Every Good Tree Bears Good 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 7:18-20)

Christians are meant to be different than other people. God calls us to be transformed—and not to be conformed to this world. (Romans 12:2) Our God-given faith leads to our justification (being made right with God), and it necessarily produces good works.

God uses us to spread the “aroma of the knowledge of Him” everywhere, both to those being saved and those who are perishing. To those being saved, we bring the pleasing aroma of life, but we bring the aroma of death to those who are perishing. (See 2 Corinthians 2:14-17)

We have an obligation not to live according to our sinful nature. For if we do, we will perish. But if we put to death the misdeeds of the body by the power of the Spirit, we will live since those who are led by the Spirit belong to God. (See Romans 8:12-14)

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. (Galatians 5:19-21a)

The first three items on Paul’s list come from the flesh and they have to do with sex and sexual behavior. “Immorality” comes from the word porneia and refers to illicit sex, fornication. “Impurity” is akatharsia, which means uncleanness. It’s the filth of mind, or the pornographic mind, that leads to pornographic conduct. The third term, “debauchery” refers to living for bodily pleasures with no restraint.

The second category includes self-effort in religion. Idolatry means worshiping anything other than the true God. Witchcraft or sorcery comes from the word pharmakeia, which refers to drugs. (The word came to include all kinds of sorcery and witchcraft since drugs were the common medium used by people who practiced magic and sorcery.)

The third category includes the area of human relationships. Our sinful nature produces hatred, strife and quarreling, and jealousy. The list goes on to include conflicts of different kinds. And the list ends with drunkenness and public orgies. 

These and other human problems can only be solved by walking in the Spirit, not by human effort. Be careful to avoid these two common errors: 1) believing that the way you live, once you are saved, doesn’t really matter since God’s grace will cover your sin, and 2) trying to solve your sin problem using methods devised by men, which aren’t taught by Scripture. 

By Jim Connell

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