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much fruitIf we are abiding in Him and His word is abiding in us, what does he tell us will happen?  We will bear much fruit.  What is the fruit that we bear?  This is the fruit, singular.  This is the life of a believer.  This is the fruitfulness of the Spirit in us, as Jesus lives in us and through us in our daily lives.  How do we get this fruit to come out of us?  We abide.  We consciously make an effort to be in the Word, to be walking in the Spirit, to be communing with Christ.

Now I want to show you something else about this.  If you take the fruit of the Spirit versus the works of the flesh, the top of each of these pairings is what God produces in us by the Spirit, and underneath are the works of the flesh.  These are given in order, right out of the text: 

God Produces in us by the Spirit
The Flesh Offers as a Counterfeit

 Love
Adultery, Fornication

Joy
Uncleanness, Lewdness

Peace
Idolatry, Sorcery

Longsuffering
Hatred, Contentions

Kindness
Jealousies, Outbursts of Wrath

Goodness
Selfish Ambitions, Dissentions

Faithfulness
Heresies

Gentleness
Envy, Murders

Self-Control
Drunkenness, Revelries

*         What are people living in immorality looking for ultimately?  Love and acceptance.

*          God produces in us joy.  The world pursues uncleanness and lewdness.

*          Instead of peace—idolatry and sorcery.  What’s a drug user looking for?  Peace.

*          Longsuffering.  If you’re not patient, you’re going to be contentious and hateful.

*          If you’re not kind, you’re going to be full of jealousy and wrath.

*          If you’re not good, healthy in the way you relate, you’ll be full of selfish ambitions and dissentions—you’re going to cause division.

*          If you’re not full of faithfulness and reliability, you’re falling into heresy.

*          If you’re not being gentle, there’s envy and murders.

*          If you have no self-control, there’s drunkenness and revelries.

Define the terms, and it makes sense:

Love is a decision of the will as to how we will treat others, versus adultery, sexual misconduct, unfaithfulness, immorality.

Joy is rejoicing, gladness, or delight, versus uncleanness—impurity in motives, speech and behavior; and lewdness—licentiousness, unbridled lust, looking for happiness.  Everyone wants to be happy, don’t they?  They confuse happiness with joy.

We want peace.  The Spirit gives us peace, tranquility, and harmony.  That peace, by the way, is a word that’s rooted in being free of danger.  Do you know how we can be free of danger, even while we’re facing persecution?  By knowing that even if they kill us, we’re still going to be with Jesus.  They can’t hurt us.  If God be for us, who can be against us?  What can man do to us?  Peace versus the counterfeit the work of the flesh—idolatry, unfaithfulness, having false gods, turning to drugs and other things to try to find peace and tranquility.

Being patient and suffering much, versus enmity, hostility, strife, wrangling, discord.

Kindness, doing what’s right, being kind and generous, versus a desire to possess, factionalism, wrath, rage.

Goodness, versus seeking self-seeking pursuits and causing divisions.

Faithfulness, versus schism.

Gentleness and humility, versus holding a grudge and being angry at our brother without a cause.

Self-control, self-discipline, self being controlled by the Spirit, versus running into all sorts of debauchery—into the “flood of debauchery,” Peter calls it.

So God produces the fruit in us.  It is a singular fruit that is a whole picture of what we need to look like in the Christian life.  Too often, what does our fruit look like?  It looks like the fruit that fell in the back of the refrigerator that somebody forgot about eight months ago, right?  What kind of fruit is our life producing?  Are we producing the works of the flesh, or are we producing love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, goodness, self-control?

God produces those things in us.  He tells us that in order for those things to be produced in us, we need to be abiding in Him, but too often we sin.  We run into the works of the flesh.  We’re looking for what God can provide, and we try to go find it on our own, and the result when we do that is that we get bound into these things.  These things get a hold on us.  They bind us up, they trip us up.  And then what do we do?  We blame God and we play the victim, instead of understanding that we’re the perpetrator.

If we want to be bearing fruit like this—like what the Spirit tells us He will produce in us and through us—then we must abide in Christ.  “Abide in Me and I in you, and you will bear much fruit.”

The application is this: If you are not walking in the Spirit, then you will not bear good fruit.  That means that if you’re not bearing good fruit, then you’re going to be producing, instead, the works of the flesh.  And if you’re producing the works of the flesh, you have all the evidence that you need that you are not abiding in Him.

If this is His promise, if this is what He tells us He gives us and will produce in us and will do for us, it is just like Hosea 7 and Hosea 6—If God says, “Say this, and mean it,” and we do, then He will do what He promised.  He tells us to make a conscious decision of your will to pursue a deeper and deeper and deeper abiding in Christ.  How do you do that?  Die to yourself, depend upon Him, and get in the Word, and get the Word in you.

When we do those things, we will, as the prophets put it, as Hosea and Jeremiah put it specifically—we will see the Spirit begin to break up to fallow ground the hard places, the places where we have sinned and become hardened to the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  And as He breaks up and fallows the ground, the seed that He’s planted will sprout, and it will grow, and it will bear fruit, some thirty, some sixty, some a hundredfold.

This is a call to a fruit inspection this morning.  What fruit is your life producing?  If it is not producing the fruit of the Spirit, stop blaming everybody else.  If our life does not look like the fruit of the Spirit, then we are not abiding in Christ.  That means we are not the victim, we are the perpetrator.  And we need to do what Hosea tells the people to do—Repent, return, and when you do, God says, “I am there to heal and to restore and to revive, and if necessary, even to resurrect.”

There are parts of our lives and parts of our thinking and parts of the way we live that sometimes are so stained and scarred by sin that it’s hard and it’s dead, and it needs to be broken by the Word of God, doesn’t it.  It needs to be shattered by the Word of God so that we can then see growth where there was death.

And that’s the truth.  If we want to bear fruit, if we want to live, we first have to die.  Die to yourself.  Depend upon Him.  Get yourself in His Word, get His Word in you.  Walk in the Spirit.  It sounds so simple when you put it in a Power Point, doesn’t it?  This is the daily war that we fight.

But this is what I want you to remember this week.  If it seems that you see fruit coming out of your life, out of your mouth, out of your will, out of your desires that is not the fruit of the Spirit, then you are not abiding in Christ.  That is the red flag that you need, then, to say, “I need to repent.  I need to confess.  I need to return.”  Get back to abiding.  We’ve got the promise.  The promise is right there: “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.” 

Abide.  Abide in Christ and let His Word abide in you.  When you do, you will be amazed at the fruit that God can produce through sinners like us—fruit of the Spirit that will bless us and everybody around us.

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