There are three ways, or phases, in which the Holy Spirit works.
Phase 1. First, he leads us to be believers. But that’s not the end of the story. Once that has happened, NOW what does the Holy Spirit do for us?
Phase 2 – The fruits of the Spirit. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22). Fruits have a gardener, someone who plants and cultivates them. God is the Gardener who develops the fruits, or character qualities, within us. It’s not our job–we can’t try really hard and manufacture them on our own. Our part is to receive them as a gift from God. These fruits are not something that you do, they have to be part who you are.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10.
If your goal is to have the fruits of the Spirit, the secret is not to try harder, but to unite more closely with Christ (John 15:1-10). We must put every ounce of energy we have, not into trying, but into abiding in Christ. We can stay connected with Christ through prayer, Bible study, and keeping the commandments.
As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:9-10.
So, do we have to obey to abide? Or do we have to abide to obey? We must do both. The more we obey, the more we abide, and the more we abide, the more we obey. When we surrender our wills and submit in obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the commandments in God’s Word, the closer we’ll abide to the Lord, and the closer we abide, the easier it will be to obey.
Phase 3 – Spiritual gifts. There is a big difference between natural gifts and spiritual gifts. Natural gifts are natural (naturally!), but spiritual gifts are supernatural. For example, Pentecost was a supernatural gifting–the disciples were given the ability to do something they could not have done otherwise.
Don’t think that what you can do naturally today is what you’re stuck with for the rest of your life. God isn’t limited by what you’re naturally capable of doing today. The only thing He is limited by is your willingness to serve where He needs you despite your limitations. If you’re willing to go where He needs you, He will supernaturally gift you with the ability. The spiritual gifts are not tools in your hands–you are a tool in God’s hands (1 Cor. 12:1-11).
The fruits of the spirit and the spiritual gifts work together because they are given by the same spirit. Don’t just “try hard” to have the fruits and gifts, because they’re not something we can manufacture. They are gifts from God, from the abiding presence of His Holy Spirit!! Abide with Him through intentional Bible Study and prayer. Then you will become a tool in His hands.