Faith and Fruit
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (vv. 22–23).- Galatians 5:19-23
The topic of assurance of salvation is not always a part of conversations about spiritual growth, which is unfortunate because our progress in spiritual maturity is enhanced when we know that we belong to Jesus. Assurance of salvation is a strong motivating factor for holy living. Our love for Christ cannot help but increase when we are certain that He calls us His own. In turn, this love moves us to keep His commandments, which helps us advance in holiness. The cycle then repeats itself continually, for our advancement in holiness increases our assurance, strengthens our love for Jesus, and motivates us to keep His commandments (John 14:15–17; 1 John 2:4; 3:24).
Ultimately, assurance is grounded in the person and work of Christ. His life, death, resurrection, and intercession reveal His full ability to save those who trust in Him. Any confidence we have in our redemption is a confidence that is rooted in His perfect and effectual work. Nevertheless, we all wrestle with the existential question of how we can be certain that our faith in the One who saves us is genuine. Individually, we know that we have real trust in Christ if we can find any indication of love in our hearts for the biblical Jesus. Unbelievers hate God and run from Him (Rom. 3:11); therefore, those whom the Spirit has called to the Savior will feel affection for Him, no matter how weak this affection may seem at times.
Of course, authentic love for the Savior is never a private matter. It manifests itself publicly, as James 2:14–26 teaches. Those with true affection for Christ eagerly serve the church and the world, manifesting the merciful character of God toward the repentant. Such works cannot earn our salvation (Gal. 2:15–16), but they demonstrate the living faith by which we lay hold of our Savior’s benefits.
As an inevitable, necessary result of true faith, these works reveal that the Spirit is working within us to make us bear fruit. Over time, this fruit, in the form of our dispositions and deeds, is increasingly manifested in our lives. Thus, we should be able to find at least some evidence of all the fruit of the Spirit listed in today’s passage, even if it is barely discernible. As we progress in holiness, this fruit will grow and mature, and we will become more and more like Christ Jesus.
Scripture is clear that sinless perfection is impossible in this life (1 John 1:8–9), so we will never exhibit any of the fruit of the Spirit flawlessly on this side of glory. Nevertheless, there is a difference between those who do not exhibit the fruit at all and those who exhibit the fruit intermittently, between those who want to bear fruit and those who do not care at all about the work of the Spirit. If we are bearing spiritual fruit in any way, we belong to Jesus.
Passages for Further Study