In Acts 2:38, Peter preached the gospel to thousands of people at one time. When many of them wanted to respond, he instructed them all, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
In Acts 19:2-5, Paul became deeply troubled when he met some men who said that they had been baptized, but that they did not have the Holy Spirit:
“He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said to him, ‘No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ And they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
In John 3:5, Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Notice something about all three of these passages: they emphasize the importance of the Holy Spirit in baptism and spiritual rebirth.
Galatians 5:22-23 gives a beautiful list of positive character traits, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” All of these traits, we are told, are the fruit of the Spirit.
It is no wonder that the Spirit is so important, if these things are the fruit that follows from Him. If these things are the fruit of the Spirit, how can we expect to have them without first having the Spirit? That would be like trying to create an apple without first having an apple tree, or painting a tennis ball orange and claiming it is an orange, or planting soybeans and hoping they sprout into corn. As with any other fruit, if you want the fruit of the Spirit, get the Spirit, and then you can enjoy His fruit. It’s the only way.
This is why producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is not simply about “trying harder” or just “being a good person.” Until we are washed in Christ’s blood and filled with His Spirit, we can never hope to be righteous in His sight. As Isaiah 64:6 says, “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.”
May we spread the good news about Jesus’ blood and God’s Spirit, and the wonderful things they can do, and rather than grieving that Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), may we all make that Spirit welcome in our hearts and lives, that we may enjoy His fruit.