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Reproducing Spiritual Fruit

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: Romans 7:5–6

The Christian life is a growing relationship with the living Lord. As that relationship flourishes, it will naturally produce a Spirit-controlled life that mirrors the character and conduct of Jesus Christ.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, most adults do not eat all that well. And it is not because they cannot but because they choose not to. The Center reported some time ago that only one out of ten adults get enough servings of fruit in a typical day.[1] And I must admit to you that if I am given the choice between a banana and a chocolate-covered doughnut, well, you can just keep the banana.

The Bible does not tell us how much fruit we ought to eat—although there’s no doubt we ought to eat more of it. But the Bible does tell us there is something very important about a certain kind of fruit that should be a big part of our lives every day; it is spiritual fruit. We do not eat this fruit; we reproduce it. We are to bear spiritual fruit.

As we continue in Romans 7, the apostle Paul talks about this very issue. He wrote in verse 4 that we “belong to another [that is, Christ], who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.”

And as we’ve learned already, all believers have been married to Christ, as His bride. The church is the bride of Christ. And now we effectively reproduce the fruit of our union with Christ—which is spiritual fruit for the glory of God.

In verse 5 Paul makes it clear that apart from Christ, no one can produce genuine spiritual fruit:

For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

In other words, those without Christ cannot reproduce the life of Christ. They can produce ceremonies and rituals and pilgrimages and religious festivals and traditions. But they are “living in the flesh,” and no matter how hard the flesh tries, it cannot produce that which leads to life but only that which leads to death.

So, what does genuine spiritual fruit look like? I mentioned in our last study the fruit of godly speech and the fruit of sacrificial giving. Now I want to point out some more fruit that a believer reproduces.

We could call the next one the fruit of clean conduct. This is the desire of your Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus, for you, His bride. He wants to clean up your life. That process began at salvation and continues until the day it is completed at His appearing; so, keep in mind the Lord is not going to finish the job until He glorifies you with a new body that no longer has a fallen nature. Paul writes in Philippians 1:6, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Another fruit we are to reflect in our lives is the character of Christ.

This brings us back to verses 5 and 6, where Paul makes a contrast between how we lived as unbelievers and how we live now:

For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Paul’s point here, extending back into Romans chapter 6, is that in Christ, we are no longer under the law. We have been released from the law and joined to Christ. Now this does not mean we are free to run around sinning, doing as we please; it means we are free to serve our new Master—the Lord Jesus.

And those who are serving their new Master act like it. So, what is the fruit of that relationship? Paul answers that over in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”

Notice that this list is not called the fruits of the Spirit but the fruit of the Spirit. God is not producing the fruit of love in some believers over here and the fruit of patience in some believers over here and the fruit of kindness in a few believers over there. It is all one fruit.

And keep in mind that this leaves no room for self-congratulation or self-pride. In fact, we should correct our theological vocabulary. We say, “That sister in Christ sure is a peaceful Christian” or “That brother in Christ sure seems to be a joyful person.” The truth is, they are not peaceful or joyful in and of themselves. They are simply responding to the Spirit of God, whose joy and peace is evident in their lives; they are bearing it out in their conduct and character. 

That is why this is called the fruit of the Spirit. It is not called the fruit of Stephen or the fruit of Susan or Bill or Tom. It is the reproduction of Christ’s character as the believer submits to the work of the Holy Spirit.

There’s another mistaken notion in the church today, and that is the idea that we will get patience down perfect, and then we will move on to goodness; then once we have mastered goodness, we will work on joy and then move on to love. No, beloved, there is just one fruit with many expressions. The fruit of the Spirit is not like individual apples on a limb; it is more like grapes in one cluster.

If the Spirit of God is in control of a believer’s life, it will be evidenced in these areas of life. Obviously, certain qualities of conduct and character will be more evident than others at times. But the truth remains: bearing fruit is not so much a list of rules to follow as it is a relationship with the Lord—it is submission to the Spirit of God, who develops this fruit in us.

I remember reading that it was Alexander Graham Bell who advised the parents of a little girl named Helen to send for a teacher from the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts. That teacher was Anne Sullivan, a nineteen-year-old orphan. She was chosen for the task of instructing that little six-year-old blind, deaf, and mute girl named Helen Keller. After weeks of hard work, Anne was finally able to connect the letters she pressed into Helen’s hand with actual objects.

Within two years, Helen was reading and writing Braille fluently. At age ten Helen learned different sounds by placing her fingers on her teacher’s throat and feeling the vibrations. Later, Helen went to college, where Anne spelled every single lecture into Helen’s hand. Their nearly fifty years of companionship ended when Anne died in 1936. Helen wrote these endearing words about her lifelong friend who had become her eyes, her ears, and her mouth:

My teacher is so near to me that I scarcely think of myself apart from her. . . . I feel that her being is inseparable from my own, and that the footsteps of my life are in hers. All the best of me belongs to her—there is not a talent, or an inspiration or a joy in me that has not been awakened by her loving touch.[2]

In many ways, what Anne Sullivan was to Helen Keller, Jesus Christ, our Bridegroom, is to every believer. He touches, as it were, our eyes, our mouth, our ears, our hands, and our heart. He is our inseparable Friend who is so near to us that we cannot think of ourselves apart from Him.

So, let’s ask God’s Spirit to reproduce in our lives—for others to see—the fruit of our relationship with Him as we walk with Christ today.

[1]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables,” Press Release, November 16, 2017,

[2] Helen Keller, The Story of My Life, Dover Thrift Edition (Dover Publications, 1996), 20.

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