Paul the Apostle undoubtedly is the most well-known apologist of the Scriptures. In fact he was responsible for writing nine letters to the early churches and four to individual Christians, all persevered in the New Testament. They contain vital information on the nature of salvation through Jesus Christ, and how Christians should live in view of their salvation.
One Pauline theme that repeats itself is the contrast between those who are in Christ and those who are in the flesh. That contrast is evident because of differences in conduct between the two groups. A good example can be found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 6. In verses 9 and 10 he writes, ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.’ Then, in the next verse he observes, ‘And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.’
The conduct of those in the flesh is clearly spelled out. Then Paul goes on to explain in the next ten chapters changes that must take place in the lives of those who are sanctified and justified in Jesus by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:11).
We find an almost identical theme in Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Toward the end of Chapter 5 he comes up with this: ‘Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practise such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.’ (vs 19-21)
Then by contrast, he lists what he defines as fruit of the Spirit which characterise those who are led by the Spirit (v 18). ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law (v 22).
They ‘have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (v 24)’
I’ll pause here to make a note of caution, because to reap this fruit a huge transformation must first take place in the mind of the believer (Romans 12:1, 2).
The fruit is not a spontaneous gift of the Spirit after conversion. Like any good fruit, it takes time to grow and mature before it can be tasted and enjoyed. A new-born Christian has to work at producing fruit of the Spirit. He has to renew the ways in which he thinks and behaves; he has to put off the old and put on the new (Romans 12:1, 2).
As he walks in the Spirit, worldly thoughts and actions must no longer be part of him; for, ‘If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:25).
In keeping with this, ’……. put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24)’.