7 things that block the fruit of the Holy Spirit
Jesus came to give His followers abundant life, filled with the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, which will flow from our heart like “rivers of living water”. When we can’t seem to fully experience God’s overflowing love, joy, and peace, however, it is important to examine our lives for seven things that typically block the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
John 7:38-39 ESV Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit…
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
First, check if we have received the Holy Spirit
The Bible shows that we are filled with all the fullness of God when the Spirit of God comes to dwell in our hearts. This happens on two conditions: that we go through water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ (one time) and practice repentance (ongoing).
Ephesians 3:16-17,19 ESV that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith— … that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Acts 2:38 ESV And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
1. Water baptism
Water baptism is the believer’s first act of faith where we declare that we identify with Jesus’ death and resurrection through the power of the Holy Spirit and that we also:
- call upon Jesus as Lord and Saviour (Acts 22:16)
- die to the power of sin in our earthly bodies in Jesus’ name (Romans 6:2-3)
- are raised from spiritual death to spiritual life (Colossians 2:12) and
- receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), and
- put on a new identity through Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:27)
Repentance is not simply an intellectual regret of our past mistakes. As Isaiah 1 shows, it also means that we:
- confess all the things, past and present, that God considers “evil” in our lives so that we can ask for His cleansing and renewal (1 John 1:9)
- have a change of heart and stop doing the things that offend God (2 Corinthians 7:10)
- turn to God with all our hearts (2 Chronicles 7:14)
- invite Him to renew our desires and attitudes (Ephesians 4:22-23), and
- do the good works that He desires; to help the oppressed (Matthew 3:8, Acts 26:20)
Isaiah 1:16-17 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
The Holy Spirit restores joy to our hearts
The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our hearts, which is the “moral centre” of our souls.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 ESV And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
When we first turn our lives to Jesus, our hearts are still shrouded in sin, pain and shame and we would have relied on our own fleshly ways to cover them up. Now, we are meant to rely on the Holy Spirit, who will convict our hearts of the things that offend God and show us the path towards God’s everlasting ways.
Psalm 26:2 ESV Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.
Psalm 139:23-24 NLT Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
The wonderful Holy Spirit will give us (Isaiah 11:2):
- wisdom to live a godly life on earth (1 Corinthians 2:12–13)
- understanding of God’s will, character, and intentions (1 Corinthians 2:10–11
- comfort and counsel when our hearts are troubled (Acts 9:31)
- power and authority to take down spiritual strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3–5)
- knowledge of spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14), and
- the reverence of and obedience to the LORD.
Isaiah 11:2 ESV And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
The result is the fruit of the Holy Spirit – if we obey Him and follow His guidance.
As evidenced by the many testimonies on this website, the Holy Spirit’s fruit in our lives can begin any day for any believer, as long as we practise turning over our hearts to Him for His regeneration and renewal on an ongoing basis.
Titus 3:5 ESV He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
What hinders the fruit of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is holy. He is utterly pure and sacred, set apart high above everything. Yet He comes to dwell inside us. It is an incredible honour to host Him in our bodies. At the same time, we need to be careful not to grieve and stifle the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30 ESV And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Jesus once said that new wine can only be put into fresh wineskins, not old ones. Similarly, the Holy Spirit, who brings the new life, is only preserved when “poured” into renewed and obedient hearts. Here are seven things in our hearts that we need to put away for good so that we are like new wineskins for the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we will stifle Him and block the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 5:32 ESV … the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Matthew 9:17 ESV Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
1. Our worship of idols
Perhaps the biggest block to experiencing the fruit of the Holy Spirit is the practice or the tacit acceptance of idol worship in our lives and in our family. When we pray to or make offerings during idol worship, we are in essence, honouring demons. We cannot hope to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit as His temple when we had first chosen to bow down to demons. The Bible makes it clear that we must repent and turn away from all forms of idol worship and destroy all objects used for idol worship before God will welcome us.
2 Corinthians 6:16-17 ESV What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,
1 Corinthians 10:20-21 ESV No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
2. Our wrongs
Sin is basically a failure to choose our Creator first and follow His commandments. Since childhood, all of us have followed our own desires first and not God.
Romans 3:22-24 ESV … For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
When we don’t confess and “put to death” things such as sexual immorality, evil desire, covetousness, we will continue to live with the “stain of our guilt”. Even if we ignore the sinful, evil things we have thought, said, and done, those stains don’t escape the notice of the Holy Spirit.
Colossians 3:5 ESV Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Jeremiah 2:22-23 NLT … I still see the stain of your guilt. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken! “You say, ‘That’s not true! I haven’t worshiped the images of Baal!’ But how can you say that? Go and look in any valley in the land! Face the awful sins you have done…
The good news is that God invites us to repent of the ways we have wronged Him so that we can be forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness. He wants to save us, not to condemn us.
1 John 1:9 ESV If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
John 3:17 ESV For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The Holy Spirit is the One who comes to convict us of our sins. He will even bring back memories of the sinful things we have done so that we can ask for His forgiveness. If we keep denying Him and refuse to follow Him, however, we will in turn, also be denied the fruit of the Holy Spirit. When we don’t turn away from immorality, impurity, and greed, we won’t receive our rightful inheritance from the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:5 NLT You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
Romans 14:17 ESV For the kingdom of God is … of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
3. Our worries
We all have a choice about what we focus our minds on. Often, the earthly demands of this worldly will bombard us with many seemingly valid reasons to worry. Over and above our basic needs, we worry about our future, our status, our appearance, our families, our relationships, our health, our money, and so forth – and forget that God has already provided everything for us, even before we were born. Our anxieties hold our thoughts hostage to a never-ending spiral of “what if’s?”
The Bible reminds us it is God’s will for us to simply rejoice that He is in complete control at all times and to give thanks to Him in all circumstances. When we meditate on God and praise Him, we open our hearts fully to the Holy Spirit. We are not meant to fall back into patterns of anxiety and fear. Otherwise, we will quench the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 ESV Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Romans 8:14-15 ESV For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
It is natural to experience some anxiety in life but when we meditate on worldly problems, we glorify the “god” of this world, who is Satan, and bow down to a spirit of fear. Fear keeps us from humbling ourselves before God and trusting Him completely. When we don’t yield our fears, unbelief, and worries to the Holy Spirit, we block His work in our hearts. Let us resist Satan’s temptation to fear and worry. Anxiety does not add to our lives, it only robs us of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Matthew 6:33-34 ESV But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
4. Our wounds
The Holy Spirit lives in those who make it a practice to love God and to love others.
1 John 4:16 NLT God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
One key reason we find it hard to love others is because of the wounds we still harbour from being hurt, betrayed, slandered, humiliated, abused, or rejected. Such “roots of bitterness” may have been planted in our hearts 10 or 20 years ago. Unless they are uprooted and surrendered to God, they will continue to block our capacity for love and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 12:14-15 ESV Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
There is nothing wrong with feeling angry at the hurtful things that people have done to us. In fact, it is natural God-given quality to be angry at injustice. It is what we do with the anger that can become destructive. In anger, we may slander someone, become violent, lie and deny our emotions, take revenge, decide not to trust anyone, including God, for instance. We may even hold a grudge against God for allowing us to suffer.
Ephesians 4:26 ESV Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
In His compassion and mercy, our loving Father in heaven is always close to the brokenhearted. All we need to do is quiet ourselves and talk to Him authentically, casting all our anguish and pain onto Him. The Holy Spirit will comfort us and restore us to spiritual fullness.
Psalm 34:17-19 ESV When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
James 5:13 ESV Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray…
Job 7:11 ESV “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
5. Our weaknesses
We are all taught to compensate for our weaknesses. Shame and fear about our weaknesses often lead us to form ungodly coping mechanisms that oppose the Holy Spirit. For example, we may condemn ourselves or strive to please other people, rather than God.
God does not make mistakes. We have our weaknesses but we also have our strengths. God is the One who decided on the best combination for us. We enjoy the fruit of the Holy Spirit best when we celebrate who we are in Christ, both our strengths and our weaknesses, and allow God’s power to work through us. As the apostle Paul experienced, we can gladly boast of our weaknesses so that the Holy Spirit’s power can manifest in us.
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
6. Our wishes
Our desires are often moulded by the world; how much we have, how we are perceived, and how we look etc. When we don’t turn to God for His approval and acceptance, we will seek our significance from people and possessions. When we chase after such worldly things, we inhibit God’s love and the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, both of which are not from this world.
1 John 2:15-17 NLT Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
When we set aside our wishes, and choose to obey God first, the Holy Spirit will fill us with His love, joy, and peace. God knows our hearts and will fulfil all our desires, though not necessarily with things from this world because they will fade away. He often leads us to things of eternal value that we get to enjoy forever. God wants to bless us more than we can imagine, in and beyond this life.
Matthew 6:33 ESV But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Psalm 37:4-5 ESV Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.
Ephesians 3:20 ESV Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,
7. Our ways
Another way we block the fruit of the Holy Spirit is by doing things our way, whether with good or bad intentions.
In the book of Acts, we see that sometimes, the Holy Spirit will cause us to turn away from what we had initially wanted to do, even if our intentions were good and pure. We also see that the Holy Spirit may lead us to places that look dangerous, so that He can refine us and show us His power – just as He led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by and overcome Satan. When we resist the Holy Spirit and insist on doing things our way, we are unlikely to experience His fruit.
Acts 16:6-7 ESV And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.
Matthew 3:16-4:1 ESV And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
In short, we see that we need to “crucify” the ungodly passions and desires of our hearts, and offer ourselves as living sacrifices, so that we become holy and acceptable to the Holy Spirit who comes to dwell in us. The more we submit to Him, the more we will experience the Fruit of His Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This gift is free to all who surrender our hearts to God.
Galatians 5:16,24-25 ESV But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Romans 12:1 ESV I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
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