GALATIANS 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). (AMP)
All of the different qualities of the fruit of the Spirit gives us a picture of Jesus Himself. He displayed perfect love to us by giving Himself for us on the cross; and He says to us, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 14:34). He experienced perfect joy: and said to us, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). He experienced perfect peace; and told us, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you …” (John 14:27). The Bible entrusts us to “the patience of Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5); reminds us of the riches of God’s “kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7); and encourages us that the good work God has begun in us will find it’s completion in “the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6). The Bible presents Jesus to us as one who is “faithful and true” (Rev. 19:11); one who, though in the form of God, “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8); one who displayed self-control in that, “for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2).
Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians in great anger and distress of heart, because the believers in Galatia were falling away from the simple message of the gospel. They were abandoning the message that a sinner is declared righteous before God as a free gift of His grace through faith in Jesus. Instead, they were falling for the lie that they could make themselves righteous before God through obedience to the Old Testament law.
False teachers had been misleading the Galatian believers into thinking that they could be made more righteous and acceptable before God on the basis of the law of Moses. And yet, the main purpose of that law was to place them in bondage until they could be redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus. And now, after having trusted in the cross of Jesus, these Christians were, in effect, denying the sufficiency of Jesus’ cross; and relying on one’s own efforts to keep the law. It was as if they had been set free from bondage by Christ; and yet were now putting the yoke of bondage back on themselves and making themselves slaves again. Paul wrote to tell them in Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage”.
The legalistic approach of those in the Galatian church made them jealous and accusatory toward one another. This was because “legalism” places the emphasis on ourselves and on our performance. It turns our focus inward, rather than toward God’s grace and toward each other’s needs.
But then, there’s the question of what to do with the law of God. Do we simply ignore the need to be holy in the way we live? Do we reject God’s law altogether? Do we forget about following the pattern of Jesus’ own holiness? Are we now to just “go with the flow”, and allow the lusts of the flesh to express themselves in us? No! The standard of holiness hasn’t changed; but what has changed is the way in which it is to be achieved in us. We are now to cease trying to make ourselves holy on the basis of our own human efforts; and instead depend completely on God’s grace and allow God’s Holy Spirit to live the life of Jesus Christ through us.