Galatians 5:22-24 (ESV):

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

To what extent can non-Christians develop and manifest the fruit of the Spirit? Is there a theoretical limit that prevents non-Christians from fully developing and manifesting these virtues, that only Christians with access to the power of the Spirit can surpass? What about other religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism or Islam, that value moral virtues and have their own saints and ethical systems?

Related: How does the power of the Holy Spirit manifest in Christians, as opposed to non-Christians who don't have access to this power?

2 Answers 2


For the most part all Christianity hold to the doctrine of original sin. This means that human nature was cursed in Adam and subject to a total sinfulness under the law, separate from God, with no true good or love remaining. (Rom 5:12)

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Rom 3:11-12 NIV

In this state of being a ‘sinner’ nothing good exists as it was meant to be. (Rom 7:18)

Therefore sinners do not have the Spirit as they are without God. (Rom 8:9) This means any quality of their nature that might resemble a fruit of the Spirit, is not from the Spirit but from the flesh. So in simple terms a non Christian has zero fruits of the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit presume faith in Christ as a priori for that Spirit of Christ to be working those fruits in the sanctified soul.

In deed any pretended love must be love for God ‘by faith in Christ’ otherwise it is not love and anything that is not from faith is sin. (Rom 14:23)

  • Would you say that Buddhist meditations such as Metta or Karuna are useless? What are your thoughts on Matthieu Ricard, who has been called "the happiest person in the world"?
    – user50422
    Nov 23, 2021 at 6:01
  • 2
    @SpiritRealmInvestigator - yes of course… all spiritually worthless. If you imagine true spirituality as a positive number than all religious experiences outside of Christ are negative quantities although some may be less negative than others.
    – Mike
    Nov 23, 2021 at 6:28
  • 2
    @SpiritRealmInvestigator - Even though this is my belief (a biblical one). I actually have a good friend who is Buddhist and regularly compare their beliefs to mine. I think the subject that you are trying to uncover is called the natural moral law (in Christian terms) and the natural law that all humans share in our conscience is a good remnant of the fall but is merely a weak version of the external mosaic law and even works under the Mosaic law or considered worthless under the gospel, so as good as the thoughts of my Buddhist friend seem it is merely a shadow less beautiful than Moses
    – Mike
    Nov 23, 2021 at 6:40
  • Is your friend a dedicated Buddhist? How frequently does he/she meditate?
    – user50422
    Nov 23, 2021 at 6:45

Non-Christians can be virtuous, moral and even put many professing Christians to shame but they cannot manifest or develop the fruit of the Spirit to any extent. From the way you framed the question it seems that you equate the fruit of the Spirit merely with good behaviour. The fruit of the Spirit are a product of the unification of the human and the divine - the moral image of God is restored in us. In other words, we behave because we have submitted our will (power of choice) to God to be changed and ennobled and we now use it unselfishly to glorify Him. The power of the Holy Spirit only flows once we submit our will to Jesus which is something non-Christians have not chosen to do.

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