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The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-25 describe the fruit of the Spirit thusly:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  

It is acknowledged that, while the Gifts of the Spirit are selectively awarded as the Holy Spirit wills, theologians, pastors, and bible commentators all agree that the Fruit of the Spirit are universal and mandatory.  In almost all translations, the word "fruit" is singular rather than plural, further implying that there is a difference between the Gifts and the Fruit: no one is expected to manifest all the gifts of the Spirit, but all are expected to manifest all of these virtues. 

The usage of a singular noun to label a specific set of named items complicates communication when it is necessary to focus on specific virtues.  Thus, I will use the phrase "Fruit virtue" or "Fruit virtues" when talking about faith, peace, or joy, while using the capitalized singular noun "Fruit" when referring to the entire set.

It is regrettable, although inevitable in hindsight, that many Christians have come to view the above passage as the New Testament equivalent of an expansion of the Ten Commandments, with "goodness" embracing and encompassing the keeping of those Commandments.  This view essentially says "You thought keeping the Ten Commandments was hard, just realize that keeping them is only a part of ONE of the NINE virtues that make up the Fruit of the Spirit that the Christian has to produce!"  If these Fruit virtues are to be viewed as commandments to be kept that are at least nine times harder than the Ten Commandments, then one would be better off staying, or becoming, Jewish rather than Christian!

However, my experience says otherwise: these are not "sanctified" works of the flesh, but make up the Fruit of the Spirit which is produced by the Spirit.  The eradication of sinful compulsions through cooperation with the Spirit using the Variance Management Protocol is merely ONE aspect of ONE of these Fruit virtues of the Spirit (temperance), and thus proof that protocol development to encourage cooperation between Host and Symbiote can help grow the other fruit virtues.   After all, I remind you, every religious teacher says that ALL are required.  If one can be generated by a methodology, then all of them can!  Put in another way, the individual fruit virtues are isopistic: If we have faith that allows the Holy Spirit to grow any one of them in our life, then that faith is sufficient to enable Him to grow all of them in our life.  We may not believe so based on the relative difficulty of producing a particular fruit, but such a belief is illusory and deceptive, as I can personally attest.

A look at the Works of the Flesh may be of help to see how the Fruit of the Spirit factors into the subject at hand:

19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Works of the Flesh are a mix of actions and mental attitudes.  I've identified the mental attitudes by italicizing them.  In contrast, six of the nine Fruit virtues of the Spirit are totally mental in origin, with "temperance" and "goodness" implemented by physical action (or inaction).  Those who have tried to control their passions or their appetites have realized that success in "action" in those areas requires having a right "mind" to start with, and a lot of mental fortitude to follow through to completion.  Thus, we see that the Fruit of the Spirit is both the spiritual and mental foundations of all Christian action.

And at the foundation of working the mental aspect of Christian Living is the control of neurotransmitters. Maybe deciding to specialize in affecting those brain chemicals to implement a list of mental virtues in the new believer isn't as bad or lame a move on the part of the Holy Spirit as one would be tempted to think! 

I think that it is in the Fruit of the Spirit that Stage 1 methodologies will make sense to those who do not have compulsions.  Despite the best of home environments, who has not had problems with any of the Fruit virtues of the Spirit?  Who has not felt unloving or unloved?  Who has not experienced the blues that seem causeless and baseless, yet seem unending and nearly immortal?  Who has not needed patience in some situations?  Who has not needed to be more gentle with those who irritate us?  We are honest Christians trying to do the right thing, so we don't deliberately plan to do any of these actions.  Often, inability to display the Fruit of the Spirit is due to unplanned reactions, not planned ones.  More specifically, these are reactions that are the consequence of us blindly selecting thoughts that are quickly (and helpfully!) generated by the human heart.  When it comes to the Fruit virtue that is most often the victim of sudden events, we don't as much choose the patience menu option when we get unexpectedly exasperated as that we reflexively choose the exasperation menu option rather than turn it down and wait for the patience menu option to become available via the Spirit's imposition.

What else can the Spirit, with our cooperation, do with this same amount of faith?

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