Tag: fruit

Fruit or Facade?

For some time, I believed that my role in the Christian life was to make sure that I was somehow producing fruit in my  life.  For sure, when your fellow Christian fruit inspector comes along on their high horse to discern whether you are growing as a Christian, you don’t want to disappoint.  Will they see joy, peace, self-control…?  I better get to work and produce some fruit, or the “Faithful Christian” card kept in my wallet might get revoked.

Yet, the harder I tried to have peace, the more peace alluded me.  The more I tried to create joy and love, the less joyful and loving I found myself to be. And even when I had moments that it seemed like fruit was growing on the vine, it didn’t last very long or go very far.

Why? Because I discovered a profound truth, you can’t produce fruit in your life.  And, the moments when you can seem to fabricate them in your life, they come and go because you have to be the one to pull the strings. It’s not fruit you have produced, it’s a phony religious facade.

Only God can produce and sustain fruit in your life, and that, only by your faith. It’s believing that produces fruit, not work, striving, and trying.  You already have all the fruits of the Spirit the moment you put your faith and trust in Jesus for salvation.  Faith is what actualizes and manifests those fruits in your life.

God produces fruit, we bear fruit.  We can only share fruit, we cannot create it.

And even better, God is so gracious to allow us the freedom to bear the fruit He produces in ways that we love, enjoy, and find purpose.

The harder you try to have fruit in your life, the less you will have.  The more you trust that Jesus has already supplied every fruit and growth needed in your life, that He has already recreated you having every spiritual blessing, the more God’s fruits will flow through your life. Jesus is your sanctification, not your performance skills.

Faith in who you already are in Christ is what enables you to live up to who you have become.  Let God produce the fruit, you live to bear them.

Rest in faith that He who began a good work in you will see it through to its fullest potential.  Stop striving, start believing and resting in His performance in your life, not yours.

Fruit or facade?  That depends on whose performance you are trusting, yours or His.

The Secret Behind Your Inner Struggles

For many years, I lived a life where I was ruled by insecurity, worry, guilt, and failure. I was pouring a lot of effort into trying to be a better person, but with no real success.  Many inner (and outer) aspects of my life were a struggle at some level or another.  My thought life and self-talk were overly negative, my faith was riddled with doubts, and my character was lacking and cracking.

I am sure there were contributing factors, including a difficult childhood. Yet, the bottom line was, like many people, I became ruled by my inner struggles to the point they were allowed the power to define much of my life. Even worse, I didn’t realize the effect this was having… spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  I suspect a lot of people currently walk around like I did, where the outside might look all put together, but the inside… not so much.

When I was a boy, part of my chores during the summertime was to pick the prickle weeds from our 2 acre lawn. This task would take hours each weekend as the prickle weeds quickly grew back during the week.  One Saturday morning, my dad gently pulled me aside and instructed me to adjust my strategy and pick the prickle weeds out by their root, instead of justing cutting off what appeared on the surface. He suggested in a whisper, “This will keep you from having to do this every weekend because they won’t grow back”  He was right, taking a little more time to pick them from the root saved me a lot of time later.

We all have weeds in the lawn of our inner lives… pain, guilt, insecurity, failures, inadequacies, worry, fear, secrets, doubts etc.  Each and every day we spend hours of mental and emotionally energy trying to keep these weeds from showing up as we attempt to trim the surface of our lives. Yet, the same struggles keep growing back, hour after hour, day after day, week after week. Why? Because we never get to the root.

And yet, our heavenly father gently pulls us aside and says, “If you like, I can show you the root of your inner struggles and how they can be healed.”

Condemnation is the Root of your Struggles  

The deepest and most subtle card Satan can play to steal, kill, and destroy from your life is condemnation. Condemnation seeks to have you conclude that you are guilty as something or for something and that your circumstances or actions are doomed to or already determine a negative conclusion. Something is wrong with you and/or your actions that define you and/or your future as lacking in some way. Condemnation produces stress an causes us to feel like if there is any chance to move forward, we will need to perform our way out.  Yet, most of the time, condemnation cuts right to the chase and sends the message, “there is no way out, no matter what you do.”

Condemnation comes in almost limitless forms, and Satan loves to plant it in our spirits in often very subtle ways.

In fact, I am convinced that the reason why many men don’t attend church is because of Satan’s success at sowing in them a spirit of condemnation.  At home, their wives unknowingly take cues out of Satan’s play book as they send a subtle or not so subtle message that their husbands are behind spiritually and will never catch up to their expectations.  The message is quite clear no matter how it is packaged, they aren’t doing what they should be doing for their spouse, children, and family. Condemnation, condemnation, and more condemnation. Additionally, once they do come to church, they are given message after message of how their behavior doesn’t make the grade and they are failing as fathers, husbands, and men. And very likely, if they ever do finally come to church, the pastor greets them with a “Hey dude, where have you been? It’s been like years since you have been at church.”   For most men, they are insecure enough already, and Satan just loves to add on more and more messages of condemnation to cage them in.

Satan loves to take what is intended as constructive correction and shape it into condemnation through an inner thought life of insecurity and shame. And the messages of condemnation are everywhere in our culture for men and women alike to absorb.  It’s the look in their eye as they size you up, the model on the cover of a magazine that you can never live up to, it’s your employer who never seems satisfied with your work, it’s the correction that leads to you to concluding that you should be ashamed and filled with guilt, it’s the joy or rewarding of another that leaves you comparing and concluding yourself as less of a person.

Condemnation is the root, and  things like insecurity, stress, disease, pride, fear, anxiety, depression, religion, legalism, anger, impulsive decisions, perfectionism, performance, a critical spirit, rules, shame, and guilt are the fruit. All of the areas of your life where you find inner struggle can be traced back to a spirit or feeling of condemnation Satan has sowed in that or some connected area of your life.

The ultimate healing in your life is when God’s Grace is applied through faith to the deepest and widest areas of condemnation in your life. Grace is the ultimate game changer!

Condemnation blocks God’s Favor

God has extravagant, endless favor for your life. His mercy and transforming power are miraculous. That’s why one of the greatest costs of condemnation is that when you believe it about yourself, segments of yourself, or your circumstances, it blocks God’s favor. Why? Because the result of condemnation is disbelief, and God’s favor will not move in your life without your faith. A person who feels condemned is not going to truly believe in the love and Grace of God for their life.  They might go to church, sing the songs, say the prayers, and go through the motions, but they don’t truly believe in the loveliness of Jesus and His complete and thorough Grace for their life. Instead, they hold onto some portion of their performance (or bad performance) in life, works, and obedience (or disobedience) for their sense of security and identity. This blocks the release of God’s favor because they are putting their faith in themselves rather in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. As you believe it, you receive it, as you receive it, you live it.

The true, comprehensive graciousness of God releases us to truly put our entire faith in Jesus, and faith releases God to move in our lives. It doesn’t take a lot of faith, but it does take faith. Condemnation is the great faith-killer, that’s why it’s Satan most priced weapon to steal, kill, and destroy in your life.

Yet, God says, “There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1. The job of the Holy Spirit in the non-believer’s life is to convict (not condemn) that person of their disbelief (or wrong belief) in Jesus. The job of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life is to convince that person of their righteousness in Christ.  God’s wants people to first get the identity of His Son Jesus right through faith, and then get their own identity right as forgiven, righteous children and sons of God, also through faith.

Condemnation Poisons your Identity

In the same way, condemnation poisons your identity. Satan knows if he can get you to believe the wrong things about yourself, he can easily get you to do the wrong things in life. An obedience problem is always first an identity problem. The Bible says, “as a man thinks, so he is.”  God wants you believe that in Christ you have everything and are everything, Satan wants you to believe you are nothing and lack everything.

Condemnation is the root of all insecurity and identity distortion.

What you believe about yourself can only be cured by what you believe about God and His work in and on behalf of your life. When you see and believe in the loveliness of Jesus and His Grace for your life you will see and believe in the loveliness of you. The quality of Jesus becomes the quality of you.

In fact, the bible states that, “if you are in Christ, you are a new creation.”  You’re sins, past, present and future, have all been forgiven. You are the righteousness of Christ, with nothing “wrong” with you.  You lack nothing and have every spiritual blessing. You are a partaker of the divine nature. Greater is He that lives in you than is in the world. You are no longer defined by your performance, but by the beauty of Jesus and His finishing work on the cross.  You stand with no condemnation in your life. Guilt and same need no longer to rule your heart and actions. You are totally complete in Christ.

Satan wants to reduce or completely take away your sense of who you truly are. His greatest weapon to do so is condemnation.

 

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