We are God’s workmanship of grace. The deeds of the flesh point to what proceeds from the natural man (unregenerate) and is the product of self-effort. The fruit of the Spirit point to what proceeds from the spiritual man (regenerate) and is the product of the Spirit. “Deeds” speak to an assortment of godless behavior not necessarily exhibited by every unbeliever. “Fruit” speaks to an assessment of godly behavior that should be exhibited by every believer because it testifies to union with Christ.
Why “fruit” of the Spirit but “works” of the flesh?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is…” Gal. 5:22 (NKJV)
Our Lord Jesus warns us about false teachers. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matt. 7:15–17).
Our Lord directs us to examine the fruit, the visible product, in order to know the trustworthiness of the source. The kind of fruit bears witness to type of tree and the quality of the fruit to the fitness of the tree.
Inspecting the fruit of something tells us a number of things. If the fruit is an apple, we know that the tree is an apple tree. If the fruit of the tree is healthy, we know that the tree itself is healthy. This principle is helpful in identifying the value of teaching we receive. If the teaching is in accord with the Bible, we know the fruit is spiritually nourishing to our soul.