By Justin Edwards
It reminds me of new beginnings, namely the newness of life within every born again believer in Jesus Christ. The moment we surrendered ourselves at the foot of the cross, God began a marvelous work in us that He will see to perfection. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says,
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
When we crucify our flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24), we are no longer controlled by our sinful nature, but are made alive in Christ (Romans 8:1-17).
Just like the new growth beset upon the limbs of the trees, so to is the Christian beset with fruit of the Spirit of God. Jesus tells us in John 15:16 that we are chosen to bear fruit - fruit that will last. And those who are in Him, who abide in Him, will be pruned so we can bear more fruit. Bearing fruit is the result of Christ residing in the heart of the born again believer. We are His workmanship, and the good works we were created to do in Christ Jesus were prepared for us before the foundations of time! (Ephesians 2:10)
But there are many in the Church (not the Body of Christ mind you, but what we know as the "Church" today in America) who profess to be believers but are on the pathway to destruction. They believe with their heads but not with their hearts, and they will reap the same consequence as the demons who also have this intellectual knowledge of God (James 2:19). These go through the motions of churchianity without any devotion or personal relationship with the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They pay great lip service to the King of kings, but do not follow Him in their hearts. They justify their sins as they mingle with the world and its ways. They do not sorrow over their sins, but rather they make excuses for why they choose to walk according to their sinfulness rather than looking into the Word of God to find how they should walk according to the Spirit.
What does Scripture say about this? We cannot look at our hearts and let it convince us that we are saved simply because we said a prayer years ago. The Word of God is to be our mirror to examine whether we are in the faith. It is imperative to understand that the Bible is our gauge of truth to shed light on our lives, and if darkness is revealed, we must repent and confess these sins unto God. 1 John 1:5-7,
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Verse 6 is clear - those who practice lawlessness, who walk in darkness, who profess to be Christians but carry a lifestyle of sinfulness are liars and the truth is not in them. Galatians 5:19-21 reveals more about walking in this darkness:
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Then in Verse 24 we are told that born again Christians have "crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." The Apostle Paul further says in 1 Corinthians 6:11 that we used to be these things, but now we are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God. And because of this, the believer is sensitive to the works of the flesh. Not only do they no longer control us because we have become new creatures in Christ, but when these works flare up in our flesh, when our old nature seeks to tempt us to sin, we are sensitive to this. If we should fall to the temptation, we come back to God in godly sorrow. 1 John 1:8 says,
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
That's another test! What happens when we sin? Do we justify it and continue in willful disobedience? Or are we sensitive to our transgressions and convicted unto repentance?
Another test the Lord gives us is in 1 John 2:3-6,
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
What happens when you learn the truth of God's Word? Do you reject it? Do you continue to disobey even though it is abundantly clear that you should no longer do the things you are doing? Do you strive for excellence in Christ or do you justify your actions? James 1:22 tells us to be doers of the Word, and not mere hearers. How does your life compare? Are you a hearer or a doer?
We have yet another test in 1 John 3:4-9 that can be tied to the works of the flesh and walking in darkness. When one practices sin - that is, when sin is obvious in the daily life, it is a part of the individual, it is who they are, they justify it, wallow in it, have no conviction over it - they are called children of the devil. This is what it says:
4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
The one who professes to be a Christian must take serious inventory to see whether they be in the faith. These who live in a lifestyle of sin, who practice lawlessness, who love the world and the things of the world including the works of the flesh as mentioned above, cannot also love Jesus Christ. No man can serve two masters as Jesus said in Matthew 6:24. You cannot be loyal and despise something at the same time, neither can you love or hate something simultaneously. For indeed, if we love the world, the love of the Father is not in him as it says in 1 John 2:15-17,
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
So what does it all mean? Do you find yourself convicted of the lifestyle you have been living? Is there a clear contradiction in what you say you believe and what your life says about your belief? This article was not written to condemn you - it was written to challenge you to examine yourself. God's Word is true and it gives us the means to test ourselves. It gives us a blueprint to superimpose over our life to see if we are truly born again, for if we are there will be evidence of a changed life. There will be evidence of fruit in the life of a believer. There is no such thing as a schizophrenic Christian. There is no such thing as a Sunday Christian who lives differently during the week. A born again believer is submitted to Jesus Christ every day - not just one day a week to pay your tithes, sing songs of praise, and make you feel holy because you went to church.
The born again believer bears fruit, fruit that will last. If they should slip into sin, the Holy Spirit will bring them to repentance. If you find yourself struggling with sin, confess it and lay it down at the foot of the cross today! As a born again believer, this may be the final call for you to repent of this area of your life so that God can use you for His glory! If you find yourself convicted of your lifestyle, realizing you may have never been saved at all, then submit your life to Jesus Christ and let Him wash your sins away! Let go of your pride that is condemning you and become a child of God! There is no sin too great, there is no amount of sin that will keep you from the love of Jesus Christ. Come to Him - cry out to Him. Believe in His name and His finished work on the cross and be saved! Be saved, and be changed!
So who will you be? Will you be the branch who God prunes in order to bear more fruit? Or will you be among the dead branches in the Vine who God cuts off and cast into the fire? Abide in Him and He will abide in you. For this is the assurance we who belong to Christ may have (1 John 5:1-5):
1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our[a] faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
As Spring has revealed new life to us, be sure you are the blossom on the Cherry Tree - be washed, be sanctified, be justified, be saved, and be changed!