Friday, May 3, 2019

Bearing Good Fruit in Every Good Work

In my article called Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit -- What's the Difference, I explained that the fruit of the Spirit includes the conduct, actions, words, attitudes, and demeanor that are produced in our lives by the indwelling Holy Spirit, as we remain connected to Christ the true grapevine. In other words, to put it more simply, our fruit and our works are very closely related.

Revealing the Nature of Good Works
When we take this into consideration, it opens up a whole new realm of understanding for us about the nature of our works. We know the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22,23). You may not have thought of these as works before, but that is the figurative meaning of the word "fruit" here in this verseThe Greek word for fruit is karpos, which literally means the produce of a tree, plant; or animal (i.e., offspring or young). In a figurative sense it also means production or that which is produced, as in conduct or actions. That is the sense in which the word karpos is used by the apostle Paul in Galatians 5. In other words, the fruit of the Spirit are the qualities that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives, which may be observed in our conduct, actions, words, attitudes, and demeanor.

The Reason We Were Created
Consider the way that many people choose to emphasize the fact that we are saved by grace and not by works, which is true, but they neglect to see the importance of our being created to do good works. They focus on the verses in which Paul the apostle said, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Eph 2:8-9). But they neglect to teach on the importance of the next verse, in which he states, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Eph 2:10). While we may not be saved as a result of our works, the very purpose for which we are created is to do good works, so let's not lose sight of that.

It is possible to do good works without bearing fruit. For example, you could help an elderly lady across the street without love. You could give all you have to the poor without love, and you could surrender your body to be burned without love, but it would be of no profit to you at all (1 Cor 13:3).

Instead, we should bear fruit in every good work that we were created to do, which means we should do them with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is the will of God "that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." (Col 1:10). Those who teach in such a way as to de-emphasize works are actually downplaying the importance of these fruit that are indispensable in our lives. Allow me to explain.

No Fruit? No Heaven!
If you don't have all of these fruit in your life, you will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. As I wrote in my article about brother Ezekiel Moses' testimony of heaven and hell, the Lord revealed to him the essential nature of the fruit of the Spirit. Brother Ezekiel said that if the fruit of the Spirit is not complete in your life – all nine fruit – forget about heaven.  They are completed in holiness, since they are the fruit of the HOLY Spirit.  He said, “You must have complete holiness!”  

You see, the only way we can produce these is by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit in our lives when we have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:22-24). If we are not producing the fruit of the Spirit, then we will be carrying out the acts of the flesh (Gal 5:19-21), and Paul said that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. You are either walking in the Spirit or walking in the flesh; there is no other way to be living. Therefore, it is imperative that we crucify the flesh and walk by the Spirit if we hope to inherit the kingdom of heaven.

There are many Scriptures to support this, including Christ's own words that if anyone wishes to come after Jesus, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Jesus (Lk 9:23). Likewise, the apostle Paul taught that our new life and resurrection with Christ depends on our being united with Him in His death, so our eternal life with Him is contingent upon our having died with Him. Paul said, "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection...Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him..." (Rom 6:5,8). The word "if" in these verses means that our resurrection life is conditional, based on whether we have been united with Christ in His death.

No Fruit Unless We Abide in Christ
The fruit of the Spirit is the result of a godly life that remains connected to Christ, abiding in Him. Our Lord said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." (Joh 15:4-5). Therefore, we can only produce the fruit of the Spirit as we abide in Him, and we cannot produce any fruit apart from Him.

Abiding in Christ is not optional for salvation. We must remain in Him, and stay connected to Him. If you cut off a branch from a tree, it will not be able to produce any fruit by itself. Likewise, we cannot produce any fruit if we are separated from Christ. One can become unfruitful, if they do not remain in Christ (Jn 15:5). If you walk by the flesh, fulfilling its desires, you will reap destruction. If you walk by the Spirit, setting your mind on what He desires, you will reap eternal life.

The Flesh vs. The Spirit
The Spirit and the flesh are set in battle opposition to each other. "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please." (Gal 5:16-17). As long as you walk in the flesh, you cannot produce the fruit the Spirit desires, and as long as you walk in the Spirit, you cannot satisfy the desire of the flesh, since they are diametrically opposed to each other and mutually exclusive. Therefore, if one is not producing all nine fruit of the Spirit, then he is not continually walking in the Spirit, but walking in the flesh at least part of the time. For more on this please see The Flesh vs the Spirit.

Let Those Fruit Shine!
We can learn so many things about the kind of walk that the Lord is expecting of us once we realize that these fruit of the Spirit are closely related to the works we were created to do. It sheds light on other passages about works. For example, Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Mat 5:16; cf. 1 Pe 2:12). At least part of what He meant here was to let those deeds characterized by the fruit of the Spirit shine before men like light, so that they may see your good works and glorify God.

The Fruit is the Essence of Love
We know that love is a fruit of the Spirit, and Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (Joh 13:35). Jesus also said, "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." (Joh 15:8). These verses taken together mean that our love, as well as the other fruit of the Spirit, are evidence to all men that we are Christ's disciples. Therefore, fruit prove that we are His disciples and glorify God.

If we don't have love, then we are not Christ's disciples and will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. If we don't have love, then we are nothing (1 Cor 13:1-3). Love is not an option, but a commandment (Jn 15:12). Just as all the Law and the Prophets are summed up in love (Mt 22:40), all of the fruit of the Spirit are summed up in love, so all the other fruit roll up under love and are an extension of love. For example, love is patient, love is kind, and love always perseveres (1 Cor 13:4-7). The fruit is the essence of love. Put differently, the fruit are all aspects of love, so what is true of love is also true of all the fruit of the Spirit.

The Anti-works Teachings are False
Let me show you how those who falsely teach against works are essentially teaching against bearing fruit. Keeping in mind that our good works must be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit, consider the fact that James said, "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone." (Jas 2:24). This proves that those who teach against works are not teaching correctly according to the Scriptures.

Our works, which include the fruit of the Spirit, are evidence of our genuine saving faith in Christ. In other words, works characterized by the fruit of the Spirit will follow true, saving faith. If the evidence of those fruit is absent, then it shows we are not truly His, and we do not have eternal life. If we lack the fruit of the Spirit, then either we were never justified in Christ in the first place, or we have fallen away from Him and disconnected from the Vine.

Words of Warning
The words of John the Baptist serve to warn us, even as the Holy Spirit said through him, "The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Mat 3:10)

Likewise, the apostle John had a lot to say to warn us about those who fail to produce the fruit. Bear with me while I share a few of those passages with you here.

That One Does Not Know Him
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1Jn 4:7-8)

He Abides in Death
"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death." (1Jn 3:14)

If these verses make you feel uncomfortable, then you may need to repent. Then keep His commandments, keep His Word, walk in the same manner as Jesus walked, and produce the fruit of the Spirit. Produce the fruit of repentance (Mt 3:8). Then you will be comforted by those same verses that say you will know that you have passed out of death into life. You will know that you have come to know Him and that you are in Him.

Intentional Fruit Bearing
One could assume that trees do not need to make any effort to bear fruit, and simply bear fruit because they are a fruit tree. Based on this assumption, some teach incorrectly that since fruit trees and fruit bearing plants make no effort to bear fruit, then we as disciples of Christ should make no effort to bear the fruit of the Spirit. This is patently false.

First of all, a tree is not a human, and therefore we cannot speak of it as making an effort or not making an effort to bear fruit. Secondly, the fact is that not all fruit trees actually bear fruit. One example is the fig tree that Jesus once went to when He was hungry, looking for fruit on it. Because it had no fruit when He came looking for it, He cursed the tree so that it would never bear fruit again, and it immediately withered (Mk 11:12-25). The fig tree was a picture of Israel at that time, when the Lord came looking for good fruit and didn't find it (Jer 8:13). Since not all trees bear fruit, we should not assume that fruit bearing is completely "effortless" on the part of the tree.

Likewise, we should not assume that fruit bearing is effortless for the believer. It is not effortless. We cannot take a passive approach to fruit bearing and say that all we have to do is be in Christ and we will automatically bear fruit. If that were so, then there would be no need for the Lord to give us a commandment to love, since we would always love by default. There would be no need to command us to be patient or to be kind, since we would always be patient and kind. We would not need to be told to rejoice, since we would always be joyful just because we are in Christ. But that is not the case. We do need to make an effort (Mt 3:8). That's why self-control has the word "self" in it, because we do have an active part in bearing that fruit. For more on this, please see my article, Spiritual Do-It-Yourself.

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, every believer has been enabled to bear fruit. We are no longer slaves to sin (Ro 6:6), but are slaves to righteousness (Ro 6:18).  "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." (2 Pe 1:4, NIV). Since we have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires, we may now participate in the divine nature (2 Pe 1:5).

We are free now to bear good fruit for God at all times (Gal 5:1). But rather than take a passive approach to it and wait for fruit to simply happen in our lives, we must take a proactive approach. We must intentionally bear fruit, applying all diligence to do so. We can decide at any moment to love, to be kind, to be patient, to be faithful. In fact, we are taught in Scripture to make this our way of life, continually doing all things this way, and not just randomly doing this part of the time. For more on this, see Fruit in Every Season and Whatever You Do, Do All Like This.

Inspired Summary
The point that I am making in this article could not be summarized more aptly than the Holy Spirit did when He inspired these words written by the apostle Peter about the fruit:

"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins."

"Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Pe 1:5-11, NIV).

Peter could not have been more clear. You must make every effort to add the fruit to your life, so that you possess these qualities in increasing measure, because in doing so, you will keep from being ineffective and unproductive, you will confirm your calling and election, and you will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom of heaven. If you lack these qualities, then you are short-sighted and blind. As Matthew Henry said of the latter such people, "...how wretched is their condition who are thus blind as to the awfully great things of the other world, who cannot see any thing of the reality and certainty, the greatness and nearness, of the glorious rewards God will bestow on the righteous, and the dreadful punishment he will inflict on the ungodly!"

Closing Words
Therefore, the fruit of the Spirit is evidence that we are in Christ, that we have come to know Him, that we are disciples of His, that we have passed from death to life, that we have been born of God, that we know God, that we love God, that we belong to the truth. and that the Spirit of God is within us (Jn 13:35; 1 Cor 12:3; 1 Jn 2:2-5; 3:6, 14, 19; 4:7; 5:2-3). We must produce these qualities by living in the light, walking by the Spirit, and being led by the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 18; 1 Jn 2:10). We also produce them by keeping His commandments, keeping His Word, and walking in the same manner as Jesus walked.

We should bear fruit in every good work (Col 1:10). For we were created to do good works that are characterized by the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22,23). These were prepared beforehand by God so that we would walk in them (Eph 2:10).Without the fruit, one cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven, but will be cut off and thrown into the fire (Mt 7:21; Jn 15:2, 6; 1 Cor 13:1-3; 1 Jn 1:6; 2:4-6, 9; 3:7-10; 4:7-8, 21).

I hope this has helped you to see the importance of the fruit of the Spirit and how it is part of the works we were created by God to do. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit is essential. So if we aren't bearing the fruit of the Spirit, but have been walking in the flesh, producing the deeds of the flesh, then our response should be to repent and ask His forgiveness, turn to Jesus, and be restored to the purpose for which we were created, so that we may have eternal life with Him.

Image credit: Culinary fruit. Picture by Bill Ebbesen. Courtesy Wikimedia.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, copyright Lockman Foundation, all rights reserved, used by permission. Other Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV (where noted), copyright Zondervan, all rights reserved, used by permission.

Author's note:  If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit -- What's the Difference, Fruit in Every Season, Partaking of the Divine NatureThe Wardrobe of the SaintsThe Conditional Security of the BelieverObedience by the SpiritSins That Will Keep You From HeavenDrifting AwayIs Obedience Optional?The Apostasy Parables, Faith WorksEzekiel Moses' Testimony of Heaven and HellWhatever You Do, Do All Like ThisPleasing the Lord, Led by the SpiritLiving a Life Worthy of the Lord, Multiplying Your TalentsNo Flesh Will Be Justified by Works and the other posts available through the links on the Home page. My daughter has written a poem called Fruit in Every Season, which is worth reading. You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Him.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.


Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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