“In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.”
See Colossians 1:6
Have you ever heard someone say, “You’re not acting very Christian.”? Unfortunately, this is a very incorrect mindset that a lot of people have. The word Christian is not a verb whatsoever. It’s not something we can do better or worse than others. Being Christian is not what you do at all, instead, it’s what you are! Christian is a noun! You are Christian–or you aren’t. There is no middle ground.
Just like an apple is an apple, you can’t make it not an apple—no matter what you do to it, where it goes, or what your personal opinion is of that apple. That apple will stay an apple for the length of its lifespan. The genetic makeup of that piece of fruit will always be “apple”–it’s unchangeable.
Same with you when you became a Christian. From the moment you first believed that Christ forgave you completely, your genetic spiritual makeup was altered for eternity (see Romans 6:6, Galatians 2:20). So no matter what someone else might think you should or shouldn’t be doing, in order for you to “stay” a Christian or to be a “better” Christian, that doesn’t matter. Their opinion means bupkis in regard to who you really are inside.
Even you can’t change your own heaven-ready spirit (see 2 Timothy 2:13, Ephesians 4:30). Your spirit has been born again so it can’t be unborn or reborn ever again. It’s over. You are now complete in Christ. This is why you should never talk bad about yourself or say things like, “I suck at being a Christian!”–that’s a lie. You don’t have the ability to suck at being a Christian, just like an apple doesn’t have the ability to suck at being an apple. Even if the apple falls to the ground and gets nasty, it’s still an apple. Its DNA cannot be changed–same with you.
Once you accept Christ’s forgiveness, your old spirit dies off and you get a new one which is intertwined with God’s own spirit (see 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 3:3). Your spirit didn’t simply get shined up with a bunch of religious cleaning fluid–it was killed with Christ, buried, and it rose again instantly, in the supernatural realm. Christians have brand new perfect spirits, not patched-up spirits, or spirits that are becoming perfect (see Colossians 1:22, Galatians 2:20, Hebrews 10:10).
This is the exact reason why sin never feels good permanently. It’s because your sinless spirit-man (or spirit-woman), the real you–won’t agree with it. No matter how many different angles you try to finagle sin into your life, your spirit will never allow it by saying, “Sure, that’s fine.” It is absolutely impossible for sin to mix with your spirit because your spirit is perfect like God–I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU!
You might have noticed this inner battle going on from the time you were saved as a kid, like I have. Or, you might have just recently become a believer so now sin sticks out like a big, fat, swollen thumb. Either way, all Christians have new desires to live a sinless life. We don’t always pull it off, but the desire will be there forever. On the other hand, unbelievers couldn’t possibly care less about sin, but that’s not you! You hate it because you are already a part of God’s Holy Family!
The facts are this: from the very instant you believed what you heard about Jesus, you received God’s life into your body (see Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 3:5). You are no longer the same spiritual person you once were, your spirit is completely different!
Sure, your flesh is the same–as in, it’s dying. But your flesh, soul, and spirit are now blameless exactly as they are! (See 1 Thessalonians 5:23). What you do and think isn’t, but all of you is. As a Christian, your perfect spirit begins to reshape your mind by listening to the Holy Spirit who is interwoven with your spirit like wicker in a wicker chair.
Each day, rather than obey our old way of thinking, we listen to the loving guidance of God’s Spirit. Our flesh does not guide us, our spirit does. What is our flesh? It is but an earth-suit for our spirits. Our spirits are not made up of matter, so they need something physical to indwell in order to be a part of this physical universe. Our flesh is temporary and soon to be discarded and remade. Once our spirits have left our flesh, our current bodies are of no more value or use.
When we don’t set our minds on things above we can be influenced by the power of sin, which is a force everywhere on planet earth like gravity (see Romans 7:8, Genesis 4:8). Sin can even influence our brains, creating sinful thoughts. When we act on those thoughts we bring sin to life. The power of sin coming to life through our flesh can be called the flesh, but the flesh is not our flesh. The flesh isn’t our physical bodies, but the parasite of sin expressing itself. The flesh likes what it sees and it wants it now! But we no longer walk by the flesh! We walk by God’s Spirit within us! We are holy, blameless, blemish-free sons and daughters of God! (See 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Galatians 5:16,24-25, Romans 7:6, 8:19, Colossians 1:22).
So by realizing our true spiritual identity, we can then start to grow good fruit in our lives! And no, God did not call us to be fruit inspectors, but instead, branches. Fruit growth happens without effort as we live our lives as spiritually perfect people because it is Christ who’s producing the fruit through us. We are forever connected to Jesus and because of this divine union we’ve become branches who produce delicious spiritual fruit! (See John 15:5). This fruit we grow cannot be legislated and can only be grown organically. Here is what your fruit should look like:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
I want to point out two things from this amazing passage:
- Each characterization of spiritual fruit is not only descriptive but it is also active. Therefore, Christian fruit growth is something that we do–it is a verb. It is action! Christians are not verbs, but our fruit is!
- The second sentence makes clear that growing spiritual fruit can never be forced, it can only happen as we simply be ourselves. You can’t file a lawsuit against a tree to force it to grow fruit. Same with us. A Christian’s natural spiritual fruit production only happens in a restful, non-legislated state of mind.
So today, my friends, do this: Grow delicious fruit by being yourself! “But Matt, I still–” NOPE! Be yourself. “But what about–” NOPE! Be…yourself. As you live out who you really are, you’ll soon see these struggles fade away. You’ll never have to struggle to grow spiritual fruit, by being yourself.
A prayer for you: Dad, today I want to thank you for teaching me who I really am on the inside. Understanding my identity in Christ has helped me grow so much spiritual fruit. I honestly don’t know what to do with all of it! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For the Christians who have been lied to about their real identity, help them to refocus on their perfect spirits. Begin to empower them to grow tons of delicious fruit! Fruit which will feed the hungry people of this entire world! Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 1. Get your copy here!