Ephesians 5:9
It is shown or seen in all the forms of "goodness and righteousness and truth." The good, the right, the true, are only to be realized through the light that streams from the Sun of righteousness - "the true light" that "now shineth." The apostle says the fruit, not the fruits, of the light - as if to show that it takes all the three colors to make this light. Christianity would be a very imperfect; manifestation of God if a single one of these elements were missing from the true light.

I. GOODNESS. It is spoken of elsewhere as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and therefore is not mere beneficence, for it has its source in religious principle. This excellence, in its various aspects of kindness and generosity, is kindled by the light that illuminates the understanding.

II. RIGHTEOUSNESS. The light which communicates a knowledge of righteousness to the mind also infuses a love of righteousness into the affections. This principle has a due sense of Divine obligation, and subjects the believer in every relation of life to the guidance of Divine Law.

III. TRUTH. This is a direct emanation of the light. It is religious truth, working ultimately to truth of character in all the genuine forms of Christian life. - T.C.

For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.
1. The author, the Holy Spirit.

2. The fruits of His sanctifying operations enumerated, "All goodness, and righteousness, and truth."This is the conversation that may be called "Walking as children of the light."

1. The apostle, for example's sake, mentioneth some parts of the holy life, not to exclude, but imply the rest; for there is a secret "and such like" understood. When he saith, "This is the fruit of the Spirit," you must not think it is all. When we bring a sample of a commodity we bring a little to show the quality of the rest, not as if that were all we had to sell: so these graces are mentioned, but not to exclude the rest.

2. He instanceth in such cases as concern the second table, kindness, justice, and fidelity, as is usual in such cases. The world is most capable of knowing and approving these things, but they suppose higher graces; for all our goodness, justice, and truth must come from love and obedience to God, and faith in Christ, as their true and proper principle, or else they are but moral virtues, not Christian graces (Job 1:1; Luke 23:50).

3. These are spoken of as in combination. We must not so follow after one as to neglect the other.

4. I observe that there is a note of universality joined to the word goodness. "All goodness," to show this is of chief regard, and that we must not be good in one sort or kind only, but "fruitful in every good work (Colossians 1:10). A Christian should he made up of goodness; his very constitution and trade must be goodness.

5. I observe that these are called fruit, not only by a Hebraism, who are wont to express the works of a man by the term "fruit"; for man is, or should be, a tree of righteousness; but there is a distinction: Galatians 5:19, 22, now the "works of the flesh" are manifest, but "the fruit of the Spirit"; so also here compare the text with ver. 11, "Unfruitful works of darkness." But why is it called "fruit"? Partly to show it is the native and genuine product of the Spirit in our hearts, as fruit groweth on a tree; and partly to show that sin is an unprofitable drudgery, but holiness is fruit.

6. All these graces, and duties consequent, are fruits of the Spirit.

7. He speaks of habits, not of acts. When the soul is thus constituted it is hard to do otherwise.

8. These are ascribed to the Spirit for two reasons.(1) Partly because of man's incapacity to produce these things of himself.(2) And partly because all the effects carry such a resemblance with the Spirit.(9) This Spirit God has sent us by the preaching of the gospel. We receive the Spirit more plentifully by the gospel than by the law, and we receive it by faith in Christ.Having made this way, I come now to propound a particular point.

1. That the Spirit which we receive by the gospel worketh all goodness in the hearts of believers.

I. What is goodness? I answer — Goodness is either moral or beneficial.

1. Moral goodness is our whole duty required by the law of God, whatever is just and equal for us to perform (Deuteronomy 30:15).

2. There is beneficial goodness, which is a branch of the former, and implieth a readiness to do good to others to the utmost of our capacity; for all good is communicative of itself (Hebrews 13:16).

II. That this is the fruit and product of the Spirit by the gospel.First: What the gospel doth to promote this goodness in the world.

1. By the laws and precepts of it, or the duties it requireth; it requireth us to be good and to do good.(1) To be good; for we are first made good before we can do good (Luke 6:45).(2) To do good, both as to God and men.(a) As to God, the great duty is love; that we should love Him, and obey Him as our rightful Lord and chief good and happiness.(b) To do good to men (Galatians 6:10). We cannot take delight in all, for some are an offence to the new nature which is in us; but we must do good to all, and seek their happiness. We cannot take pleasure in sinners, but yet must do them good. Suppose they have disobliged us, yet enemies are not excepted (Matthew 5:44).

2. By the discoveries it maketh. The greatest, truest, and fullest prospect of God's goodness to mankind we have in the gospel. There "the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared" (Titus 3:4).

3. The examples it propoundeth to our imitation, not mean and blemished ones, such as we may find among our fellow creatures, but the high and glorious examples of God and Christ Himself.

4. The arguments by which it enforceth this goodness, or the rewards and encouragements which it offereth, which is the supreme blessedness or the chief good.Secondly: Upon what grounds we may expect the Spirit to cooperate herewith.

1. Because God worketh congruously, as with respect to the subject upon which He worketh, so with respect to the object by which He worketh. The subject is the heart of man, and therefore He "draweth us with the cords of a man" (Hosea 11:4). The object is the gospel, a good word, or the good knowledge of God, and therefore a suitable means to work goodness in us. There we have good precepts and good promises, and an account of God's wonderful goodness and love in Christ; and "therefore the fruit of His Spirit is in all goodness."

2. The Spirit produceth this effect as a witness of the truth of the gospel, which being a supernatural doctrine, needed to be attested from heaven, that the truth of it might be known by the mighty power of God which doth accompany it, working in our hearts effects suitable to the tenor of the word. Whatever doctrine can change the soul of man, and convert it to God, is of God, and owned by God.

3. That thereby God may signify His peculiar and elective love to His people. When He worketh all goodness in their hearts by His Spirit, they come to discern that He loveth them by a special love.

4. God maketh an offer of His grace to invite us to seriousness in attending on this gospel. He excludeth none in the offer, and therefore we must not exclude ourselves. That one choice fruit of the Spirit wrought in the children of light is righteousness.

I. What is righteousness? Sometimes it is taken as largely as holiness, for that grace which doth incline us to perform our duty to God and man; for there is a righteousness even in godliness, or giving God His due honour and worship (Matthew 22:21). More strictly it is taken for that grace which doth dispose and incline us to give everyone his due, and is a branch of that love and charity which is the sum of the whole second table (Romans 13:7, 8). To evidence which — First: What is the office and part of justice and righteousness? To seek the peace and welfare of the several communities and societies in which we live, or in preferring the public good before our own.

2. To give to every man his due; to use faithful dealing in all the duties we owe to others, or in all actions wherein we are employed and entrusted by others.

3. Fidelity in our relations is another part of justice; for all these relations imply a right which is due to others. So we must be just to superiors and inferiors.Secondly: To what a height Christianity advanceth these things.

1. Because it deduceth things from a higher principle, the fixed principle of a nature renewed by Christ. There are in it three things —

(1)Another nature put into us, a fixed principle;

(2)And this by the Spirit's operation, and so it is a supernatural principle;

(3)This working after a kindly manner, by faith in Christ, and love to God in Christ, and so it is a forcible principle.

2. Because it measureth and directeth things by a more perfect rule than the law of nature. Our rule is God's Word, which is a more pure and perfect rule than so much of the law as remaineth written upon man's heart after the Fall.

3. Because it referreth them to a more noble end, which is the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

II. That this is one of the fruits of the Spirit. It must needs be so, because it suiteth with His office and personal operations. The Spirit is to be our guide, sanctifier, and comforter. As our guide, He doth direct and enlighten our minds; as our sanctifier, He doth change our hearts; and as our comforter, He doth pacify and clear and quiet our consciences. Now this fruit of righteousness is conducible to all these ends, or agreeable with these offices.

III. It is a choice fruit of the Spirit.

1. Because it conduceth so much to the good of human society.

2. Because of the many promises of God, both as to the world to come and the present life.

3. That to make a Christian complete in his carriage towards men, to goodness and righteousness there must be added truth. Let me inquire here —

(1)What is truth.

(2)That it must be made conscience of by the children of light.

(3)Why truth must be added to goodness and righteousness.

I. What is meant by truth? Sincerity or uprightness in all our speeches and dealings with men. But because integrity of life, and uprightness in our commerce and dealings with others, is a great branch of righteousness, therefore here we must consider it as an opposite to falsehood or a lie in speech; yet not excluding either godly sincerity, which is the root of it: "Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts" (Psalm 2:6); or internal integrity and righteousness (Jeremiah 5:1). The matter of a lie is falsehood, the formality of it is an intention to deceive; the outward sign is speech. Gestures are a sign by which we discover our mind, but an imperfect sign; the special instrument of human commerce is speech. Now there is a two-fold lying — a lying to God, and a lying to men.

II. Why must it be made conscience of by the children of light, or those who are "light in the Lord"? I answer For these reasons:

1. Because it is a sin most contrary to the nature of God, who is truth itself; it is not only contrary to His will but to His nature: Titus 1:2, "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." He can do all things, but He cannot lie.

2. Because when God was incarnate, and came not only to represent the goodness of the Divine nature, but also the holiness of it as a pattern for our imitation, Jesus Christ, this God incarnate, was eminent for this part of holiness, for sincerity and truth (1 Peter 2:22).

3. Nothing maketh us more like the devil, who is a liar from the beginning, and the father of lies (John 8:44).

4. It is a sin most contrary to the new nature wrought in the saints, and seemeth to offer more violence to it than other sins.

5. It is a sin most contrary to human society.

6. Lying is a sin very hateful to God, and against which He hath expressed much of His displeasure. A lying tongue is reckoned among those six things which God hateth (Proverbs 6:17).

7. It is a sin shameful and odious in the eyes of men. The more common honesty any man hath, the further he is from it, especially the more he hath of the spirit of grace (Proverbs 13:5).

III. Why this must be added to goodness and righteousness.

1. Because they cannot be preserved without it.

2. The life of goodness and righteousness lieth in truth, and so they cannot be thoroughly exercised unless truth be added. Sincerity runs through all the graces.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

The scope of the text is to show that there is a necessary connection betwixt a gracious state and a holy life; which are so joined by the appointment of God, and the nature of things, that they cannot be put asunder. The reasoning is founded on that fundamental maxim of practical Christianity, that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Light, abides, acts, and produceth fruit in all the children of light, in all those who are light in the Lord. It is by the communion of His Spirit that we receive of His influences to make us fruitful. The Spirit uniting the soul to Christ, the fountain of light and life, it immediately partakes of the light and life, as a candle is lighted by a burning lamp touching it; but the candle, separated from the lamp, would continue to burn, as having in itself that which feeds the flame. But the creature is empty in itself, and therefore must be fed continually from Jesus Christ, by the communion of His Spirit maintaining the bond of union betwixt Christ and the soul, and taking of Christ and giving to it. So that if it were possible that the Spirit should once totally depart from the child of light, and the union be broken, that moment he would return to his former darkness. Now the fruit of the Spirit, thus abiding and acting in the children of light, is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth; therefore it necessarily follows, that they that are light in the Lord, will walk as children of light. We are now —

2. To consider what is said of this fruit of the Spirit. "It is in all goodness," etc. There is an ellipsis here of the copulating. Our translators supply the word, "is." Some versions supply the word, "consists." Whatever be supplied, that seems to be the sense, namely, that the fruit of the Spirit consists in all goodness, etc. Thus we read (Colossians 1:10) of being fruitful in every good work. The fruit of the Spirit is not only in some goodness, righteousness, and truth — though many deceive themselves with. parcels and shreds of these things — but it is in all goodness in one's self and to his neighbour; in all righteousness towards man; in all truth with respect to God, our neighbour, and ourselves. And these things are interwoven one with another, in the fruit of the Spirit. The goodness is true, and jostles out no sort of righteousness or justice, communicative nor distributive, remunerative nor punitive. The righteousness is true and good; from right principles, motives, and ends. So is the truth, as it is here distinguished, proceeding from a good principle. Meanwhile, this extent of the fruit of the Spirit is to be understood not in a legal, but an evangelical sense; of a perfection of parts, not of degrees.Lastly. Let us show how these are the fruit of the Holy Ghost in the children of light. They are so in three respects.

1. He implants them in the soul, giving it a good, righteous, and true inclination and propensity, agreeable to the holy law, according to that, "I will," saith the Lord, "put My law into their minds, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people."

2. He preserves these graces when implanted (1 Peter 1:5), without which they would die out. And —

3. He excites, quickens, and brings them forth to action, in the heart and life of the children of light (Song of Solomon 4:16).

(T. Boston, D. D.)

I shall briefly explain the importance of these three words, "goodness, and righteousness, and truth"; and then proceed to make some observations from the text.

I. Goodness. And what that is, the apostle takes it for granted that everybody knows; he does not go about to define it or explain it, but appeals to every man's mind and conscience to tell him what it is. It is not anything that is disputed and controverted among men, which some call good, and others evil; but that which mankind is agreed in, and which is universally approved by the light of nature, by heathens as well as Christians; it is that which is substantially good, and that which is unquestionably so. It consists in the following particulars, viz., obedience to our superiors and governors, and a conscientious care of the duties of our several relations; sincere love and charity, compassion, humility, peace and unity, abstaining from wrath and revenge, and rendering good for evil; these are unquestionable instances of goodness, and pass for current among all mankind, are on all hands agreed to be good, and have an universal approbation among all parties and professions, how wide soever their differences may be in other matters. The other two fruits of the Spirit which are added in the text, "righteousness and truth," which respect likewise our conversation with men, more especially in the way of commerce, are rather parts or branches of goodness, than really distinct from it. I now proceed to make some observations.

1. That the "fruits of the Spirit" are real and sensible effects, appearing in the dispositions and lives of men. The apostle here speaks of what is visible in the lives and conversations of men; for he exhorts Christians to "walk as children of the light"; now walking is a metaphor which signifies the outward conversation and actions of men. For religion is not an invisible thing, consisting in mere belief, in height of speculation, and niceties of opinion, or in abstruseness of mystery. The Scripture does not place it in things remote from the sight and observation of men, but in real and visible effects; such as may be plainly discerned, and even felt, in the conversation of men; not in abstracted notions, but in substantial virtues, and in a sensible power and efficacy upon the lives of men, in all the instances of piety and virtue, of holy and excellent actions.

2. That these "fruits of the Spirit," here mentioned, "goodness, and righteousness, and truth," are of an eternal and immutable nature, and of perpetual and indispensable obligation.

3. That moral virtues are the graces and "fruits of the Spirit." So that grace and virtue are but two names that signify the same thing. Virtue signifies the absolute nature and goodness of these things; grace denotes the cause and principle by which these virtues are wrought and produced, and are preserved and increased in us; namely, by the free gift of God's Holy Spirit to us.

4. That since these very things which are called moral virtues, are in their nature the very same with the graces and "fruits of the Spirit," therefore they are by no means to be slighted as low and mean attainments in religion, but to be looked upon and esteemed as a main and substantial part of Christianity. They are called "the fruits of the Spirit"; that is, the natural and genuine effects of that Divine power and influence upon the hearts and lives of men, which accompanies the Christian religion; or the happy effects of the Christian religion wrought in men by the immediate operation and assistance of the Holy Spirit of God, which is conferred upon all Christians in their baptism, and does continually dwell and reside in them, if by wilful sins they do not grieve Him, and drive Him away, and provoke Him to withdraw Himself from them.

(Archbishop Tillotson.)

Just as the quality of life may be as perfect in the minutest animalculae, of which there may be millions in a cubic inch, and generations may die in an hour — just as perfect in the smallest insect as in "behemoth, biggest born of earth"; so righteousness may be as completely embodied, as perfectly set forth, as fully operative in the tiniest action that I can do as in the largest that an immortal spirit can be set to perform. The circle that is in a gnat's eye is as true a circle as the one that holds within its sweep all the stars; and the sphere that a dewdrop makes is as perfect a sphere as that of the world. All duties are the same which are done from the same motive; all acts which are not so done are alike sins.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

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