My aunt would have a basket of fruit on her dining room table for decoration. It looked very real, but you would break your teeth if you tried to eat it. It was man made. It looked like the genuine thing, but it was fake. If I were to be honest, I spent a lot of time in my life trying to produce spiritual fruit. It can look like real fruit, but it’s really only an imitation.
Jesus used a vivid illustration to demonstrate this truth to His disciples (John 15:1-6). He said He was the vine and the Father was the vinedresser. His disciples were the branches. They would not bear fruit unless they abided (remained) in the vine (v. 4). In fact without Him they could do nothing (v.5).
It’s impossible to live the Christian life in the power of the old nature. The old nature (flesh) is incapable of bearing spiritual fruit. It drives my emotions to make me feel good about the religious things I do. It’s the mentality that I gain God’s favor by doing things for God. The sin nature (flesh) can do a lot of good for the wrong reasons. You can go to church, pray, give, and even read your Bible with the wrong motivation. Those can actually be self-serving activities that you are producing in the flesh. They can make you ‘feel’ accepted by God.
But if a believer is abiding in Christ, the motivation is different. Now I am resting in Him by faith and the motivation is to serve Him; not because I have to but because I want to. It originates from a thankful heart (inner control center) that is being energized by the word of God through the Spirit of God out of love for God in the new nature. It’s walking in the Spirit. Then and only then will you bear fruit, because He is producing the fruit in you and through you. Like a branch you bear the fruit. You don’t produce the fruit. Branches cannot bear acceptable fruit when not connected to the vine (Jesus).
As believers we must understand that when we believed in Jesus, He “made you accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). Jesus did everything. You and I cannot gain anymore of God’s favor. That should be the primary motivational factor of abiding in Christ. The more you and I realize how wretched we are before a holy God, how gracious He is, and that He accepts us in Christ; the more likely I will want to follow and serve Him. It doesn’t mean that I’ll stop sinning. It simply means I can rest and know I am secure in Him. He produces the fruit and we bear His fruit when abiding in Him. This is the only way we can live the Christian life – it’s by God’s grace through faith.
So may I ask, are you bearing fruit or producing fruit? Are you working to gain His favor? Or are you resting in Him, knowing that you are accepted in the Beloved? If you are resting in Him, you will bear fruit.
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).