Is the Fruit of the Spirit Necessary for Salvation?

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.

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Greg Koukl