“You Can Bear It” Series #1
(New series on: “You Can Bear It”)
TEXT: Matt. 7:15-23; Gal. 5:22-23
INTRO: Why do you plant a garden or put in fruit trees? Because you are seeking wonderful crops of fruits and vegetables! No one plants gardens and fruit trees for just the way that they look ... if you wanted just looks they are plenty of other things we can plant like flowers and bushes.
Imagine the disappointment if you planted several fruit trees and all you got was leaves! Or imagine planting a nice garden and getting dandelions!
One year I planted a crop of broccoli and some snap peas for stir frying. I was so anxious to try these tender snap peas that when they looked like they were ready I picked a mess of them and brought them in for my wife Bevie Jo to stir fry. The first bite was horrible … I had to spit them out ... they were very bitter, chewy, and waxy! They didn't taste good at all! At first I tried to blame the poor taste and quality on Bevie Jo's mismanagement in cooking ... a bad idea of course! Later I discovered the real problem, they weren't snap peas after all, they were Lima beans!! Someone had put the wrong seeds in the wrong package ... what I thought I had planted I hadn't planted! I didn't catch this because lima beans in the early stage of developmpent look similar to snap peas! You only get what you plant no matter what the label says! The same thing happened with my so called broccoli ... the longer these plants grew, the more I realized they were the strangest looking broccoli plants I had ever seen ... they turned out to be turnips, again the packaging had been incorrect, someone put the wrong seeds in the wrong package! (I bought all the packages at the same place; obviously quality control at this particular place was lacking on seed packaging!)
In the same way fruit trees are suppose to grow fruit, Christians are expected to be FRUIT BEARING ... It is not an optional thing ... it is the expected thing! In fact, this is the one way we are to know what is really acceptable and what is not. It is this single thing that enables us to be able to judge true spirituality ... we are not to judge one another in motives, but we are to be FRUIT INSPECTORS! Jesus bore fruit in His life ... and if His DNA is in us as believers we will also bear fruit in our lives.
Jesus said in the Word of God that “by our fruit we will be known” ... His love is the ultimate fruit! Paul said the same thing in the book of 1 Corinthians about the gifts of the Holy Spirit ... nothing is more important than LOVE ... if it is absent, even the gifts of the Holy Spirit are meaningless!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we are to be bearing fruit in our lives ... it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that will touch people the most and draw them to Christian living. If we are examined, what kind of fruit shows in our lives?
I. CRISIS IN CONDUCT! Matt. 7:15-20
A. Appearances vs. Substance! Matt. 7:15
1. It is interesting that Jesus begins a discussion about being fruitful by describing "false prophets" who only appear to be spiritual; without genuine fruitfulness in their own lives! Matt. 715a
2. There are constant warnings in both the Old and New Testament concerning those who would come to God's people appearing to be "one of the gang" but in reality lack the fruit of one who comes from God.
a. The church is warned about this by Jesus.
b. Paul warned the churches he wrote to concerning those who would come after him to deceive them.
c. By the way, from this we can deduct that before allowing anyone to claim they are a "prophet" from God there should be TIME to see if their lives actually have the proper fruit! The idea of someone simply speaking out as a prophet of God and they are completely unknown is an improper way to operate. We should "Know those who labor among us." Even in the Pastoral Epistles Paul mentions that "elders" and "deacons" should "first be tested, and then let them serve." The idea of being aware of genuine fruit was the precursor for leadership or ministry, or accepting their ministry.
3. Appearances or the ability to say the right things should never be the basis of giving someone a place of leadership or authority, proven character should, especially the demonstration of God's love!
4. The real test is not what appears to be spirituality, but what shows when the tests come ... what flows from the inside out! There is an old saying, "squeeze a sponge and you onlyl get whatever it has soaked up already!" And obviously it takes time to witness real fruit; just like a fruit tree ... you don't get fruit the day after you plant a seed!
a. Be careful of strangers who tell you how spiritual they are; or expect some kind of influence ... if you don't know them, either wait for time to reveal their character or get good character references from people you trust and know already.
b. Part of "overseeing" God's people is to protect them from "false shepherds" or "wolves" that might creep in to promote their own agendas. Be a good fruit inspector!
ILLUS: A WOMAN NAMED
ADELE GABOURY TURNED UP MISSING SEVERAL YEARS AGO IN
4. The greatest damages to the Kingdom of God have never come from outside sources, it has almost always come from those inside the Kingdom who fail to have good fruit! History is replete with examples!
a. Thus we are called upon to be fruit inspectors!
b. Ministry and ministers should be evaluated!
B. Applying Standards Matt. 7:16-20
1. Now Jesus explains the examination process: All living things have fruit, some good, some bad!
a. How can we know those who we shouldn't follow? By examining the fruit of their lives!
b. The point Jesus is making here is that "only good fruit can come from good trees," and it can't come from bad trees ... likewise, you don't get a certain kind of fruit from a different kind of plant!
c. All in good time, every living thing reveals the true nature of its life!
2. Some plants can look good externally, but have horrible fruit -- and likewise there are some ugly looking plants that produce some really great fruit!
a. Jesus cautions us to judge by fruit, not appearances! We are not to judge motives, but we certainly are to judge fruitfulness!
b. Anyone can learn to use the proper vocabulary, learn how to shout "Amen" the right way ... one can even learn to raise their hands and appear spiritual ... but it is the fruit that comes from their lives that tell the real story!
3. Real fruit for Christians is love; self-sacrificing ... this was Christ's kind of love!
ILLUS: BACK ON
4. It is thus important to not only take notice of the tree and what it looks like, but what kind of fruit it produces!
IS A COUNTERFEIT OLIVE TREE IN
5. There is nothing improper in looking for fruit from those we entrust ourselves to, or from those we look to for guidance!
6. Jesus’ final words in this section are, "thus, by their fruit you will recognize them"... both the good prophets and the bad ones!
II. CRUCIAL CONNECTION! Matt. 7:21-23
A. Approval Sacrificed! Matt. 7:21-22
1. Jesus' point here is quite simple ... not everyone that claims to be a Christian is actually one!
2. There may be those who know the language, know the manners of being a Christian, they may even have prophesied in Jesus' name and done miracles ... however, these things alone don't reveal their true identity ... their fruit does!
a. Notice that Jesus is not contradicting their account of the number of miracles performed, here described as “many.”
b. Prophesy here refers to preaching and proclaiming the Word of God!
c. But how can this be that they could have done these things and be false believers? Because ... God will honor His Word in spite of the vehicles, but the results of ministry don't save us, only the life changing power of God's love in our own lives can do that!
3. It is somewhat disturbing to read in Matt. 7:22 that Jesus says, “Many will say on that day…” ... yet these "many" will be lost!
a. It is not enough to do ministry, we must display the FRUIT of the Holy Spirit in our lives!
b. While the world is initially attracted to results ... they are drawn to love!
ILLUS: JESS MOODY SAID, "PEOPLE DON'T GO WHERE THE ACTION IS, THEY GO WHERE LOVE IS!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. There will be those who fail to get God's approval but found approval from man. This is a most tragic possibility in eternity!
B. Adverse Sentence! Matt. 7:23
1. How will Jesus deal with these “ministers” who knew how to minister, but did not become the minister God desired!?
a. He will speak to them "plainly"... "I never knew you!"
b. And the outcome in eternity, "away from me, you evildoers!" Notice the emphasis on "doer."
2. Our status in heaven has little or nothing to do with what we look like outwardly ... it will have everything to do with what we displayed from our hearts however!
a. This is why the Christian life is so different from the world: in the world they don't care what you are really like, just as long as you do the job and perform at the level the company expects!
b. However, in the
c. Paul says that even if we minister in the gifts of the Holy Spirit but have not love we are just making noise!!!! (1 Cor. 13:1-2)
3. It is not enough to have ministry ... we need holy ministers ... people who have real fruit evidenced from their lives!
LATIMER, ONE OF ENGLAND'S GREAT REFORMERS DURING THE REFORMATION PERIOD SAID TO
HIS LARGE CONGREGATION: "YOU
CAN BUILD A HUNDRED CHURCHES AND FILL THEM WITH GOLD STATUES AND WITH CANDLES AS
BIG AS OAKS, BUT IF YOU DO NOT LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AND FEED THE HUNGRY AND CLOTHE
THE NAKED, YOU WILL GO TO HELL IN SPITE OF ALL." THE
FRUIT OF GOD'S LOVE COMPELS US PAUL SAYS TO REACH OUT, TO SACRIFICE
OURSELVES! NO GUILT TRIPS WORK
III. CLEAR CALL! Gal. 5:22-23
A. Approved Substance! Gal. 5:22a
1. The only approved fruit that should come from our lives is that of the Holy Spirit ... and that fruit is a singular thing: LOVE!
a. In the Greek, the word "fruit" is singular, not plural!
b. The list that follows is a list of the characteristics of "love" ... these are not "fruits" of the Holy Spirit, but characteristics of the fruit of love!
2. Unlike most things which are harmful if too much of it comes, there is no excess with love:
ILLUS: THE DESIRE OF POWER IN EXCESS CAUSED THE ANGELS TO FALL; THE DESIRE OF KNOWLEDGE IN EXCESS CAUSED ADAM AND EVE TO FALL, BUT IN LOVE THERE IS NO EXCESS, NEITHER CAN ANGEL OR MAN COME IN DANGER BY IT! -- (FRANCIS BACON)
3. This passage on the fruit of the Holy Spirit is being contrasted by an earlier verse which showed the fruit of the natural spirit ... how different the two are, that which flows from our nature is selfish in nature, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit which is love is just the opposite!
4. One cannot possess the Holy Spirit and not demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit!
a. This is Paul's point here ... as well as Jesus' point in Matthew 7!
b. Whatever is really inside us will come out! Jesus said it this way, "out of the heart the mouth speaketh."
5. This is the singular quality of being a Christian ... LOVE!
B. Activities of Spirit Gal. 5:22b-23
1. These characteristics listed here are those of love:
a. Joy is love's strength
b. Peace is love's security
c. Patience is love's stability
d. Kindness is love's conduct
e. Goodness is love's character
f. Faithfulness is love's commitment
g. Gentleness is love's humility
h. Self Control is love's victory!
2. This list therefore is not a list of different fruits of the Holy Spirit, it is a list of how the fruit of the Holy Spirit works!
3. When the Holy Spirit resides in our life ... there will be a growing evidence of this fruit in our lives.
a. Like all things that bear fruit ... there might be stages toward that fruit maturing:
b. Like a flowering stage, then a green stage ... but finally the sweet fruit matures to bless all!
c. Our lives as Christians should demonstrate that we are bearing fruit … of the Holy Spirit!
4. The evidence is in the list of characteristics that Paul just shared here!
ILLUS: LIKE WARREN WIERSBE ONCE SAID, "WE DO NOT USE THE HOLY SPIRIT, HE USES US!"
5. No law is required where there is love ... law is there to regulate the flesh and the natural man's bent toward evil ... where the fruit of the Holy Spirit exists no law is necessary, love is not self-serving, it is self-sacrificing!
a. Our lives are to be evaluated by the fruit we display!
b. We are to evaluate others by the fruit they display!
c. The bottom line to Christianity is that we are to bear fruit! ARE YOU?
CONCLUSION: The World, Christians, and even Christ will judge us on more than just the content of what we believe and what we say ... it will be mainly on our conduct!! People can be fooled by what we might say, but they can't be fooled by what we do! We are called to bear fruit, the fruit of the Holy Spirit! The acceptance of the Gospel could literally hang on the fruit from our lives! How's your harvest coming?