Controlled Behavior is Not a Fruit of the Spirit

by Feb 17, 2017

Controlled Behavior is not a Fruit of the Spirit

Have you ever heard someone say something like, “I need to be more patient, more peaceful, or rejoice more,” or “I need to exercise more self control.” Words such as these are typically spoken when someone is trying to DO the fruit of the Spirit. The problem is, we were never called or even expected to do the fruit, but rather we should experience it. It is God’s fruit and not our own so we cannot produce it. What is happening here is the confusion between the fruit of the Spirit —which is God’s transformation— and a futile attempt to control ones behavior.

Controlling our behavior – or attempting to conform our behavior to the truth – is something we may be able to do for a time, but then so can any unbeliever who wants to do so. There is a major difference in controlled behavior and the spiritual fruit of self-control. One is of God and the other is of our flesh. One is the outcome of a renewed mind and transformation, while the other is a result of self-effort. One is conformity to an idea or a perceived expectation, while the other is transforming into God’s  image. (Rom. 8:29) God desires that we be transformed, but He is not impressed with our attempts in conformity.


Genuine transformation is a work of God alone.

Our attempts to conform our behavior to the truth are not spiritual, but rather carnal, and based upon our own capabilities and self-effort. This effort is no different than us trying to keep the Law, which no person has ever succeeded in doing. Failure is unavoidable. The truth is, any “success” in our efforts to conform our behavior to the truth of the Bible is no different than what the Buddhists do in conforming their lives to the teachings of Buddha.

Unless we are walking in the Spirit of Christ as He is living in and through us, we are operating in our flesh, no matter how well we perform. The biblical approach to transformation is not one of self-achievement, but rather “… it is not longer I who live, but Christ…” (Gal. 2:20)  Trying to control our behavior creates a glaring problem  – it requires continual maintenance and provides only a temporary “fix.”  If we ever loosen our grip on our attempts to control our behavior, we will eventually revert back to former behavior patterns.

Transformation, however, is permanent, eternal, and effortless, producing “good works” which are the fruit of His Spirit. Transformation is like salvation,”…  it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10). His fruit requires no effort on our part to maintain. It is a work of God changing us from one state to another. When His fruit flows effortlessly through us, we will not have to try to act like the fruit, the fruit will be what we are. Rather than trying to act loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled, we will be these things.

The transformation that God has for us is the outcome of His work alone, the outcome of a purified faith that only God can bring about. When I know the truth in faith, then my life will be transformed by His truth. Faith is knowing the truth experientially, with an absolute certainty that supersedes the intellect because it is established in the heart. God desires us to know the truth beyond our intellect. He wants us to know it with the heart – to “… know the love of Christ which SURPASSES knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:19)

Stop trying to act like the fruit and allow His Spirit to transform you into the fruit. Be the fruit!