The Lord Jesus Christ taught that the quality of fruit that a tree or man bears reveals the true nature within.
It is not a matter of “if” fruit is being produced, but of “what” quality.
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit (Matt. 7: 18 NIV).” This passage reveals that a tree (or a person) can only produce the type of fruit that is consistent with the nature within.
A person can receive and develop the human abilities and natural talents that he/she was given at birth, but these have nothing to do with the production of divine good under the filling (control) of God the Holy Spirit who indwells the bodies of believers (1Cor.6: 19).
A talented, but unbelieving, surgeon is a classic example of a person being able to produce human good that certainly has value and a purpose in this life, but will never the less burn in the fire of Hell (Rev.20: 15) if he/she is never born again spiritually (John 3:18) in the course of his/her natural lifetime.
As we will see, until a person is “born again (John 3: 3 NIV)” and thereby Spirit-filled, he/she has neither the power nor ability to produce any spiritual fruit (John 15:5).
Note that in the Garden of Eden, the Bible refers to the tree that Eve picked the fruit from was NOT called the Tree of Knowledge of Good o-r Evil, but the Tree of Knowledge of Good a-n-d Evil (Gen.2: 17).
Both the (human) “good” and/or the “evil” that this tree bears is rejected by God as far as the production of fruit in the spiritual realm is concerned (Isa.64: 6/Matt.7: 18).
Upon eating of this fruit in defiance of God’s Law, the sin nature (and what it produces) entered into Man and is passed down from generation to generation (1Cor. 15: 22).
The only good that a person can produce with this nature is human good. Human good does have value is this life, but it is no more than “filthy rags (Isa. 64:6 NIV)” as far as eternal value or spiritual productivity is concerned.
The promotion of human good in place of divine good is one of the primary deceptions and objectives of Satan and “religion” offers him the greatest opportunity to accomplish this.
If and when we are obedient to the Biblical mandate requiring periodic self-examination (2Cor. 13: 5), we discover that at times we produce divine fruit and at other times we produce human fruit and/or evil. Note that the passage calls for self-examination of our own fruit, not the fruit of others (Romans 14: 4).
The potential capability and inevitability of producing both good and bad fruit is the manifestation of the internal conflict between the new nature (2Cor. 5: 17) we receive at salvation and the old sin nature received at birth that remains within us (Romans 7:14-25).
At any given time, we are either exhibiting the fruit (Gal.5: 22, 23) of the Spirit or the fruit (Gal.5: 19-21) of the sin nature.
Satan and human rationalization would have us believe that we can simultaneously be spiritual and a “little” carnal, but the Bible teaches otherwise.
The deceptive characteristic of the sin nature is that it can a-p-p-e-a-r to be producing Godly fruit as one engages in religion or practices overt morality. Such things appeal to our pride and our perceived need to do something in order to either obtain or retain salvation.
Sins of omission and commission are much more easier to detect than evil. Evil is a system of thinking that is in opposition to the “mind of Christ (1Cor. 2:16 NIV)”, which includes all forms of religion that attempts to either add to or take from what is revealed in the Word of God. Overt sin and systems of evil are equally displeasing to the One whom we must give an answer to.
Atheists can choose to live according to generally accepted principles of morality for a variety of reasons. Christians can choose to produce human good and/or engage in “religious” rituals and customs that have nothing to do with genuine spirituality. Man is impressed with such things, but God is abhorred (Isa. 64:6).
Spiritual fruit is not limited to the accomplishments of worldwide ministries, but must be produced in the personal peripheries of everyday life as we interact with others in the course of the post-salvation spiritual life.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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