The Bible uses the term “bearing fruit” many times. It is a great analogy to help us understand the process of sanctification and Kingdom living.
In order to unpack what it means to bear fruit, let’s look at a couple passages:
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
As you can see, bearing fruit is shown in contrast to being wicked here. It is a sign of spiritual prosperity and growth. So, if you were a tree who wanted to produce fruit, what would you do?
Would you clench your limbs and try as hard as you can to bear fruit until, pop! Fruit appears? Of course not – you would plant yourself in good soil near streams of water?
When a tree is planted well and receives the nourishment it requires, then it cannot help but to bear good fruit.
In the same way, if you plant yourself firmly in God’s Word and live in His presence, then you will bear fruit. It is the natural result.
In John 15, Jesus uses an analogy of the vine and the branches to describe the process of bearing fruit.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Those are strong words! Without Jesus, we can do nothing. If you are a branch that wants to produce fruit, then you must be attached to the vine. But here’s the good news, if you do abide in the vine, then you will bear much fruit.
Galatians 5:16 describes it another way:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
It then goes on to describe the fruit of the flesh and then contrast it with the fruit of the spirit.
But once again, you can see that the secret to bearing fruit really depends on one thing: you must walk by the Spirit, in other words, you must abide in God’s presence.
The mistake I used to make and still sometimes do, the mistake that so many of us make, is we focus our energy on not sinning. There are hundreds of moral laws and every one of them reflects heart level issues. If you focus on strictly following the law, you’re really going to struggle to keep up.
Fortunately, God in His rich mercy, has provided us with a better and far more simpler way. If you want to obey the law, if you want to bear good fruit, if you want to represent God’s kingdom to the broken world, then you really must focus on doing one thing:
Live your life in the presence of God. Abide in Him. Plant yourself into the rich soil of His word and along the stream of living water that is His Spirit.
When you do that, a few things start to happen.
First, God works on your heart. He is the one responsible for your sanctification, and He is the one who makes you holy.
Second, have you ever noticed how you start to imitate the people you spend your time with? Depending on who you spend your time with, this can be a good or a bad thing. This is one of the reasons it is so important to spend time with God – doing so means we will imitate His character and His love.
Third – you will start to notice that some of your struggles with sin will fade. This may seem like a contradiction, but when you stop trying not sin and start spending that energy on pursuing Christ, you will actually start to sin less.
This is because there is no sin in God’s presence. Pursuing Him means you are actually turning away from sin. But instead of focusing on a long list of do’s and don’ts, you simply have one thing to focus on: seek to abide with God.
When you do that, Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that you will start bearing fruit in your life:
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Those are all great virtues, they are all great examples of fruit. Who do they come from? It’s not the fruit of the “Evan,” it is not a result of my own work or efforts. Rather, it is the fruit of the Spirit! In other words, my ability to produce those fruits rests solely in the Holy Spirit.
So if the key to bearing good fruit is to abide in Christ, we must now answer the following question: how do we, practically, abide in Christ? We’ll touch on that in the next video.