Another attribute of the Spirit is love. Romans 15:30 speaks of the love of the Spirit; Galatians 5:22 indicates that love is the fruit of the Spirit; and Colossians 1:8 mentions the believers’ love in the Spirit. The love which is an attribute, or excellency, of the Spirit is the nature of God’s essence. This love is the essence of God’s being, the very substance of the divine life.
Love is necessary for human life. In order to live as human beings, we must have love. Without love the situation in society and in our families would be pitiful. Love is needed even the more for the Christian life and the church life. Apart from the divine love, we cannot live together as members of Christ. Therefore, the Lord Jesus charged us to love one another (John 13:34-35). If we do not love one another with the divine love, we cannot have the church life. But through the love that is an attribute of the Spirit we can love others. Through the enjoyment of this love we are able to love anyone, even those who hate us and persecute us. The divine love, the love of the Spirit, cannot be exhausted by any kind of situation.
It is necessary for us to differentiate our natural, human love from the love that is the fruit of the Spirit. Before we received the divine life and were saved, we had some capacity to love. But our natural virtue of love does not contain anything of God, whereas the love that is the fruit of the Spirit is filled with a spiritual substance which is divine. We should remember that genuine love is the fruit of the Spirit. The substance, the element, of this love is the Spirit. Therefore, the difference between our natural human love and the love that is the fruit of the Spirit is that our natural love does not contain anything of the Spirit, whereas the love of the Spirit is full of the substance and element of the Spirit. What we need in the church life is a love full of the substance of the Spirit.
Only one kind of love is genuine, and that is the love that is the issue of the dispensing of the Triune God. Because the Spirit has the attribute of love, the more we are under His dispensing, the more genuine love we have. Actually, the more the Spirit is dispensed into us, the more we become love in the sense of being constituted of the divine love. Then we shall have the love that is the expression of the Spirit, and we shall respond to others with this love.
Another attribute of the Spirit is joy. Romans 14:17 says that the kingdom of God, which is the reality of the church life, is joy in the Holy Spirit. First Thessalonians 1:6 tells us that the believers “accepted the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Spirit.” Furthermore, Galatians 5:22 indicates that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
All people need joy. As Christians, we have joy when we are filled with the love of God and the divine life. Love comes from life, and joy comes from love. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of the divine life, the divine love, and the divine joy. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of joy. Therefore, we may have joy in the Holy Spirit, a joy that is of the Spirit. If we cannot praise the Lord, we are defeated and are not in the Holy Spirit. But if we are in the Spirit, we shall be joyful with God and praise Him.
Acts 9:31 says, “The church throughout the whole of Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it was multiplied.” This verse indicates that the church was suffering affliction through persecution, in which she feared the Lord and enjoyed the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Here we see that comfort is an attribute of the Spirit.
In our experience the comfort of the Spirit is related to the joy of the Spirit. It is when we have joy that we are comforted. Without joy there is no comfort. First we have life, and then we enjoy love. When we enjoy the divine love, we have joy and also comfort.
(Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 079-098), Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)