The spiritual fruitfulness of a believer in Christ is the nugget, that the Holy Spirit uses to change the world around that believer. Our spiritual growth as Christians is therefore dependent on the fact that we are spiritually fruitful. A believer who is not bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit is apparently not experiencing any spiritual growth. The life of such a believer was once depicted by Jesus when He said:
“By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
Matthew 7:16-20 NIV
Jesus is here referring to the believers in His name, who are not bearing any fruit out of the relationship, that they do have with the Holy Spirit. It is with the spiritual fruit which we produce as believers in Christ, that our spiritual growth will always be gauged by. We can’t reproduce what is not in us. Spiritual fruitfulness is therefore a sign of spiritual growth.
Jesus declared again:
“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”
Matthew 12:33 NIV
We are either bearing spiritual fruit in our lives to glorify God or the devil. Our ability to bear spiritual fruit reveals a lot about our level of commitment to Christ and His Kingdom.
John the Baptist once warned the religious people of his time, about the danger of not bearing spiritual fruit. At that time the religious people were more interested, in the coming Savior or Messiah, whom they believed was to bring them a political change, in delivering Israel from the oppressive rule of Rome (Acts 1:6). These religious people claimed to be following God’s word, but their lifestyle never showed this. John therefore warned them, as they came to him in their hypocrisy, to be baptized at the Jordan river.
He told them:
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Matthew 3:8-10 NIV
There are many today who do think that the experience of being born again, is all that a follower of Christ needs to grow up spiritually. But the above words of both Jesus and John the Baptist shows us that this is not the case. There are consequences for not bearing fruit in God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is all about growth, increases and our ability to spiritually multiply the works of Christ in the Kingdom.
Both Jesus and John made it plainly clear in the above scripture texts, that those who are unfruitful in God’s Kingdom, will be thrown into the fire by the angels of God. Eternal fire has been prepared for satan and his demons (Revelations 20:7-10). But apparently the devil doesn’t want to go there alone. He is looking for some company in the eternal fire that has been prepared for him and his demons. Unfruitfulness in God’s Kingdom is a dangerous thing. It makes a believer vulnerable and liable for the eternal fire.
Just because we have repented of our sins, and had received Jesus into our hearts, doesn’t necessarily means that we’ll possess everything in God’s Kingdom. God is looking for spiritual fruit in us. We must show and prove our level of commitment in following Him. In God’s Kingdom there is no hiding place. We can’t play the “hide and seek” game, that the unsaved world plays with the things of God. He sees through our hearts, and He’s waiting on us to start getting serious in following Him.
God is not looking at our level of commitment to a Church, in order for Him to measure our fruitfulness in His Kingdom. Even though being committed to a local congregation may give us the spiritual protection from the enemy’s attacks; but Church attendance or the commitment to a Christian denomination does not necessarily make anyone fruitful in God’s Kingdom. It is our ability to abide in God’s written word, and in our fellowship with Christ, that does causes us to be fruitful in God’s Kingdom.
God’s Kingdom is spiritual. It is not of this world. It is not a political, religious or denominational kingdom. It is in fact bigger and stronger than all of these. It is the only Kingdom that will remain, even after every other kingdoms on earth are no more. God’s Kingdom is spiritual and not religious. Religion is the mask that the devil puts on his face while going to Church or hanging out with believers in Christ. Religion is getting more people into hell today, than what the lack of the fear of God is doing.
God’s Kingdom is governed by God’s word. And His Word is Spirit and life to us (John 6:63).
So therefore we do need faith in God’s Word, to operate in His Kingdom; because that is what His Word produces in us. If we are not abiding in His word, and His word is not in us, we can’t have faith to bear any fruit in His Kingdom. And if we can’t bear any fruit, all of God’s blessing and goodness will be far from us; even though we may be born of the Spirit of God.
Jesus is the exact personification of God’s Word in our lives. He once lived here on earth like us, in order to reveal God (who is Spirit) to us. He was able to bear spiritual fruit while here on earth, because of His reliance on the Father. He couldn’t do anything without the Father leading and guiding Him. And just as Jesus had to rely on God the Father in bearing spiritual fruit while on the earth, we have to rely on Him and the Holy Spirit also, if we are to bear any spiritual fruit at all.
SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS THE SATANIC PERVERSION OF GOD’S LOVE
One major hindrance to many believers’ ability to bear spiritual fruit, is in the nature of sin. Just as Paul listed the fruit of the carnal mind in Galatians 5:19-21; he also reminded the Romans about the sinful nature in the carnal believer, and how God’s love in that believer can transform him. The love of God is the initial manifestation of spiritual fruit in the life of any believer.
“For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Romans 13:9-10 NKJV
Love is the fulfillment of the law. God’s love covers the sinful nature in us. And by loving our neighbors as ourselves, we are preventing the nature of sin in us from taking preeminence in our lives. When we grow in love, our faith grows also; thereby enabling us to live above the law of sin and death. We are able to keep the other commandments of God, as long as we are keeping the commandment of love.
It is important to note here that all of the fruit of the sinful nature, in an unsaved person or in a carnally minded believer, as pointed out by Paul does have one thing in common. They are all closely related to sexual immorality.
Just like the first spiritual fruit in the life of a born again believer is “love”; the first fruit in the life of a carnally minded believer, or in a non believer is “sexual immorality” (Galatians 5:19). The sin of adultery is a manifestation of the lust of the flesh or of the carnal mind. It is sexual immorality.
All of the manifestations of both the fruit of the Holy Spirit, in juxtaposition with the fruit of a carnal or an unsaved mind; are closely related with the initial manifestations from both fruits as highlighted by Paul in Galatians 5:19-22. Both initial fruits of the Holy Spirit and of the flesh or carnal nature are “love and sexual immorality” respectively.
Sexual immorality is therefore the devil’s response to the love of God, in the life of a carnally minded believer. Sexual immorality is the perversion of the love of God by the devil. All other sins in the flesh or in the carnal mind are connected with sexual immorality. Sexual immorality comes out of a perverted love lifestyle pattern in man.
As an example homosexuality as a lifestyle, is a perversion of God’s love to mankind by the devil. It is a perversion with a deception of the “agape” love of God. The devil has continually confused many minds in our world today, in misinterpreting the true nature of God – which is love (1 John 4:7-8). And he will never cease to continue in his perversions, confusions and deceptions. Those are his ways of operation among us on earth.
The devil knows how powerful the love of God is. He works always to pervert the manifestation of God’s love in a non believer, through sexual immorality. He does this by first polluting the mind of that person with sexual immorality. Once a carnally minded person has become repeatedly receptive of the devil’s mischaracterization of the nature of sexual immorality as the love of God, that person will gradually start absorbing the temptation to commit the sin that comes with it.
The devil knows that God is Love; and that our spirit man is born of God – who is Love. The best way for him therefore to hinder the ability of a believer in Christ to bear spiritual fruit, is by perverting the love of God in that believer’s life. Perverted love works with the spirit of fear, in creating the cravings for other sexual sins in man.
Anything that the devil perverts is always evil, which includes the love of God. Perverted sexual behaviors, perverted sexual orientations and the list goes on; are all manifestations of the fruit of the flesh or the carnal mind. Homosexuality, pansexuality, transgender sexual orientations and others, are all works of the carnal mind, which originates from the perversion of the love of God in the hearts of men by the devil. They are all of the devil, in an attempt by him to hinder the love of God, in saving those who practice such lifestyles.
The devil knows that it is the love of God towards a sinner that saves. In order to prevent the salvation of a sinner, he perverts the understanding in the sinner’s heart of what love really is.
Sexual immorality is therefore the perversion of the love of God, in the heart of a carnal Christian also. This is why we need to be careful not to be distracted by the devil, as he uses carnally minded individuals, who are still struggling with these sins in their lives among the true believers in Churches. The devil is the author of all these deceptions and distractions. Once we are able to identify his tactics of deception, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit in confronting him, in the authority and in the name of Jesus.
But in order for us to be effective in identifying his tactics, we must learn how to rely on, and trust the Holy Spirit who lives in us. We are able to identify his tactics through the gift of the discernment of spirits. The gift of the discernment of spirits operates in the life of a believer in Christ, when that believer is in the spirit. The gift of the discernment of spirits helps us in identifying the deceptions and lies of the devil. If we are not walking in the spirit, we will be unable to do this.
THE LOVE OF GOD OVERCOMES THE NATURE OF SIN
The devil often uses his distractions and deceptions in perverting the love of God, to hinder the Spirit filled born again believer in Christ, from being effective in winning the lost for the kingdom of God. He knows that if he can hinder you from walking in love towards a sinner, you can’t win that sinner into the Kingdom of God. He will try to make you show hatred towards the sinner, so that the fruit of love may not be able to work in your life, to save that sinner from being deceived.
That’s why we must be determined to walk always in love towards all men; especially towards fellow believers in Christ. The moment we are beginning to stop walking in love, we will find ourselves walking into sin. It is very easy and very dangerous for any Christian to slip away from the presence of God, into this spiritually toxic and vulnerable realm of the enemy. We must never allow the devil to push us into hating anyone. When we stopped loving people, the flesh will kick in by manifesting its true nature of sin and death in us.
Apostle John said:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
John 3:16-21 NIV
The light of God in our hearts is what differentiates us from the people of the world. Those who hate are not in the light. They are not yet born of God, but only born of their flesh. The flesh always wants to hate.
Paul was once like that, until the light of God was revealed to him. But he received and believed in the light of God – Jesus; as he traveled one day on the road to Damascus in order to persecute Christians (Acts 9). Yes, it was the sinful nature of the flesh that was at work in him, making him to persecute believers in Christ.
But in believing and receiving Jesus – the Light; Paul became born again. He received God’s love which was revealed to him in the light that he saw. When we received the love of God into our hearts, that was the moment when we got rid of hatred completely from our lives. We then became the people of love. We must therefore never allow the devil to lie to us, that we can’t love people who hate us. Yes, we can and we will; because God’s love is in us. We were created with the nature of God’s love inside our hearts.
You can truly love difficult people, without any form of animosity or hatred towards them. Yes, sometimes you may feel like avoiding people, who are spiritually toxic to you. But just because you’re avoiding them, doesn’t means that you hate them. Deep down in your heart, you know that God’s love is always appealing through you to love them. Even when you don’t feel like loving them, God’s love will always compel you to love them. God’s love will always appeal through us, even when the carnal nature in us, does not want us to love. That’s why the carnal nature or the flesh in us must die, so that we may truly walk in the love of God which is making the spiritual appeal in our hearts. We are born of Love (God). That’s the nature of God inside of us that is always itching towards loving people.
You may be avoiding the manifestation of the works of the devil through the difficult people in your life now; but you don’t necessarily have to go down to their own level by being like them. God’s love is making an appeal through you to love. You know that’s the truth, and the devil (your enemy) knows that also. But the moment you begin to walk in love, the devil flees away from you in terror. He can’t stand the power of love in your life. He can’t face you, as long as you’re walking in the love of God. That’s your weapon to overcome him in your marriage, your home, towards that difficult child, at your place of work; because love always wins. And you are a winner as long as you keep walking in love. Don’t let the devil stop you. You are unstoppable. They may really want you to stop loving, and to start hating them. Yes, but you are avoiding to show the hatred for the moment, so that you may be able to love them stronger and stronger later. That’s how powerful the love of God in you is.
BE A DOER OF THE WORD IN LOVE
Also when we become doers of God’s word, then our minds will be renewed, with that very Word of God to us to live in love. By renewing our minds with God’s word, we are positioning ourselves for the blessings of God into our lives. Our ability to walk in the blessing, requires us to stay in the love of God.
Faith works in getting us the blessing of God, as we walk in love. We therefore cannot use the faith of “Thomas” to get the blessing of “Abraham”. The faith of Thomas is the faith of a carnally minded believer. That kind of faith doesn’t please God. It will never get into the realm of the spirit, in enabling you to receive the blessing. You need Abraham’s faith to get Abraham’s blessing.
Abraham was blessed, because Abraham walked always in love even towards those who despised him. His faith became stronger as he walked in faith and love. But God’s love in Thomas could not be released, because he doubted in the promise of the resurrection by Jesus. His faith could not help him in experiencing, what others were experiencing when they saw Jesus after his resurrection. And there are many today in churches, who have no real experience with Jesus or with the Holy Spirit; because they have the faith of Thomas. That kind of faith is dead, because it can’t walk in love. You may have love in your heart towards people, just as Thomas had for Jesus. But it takes faith to release that love, so that you may be able to enjoy the blessing that comes by loving difficult people.
The devil is therefore powerless and ineffective in the life of a believer, who renews the mind regularly with the word of God, as he walks in love. It is through the entrance of the word into our hearts that faith comes to us. We cannot win in spiritual warfare, if we are not renewing our minds day and night with God’s word and promises to us (Joshua 1:8).
When we are growing in the revelation of the word of God in us, we will begin to act on it. We will become doers of what it says, as we act on the word. The more we act on the Word of God, the more His power will to flow from within our spirit man, to transform us into the image of Christ.
The desire for the things of the flesh will then be done away with, as our spiritual growth becomes evident to all. The renewal of our mind not only helps us to develop our spirit man; it helps us to kill the fruit of the flesh in us (Romans 12:1-2). The carnally minded believer is able to put away carnality, because of faith that works through love in him.
Paul again shows us how this is possible, when he wrote:
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
Galatians 5:16-18 NIV
Our spirit man on the inside of us must be always prepared to yield to the Holy Spirit who lives in us, as we are walking by faith and in the Spirit of love. When we are doing this regularly, the works of the flesh will be dead in us Our spirit man then becomes empowered and stronger, to bear spiritual fruit and to start walking more and more in love towards the sinners, who are waiting on us to come with the gospel of love.