Christian virtue and character grow simultaneously in the life of the person who is cooperating with God’s Spirit and thus growing in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25). We do not produce fruit by our own effort, nor is it a reward for doing good deeds, rather fruit comes by walking according to God’s teaching. There is a phrase in Ephesians that tells us to “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). This is a command. In the original text the phrase be filled with the Spirit is in passive voice. What does this mean? We are to let the Spirit of God work in our lives through the Word of God.
As maturing Christians, we are filled only to be refilled. For example, we are filled with God’s love to share it with others and as we do we are to be filled again. We obey the command to be filled with the Spirit by making our lives accessible to the Spirit’s guidance found in the God’s Word. When we cooperate with the Spirit’s teaching we are keeping in step with the Spirit or living by the Spirit. The idea is likened unto a fruit tree, if we fertilize it and water it (with ongoing care) God brings the increase—fruit.