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Atheist With Fruit Of The Spirit?


We recently finished a series in our fellowship relating to the parable of the sower and bearing fruit.  We spent the last two weeks looking at the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit which Paul outlines in Galatians 5.  As we finished our time together last night detailing the fruit of the spirit, a brother approached me and asked the following:

I was thinking about my grandmother as we described each of those things.  She exhibits all of those.  And she is an admitted atheist. How does that work!?

Can someone without the holy spirit produce the fruit of the spirit?  A couple quick thoughts:

  • even if one does exhibit all of the fruit of the spirit, we are also called to lack the works of the flesh.
  • even if one does exhibit all of the fruit of the spirit, are these traits based on one’s own ability and thus will be limited based on circumstances as opposed to the spirit-empowered qualities which remain even under fire?
  • even if one does exhibit all of what appears to be the fruit of the spirit, one must be forgiven of their sins – man is not saved by their works.

What do you think?

4 Responses to “Atheist With Fruit Of The Spirit?”

  1. on 01 Sep 2011 at 7:02 pmDoubting Thomas

    My younger brother passed away from cancer a few years ago. He didn’t believe in God, but seemed to demonstrate all the fruits of the spirit throughout his entire life. I tried to talk to him about God many times (mostly on the phone since he lived in Nova Scotia), but it was easy to tell he just didn’t like talking about it. I think that there might have been something dramatic in his life that turned him away from religion, but he was a very private person and he didn’t share any of those details with me. He wasn’t a staunch atheist or anything, but he just didn’t believe.

    I wish that he would have had the peace of God in his life, especially near the end when he knew he was dying. When we knew there wasn’t much time left we drove down to Nova Scotia to see him in the hospital. I was hoping that once I was alone with him that maybe I would be able to share my faith in God and my hope in the coming kingdom with him. Unfortunately he died just a few hours before we arrived at the hospital.

    I like to think that God will look past his doubtful nature and instead look at the fruits in his life. Raising a family, always being honest and never lying (at least to me anywaze), his years of volunteer work, etc… I believe that God is a forgiving God and I hope He will look past his shortcomings and accept him into the coming kingdom. Of course I can’t know for sure, but my brother was a very kind and generous man. I like to think that he was one of those that the bible speaks about that had God’s laws written in their hearts.

    I pray that one day I might be able to see him again in the coming kingdom…

  2. on 01 Sep 2011 at 10:23 pmTim (aka Antioch)


    You certainly seem to have had your share of heartache. Your faith is inspiring.

    My father passed before I became a Christian. He was Catholic by culture, but more of a deist by belief. He told me once that he believed once we died, that was it. Still, he was an excellent example for a father. He loved us selflessly. And while he wasn’t a Christian, he would not be one to challenge God’s sovereignty. I have a hard time reconciling him being thrown into the lake of fire (let alone, eternal torment).

    This is my faith – that God really does judge our heart. I’m not a universalist, but some of us just might need a little more time and experience to make an eternal decision. How can we be expected to do that correctly with so much noise and from a fallen position?

    May you never lose your faith.

  3. on 01 Sep 2011 at 11:08 pmDoubting Thomas

    You said, “This is my faith – that God really does judge our heart.”

    I agree. I believe he can and does look into our hearts.

    You also said, “May you never lose your faith.”

    Thank-you for your kind words. I pray that you may never lose your faith as well. God Bless and may the peace and love of God (“OUR” Father) be with you and with us all…

  4. on 02 Sep 2011 at 8:32 amXavier

    According to Paul even though some people do not have God’s written law, they still show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it.

    They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life. Rom 2.12-16

    The last reference to judgment day could be what some refer to as “the second resurrection” in Rev 20.11-15.


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