For those of us who say we are saints of God, I challenge. Dedicate a day or better for a time of examination. Let this time be where we purposefully and carefully watch our behavior. Our behavior is extremely telling but incredibly overlooked and dismissed because we are often on autopilot. If we turn our attention to it, we will see who we serve; self or the Lord Jesus. The fruit produced in our lives will determine this.
Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Matt 7:17-20
We will produce either good fruit or bad.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Matt 12:33
When we live to serve SELF we are subject to SATAN, which will keep us in bondage to SIN.
When we live to serve the Lord Jesus, we are subject to God (and His Word) and will increase in freedom found in Christ.
What will determine the kind of fruit we produce is the condition of our heart and our obedience. If we carry day-to-day living out of natural humanistic inclination, we live according to our flesh desires, lusts, and fears. Pre-Christ, this is how we lived and is our default which the bible refers to as the old man of the first adam; Rom 6:6, Eph 4:22 & Col 3:9. As saints of God, this is our daily battle: To put off the old man and live no longer to serve it. Unless we acknowledge that there is such a battle, much less begin fighting it, we will live lives producing bad fruit which serves self, is subject to Satan, and keeps us in bondage to sin.
The kind of fruit God looks for are:
- Fruit that will reveal we have (truly) repented; Matt 3:8
- Good fruit; Matt 7:17
- Is prolific to bear more; Mark 4:20
- Will glorify the Lord Jesus Christ; John 15:8, Phil 1:11
- Will grow in holy conduct and living; Rom 6:22
- Who has died, like a seed, so they may live and bear fruit to God; Rom 7:4
- Are righteous fruits; 2 Cor 9:10
- Are of the Spirit; Gal 5:22-23
- Finds out what is good, right, and of truth – and what is approved by God; Eph 5:8-10
- Will increase us in the knowledge of God; Col 1:10
- Is of peace; Heb 12:11
- Praise and thanksgiving will fall from our lips – easily and continually; Heb 13:15
- Is how we can tell the difference between the world’s wisdom and God’s; James 3:17-18
- It requires our patient endurance as a farmer waits for his crop; James 5:7
- It builds upon itself: ‘add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.’ 1 Peter 1:5-7
The ‘works of the flesh’ are fruit and can be described as:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God; Gal 5:19-21.
As believers, we must recognize when we justify such works, or attempt to spiritualize them and the reason why we need each other to show us such error in the unity of the Spirit when we do such a thing!
When we enjoy or practice the examples above is evidence of fruit that is bad. Something to keep in mind, when we can sit in front of a screen or thumb through magazines, or sit in the hearing of such without any discomfort, and in fact even enjoy such it is just as if we were practicing them ourselves – in God’s eyes; Romans 1:32.
What we allow in our minds and thoughts and what occupies us is another way of looking for fruit.
It is essential to understand that we do not produce good fruit but the Spirit’s work in us does. Having said this, we are certainly not mere bystanders either. We have an important job to do which is to (daily) deny ourSELF. Only when we move aside can the Spirit do His job. By faith, we turn from the old/self and the world, and trust in the Lord Jesus (His Life) to live in us and as we obey what He says in His Word, we walk in unity.
Are we letting the world tell us how to live and believe, or are we looking to the Word for our instructions? Are we letting fear or our feelings guide us? Or are we walking not by sight, but in faith in Who we believe?
I believe, along with many others that a time of serious scrutiny is worth our effort, because though we may be sincere in our belief in Jesus, Satan knows that if he can keep us in our natural – humanistic old man we will be on his turf and under his rule. Ignorance is never bliss.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.1 Pet 5:8