In Matthew 7:19, Jesus is speaking about our spiritual identity. It is not just about bearing good fruit but being a good tree.
The kind of fruits borne depends on the tree. Those who say: Lord Lord have we not prophesised in your name? Have I not cast out demons in Your name? These are the fruits they are declaring borne by themselves, but they are emphasising their achievements and seeking rewards for their deeds. The Lord replies: I never knew you.
Apostle Paul in Galatians later speaks of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We say fruit of the Holy Spirit, in singular form, although there are many fruits. This is because they all come as one (Galatians 5:16-26)
We say easily: Let us bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. But that is not correctly understood or what Apostle Paul is trying to teach us. Through this teaching, it is for us to judge and examine ourselves by looking at our fruits. Let us take a moment to think about your fruit, the fruit of your lips, in a 24-hour day do we bear more good fruits or more bad fruits? The fruits of our actions, do we have fruits good enough to be lifted up to our God? But in praying for and working and living our lives to bear these fruits, Apostle Paul and Jesus are teaching us that we need to be able to discern whether we are bearing the fruit from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. With the help of the Holy Spirit? Or are we bearing the fruit from our flesh, with our fervency and ambition?
It is good that people try to bear good fruits in their lives, but if we are not careful, we will be like these people who say: Lord Lord I have these many fruits I have borne in the name of the Lord. Yet the Lord will say: I don’t like those fruits.
They are not speaking of fruits outside of church and faith, they are prophesizing, performing miracles, and healing in the name of the Lord. Why then did God reject those fruits?
There are a few things we need to watch out for, in order for us not to be rejected by the Lord.
In Galatians 5, the word “flesh” is used as an antonym to the word “spirit”. Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot do the will of the Father. Jesus says those who are bearing bad fruit cannot do the will of the Father. The flesh cannot bear good fruit.
What is flesh? Literally, it is referring to our body. Biblically, the flesh is different from the spirit. God created Adam by forming him out of the dust of the ground, and he becomes a living being when God breathes the breath of life into his nostrils. The question and difference here is whether my life depends on my own breath, or does my life depends on the breath of God.
Adam was given the breath of God, but he chose to follow his own judgment, his own thought, his own decision. Which is influenced and affected by the words of the serpent. The serpent is the emblem of the flesh. The result is the fallen state.
God describes this fallen state of man as flesh in Genesis 6:3.
Fallen mankind who had rejected the spirit of God, the Word of God, God will pour out His spirit on them again when the Messiah comes. No wonder after Jesus’ resurrection when He appeared to the disciples, He breathed on them. As a symbolic act, saying “receive the Holy Spirit.” God’s purpose is to give us His spirit again.
Therefore in order for us to bear good fruit, we need to first receive the Holy Spirit. John 6:63 says that the Spirit gives life, and flesh profits nothing. We have to receive the Word of Jesus Christ to receive His spirit.
John 8:38-47 tells us that the Israelites heard Jesus loud and clear but they cannot understand because they cannot hear, understand and accept His Word. There is a spiritual conflict. Those who received the Spirit vs those who have the mind of the devil, who stay in the flesh, who cannot receive the Word of God.
In John 14:10-11, we can see that when you receive Jesus’ Word, you and Jesus come together into the Father, and the Father is in us. It is the Father who gives the Spirit of truth (Holy Spirit), but He only gives to those who know Him. We receive the Word, come to know the Father and the Father gives the Spirit (John 14:16-17).
Jesus says in John 14:23-24, if anyone loves Him, keep His Word. The Word that Jesus gives us is the Word of the Father, which leads us to know Him, and that will allow Jesus and Father to come abide in us, we abide in Him. It will allow us to keep the Word and give us the Spirit.
We can see in John 14:26 that unless the Holy Spirit is given to us, we cannot remember a thing of God’s Word. When I am really following my own anger, my own thoughts, my perspective conquers the whole world, we cannot remember what God said, all the grace I have received before is gone,
But when the Holy Spirit comes to us, He helps us remember what the Bible said, what the Lord said, the times when God gave us grace.
To come out of the state of the flesh, we need to receive the Word of Jesus Christ. When we receive the Word of Jesus Christ, we will come to the Father. It is the Father who will give us life and spirit.
2. Bad fruit
We need to watch out for bad fruit. Apostle Paul speaks of the bad fruit in Galatians 5:18-21. Bad fruits are what we bear when we are in the flesh. Jesus says, the bad tree will bear bad fruit and cannot do the will of the Father. Lawlessness is the bad fruit.
He speaks of the desire of the will, in Greek epithumea = desire, lust.
When we think of this word, we think of lust, greed, sexual immorality, desires of the world. It also signifies excessive, immoderate ambition or desire.
Our focus is to do God’s work, but even in serving the church and God, this ambition and greed may get in our way such that we cannot bear good fruit. I sincerely pray that even when we do the same thing this year may our fruit be good and not bad in the eyes of God. From our intention, down to the method, the timing and to the result.
The fig tree that did not have fruit for Jesus Christ, the Bible says it was not the season for figs. But the fig tree’s task was not to bear fruit in its own opinion of the right season. It should have borne fruits for Jesus in Jesus’ timing and requirement.
What is more important than bearing good fruits, is to become a good tree first. How can we become a good tree? Then you need to be part of the best Tree. According to John 15:1-6, we are one tree with Jesus. A branch is part of a tree. May we become good trees by being grafted onto the Tree of Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life. How do we stay on? Just by being attached to the trunk, be attached to Jesus, receive the Word, and let the Word produce fruit in your life. Secondly, there has to be pruning work. The farmer cuts away branches that don’t bear fruit so more nutrients are given to the branches that do bear fruit. In our lives, we have to assess things we spend energy on that do not bear good fruit, and focus our energy on the things that bear good fruit. May our Zion Church become the beautiful tree, that will bear beautiful fruits when our Father God is looking for it.