Is there a difference between the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit?

Actually, there is a vast difference. You will find the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 and Ephesians 5:9. First, notice it doesn't say "fruits" but "fruit". This is significant. The fruit comes out as life flowing out of the Spirit-filled believer. As Christians, Christ dwells in us. Once we die to ourselves, instead of trying to do good by our own efforts, He is able to live through us. In this manner, we manifest the patience that is really Christs, we manifest the love that is really Christs, we manifest the joy that is really Christs (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 13:21).

Take a look at John 15:4-8. You will notice that we are branches of the vine. Branches do not struggle to bear fruit, they naturally do as a result of being attached to the vine. So the fruit in us comes from Christ's life flowing through us. You can gain a better understanding by contrasting this to the works of the flesh. The works of the flesh are plural and they are that which naturally comes from us. As far as good works go, they are also what comes from us. Fruit, however is not our own effort. Not our own works.

You will find the gifts of the Spirit covered rather extensively in 1 Corinthians chapters 12-14. I look at the gifts as tools. It is kind of like something you are supplied with to help you get to an end. You use a hammer as an aid to building a house. The goal is not the hammer, it is the house. The same is with the gifts. They are gifts that have the goal of helping to build up the body of Christ. Let's take the gift of wisdom for example (1 Corinthians 12:8). Taking a long jump back to the time of King Solomon, we find God specially gave that man of the Old Testament this gift. Solomon wandered from serving God and began worshiping idols. The book of Ecclesiastes is a book written by Solomon after his heart had wandered from God. He still had the gift of wisdom, but since he didn't follow its dictates, he started with a pessimistic view of all is woe. Going back to 1 Corinthians you find Paul warning the Corinthians to use the gifts properly. I find that fascinating. That tells us that men are able to use God's gifts in a way God wouldn't have them used. You can't do that with fruit. Since fruit is Christ living out through you, you would not find Him violating His principals in the outflow of fruit, but you can find such a manifestation with the gifts.

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Free to Copy under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND3.0 License by Darrell Farkas
All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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