Thursday, 21 February 2013

Are you producing the fruit of the Spirit?

What kind of question is that? Surely I cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit. Is the fruit of the Spirit not His fruit? Is it not the Spirit's work to produce the nature of God in my life?

In my dealings with Christians I have discovered that there are essentially two schools of thought that believers live by. Some believe that the Christian's life is about becoming like Christ whilst others believe the Christian life is about being like Christ. 

Progressive sanctification?

Those who believe that God's children are in a process of becoming like Christ, believe that God is at work in their lives to transform them to become increasingly Christ-like. This process is described as God's sanctifying work that He is doing in the believer's life. Consequently when these believers face challenges, sickness, hardship etc, they attribute their "suffering" to God's disciplining work in their lives to produce Christ-likeness. It is described as God's refining work to produce Christ-likeness. The bottom line however is that God is held responsible for making the believer increasingly Christ-like.

Those who believe that God's children are to be Christ-like, believe that God has sanctified the believer and it is the Christian's responsibility to be like Christ. Challenges, hardship and sickness are attributed to the consequence of living in the world and the work of the Devil. Suffering is understood to be the consequence of obedience to God in this world and punishment is understood as the consequence of disobedience to God. Having received fullness in Christ and the power to be Christ-like (Col. 2:10; 2 Peter 1:3), it is the responsibility of the believer to be like Christ.

The believer's understanding of sanctification will influence and determine the way he or she lives his or her life! Those who believe in progressive sanctification wait for God to do the work while those who believe they have been sanctified do the work according to God's will. For example, the first wait for God to produce His love in them in order to love like Him while the latter have faith in the love they have received and live accordingly in obedience.

The conflict within

Every believer has two desires operating in his or her life. The apostle Paul puts it like this,

"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." Gal. 5:17

There is battle going on in the believer's life and it is up to the believer to choose which desire to fulfill! The child of God must choose to follow the desires of the Spirit in order to produce the fruit of the Spirit. Following the desires of the flesh or self-centredness will produce the fruit of the sinful desires. Who produces the fruit?

That is why Paul says the following,

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." Romans 13:8

"Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation - but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it." Romans 8:12

The apostle Paul says the believer has an obligation or a debt (Greek: opheilo) to love. 

It is therefore the believer's responsibility to follow the Spirit's desire and to obey Him and thus reveal the nature of God. The believer doesn't become increasingly loving through progressive sanctification! The believer must choose to live from the Christ within because he or she is sanctified (1 Pet. 1:14-16).

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24

Choose to follow Christ within you and produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Since we live by the Spirit let us keep in step with the Spirit." Gal. 5:22,23


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