You and I cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit.
The truth is, only the Spirit can produce the Spirit’s fruit.
If we remember nothing else from today’s devo, may it simply be this.
HOW TO BEAR FRUIT
How do we live fruitful lives then, we must ask?
Jesus said it outright in John 15:4-5:
- Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so 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, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
Abide. In. Me.
Abiding isn’t something that happens because we’ve believed in Jesus and received the Holy Spirit. But this is what makes abiding possible. (Gal. 3:2-3)
WHAT THE SCRIPTURES MEANT
Listen, the Scriptures—that is, the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures— are perfect. The longer I study and research them, the more my mind is blown with their intense precision and beauty. This means, they cannot contradict themselves. When the Scriptures speak of commandments to obey, you and I need to not throw out or forget the truth that only the Spirit can produce his fruit in us.
The Jews surely missed this in the Law. It’s not that God was calling people to a certain behavior then and now he calls us to faith. Never was this the case. God was calling the Hebrew people (even way back then) not to a code of ethics, but to Life in Him. (See Rom. 10!)
Which is easier to say? “Come abide in my love, which will have a particular effect in your life.” or “Live this way…”
The question was never about what to do, but how to do. The how was always meant to be understood behind the what. Only man’s flesh got in the way of him understanding it.
- “ …for what the law was not able to do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God [did]… that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:3-4, YLT) (See also, Romans 10)
LEAD BY THE SPIRIT
The truth is, only perfect love can produce fruitfulness in our lives. That is, only when we abide in continuous awareness that we are perfectly loved by God can we bear much fruit. This continuous awareness is not possible in the flesh, because our flesh is of the darkness. This continuous awareness is located only in the glorified Christ. And, as I mentioned last week, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to lead us up and into the perfect love of God for us in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:39, 1 John 1:7, John 15:5,9)
Jesus explained this with a sheep-shepherd figure of speech: He said he comes into the sheepfold by the door. This happens when we first believe the love of God for us in the cross-work of Christ. At this time, the Spirit of Christ comes to dwell in us. But his job is not to simply remain inside. His job is to lead the sheep out and in. We want to follow the Spirit’s guidance out of the darkness (lovelessness) of our flesh, and up and into the glorified (full-of-love) Christ. Christ abides in God and God in Christ. When we abide in Christ, we dwell in union with God. Dwelling with God means dwelling in perfect love. (John 10:2-3, 15:8-11, Col. 2:9-10)
When you and I abide in Christ, continuously aware of God’s exquisite love for us, we naturally bear the fruit (notice, it’s singular) of the Spirit. Real fruit is never produced through the striving of the flesh.
Friends, let’s pray for reversals in our thinking! Last week I wrote about how we think of love as a result rather than a cause. This week I’m writing the same thing in different words. May we all begin to pray, and pray fervently, that we learn to see that obedience to the Scriptures does not produce the fruit of the Spirit, but abiding in Christ—abiding in God’s perfect love in Christ—produces the Spirit’s fruit through us.