Am I Producing Fruit, or Am I Deceiving Myself?
by Daniel Yahav
'By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.' (John 15:8). Jesus was using the common knowledge about the vine, to teach His listeners and us, about a foundational truth in the spiritual realm, which can be hard for us to grasp. The owner of a vineyard expects the vines to bear good fruit. In the same way, the Father expects us to produce fruit, but we can only do this if we abide in Yeshua:
'As the branch cannot produce fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me... .He who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.' (John 15:4-5). This is clearly the Creator's design. Just as in a natural vineyard the branches cannot bear fruit unless they are connected to the vine, so it is in our spiritual lives. We cannot produce any fruit unless we are connected to our source of life - our Lord and Saviour, Yeshua.
How do we stay connected to our source of life?
Yeshua said: 'If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.' (John 14:15) . God has provided His Word as a strong reliable framework within which to live. It provides guidance, wisdom, support and direction for our daily life. It is vital that we read it carefully and keep it, that is - obey it and apply it in our daily lives. Doing so, proves that we love Yeshua, and that we are connected to Him.
'Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away...' (John 15:2a)
In the natural, a vine that has fallen to the ground will not produce a good crop. In this case, the vine-dresser will lift it up and retrain it onto the frame so that it can have the chance to continue to grow and produce fruit. If we have fallen down, not applying the word of God, we can confess our sins and repent from our hearts. The Father will forgive us and lift us up, restoring us, so that we may continue in obedience and bear fruit. However, if the vine is growing wild and unrestrained, without any connection to the frame and without producing fruit, it will be cut off. Even so, if we continue in deliberate disobedience to God's Word, and fail to produce the fruits of righteousness, we will be cut off. (Romans 11:22) 'Behold then the kindness and severity of God: to those who fell, severity; but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness: otherwise you also will be cut off...'
The sure way to produce fruit is to stay connected to Yeshua by obeying His Word!
'...every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.' (John 15:2b-3). Every vineyard has to be pruned after the harvest and before the next growing season. This strengthens the plants and makes it easy to train their growth in the right direction, and ensures the good quality of the fruit. Yeshua makes a direct connection between pruning and His Word. Obeying His word will purge and clean us. (Ephesians 5:26)
His Word also disciplines us. It is living and active and able to work in our hearts and our spirits if we receive it with faith. 'For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit.... and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart' (Hebrews 4:12)
We all need this safeguard in our lives, because as the Lord tells Jeremiah: ' The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?' (Jeremiah 17:9)
The Word of God reaches into our hearts and brings the truth. This is sometimes painful and more often than not requires change in our lives. It may mean that we need to change what we are doing or thinking in order to be obedient to His Word. But if we submit to God's word, and obey by faith, it will produce in us a good harvest of righteousness, peace and joy. 'All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.' (Hebrews 12:11)
Both the Word and the Spirit proceed from the mouth of the Lord. It is the Holy Spirit who brings the Word to life in our hearts and this is how we get the food for our spiritual growth and fruitfulness.
The Holy Spirit was sent to teach us and to remind us of the truth of His Word, but it is our responsibility to spend time reading and giving opportunity for Him to bring revelation. How can He remind us if the Scriptures are not in our hearts? We need to store up the Word in our hearts daily, in order to give Him plenty to remind us of. 'But... the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to remembrance all that I said to you.' (John 14:26)
'For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.' (Romans 8:14)
Only Yeshua's true disciples produce fruit and go to Heaven. A disciple is someone who is producing fruit. We need to be active in our pursuit of the Kingdom in our personal lives and our families. Fathers are responsible to lead their family with loving authority so that they produce good fruit for the Kingdom- they are responsible for what happens in the family- spiritual leadership needs to be a high priority. Wives are to show love and respect to their husbands as an example to the children and children need to obey and respect their parents. This is also part of the framework installed by God through His Word to provide strength and support. If we refuse to stay within God's framework, we will not produce the fruit He is expecting from us.
There will always be a battle within us concerning our decision to abide in the vine of Yeshua and to walk by the Spirit in obedience to His Word, because our old nature is opposed to the Spirit of God.
'For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another...' (Galatians 5:17) . We must continually say 'NO' to the flesh, and not allow it to cause us to stumble. We have to take this as seriously as Yeshua did. 'And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell'. (Matthew 5:29)
We live in a world that is full of temptations - for example, the internet world at the tip of our fingers. It is vital that we do not allow the temptations to steal our time or cause us to fall into sin, either of which will have a severe effect on our ability to abide in Yeshua and produce the fruit which the vine-dresser is expecting to find. This requires making conscious, daily decisions to deny the flesh and walk by the Spirit - it is not easy, but it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Word.
'But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the deeds of the flesh' (Galatians 5:16)
Am I deceiving myself?
If we think we are strong enough in our own power not to give in to the flesh, we are deceiving ourselves. Even King David, who loved God with all his heart and sought to walk in His ways, was tempted and chose to ignore the danger signals. He could find the justifications for his sinful actions in his mind. James explains how this works: '..each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived brethren'. (James 1:15-16)
Our sure defense against the temptations of the flesh is the fear of the Lord, and His Word.
'The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death'. (Proverbs 14:27)
'Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee'. (Psalm 119:11)
'Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life'. (Proverbs 4:23)
We are deceiving ourselves if we think we can produce fruit without listening to God's word, without reading it, and letting it do its transforming work in our lives - or if, having read and heard we do not put into practice what we have learned. 'But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves'. (James 1:22)
The Father is looking for the fruit of the Spirit in our lives - it will be a natural outcome of walking in the Spirit and being a disciple of Yeshua. Walking in the flesh produces a crop which grieves the Holy Spirit (Galations 5:19-21), but walking in the Holy Spirit and crucifying the flesh produces the harvest our Creator originally intended for us to produce. (Galations 5:22-23)
May we bring joy to His heart and to ours as we abide in Him and obey His Word each day, producing the good fruit in our lives. 'These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full'. (John 15:11)