FRUCTIFIED – Part 2 / Life just ain’t a bowl of cherries.


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Someone once said “you are what you eat.” If that’s true, then I’m a Ben & Jerry’s – E.L. Fudge – Triple Whopper with cheese – extra-crispy – all the meats pizza.

Someone once said “you are what you eat.” If that’s true, then I’m a Ben & Jerry’s – E.L. Fudge – Triple Whopper with cheese – extra-crispy – all the meats pizza.

OK, so maybe it IS true.

Actually, its true in some ways and not in others. We’ll get to that.

Having digested (at least in theory) the key idea of walking in the Spirit being the answer to not doing the deeds of the flesh, Paul adds to our arsenal by getting to understand something about the fruit of the Spirit. And what gets overlooked most of the time (in my estimation) is the structure of his comments as he presents three comparisons and/or contrasts to help us get a grip on it all.

The three up front, for those of you who are either too lazy, too curious or too impatient are:

Flesh vs Spirit
Fruit vs Produce (PRO-duce, like veggies)
Production vs Partaking

The last one is what makes this whole thing take off.

The first contrast is FLESH vs SPIRIT. The real issue in making progress in overcoming sin in life is in recognizing that no human effort or technique has any power to actually deal with sin. Oh, we can modify our behavior some; no doubt about it. But take two men, both of which have become addicted to alcohol. One is a professing Christian, and the other isn’t. The non-Christian guy sees how drinking is destroying his life, and gets his butt into AA and shazaam! He’s dry and doin’ great. The Christian sees his alcohol problem too, and that this is contrary to God’s Word because he keeps getting drunk and so he gets his butt into AA and yowza! He gets sober too.

And for those who are cleverly trying to jump on ahead of my train of thought here, no, the difference isn’t between shazaam and yowza. Its a tad deeper than that.

Now the question is, did the Christian actually grow in sanctification because he no longer engages in his sinful behavior? Or did he just modify his behavior the way to the non-Christian did? Or maybe even – did the non-Christian do something of real spiritual significance? Hurts the brain doesn’t it? But you see, that is the problem with the way many view sanctification today. They assume the issue is doing instead of wanting. If I may so bold as to coin some wordage – the problem isn’t with my doer, its with my wanter. And only the Holy Spirit can change my inward desires. Sanctification rests in God working in me holy desires that are as natural to me as His holy desires are to Him.

This is what REALLY goes on in conforming us to the image of Christ. Conformity to Christ’s image isn’t being made to look like middle-eastern, 1st century Jews in Palestine. Its gaining Christ’s CHARACTER. Desiring the way God desires. He never has a hankering for sin. Never. And He wants to make you and me like that. Anything less is just behavior modification and Pavlov was real good with that.

One thing is for certain, we are duty bound to stop our sinful behavior – period. But merely stopping the behavior – purely by human effort is NOT sanctification. Its good, but its not the goal. A new set of inward desires is.

So Paul makes it real clear, what we want goin’ on is NOT, the works of the flesh, no matter how good they might look, but instead, the fruit of the Spirit. The flesh will always produce “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” Can’t help it. And these are contrary to the fruit of the Spirit. In fact, I could (and maybe will at a later time) demonstrate that the works of the flesh listed here, are categories of sin which flow from a wrong heart – their counterparts of which are the fruit of The Spirit. In other words there is a direct correlation in the lists. For instance, sexual immorality, impurity and sensuality are opposites of and are cured by – love. Enmity, strife & fits of anger must be met by joy. You can match them all up quite neatly. That isn’t an accident. Its set up that way so that you understand that you don’t cure sexual immorality, impurity and sensuality by chastity, the cloister and asceticism – but by love in the soul. Sexual immorality is a loveless act. So is impurity. So is sensuality. In fact, these are signs of a lack of love toward our fellow man, as idolatry and sorcery are signs of a lack of love toward God. Get the picture?

So our first contrast is the contrast between the FLESH and the SPIRIT. If we are really and truly going to deal with sin and make genuine advances in sanctification, the answer is not more works of the flesh dressed up in religious clothes, but an entire paradigm shift (don’t you just love it when I use current buzz terms? I do – it makes me sound so hip and groovy – keen-o!). The Spirit must be the agent here; not grit and resolution. You cannot change your wanter. Man has no power to make himself desire what he does not desire. This is especially true before salvation – but even after, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). The moment that is out of the picture – all our efforts are futile.

As soon as I can, I’ll come back and try to tackle part 3, Fruit vs Produce.

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