Is the love of God a fruit of the Holy Spirit?
There is the false teaching that God’s love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which incorrectly concludes that only people who have been baptized with the Holy Spirit can love (see “What is Baptism in the Holy Spirit?” for more on Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
This false doctrine is based on the following passages of Scripture:
5 But hope is not ashamed, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom.5:5),
22 But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, mercy, faith,
23 meekness, self-control. There is no law on such. (Galatians 5:22,23).
The point is that God has shown us his love by pouring out the Holy Spirit into our hearts. That is the point of Romans 5:5. It is not that love dwells in a person’s heart when and if he receives the Holy Spirit.
Otherwise, all people, both Israelites in Old Testament times and Christians and those who simply believed in Christ, who were not baptized with the Holy Spirit, could not love and fulfill the commandment of love, which existed in the law of Moses and exists in the law of Christ, which is not according to Scripture:
16 Nevertheless, having learned that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but only by faith in Jesus Christ, we also believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh is justified. (Gal.2:16),
11 But that no one is justified by the law before God, it is evident, because the just shall live by faith. (Gal.3:11).
At the same time, Christians who have been baptized with the Holy Spirit would receive a kind of indulgence, a pass into Christ’s kingdom and would never sin.
But are there few who have fallen away from God after being baptized with the Holy Spirit? From which it is clear that they have not gained the love of God.
And do Christians who have been baptized with the Holy Spirit sin very little?
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am a ringing brass, or a sounding cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries, and have all knowledge and all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1,2).
It is clear from this Scripture that one can be baptized with the Holy Spirit and have great gifts of the Holy Spirit, but not have love.
We also read:
2 For we all sin much. He who does not sin in the word is a perfect man, able to restrain the whole body also. (James 3:2),
This is what the apostle James wrote about himself and about all believers: “we,” not “you.”
It is also written of the gifts of God:
29 For the gifts and calling of God are immutable. (Rom.11:29),
(Rom. 11:29) Therefore those who fall away from Christ do not lose the gifts of the Holy Spirit once received, causing many to be perplexed.
What kind of fruit is the Galatians 5:22,23 referring to? Scripture speaks of the three parts of the human person: the spirit (human, not God’s), the soul, and the body:
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your spirit and soul and body in all their integrity be preserved without blemish at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess.5:23).
The apostle Judas writes of men of the soul that they are sinners without the spirit:
18 They told you that in the last time there would appear scolders, acting according to their ungodly lusts.
19 These are men who separate themselves (from the unity of the faith), soulless, having no spirit. (Jude 1:18,19).
9 I once lived without the law; but when the commandment came, sin came alive,
10 and I died; and thus the commandment, [given] to life, served me to death,
11 because sin, taking the lead from the commandment, deceived me and killed me with it. (Rom.7:9-11),
13 and you, who were dead in sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our sins, (Col. 2:13).
It is clear from the above Scriptures that it is not a question of carnal life and death, but of spiritual life. So, when we believe and accept Christ, we are spiritually enlivened by Him and all our sins are forgiven. But when we fall into sin and turn away from repentance, we die spiritually; we are “twice dead:
12 Such are the temptation at your evenings of love; feasting with you, they mortify themselves without fear. They are the waterless clouds, carried by the wind; the autumn trees, barren, twice dead, expelled;
13 The fierce waves of the sea, foaming with their scum; the wandering stars, to whom the darkness of darkness is for ever.
14 Enoch the seventh from Adam also prophesied about them, saying, “Behold, the Lord is coming with the darkness of his holy angels.
15 to execute judgment upon all, and to reprove all the wicked among them in all the works which their wickedness has produced, and in all the violent words which the wicked sinners have uttered against Him.” (Jude 1:12-15).
The first time they died in spirit was in Adam, as it is written:
22 As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive, (1 Corinthians 15:22),
and the second time for God, spiritually.
So it was with Adam and Eve: they were alive in the flesh, their soul was in them, but they lost their spirit, dying spiritually immediately after sinning, as the Lord had foretold them:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt die by death. (Genesis 2:17).
But the thief who repented on the cross was saved, though he lacked the Holy Spirit, yet his spirit was raised with Christ:
11 In him you were also circumcised by uncircumcision, by the putting off of the body of sin from the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ;
12 Being buried with him in baptism, in him you were also raised up by faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead,
13 and you, who were dead in sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, were made alive with him, having forgiven us all our sins (Col.2:11-13).
Thus, the love of God is not acquired or earned by man, but comes from God, as it is written:
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7),
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of change. (James 1:17),
but the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not directly related to such a gift.
We cannot say of Christians who do not have the baptism of the Holy Spirit that they have no love and therefore no salvation. Conversely: that Christians who have been baptized with the Holy Spirit have love and are saved.
Also, we cannot say that the fruits of the spirit according to Galatians 5 are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, but they are the fruits of the living, risen in Christ, human spirit.
May God bless and have mercy on all of you!