Growing to Look Like Jesus
By Kathy Howard
“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
You may be familiar with the passage in Paul’s letter to the Christians in Galatia that lists the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
In Galatians 5:22, the word “fruit” is translated from the Greek word karpos. According to Mounces Complete Expository Dictionary, karpos refers to the natural product of a living thing. Primarily used to describe the literal physical product of trees, vines, and crops, karpos is also used metaphorically to refer to the natural product of a spiritual being. Paul used karpos to help us understand the natural product of the Holy Spirit, who lives inside every believer. The fruit of the Spirit then is produced by the Spirit, not by the Christian.
Obviously, an individual cannot display the “fruit of the Spirit” unless the Spirit is present in that person’s life. The Bible tells us that when a person places his or her faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, God provides and guarantees their salvation by placing His Spirit within them (Titus 3:4-7 and Ephesians 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit takes up residence or “indwells” every person who has a saving relationship with Jesus. If you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit living within you (Romans 8:9-11).
Yet, like physical fruit needs time to grow, the fruit of the Spirit will not ripen in our lives overnight. Like a successful gardener must battle against weeds and disease to enjoy the sweet fruit they desire, we must constantly work to rid our lives of the “weeds” of our sinful natures that want to choke out the work of the Spirit.
The great news is, the Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to reject those sinful desires and yield our wills to what the Spirit wants in our lives. We can say “no” to sin and accept the “way out” God faithfully provides (1 Corinthians 10:13) by following the Holy Spirit’s leading.
Then, as we give the Spirit more and more control of our lives, He begins to do in and through us what only He can do. The Spirit’s endgame – His primary goal - is to shape us and grow us to look like Jesus.
From the moment of salvation until the end of our lives on this earth, the Holy Spirit works to transform our nature and character to reflect Christ’s. Since God’s goal for all His children is for us to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29), the Holy Spirit constantly works to rid our lives of the “acts of the sinful nature” (Gal 5:19) and display His fruit instead. Therefore, the presence of the “fruit of the Spirit” is evidence that our character is becoming more like Christ’s.
Editor’s Note: The following was adapted from What Is the Fruit of the Spirit? by Kathy Howard. To read the full article, follow this link.