Against Such, There is No Law

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, italics added). There is no law against these specific fruit of the Spirit and other like fruit. This means several things.

First, the list Paul gives us is representative. There is other fruit. Perseverance is among them. Our Lord puts it this way. “The seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance” (Luke 18:15). The fruit of perseverance is essential. The chief fruit of the Spirit is love; but “love endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). It perseveres. This perseverance is one of the most important characteristics of a faithful pastor. Paul reminds Timothy, “You followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance” (2 Timothy 3:10). This perseverance is also a general Christian virtue. Peter connects it with self-control. “In your knowledge [supply], self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance” (2 Peter 1:6).

Second, there is no law against the fruit of the Spirit. But you expect the law to weigh in against the deeds of the flesh in your life and in the lives of those ruled by them. For example, people who live in adultery violate the Seventh Commandment. Those who practice lying violate the Ninth Commandment. “Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21). However, that which differentiates you as a believer from people of the world is your conduct; what you do and how you do it. The what is simple enough. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). You manifest love as you sincerely follow God’s law.

In addition, you manifest love by how you follow God’s law? Christ is quite clear about this too. “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:18-20). You outwardly display your commitment to Christ when the fruit of the Spirit adorns your life. You speak the truth with gentleness and patience. You honor your parents with love and joy. There is no law against such conduct.

Third, the implications from the above are not little. Augustine expounds our text in this way. “These spiritual fruits reign in one in whom sins do not reign.” John Murray, speaking of believers, says, “sin no longer reigns” [1].  What does this mean with regard to our text? The law is not imposed in judgment against the one in whom grace reigns rather than sin. But how do you know if grace and the good fruit of the Spirit rule and reign in your life? Augustine answers, “These good things reign if they are so delightful that they themselves uphold the mind in its trials from falling into sin. For whatever gives us more delight, this we necessarily perform” [2].

Fourth, these implications lead you into the assurance of your salvation. When you experience delight in the things of God, when you delight in biblical love, spiritual joy, and inner peace, God’s Spirit is working in you. When you see yourself dealing with others using patience, kindness, and gentleness, there is testimony you belong to God. When faithfulness to your word is a heartfelt priority and self-control marks your life, the Spirit Himself testifies with your spirit that you are a child of God (Romans 8:16).

Denny Prutow

[1] Collected Writings of John Murray, Systematic Theology, 280.
[2] Ancient Christian Commentary on ScriptureNew Testament, Mark J. Edwards, Ed., VIII, 90.

2019-02-01T17:36:28-04:00 February 4th, 2019|