The Fruit of the Spirit: An Introduction into the Conduct of a Believer

*NOTE: Hey Mountain Goats! This is the introduction to a brand new blog series I’ll be posting about the Fruits of the Spirit. There will be a total of NINE posts following this one that will delve into each of these fruits more specifically. Be sure to check them out as we continue to grow and journey together!

“For the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true”

Ephesians 5:9

How long has it been since you’ve considered your own conduct as a believer? What kind of witness are you reflecting in the way you treat others and the way you respond to trials?

I think it is important to consider, occasionally, how we are perceived by the world. If someone were to meet me today, would they know I was a believer based solely on my behavior? I hope so.

Christ left an example for us when He walked on earth, and gave us a Helper to stay with us when He ascended. Together they teach us to understand the message of the gospel, and show us how to more accurately reflect the glory of the Father in everything we say and do. 

I want to learn what is good and right and true, and share it with everyone around me. I want to reflect God’s glory in my actions, in my conduct, and be such an obvious Christian that people don’t have to wonder. 

So what is it? How can we go about finding what is good, right, and true? And how would I go about sharing it with the world?

The answer is found in Galatians 5:22-23: “For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

The Spirit

“But the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

John 14:26

The Spirit, I believe, is not nearly as understood as Christ or even as God. We learn about Jesus our whole lives, but tend to take for granted the immense gift of the Holy Spirit, God within us. 

The Spirit, or, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Godhead who works continually within our hearts to sanctify us. His part in our sanctification is to be here with us to help us understand more clearly the words of scripture, to live more fully the message of the gospel, and to grow internally to be more like Christ. 

The fruit of the Spirit, then is the Spirit’s character within us, filling us with Christ-like attitude. He is given to us by the Father as a Helper, a guide, so that we will not be left alone. 

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Romans 8:13-17

The Fruit

“Fruit” is a biblical analogy for the conduct of a believer. In other words, how a Christian ought to behave. There are several passages exploring the idea of fruit in the New Testament, particularly as it relates to good fruit and bad fruit. They are summarized as such:

Good fruit is that which reflects the glory and character of Christ; beautiful and tasteful, delicate but healthy. 

Bad fruit is the opposite, it reflects the world and the things of the world. It is negative and often repulsive, something you wouldn’t keep around if you had the choice. 

“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

We, as belonging to Christ, have been freed from sin. If we set our minds on things of the flesh, we cannot please God. It is impossible to “serve two masters,” flesh and God. Thus, we must set our minds on the things of God, the fruit that comes from God. 

In Philippians 4:8, Paul gives us a list of adjectives to consider and set our minds upon. We are to think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. If we fill our minds with all of this, we won’t have the time or energy to think about the negativity and repulsiveness of the rotten fruit of the world. 

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”

Matthew 3:8

Repentance is not only an outward conformity to a new commitment, but an inward dedication to righteousness. So in bearing “fruit in keeping with repentance,” we are letting the work of sanctification fertilize our hearts so that we can bear good, healthy fruit that will continue to ripen and grow. 

In Matthew 15:10-11, Jesus explains to His disciples that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth. He explains further that whatever goes into the mouth passes through the stomach and is expelled, but that whatever comes out of the mouth, this comes from the heart, and this is what defiles a person. 

The heart and mind of the Christian cannot be pure, the actions of a Christian cannot be pure, if we do not first inwardly reflect on and consider the fruits of the Spirit, the works of the Spirit, and the kingdom of God. 

Good Fruit vs Bad Fruit: Knowing the Difference

As I mentioned before, good fruit can be defined as that which reflects the glory and character of Christ. It is the distinctive set of qualities in a believer’s conduct that sets them apart from everyone else in the world.

These fruits are (Galatians 5:22-23):

  • Love
  • Joy 
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

Christ uses the fruit analogy in the gospels to explain that good fruit can only come from a good tree (foundation, center, inward growth), and that bad fruit comes from a bad tree. This is just as straightforward as it sounds, and is probably one of the clearest analogies in scripture. 

If you nurture the roots of a fruit tree, watering and caring for the leafy sprigs when they pop through the soil, and continue to nurture its trunk, branches,and leaves, and maybe even prop the tree up with some sort of support so it can stand straight and tall, then you can almost guarantee that it will eventually bear good, healthy fruit. 

On the other hand, if you plant a seed for a fruit tree and only occasionally tend to it, barely check on it, and offer no support system as it grows, then it will grow weak, crooked, and could possibly die. The fruit it bears (if any) will be contaminated, will rot, and won’t be able to be consumed.

Fruit, as mentioned above, refers to the conduct of a believer. 

  • Good fruit = good conduct
  • Bad fruit = bad conduct.  

In Galatians 5:16-23, Paul contrasts the fruit of the Spirit with the conduct of the world and with the works of flesh (sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, etc). 

These characteristics hang our place in the kingdom of heaven in the balance according to Paul in Galatians 5, the conduct that separates God’s children from the rest of the world. He says “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).

That’s heavy, the entire idea of our conduct being so important in the end. I know it’s impossible to be perfect. It is impossible to be perfectly pure in our conduct and our intentions. 

But don’t be discouraged! 

That’s why Christ came, to be the perfect branch, the perfect lamb. He set for us an example, one which we can strive to imitate.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.” 

Matthew 12:33

When Paul talks about those who practice such immoral qualities as the ones listed above, he is talking about those who are actively sinning with no desire to repent or try to live more like Christ. One sin, or even a hundred sins, is not the definitive end of your eternity. 

I do want to emphasize that everything in scripture is intentional. Everything in scripture is there because it was “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). So we should take it seriously. It is important for us as children of God to actively work on each of these good fruits as they apply to us and our daily lives. 

Conducting Ourselves

As heirs of the kingdom, we are given the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us to live our lives as repentant believers, exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit as they grow within us.

One of the most beneficial practices of our faith, is prayer. Prayer helps us build our relationship with the Father and to grow stronger in our faith. It can provide us endurance and understanding as we take this journey through the fruits of the Spirit and learn about how to effectively apply them to our lives. The Spirit will work in us to make these behaviors reality, all we have to do is ask. 

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.”

1 Peter 1:15

Over the next few months, we’ll explore each of the fruits individually, starting with Love and ending with Self-Control. I am so excited to journey through this study together, and to truly understand and apply these ideas to our daily lives! 

A Prayer for all Us Mountain Goats

My prayer for us is that we be constantly aware of the Spirit’s presence within us, working towards bearing “fruit in keeping with repentance,” and desiring an inward change. One that leads to outward growth. I pray that God may encourage us through the people around us, use them to keep us accountable to be loving, joyful, patient, and kind. I pray that we encourage one another as well, that we would be so filled with purpose and direction to serve HIS purpose, and glorify Him forever.

Supporting Verses

Proverbs 20:11
Luke 12:11-12
Romans 5:3-5
1 Timothy 4:12
James 3:13
1 Peter 2:12

Lydia Cannon

Christian, Writer, Coffee Addict

Don’t forget to check out the Recommendations page for links to other Christian organizations and Bible study tools!

How To Build a Relationship with God

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ…I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” 

Philippians 3:7-8a

How beautiful is the relationship between Paul and Christ? He counts everything as loss for the sake of Christ our King, and even refers to everything as “rubbish” or “dung” in comparison to His splendor. 

It is even more beautiful when you realize that Paul never met Christ on earth. He literally went from murdering Christians to becoming one in the matter of a week (really, a day), and went on to write most of the new testament and spread the gospel further than any of the apostles before him.

I want a relationship with God like Paul’s with Christ; one which is all consuming and fills me with bountiful, eternal joy. I want to be so filled with a passion for God that I can’t stop talking about Him, writing about Him, and sharing His truth with everyone around me, like Paul did.

So what’s stopping me? In fact, what’s preventing any of us who want to build a stronger relationship with God from doing so?

There are many facets of today’s daily life that crave our attention and time. From work and school, to friends, family, pets, and social media, our minds are constantly being pulled in every direction, horizontally.

These distractions cause us to make conscious decisions everyday that strain our relationship with God, decisions even I choose to make. And that’s not okay. 

Why is that? Why do we, who are so passionate for and constantly craving God’s presence, choose these distractions over our Creator?

Simply put, it’s easy. 

It’s easy to sleep an extra thirty minutes instead of getting up for communion with God. It’s easy to watch the next episode of a show instead of reading His Word. It’s easy to set aside time for friends or family, but never even devote five minutes to building a strong spiritual relationship with our Father.

Pushing God away is part of the fall, making it natural for us to choose against Him. What isn’t natural is setting aside time for someone we don’t know, someone we can’t physically see or hear, and it’s hard to consciously make those kinds of decisions.

Yet that’s exactly what we are called to do.

The Internal Struggle Between Right and Wrong

Building a relationship with God is a difficult endeavor. J.I. Packer, in His book Knowing God, claims “…Christian minds have been conformed to the modern spirit: the spirit, that is, that spawns great thoughts of man and leaves room for only small thoughts of God.”

Packer has recognized our passion for greatness and our lack of zeal for a God who, by nature, is Great. The contradiction of our own desires creates a burning sense of confusion among those who can’t see the magnificence of the character of God — and don’t try to.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or His ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

Isaiah 59:1-2

Our sin nature is the crux of what separates us from a desire to know God, to really desire Him, His presence, and His will. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The “natural” is our sin, our nature

That sin nature, however, can’t actually keep us from knowing God if we actively choose to seek Him. Staying active in our faith gives us access to the most extraordinary relationship in eternity (literally). It builds within us a will for something greater. God promises in Psalm 37:4 to give us the desires of our hearts if we delight ourselves in the Lord. If we choose God, our desire will be God. 

There is an internal battle between right and wrong within us, governing each decision we make. Choosing God is one thing, but overcoming sin is a whole other story.

Overcoming Sin

The first step to building a relationship with God is getting to know Him.

Just like at the start of any personal relationship, you want to know who you are going to be spending your time with, talking to, talking about, and eventually, trusting.

You also don’t want to just simply know about God. For example, I know a lot about J.R.R. Tolkien, but I don’t know him personally. It’s a personal connection you’re after, not just information.

The best way you can go about getting to know anyone is simple, you communicate.

Communion with God

Communication with our God is a privilege, one in which we are invited and called to indulge. 

 “…far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.” 

1 Samuel 12:23a-24

Many strong biblical characters have their prayers recorded within scripture: 

These Christians, as well as countless others in scripture alone, are great examples of what a healthy relationship with the Father looks like. However, the most perfect example of this is the one established for us by Christ.

Jesus kept a constant communication with God. He prayed during His 40 days of temptation in the desert (Matt. 4:1-11), before every meal (Matt. 14:19), and for hours before he was brought before Pilate for his trial and crucifixion (John 17).

In Matthew 6:5-15, Jesus teaches us the benefits of communicating with God, and provides a model for prayer that many churches still follow today.

Prayer alone isn’t enough, though. We must continuously be listening for God’s response. Relationships are not one-way. God does hear us, and God does reply:

  • God’s voice is everywhere (Ps. 29:3)
  • God’s voice is powerful and full of majesty (Ps. 29:4)
  • God’s voice flashes forth flames of fire (Ps. 29:7)
  • God’s voice thunders wondrously (Job 37:5)
  • God’s voice can, however, appear through a whisper (1 Kings 19:9-12)

God is our Shepherd. If we know Him, we will know His voice (John 10:14-16).

Characteristics of a Healthy Spiritual Relationship

God has not left us alone. There is a whole community of believers around the world who are studying God’s word, building their own relationships, and sharing their knowledge with us just like Paul did with the churches of the New Testament.

One of these believers is, in fact, J. I. Packer. In Knowing God, he breaks down some of the visible signs that one has built a healthy relationship with God. These characteristics encompass active efforts of faith that grow as we get closer to Him.

Those Who Know God Have Great Energy for God

Our actions are reactions to a culture that is notably opposed to the Christian worldview and to God as a whole. When people disrespect God’s name, we should be spurred into action. 

“People who know their God are people who pray, and the first point where their zeal and energy comes to expression is through prayer.”

Packer, 1973, p. 28

Having Great Thoughts of God

This contrasts the small thoughts of God mentioned earlier. We have to set aside room in our minds for great thoughts of God, which are evident in the examples set by Daniel: 

“Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons, He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom. He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells within Him.”
Daniel 2:20-21

“O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with all who love Him and obey His commandments…The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving…the Lord our God is righteous in everything that He does.”
Daniel 9:4-14

Daniel recognized God in a way that was outwardly expressive and gave Him glory. He risked his life (many times, actually) to glorify and praise God.

Showing Great Boldness for God 

To use the example of Daniel once again, he was quite literally thrown to the lions because he wouldn’t compromise his faith. He was imprisoned, threatened, and persecuted, yet he never stopped praising God.

In Daniel 6, King Darius goes to see if Daniel is still alive in the lions’ den. The first thing Daniel does is exclaim God’s hand in his life/survival, then pleas for redemption from the king’s punishment. Because of this, Darius writes a decree addressing God as a living God, and Daniel prospered. 

God is with Us

If we exhibit these three characteristics, then seeking God our Father, our Savior, our King, will become more natural. We will long for communion with Him and desire that everlasting relationship we as Christians have been promised as a result of the resurrection of Christ.

“Let the Bible be the place where God meets you…let the Bible be the place where you speak back to Him.”

John Piper

We serve an active and living God who has invited us to be adopted into His kingdom. Our walk of faith is a response to the grace of our Creator, our Redeemer, our King.

We are His children and He is with us every step of the journey.

A Prayer for All of Us Mountain Goats

I could go on for pages about the love of God and the examples of that love in scripture. It is so great, that we can’t fully understand it. When I consider the overwhelming presence of His love, I am flooded with joy and I know that God is here, actively communicating with me even as I write this. 

My prayer for you—and one I pray for my own friends, family, and also myself—is that you will be filled with a deep hunger and passion to experience God’s love firsthand. I pray this passion inspires you to learn about God, grow within His Spirit, and entirely praise His majesty.

Lydia Cannon

Christian, Writer, Coffee Addict

Supporting Verses

Proverbs 3:12
Isaiah 9:6
Matthew 19:5
John 20:21
Ephesians 2:18
1 John 3:1
John 10:29
Psalm 68:5
Luke 10:27
John 3:16
Romans 5:8
Philippians 4:19
Ephesians 5:23
Colossians 1:18

Don’t forget to check out the Recommendations page for links to other Christian organizations and Bible study tools!