I remember walking into my mother’s kitchen, picking up the plush red apple, and taking a bite. The bite marks are still there -in my mother’s plastic apple . To this day, it sits in a bowl on mom’s kitchen counter with other decorative plastic fruit.

Looking back, the experience is comical. But it is also educational.

Paul says that the fruit of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Notice this is the fruit of the Spirit -not the fruit of my best efforts, social reform, behavioral modification, or cultural influence. The only way to obtain this fruit is through the Spirit. Anything less is fake fruit.

For instance, I may act (fake) like I am patient when the shopper in front of me has 47 items at the 12 items or less line. I may smile as they look back and give me the obligatory “sorry.” I may stand silently and keep my cool on the outside and by all appearances look patient. But if on the inside I am boiling over in frustration, and screaming at the shopper inside my head, I am obviously not patient.

In other words, I can do a lot of things to look and act like I have the fruit of the Spirit on the outside, but unless I am truly changed on the inside, it’s just fake fruit. It is empty, useless, and amounts to no more than decoration.

Why is this important? Because Jesus is concerned about the inside. Consider what he told the Pharisees: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)

If you don’t have real fruit of the Spirit -the kind that requires divine transformation in your life, consider this a red flag. Fake fruit doesn’t exist in Heaven.