DEVELOPING SPIRITUAL FRUIT
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring for more fruit. (John 15:2)
It is God's desire that spiritual fruit be evident in your life.
PRODUCTION LEVELS OF FRUIT
There are different levels of fruit bearing evident in the lives of believers. John chapter 15 identifies the various levels of fruit production:
-Fruit: John 15:2a
-More fruit: John 15:2b
-Much fruit: John 15:5,8
-Permanent Fruit: John 15:16
God's desire is that you bear much spiritual fruit and that it is permanent. He wants you to be productive in the outer fruit of evangelism and the inner fruit of Christ-likeness.
NATURAL AND SPIRITUAL TRUTHS
The Bible contains important principles which you must identify in order to understand what God is saying to you through the King James Bible. One of these principles is that of natural parallels of spiritual truths. The word "parallel" means to be similar to something or to "lay side by side.” In a "natural parallel of a spiritual truth" God uses a natural example to explain or represent a spiritual truth.
The parables of Jesus were natural examples of spiritual truths. For example, in one parable He used the natural example of a woman searching intensely for a lost coin. He used this to illustrate the intense concern we should have for men and women who are lost in sin. This is just one of many examples of parables in which Jesus used natural examples to illustrate spiritual truths.
This principle of natural and spiritual parallels is explained in I Corinthians:
...There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which was spiritual but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. (I Corinthians 15:44-46)
In these verses the Apostle Paul shared one of the greatest examples of a natural parallel of a spiritual truth. The first man created by God was the natural man, Adam. Jesus, who is called the last Adam, was a spirit. Adam was a natural parallel of the spiritual truth God revealed through Jesus Christ. By the natural man came sin and death. By the spiritual man came salvation and life.
That which is natural is something you can observe with your senses; you can see, hear or touch it. That which is spiritual can only be observed with spiritual senses. Natural examples can be recognized with the physical senses. Their spiritual parallels can only be recognized through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Understanding this principle of natural parallels of spiritual truths results in new insights in the study of the King James Bible.
DEVELOPING THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Jesus used the term "fruit" of the Spirit as a natural parallel of a spiritual truth. Certain conditions are necessary to produce fruit in the natural world. These are spiritual parallels of things necessary for production of spiritual fruit. In the natural world, as well as the spiritual realm, there are specific conditions necessary to assure growth. These include the following:
The first requirement for development of the fruit of the Spirit is life. Just as life in the natural world comes through seed, life in the spiritual world came through the Seed of Jesus Christ.
In the first promise of a Savior of the world, Jesus was called a Seed:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15)
In Jesus Christ [the Seed] is the life required to produce spiritual fruit:
In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4)
For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself. (John 5:26)
...I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
That Seed of life, Jesus Christ, must be living in you. You cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit if you do not have a personal relationship with Him because... From Me is thy fruit found... (Hosea 14:8)
Water is necessary to produce fruit in the natural world. Water is one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit. The water of the Holy Spirit is necessary to produce fruit in the spirit world. It quenches your spiritual thirst and brings spiritual growth:
He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:38-39)
For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring. (Isaiah 44:3)
It is response to light that stimulates growth in the natural fruit bearing process. It is your response to the light of God's Word that produces the fruit of the Spirit.
This is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanseth us from all sin. (I John 1:5-7)
Carbon dioxide is drawn in by the natural plant from the air which surrounds it. This is necessary for growth and fruit production. In the Word of God the Holy Spirit is compared to air or wind:
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)
The "wind" of the Holy Spirit blowing across your life is much like the wind in the natural world. It scatters the seeds of the Word of God, separates the wheat from the chaff in your spiritual life, and fans the dying coals of your spiritual zeal to set you ablaze for God.
In Matthew 13 in the parable of the sower, competition for space choked out some plants. The believer who develops spiritual fruit will discover he must be set apart from the competition of the world:
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)
You are not to be conformed to the ways of the world. You are to be transformed [changed] into the ways of God:
And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind... (Romans 12:2a)
God clears space around you [sets you apart from the world] to permit you to grow spiritually:
...He shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn and grow as the vine... From Me is thy fruit found. (Hosea 14:5-8)
Roots are necessary to anchor and supply nutrients to the plant. Psalms chapter l tells how to develop the root system in your spiritual life:
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalms 1:1-3)
Dormancy [rest] occupies a specific season in the natural growth cycle of plants. Dormancy is a period during which the plant may appear to be dead because there is no growth. It is a period of rest for the plant. Dormancy usually occurs right before a period of very rapid growth. In the natural world, God commanded times of rest for the land (Leviticus 25:5).
One of the purposes of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is to bring spiritual rest and refreshing. This spiritual refreshing results in rapid growth of the fruit of the Holy Spirit:
Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you would seem to come short of it. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. (Hebrews 4:1,9)
For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people. To whom He said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing... (Isaiah 28:11-12)
Both in the natural and spiritual worlds, in order to produce fruit the ground must be properly prepared. In the parable of the sower in Matthew 13 it was the condition of the soil that affected the growth of the seed. Your heart is like soil in the natural world. If your heart is hard and filled with things of the world that choke out the Word of God, you will not bear spiritual fruit.
It is your responsibility to prepare the spiritual soil of your heart to respond properly to God's Word:
Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you. (Hosea 10:12)
Every time you plant a seed to produce fruit, it does not come to life unless it dies first:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24)
Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: (I Corinthians 15:36)
Spiritual life depends on death to the things of the world. It requires death to sin, worldly desires, and pleasures. Death to the world results in the development of the fruit of Christ-likeness in your life.
ATTACHED TO THE VINE:
In order to bear fruit in the natural world a branch must be attached to the main plant. If the branch is broken off from the main life-giving vine it will not bear fruit. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. In order to bear spiritual fruit we must maintain our relationship to Him:
I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit... Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing. (John 15:1-5)
Pruning is necessary in the natural world if a plant is to remain reproductive and bear fruit. When a farmer prunes a plant he cuts off the unproductive branches in order to make the plant produce more fruit. He removes everything which would hinder the growth of the plant. Pruning is also necessary in the spiritual world. Spiritual pruning is correction by God.
The Bible also calls it chastisement. When God "prunes" He removes from your life everything which would hinder your spiritual growth. This process is necessary if you are to bear spiritual fruit:
Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:2)
Sometimes you do not reap the benefits of pruning because you blame Satan when God is actually the one bringing circumstances into your life to correct [prune] you. The purpose of God's correction is given in Hosea:
Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten and He will bind us up. (Hosea 6:1)
The chastisement of pruning results in returning to God. Only by returning to Him will you become spiritually reproductive and bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Climate is important in development of fruit. In the natural world, many types of fruit are developed in environments that are specially controlled. They are grown in buildings called "hot houses" at specific temperatures. They are protected from the real environment of the outside world. If you take a "hot house" plant and move it outside, it will soon die because it has lived only in a controlled environment. It cannot withstand the environment of the real world.
Spiritually speaking, we do not want "hot house" Believer's who look good in controlled settings but wilt on contact with the real world. Spiritual fruit should be just as evident in our contacts with the world as it is in the controlled settings of Christian friends or mentors.
FOR FURTHER STUDY
Read Song Of Solomon 4:12-16. In this passage we are given a glimpse of God's garden. He calls His people, the Church [believers] His garden. Your life is spiritual "ground" that will either yield spiritual fruit, spiritual "weeds", or be barren and empty. What is growing in the spiritual ground of your life? Are there weeds and thorns of:
-The cares, anxieties, worries or interests of this world?
-The deceitfulness of riches?
-The desire for worldly things?
What takes up the most space in your life? What occupies most of your time and attention? What is most important in your priorities? Is the "garden of your heart" stony soil? Do you have a hard heart? Those areas in which you stubbornly refuse to comply with Christ's commands are barren, rocky spiritual soil.