Being born again is evident by the presence of God’s Spirit in us (Rom. 8:9). This series continues with that evidence as defined in Galatians 5:22-23.
“The fruit of the Spirit is goodness.”
A deliberate and persistent preference for right over wrong, moral beauty over indecency, generosity over greed, the Spirit’s goodness is the unique evidence of the new birth in Christ. In a world punctuated with antithetical qualities, the Spirit’s goodness truly “stands out in a crowd” as Leon Morris notes “there appear to be no examples of the use of the term [goodness, ἀγαθωσύνη] in classical writers” (Galatians, p. 174).
- The Spirit’s goodness is reflected by virtue of being a child of light. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness)” (Eph 5:8–9). As God is good to Israel by giving her abundant provision in the promised land (Neh. 9:24-25), so do God’s children reflect generosity toward others showing themselves to be children of light.
- The Spirit’s goodness is so plainly evident in all believers that it is overwhelmingly obvious. “I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness” (Rom 15:14). This is no up-talk or positive speak trying to lift the psychological spirits of his readers. Paul is “convinced” God had done his work in the Roman believers. So too for every believer. The Spirit’s “persistent preference for right over wrong, moral beauty over indecency, generosity over greed” is clear.
- Goodness of the Spirit is not deposited in one lump sum, but must be something that is pursued more and more. “With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness” (2 Thess. 1:11). Believers not only have the Spirit’s goodness, but desire more and more of it.