Saturday, January 8, 2011

Faith, Fruit and Fad Diets

Being that it is early in the New Year, many people out there have bought diet books and are a few days into a new diet program. I myself have, in the past, followed a couple of different diet plans, sometimes to lose a little weight myself or to try and gain more energy, other times to be a “diet buddy” for my wife if she was on one (By the way, my wife tells me that a skinny spouse does not make the best dieting buddy). Not only have I been on a few diets, I’ve read a few diet books, and one thing I’ve noticed is that all of them seem to promise, not only weight loss, but also improved energy levels and a greater quality of life in general. Some of them even go into great detail about how much energy and hunger, or lack thereof, you should be experiencing at each stage of the diet. Of course, the problem is, not every diet plan delivers what it promises. If I am following a diet program and it says I should be feeling unbounded energy, and I am not, what can I conclude? Normally, I have concluded that the diet in question made greater claims for itself than were realistic. In other words, I decided that particular diet didn’t work.

Unfortunately, many people understand the Bible to be making claims much like some diet books. Their understanding of the fact that the Bible says that all who are in Christ are new creatures and of what Jesus meant when He said “You will know them by their fruits” is that if you have truly believed, a certain amount of “fruit” in your life is guaranteed. Now, I don’t think that the Bible actually teaches that fruit is inevitable in the lives of every believer, but I know that many people do. The problem is, what happens when it doesn’t work? What happens to the person who has been told that if he will only believe in Jesus or “give his life to Jesus,” or whatever the case may be, he will no longer be able to habitually sin but will have the fruit of the Spirit in his life, but then who does continue to have problems with sin or doesn’t see the fruit of the Spirit in his life? Unless that person studies the Bible and concludes that what he has been taught is incorrect, he only has two options as far as I can see. One option is to conclude, like with a diet program that doesn’t deliver all that it claims, that the Bible doesn’t work. The other is to conclude that he hasn’t really been following the program correctly. Maybe he didn’t really believe in the right way. Maybe it was only “head faith” and not heart faith. Either way, this person will be plagued with uncertainty, either about the reliability of the Bible, or about whether or not he is really saved.

The reality is, there are many people who have believed in Jesus but who don’t evidence the fruit of the Spirit. There are also many regenerate people, in fact I believe all of them, who still struggle with sin. Many, indeed, sin often enough that their sin might be called “habitual.” However, I don’t believe this runs counter to what the Bible actually teaches. The Bible is not like a diet program that doesn’t live up to its claims, it is just that many people misunderstand what it says in this area of fruit. I believe that the Bible teaches that the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) is produced only when we walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:18), and not that all believers do that. When Jesus said “you will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16), he was speaking of identifying false teachers, not true or false believers. Incidentally, I believe He was talking about identifying them by what they say, not necessarily by how they act, but more on that later. I intended to put this post out there to generate some thought, and will try to follow it up later with some thoughts about specific verses dealing with fruit and whether it is inevitable in the life of every believer.


  1. Ken, I'm so glad you addressed this subject. It's SO IMPORTANT~!!!
    You're right...... the ones who misunderstand it "will be plagued with uncertainty, either about the reliability of the Bible, or about whether he is really saved."

    Once a person gets a hold of the real meaning of verses dealing with fruit, it will open up the rest of the Bible in life changing ways~!!!

    Thank you for posting it.


  2. Hi Diane,

    I can always count on you to comment. Thanks! Hopefully we can have some good discussion on the topic in the weeks to come.


  3. Hi Ken

    Were in a war with our flesh, and need to be saved daily. The flesh is lusting against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, so that we can't do what we wish. Only by being armed with who we are in Christ, and what He has already accomplished do we have any hope of overcoming. The good news is we have already overcome in Him, but we must work out our own salvation daily with fear and trembling for it is God who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure . . . .but we must work it out. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourself and the truth is not in us . . . but if we confess our sins He is faithful to forgive us. Christ's blood was first and foremost for God to satify His rightousness, He is the just and the justifier of those who come to Him by faith. Being armed with this knowledge we can have boldness to enter into the throne room of grace. Having no more concience of sin because we know it has ALREADY been removed as far as the east is from the west.
    We can NEVER deserve grace, that means we also can't do anything NOT to deserve it either because it isn't based upon what we do or don't do . . . . that is why we can abuse grace, and receive it in vain as the Scriptures say.
    Just last night at work I was talking with a new believer, who the light went on a few months ago while talking to a fellow believer and myself. This young man was raised up in the Church, but one that believed that you could lose your eternal salvation. All his role models had victory on Sunday and defeat on Monday. . . his words. And one he really looked up to as his example, on fire for Christ now was living a life of sin. Which shocked him~!!!! I told him, your Church teaches you can lose your eternal salvation, so these men were trying to live the christian life in their own strength, the monkey on their back finally got to heavy. He now understood that:) I cut right through the religious stuff, and went to where the rubber meets the road. Knowing Him in your experince is being aware of His presence . . . . it's praying without ceasing . . . . it's being a priest in your world . . . . He want's to be involved in your daily life . . . . not just when your in your closet . . . . . i told him most the time I pray in public is for others benefit that the reality of Knowing Him others will see. I said these things because he was asking about shutting your eyes when you pray and bowing your head . . . . and quiet times. Which I'm not against but can turn into legalistic motions.
    Ken, just some thought's off the top of my head, but I agree completely with what you are saying. I know I can fall, and the same sinful nature is in me that is in the violiest of sinners. But for the grace of God there go I~!


  4. Another thing about this young man, he is pretty much a perfectionist and that is what finally drove him about crazy because he knew he couldn't live the Christian life. And he is real serious about his body being physically fit. But he asked me if there was anything wrong with going out sometimes with his friends to a bar and having a few? This is what I told him . . . .if we sow to the flesh we reap corruption, and if we sow to the Spirit we reap life. That is life for our bodies also . . . . it's health. I told him you can't see it but when you are walking in the flesh corruption is taking place. Ken, you can tell me if you think I'm biblically wrong here, but I believe what I told him was true.


  5. Ken,

    I couldn't agree more!

    And I might add that the same principle applies to the "health and wealth" Gospel that we see so much of. The Bible never promises that all of our troubles will fade away when we believe -- yet many preachers do! And then their followers endure their first difficulty and throw in the towel because "it didn't work."

  6. Good thoughts Alvin, similar to things I will probably say if I keep on the theme of fruit. I'm glad you were able to be a help to the new believer you mentioned. And yes, I think you gave him a good answer regarding going out to the bar and having a few. Though I think it's very clear biblically that moderate use of alcohol is allowable, "a few" is usually not moderate, and generally the atmosphere of going out with friends to the bar is in the area of sowing to the fesh. That's my thoughts anyway.

    And to BunGirl,

    You're right, the same principle applies to "health and wealth" teaching because it raises expectations that aren't biblically based and therefore are bound to disappoint. Of course, not all their followers throw in the towel at their first difficulty. Some convince themselves they didn't have enough faith or whatever, and keep trying again and again, but keep facing failure.

  7. As Zane has said, anytime you see someone living the Christian life it is a miracle. Without resurrection life our body is dead. And that can be a real problem.

    And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of rightousness. (Romans 8:10)

    A lot of people who believe you can lose your eternal salvation make a good show in the flesh. That is why you can't really tell a Christian by their fruit (works).

    It's only by the Spirit that the fruit of the Spirit is produced, and only on the grounds of grace.

    Grace fills in all the cracks as were being perfected.

    But, in Him we already are perfect, and that's how God sees us in His Son.

    Christ is being formed in us slowly but surely.


  8. I agree concerning the alcohol:) In fact I was reading through 1 Peter at the time and shared 4:1-4 with my friend.

    Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles--when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.

    Also something I've been thinking about concerning the gospel I believe there is a calling in it to all believers as Sons of God to an inheritance in the Son, the Elect One by obedience. This so great salvation is by way of the cross, for it's only by faith as we see ourselves having died with Christ, and risen can we walk in the way of faith. The believer has already been delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:13;3:1-4; Gal 1:4).
    If we live in the Spirit, were to walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:25).

    The Gospel can be so broad and deep that the greatest of theologian minds can drown trying to get to the bottom.
    The living water is so shallow that a little child can understand and drink.
    It seems just too simple~!
    That the mind of a child can grasp the truth that the one who believes in Jesus has everlasting life.
    But, that is how God planned it that the wise in their wisdom can never come to God, but must come as a child.

    The majestic offer still stands . . . . . And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"
    And let him who hears say, "Come!"
    And let him who thirsts come.
    Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.