Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How is Fruit Produced in Our Lives?

First of all, let me say to those few people out there who read this blog, the Grace Evangelical Society Conference in Texas was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed the speakers and the fellowship and came home very encouraged to pursue the ideas I have had regarding church planting in our home area. I also thought that it is high time I got back to writing some things for the blog, and right now would like to continue at least a little bit more with the topic of fruit in the life of the believer.

I spent the last three posts (a long time ago) talking about the fact that “fruit,” defined as good works and/or godly character, is not automatic in the lives of believers. Nor should fruit be used as a tool for gaining assurance of eternal life. We can have assurance that we posses eternal life simply because of the promises the Lord Jesus has made to us, not because of anything we see or don’t see in our own imperfect lives. But now I would like to talk briefly about how fruit is produced in our lives.

Probably the most well-know passage dealing with fruit is Galatians 5:16-23, which contrasts the “works of the flesh” with the “fruit of the Spirit.” It is clear in verse 16 that the following “fruit of the Spirit” is produced in the lives of those who “walk in the Spirit,” rather than being produced automatically in all believers. So what does it mean to walk in the Spirit? I don’t pretend to have everything figured out about walking in the Spirit and how the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives, but it seems clear to me that a parallel passage to Galatians 5:16 is Romans 8:4-5, which uses almost identical language to the Galatians passage and talks about walking “according to the Spirit” rather than “according to the flesh.” In verse 5 specifically, more information on what this means is given when it says that those who live according to the flesh “set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Sprit, the things of the Spirit.” This tells us that which sphere one lives in is determined largely by where one’s mind is set. Unbelievers are “in the flesh” (Rom 8:8) and cannot leave that sphere as long as they are unregenerate, but believers have the choice to either set their minds on the things of the flesh or on the things of the Spirit. A believer who focuses his mind on God’s word and spiritual things will find himself more and more making the choice to live in obedience to God’s word as it is applied to his life by the indwelling Holy Spirit. On the other hand, a believer who sets his mind on fleshly, or sinful and worldly things, will find his life being dominated by the flesh, that part of him which desires to sin.

God has commanded each of us to walk in the Spirit, and it is vitally important that we do so. One way we can do that is to consciously choose to fill our minds with the things of the Spirit. I believe this refers primarily to meditating on God and His word, and how it applies to our lives. We who understand that the fruit of the Spirit is not automatically produced in the lives of all “true” believers should in no way let that make us lazy or unconcerned about seeing it produced in our lives. Rather, we should be the first to make a priority of walking in the Spirit, since we know that it is only as we do that, that we will grow and experience the fruit which God wants us to experience.