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Deeds vs Fruit
by John Telgren
04/06/06
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"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." I think Paul understood this principle when it came to the Torah. Was the Torah enough to ensure a good life in the Promised Land? According to what Paul says in Romans 7, it was not. Throughout Romans and Galatians, Paul makes contrasts from several different angles. It is good to spend time reflecting on these contrasts, what is on the right side of the list and what is on the left side of the following list.

Law vs. Spirit
Flesh vs. Spirit
Works vs. Faith
Works vs. Grace
Bondage (to sin) vs. Freedom
Condemnation vs. Forgiveness
Hagar vs. Sarah


Paul makes it clear that the Law is good (Romans 7:7 ff). The problem is that people were attempting to use the law for what it was never designed to do nor able to do:

1) Forgive. The law does not forgive sin, it merely "defines" it. This made sin more powerful (Romans 7:13). It was as if sin took the law hostage and used it to kill people by separating them from their God (Rom. 7:8). Yes, there were provisions in the law to seek forgiveness. However, the "ritual" itself did not attain the forgiveness, but was a demonstration of a contrite heart (Psalm 51). It was God who responded by granting forgiveness on the basis of His grace, not a keeping of the law.

2) Transform. The law instructs, defines, and prescribes, but cannot transform. A good illustration of this is the laws in our own land. If the law itself could transform, we would not need law "enforcement" officers. If the law could transfrom, you would not need to "enforce" anything. The best a law focus can do is bring compliance. However, the Spirit of God brings inner transformation. This is a very significant distinction. This is why Paul goes on and refers to the "deeds" of the flesh (Galatians 5:19 ff) vs. "fruit" of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), not the "deeds" of the Spirit.

So, when Paul instructs us to be "filled with the Spirit he is not telling us merely to add more deeds into our lives. He is calling for a complete inner transformation of our inner selves through the power of the Spirit. The natural result is this transformation in our lives is "fruit" instead of merely "deeds." How do we do this? We must purge ourselves of all that is not God and allow all that is God to fill us. God's thoughts must become our thoughts, His will our will. With humility and silence, we must learn the mystery of godliness. Then we will see "fruit" in our lives rather than merely "deeds." It will move us from the left side of the list above to the right side. An an excercise related to all of this, reflect on Galatians 2:20.



If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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