Galatians 5:16-18, 24-26 – “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
Two trees exist – The tree of the sinful nature and the tree of the spirit. Both trees bear fruit. Before I was a Christian, I attended church for free food and the opposite sex. During the sermon, my mind would drift and I would either fall asleep or invent some game with my boys. Sitting in the back of a church filled with about fifteen hundred people, it was easy for us to blend in. That changed the day we decided to switch it up and involve other church folk with our game: the pencil toss. The object of the game was to hit people in the back of the head with the pew pencils, without getting caught. We were getting away with it for a minute, but a deacon caught view of it and kicked us out of the church. Without my knowledge or intent, the seed of my heart bore the fruit of the sinful nature.
Two trees exist – The tree of the sinful nature and the tree of the spirit. Both trees bear fruit. About a year after the above event, I became a Christian. As a new believer, I didn’t have a lot of Bible knowledge. I just wanted to do right before God. This all came to a test after an acquaintance thought I was talking about him behind his back. Even though I wasn’t, he wasn’t trying to hear that. As he publicly called me out in the street, I’m thinking about how many stitches this kid is going to need after I get done with him. Then it happened,…he slapped me. It wasn’t a punch or an elbow…it was a slap. To my shock, a second slap came through. So as my jaw clinched after its assault and my fists tightened to return the favor, I found myself doing something I had never done before. I didn’t fight back. The situation deescalated soon after, he knew something was different about me. I had lived out Matthew 5:39 without having ever read that verse. Without my knowledge or intent, the seed God placed in my heart bore the fruit of the Spirit.
Jesus said, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for a tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33). A grapevine cannot grow watermelons; the two are totally separate fruits with different seeds. If someone tried to merge the two seeds together, they would be in conflict with each other. Would it be a “grapemelon” or a “watervine”? People would be unable to recognize the fruit…that is why we must test ourselves and ensure they are of the Spirit and not of the sinful nature. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Consider these questions:
* Would your enemy say that you loved him/her?
* Do complete strangers see you as joyful?
* How about your co-workers, do they see peace within you?
* Would other drivers consider you to be patient?
* Do homeless individuals see your kindness?
* Would a convicted felon see your goodness?
* Can your children see your faithfulness?
* Does your neighbor notice your gentleness?
* Would your spouse say you have self-control?
Consider the words of Paul, “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death” (Romans 7:4-5).
Two trees exist – The tree of the sinful nature and the tree of the spirit. Both trees bear fruit.