of upward improvement in a trajectory regarding
04:00 those spiritual fruits. But I would never put that on somebody else's shoulder to
04:07 say, "Well, you don't have enough joy, so maybe you don't know the Lord," or
04:11 something like that, because I'd be guilty of that too, myself, at certain
04:14 times in my life. Or any of the other fruits of the Spirit. These are things
04:19 the Holy Spirit builds over time, they are not something that start to happen
04:23 immediately after we become Christians. Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is the
04:31 fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of your efforts. Good works — the things that
04:37 identify you as a follower of Christ before the world — that, I think, is more
04:42 fruit of our own efforts. Of course, we have to trust God for it, but it's in a
04:46 totally different category than the fruit of the Spirit.