John 8:11 (NASB): “She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
John 8:11 (NASB): “She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
According to Joseph Prince, senior pastor of New Creation Church, “the Holy Spirit does not convict the believer of sin”.
However, speaking of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle John wrote: “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).
Writing in year 1928, Frank Lindblade expanded on this truth in his book “The Spirit which is from God”
In dealing with the phenomenon of conviction of sin we have a subject that is not greatly understood by even many professed Christians. Convicting of sin is the greatest work the Holy Spirit can do upon an unsaved person, and is probably the greatest of all the Spirit’s manifestations. Because of the general ignorance concerning the Holy Spirit’s person and work as a whole, and therefore conviction included, the present condition of the general church has been arrived at. The Spirit has been given not only to brood over and care for the church, but also that the church may be added to through His activities. Because Peter was filled with the Spirit and preached under His anointing the church received three thousand adherents one day and five thousand another day. Acts 2:41 and 4:4. The church’s recruits are from the ranks of the unsaved. Before a person becomes a member of the church he must first be saved, and salvation cannot come until that person has first had knowledge and feelings of his sins and has been under conviction. So unless there is a conviction of sin there is no real addition to the church which is the body of Christ. Because of the predominating absence of the Spirit and therefore also His conviction of sin, the nominal church today is to a large extent adding to her members unregenerate persons who never have tasted of the grace of God and of the salvation that there is in Christ Jesus…
Because of the lack of the Spirit’s presence and the conviction that He brings, men have busied themselves searching for substitutes that will be just as good. But it happens that in this instance there is nothing just as good. The Spirit is not one of several persons or things that bring conviction. He is the only one who can do so. These others are but counterfeits. We live in an age of progress, evolution as men call it. They are attempting to evolute everything in these days. They have wonderfully progressed in the art of killing one another, of committing sin and covering up their crimes, of debauching their bodies and minds and serving the devil in general. Now they are trying to evolute the scriptures by removing certain portions obnoxious to themselves. They are also trying out this evolution program on the Spirit’s work of convicting of sin, but have only succeeded in making a fizzle of the whole affair and incidentally misguiding many people, and possibly sending many to destruction…
Man, after excluding the Spirit of God in his attempts at soul saving, has dragged in all manner of things. These at times have provided to be excellent instruments for the creation of interest, drawing the crowds and producing great mental and fleshly enthusiasm. But great interest and powerful widespread enthusiasm does not happen to be conviction of sin. A powerful presence and operation of the power of God will create great interest, draw crowds and produce much enthusiasm, but these in themselves will not bring the presence of the Holy Spirit. God can use some man’s strong personality, and most persons that have been used and are being used of God are of strong personality, but a strong personality in itself except as God honors it, can bring but little results towards real salvation. In fact, at times it may do great damage. Many a preacher’s so-called success consists of the use of more than usual natural talents and being born a leader among men, which gifts sway the multitudes. While under the influence of his preaching people feel dominated by his stronger will power and make a profession of religion which never came from their hearts. There has been altogether too much of this done, and thousands today have no more salvation that that received through the shaking of some man’s hand or signing some card.
Many, in these days, often mistake enthusiasm for evidence of the presence of God. Because they sing fast, because there are good collections, because many are boosting the cause, because some or many are free in shouting “Hallelujah” or “Amen”, because someone jumps and makes much noise, because the preacher works up a tremendous fervor, removes his coat, jumps and runs to and fro, therefore God must be there! God surely is there doing all that He can, or as much as they will allow Him to do, but very often the largest part of all of this is nothing but plain everyday flesh. When the greatest conviction comes, there is a hush over the audience and a silence so deep as to be literally felt, broken only by sobs of those with whom the Spirit is dealing. Even the infants strangely become quiet or fall asleep.
Others will play upon the emotions, telling narratives planned to awaken sympathy and cause tears and when this condition is on, urge the people to make a decision. Robert Ingersoll could make an audience laugh or weep, but who would dare to say that weeping was God? A person may weep because of having his sympathy played upon through hearing of some poor widow losing her only son or of the death of some orphan child, but that does not necessarily mean that these are tears of repentance. Stirred emotions and tears of sympathy are not always an indication that the individual has godly sorrow in his heart because he lied, stole, mistreated his parents, or served the devil in general, and rejected Jesus Christ. Godly sorrow works repentance, and unless there had been godly sorrow for sin, there is no true repentance unto salvation. Evidently there are many who know little or nothing of true repentance or salvation.
Christian author Retah McPherson shared her insights recently on how generational sin gets passed on through epigenetics:
…Epigenetics means –‘whatever you hold on to, you pass on’. Or as the text books explain it – epigenetic memories are passed through generations from the sperm and egg transmitting memories of gene repression to the embryo. Body, soul, and spirit memory will be paid out in a memory tag on your children or grandchildren’s genes in a form of a marker filled with memories. It is called the epigenetic marker on your genes. Even what you eat, your stress, nutrition, environment, the choices that we make, the situations we find ourselves in, the lies, the secrets, the trauma, PTS, your emotions such as hate and bitterness, the difficulties you face, abuse, even SRA abuse are passed on – will be biologically payed out to our children, and even to future generations. Even the demons that we accumulate, the generational spirits and every soul that latches onto us because of sexual sin will be passed on.
This is one big messy payout!
These markers are passive until one day when something happens and shock, trauma or even small things like environmental change activate the markers – switching it on like a light. The child will become just like Grandma or Grandpa or even just like you! The familiar spirits, dead human spirits and demons all live in the markers that first operate in the spirit and we only see the fruit in the flesh. They take over the steering wheel of you and/or your children’s lives. You can no longer think straight because you are blinded by the markers that now control and direct your life. The marker is like an octopus on your brain. It squeezes the life out of you. People will find themselves struggling to concentrate and many mind diseases and anxiety or depression will follow. It has tentacles and those tentacles feed your senses with the poison that you carry of the marker in the wound of your heart. Because of the marker on you (the curse) you have been wounded in some form or another. Grandpa killed someone, the marker is passed on and you were nearly killed in an accident and after that you are fighting for your life just to survive. You find yourself once drinking too much and a person was killed – ‘payback time’, says the marker.
I struggled for years to get rid of the spirit of death that fought Aldo so much. Until I understood that one marker on us is the marker of death, the marker of harming us and of course it carries the spirit of death! The Word of YHVH says – what you sow you shall reap – if it is not you then your generations to come. For example your forefathers stole from someone and you find that people keep on stealing from you. Or grandma cheated on grandpa and now you find yourself cheating all the time. You started to do drugs, just like your forefathers, or drink, or lie, or steal, or cheat, or poverty, stress, depression, diabetes, asthma, mental illness, or are angry, resentful or even sleep with your boyfriend at just the same age as your mom and grandma did? Bowing to Baal, trusting not on God but your own insight, being involved in the occult, Freemasonry – it all pays out later. It is like steroids, you think you gain while you use it, but some day it is payback time. Involvement with the occult and Freemasonry always pays out in the mind.
The markers are filled with time bombs because of the sin defiling time and land, and this too pays out. You were abused, rejected, are accident prone, filled with lust and much more – and this you will pass on to your generations if you don’t remove the epigenetic marker (curse) and don’t get out of that wound and get healed. The maggots feast on the wound and their plan is to keep you in the wound and harden your heart so that you increasingly start doing that which you don’t want to do. They feed your senses and you get driven by those emotions, lusts, hate and the result is living a double life. The epigenetic marker filled with generational demons wants to kill, steal and destroy your destiny and identity. The darkness within seals your vision and your life becomes like Lazarus in the tomb. The plan is to keep you in the wilderness (far from the presence of YHVH) just like your forefathers, so that you can die there and never taste the Promised Land (being one with YHVH).
However, according to Retah McPherson, the blood of Jesus Christ can “reset the format of these genes after we came to Him with a repented heart“. To find out more, please read her full article: http://www.retahmcpherson.com/tabid/116/Default.aspx
The bible alludes to us that the iniquity of one’s ancestors can be passed on from generation to generation (Exodus 34:7 and Numbers 14:18), and some of you who are reading this right now may be acutely aware of this, because you are struggling with the same sinful thought patterns and bondages that your parents or your ancestors had once yielded to in the past. This is in spite of the fact that you may already be “saved”, or indeed, have been “saved” for many years.
That said, the following powerful presentations by Christian author Retah McPherson may help you break free from these inherited bondages.
May the Lord bless you and may He pour out His grace mightily on you and set you free as you watch these videos!
The bible (1 John 1:9) advocates that all believers should make it a practice of confessing their sins to the Father, for “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.
However, how can believers confess their sins if they are not conscious of them in the first place?
Based on the experience of the late Chinese church leader Watchman Nee and his meditations of the scripture, there are by and large eight types of sin that a Christian may possess. These are detailed in the book The Overcoming Life:
1. Spiritual Sins
Pride is a spiritual sin. Jealousy is a spiritual sin. Unbelief is a spiritual sin. Picking out others’ mistakes is a spiritual sin. Lack of prayer is a spiritual sin. Doubting God is a spiritual sin, and failure to commit ourselves to God is also a spiritual sin. There are some who are victorious in spiritual matters, but there are more who are defeated in these matters.
I once was beset by pride. Any kind of pride is a spiritual sin. Any kind of pride that hinders you from going on is a spiritual sin. A proud person cannot stand to see others being better than himself. He cannot bear to see others being more advanced in worldly affairs, and he cannot bear others being more advanced in spiritual matters. If there is anyone who is more advanced spiritually, he will do anything to find his faults and put him down. Jealousy is a sin in our spiritual life as well as in the Lord’s work.
Some are filled with an evil heart of unbelief. If you ask whether or not they believe, they will answer that there is not one word or sentence in God’s Word that they do not believe. But if you ask whether or not they trust in God’s promises, they will admit that they are unable. As soon as they suffer a little trial, they panic beyond measure. They cannot trust in God’s Word at all. Martin Luther’s wife once put on a funeral dress and told him that he was in such distress that it seemed as if his God had died.
Many people do not have a proper living or fellowship with Him. Day by day, they live in a loose way. They spend their days without praying or reading the Bible. They spend their days without seeing God’s face or fellowshipping with Him. They even spend their days dreading the thought of fellowshipping with the Lord. This is a life of godlessness. We have sinned, we have failed, and we have not lived a spiritual life. Many of us have never been diligent to learn the proper lessons of dealing with the self. Many of us have never been diligent to learn the proper lessons of putting the self aside.
Once there were two brothers who were not on good terms with each other because of a very small matter. They ate meals together, taking their servings from the same plate. One always selected the few choice meats from the plate for himself. When the other saw this, he kept quiet for several days.
After two weeks, he could bear this behavior no longer, and he separated himself from the other brother. The kind of person you are is manifested in the small things you do. I love to read the biography of Mr. Hudson Taylor. When he traveled in his preaching itinerary, he almost always chose the worst room and the worst bed. Although these are small things, the way in which a person deals with them shows whether or not he lives before God.
2. Sins of the Flesh
Not only are there spiritual sins. There are also sins of the flesh. Adultery is a sin of the flesh, undisciplined eyes are a sin of the flesh, and improper relationships with others are also a sin of the flesh. Many have failed in these things. Many have sinned with their eyes because their eyes have not been disciplined. Many are improper in their relationship with friends. These are sins of the flesh. They are sins in one’s conduct. Some sins have nothing to do with the body. Other sins are related to the body.
Brothers and sisters, have your eyes been dealt with? I admit that today there are plenty of opportunities for the eyes to sin. You have to deal with this matter before the Lord. There are many Christians who will never experience God’s overcoming life unless their eyes are dealt with by the Lord.
Friendship is another thing that we have to watch carefully. A brother may build up an extraordinary friendship with an unbeliever. According to the world, this is not sin. But according to God’s ordained life for a Christian, this extraordinary friendship is a sin. This is true also with the sisters. A Western missionary once said that some unbelievers tried to develop extraordinary friendships with him. When he realized that it was a sin, he rejected the friendships.
3. Sins of the Mind
Not only are there spiritual sins and sins of the flesh. There are sins of the mind as well. Many do not have spiritual sins. To an extent, they have been dealt with in their flesh. But they cannot overcome their thoughts. Some have wandering thoughts. Others have circumventing thoughts.
Some have unstable thoughts. Some thoughts are not wandering, circumventing, or unstable, but they are unclean or illusionary. Some are filled with doubts. Others are obsessed with a drive for knowledge. They want to know everything, and they will not stop until they do. Those who have these kinds of thoughts have not experienced the overcoming life. We should not think that there is nothing wrong with us. Few are actually victorious over their thoughts. Many have wandering, unstable, and drifting thoughts. Having drifting thoughts is serious, but having unclean thoughts is even worse. Some have unclean thoughts that tenaciously linger over them. I once met a sister who confessed that her thoughts were always wandering. I met another Christian who confessed that his thoughts were always unclean. This shows that we are not living out the life of God. We have to deal with all these matters.
Imaginations have damaged many Christians. Doubts have also damaged many Christians. For example, when we meet a brother on the street and he is not very friendly, we may think that he is angry with us or that he thinks unfavorably of us. But when we arrive home, we may learn that his unfriendly attitude was related to the fact that he did not sleep well the night before, that he had a headache, or that he was going through some terrible experience. We thought that it was a problem related to ourselves, but actually there was nothing wrong with us. Our imaginations often hurt us, yet we often think that we can discern the hearts of others. We must realize that only the Lord can search “the inward parts and the hearts” (Rev. 2:23). Many imagine that others are one way or another. We have sinned in our thoughts. We have made too many judgments. We have too many illusions. Brothers and sisters, we must come to the Lord and deal with these things. If our thoughts are not dealt with, we cannot enter into a life of victory in God.
There is a brother who has an obsession for knowledge. He has to know the reason for everything. He analyzes everything and wants to know everything. His mind is very active. He does not trust in God, yet he wants to know about every single thing around him. Brothers and sisters, this kind of drive for knowledge is also a sin. We must deal with this as well.
4. Sins in the Body
There are some sins that are related to the body. They may not necessarily be unclean things. Humanly speaking, they may not be big things. But to a Christian, these are sins. Some pay too much attention to eating. Others pay too much attention to sleeping. Some pay too much attention to health or to personal grooming. Some are bound by the habit of indulging in snacks. Some love their bodies too much. All of these are sins before the Lord.
Many Christians are bound by eating. They have never fasted as a Christian. It is possible to know the kind of person they are from the way they eat. The minute they pick up their chopsticks, others know the kind of person they are. A brother said, “I have a large appetite. My appetite is extraordinarily large.” Brothers and sisters, overindulgence in eating is also a sin. Those who cannot control themselves in the matter of eating are committing a sin.
Some have a terrible look on their face when they only lose a little sleep. They become impatient in handling things and talk incoherently. This also is a sin.
Some indulge in eating snacks. They spend a great deal of money on snack food. Others pay too much attention to their personal grooming. They always insist on good clothes. There are also some who are obsessed with health. Everything has to be just right for them. They consider this or that to be poisonous or bad for the body. They are confined and threatened by everything. Brothers and sisters, these are examples of being obsessed with our bodies. Too many people love their own body too much. They cannot suffer at all, and they cannot bear to even approach those who are sick.
They are bound by their body. Paul said, “I buffet my body and make it my slave” (1 Cor. 9:27). He put his body under his subjection. Failing to put one’s body under one’s subjection is a sin. The body should be put under our subjection. Many have sacrificed their prayer in the morning for sleep.
Many have sacrificed their time in the Word for food. Many are unable to serve the Lord because they pay too much attention to snack foods and outward appearance. Any negligence in bridling ourselves in these areas is a sin.
5. Sins in Disposition
Disposition is related to man’s character. It is his personal traits. Every person is born with a certain disposition. The Lord has not come to deliver us from sin only, but also from our disposition.
Some are born stubborn. Others are born very legalistic. For them, two plus two must be four. They are very proper, but at the same time, they are very rigid. What they regard as right is right, and what they regard as wrong is wrong. They are very unbending. Wherever they are and whatever they do, they are always the supreme judge. There is no doubt that they are often very righteous, but their righteousness has horns. They lack gentleness and sweetness toward the brothers. Their righteousness is hard and unbending. Brothers and sisters, this also is sin.
Others are too weak. They are afraid of bearing any responsibility. Everything is acceptable to them.
They are exactly the opposite of the stubborn ones just mentioned. Some are misled to think that a nice man is a holy man. But how many nice men has God used? Was the Son of God a nice man on earth? Brothers and sisters, this kind of disposition is also a sin and needs to be dealt with.
Some are not too hard and not too nice, but they like to exhibit themselves. Wherever they are, they want to be noticed. Wherever they go, they always want to speak. Even when they do not have the opportunity to do anything, they still want to walk around and greet everyone. Wherever they are, they are not satisfied until they let everyone else notice their presence. They make their presence conspicuous no matter where they go, and they can never be quiet.
Some brothers are very withdrawn. Wherever they go, they do not like to exhibit themselves. They always sit in a corner. This is also sin, and it should be dealt with.
Some brothers are very quick. Others are very slow. One brother said once, “Praise God! I have a quick disposition. I lose my temper quickly and I forget about it just as quickly. I can explode with a big temper in the morning, but in five minutes it is over. When I go to work I have forgotten about it.” However, his wife and children suffer for the whole day. When he comes back from work, his wife is still suffering. This is very strange to him. He even considers himself to be very good! This is a sin, and it needs to be dealt with also.
Some are slow in everything. A matter can go unattended for a day or for ten days. This is laziness. This disposition also needs to be dealt with.
Every person has his own peculiarity. Although some are saved, they are very severe towards others; they antagonize situations. Everything is important to them. They never take advantage of others, but they never allow others to take advantage of them either. They never hurt others, but if others hurt them, they will take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. They are very calculating and never let anything go.
Some are not severe to others. But they are very mean. They take advantage of others even when it is only a matter of a few pennies. They do not rob others, but they take advantage even of their servants or chauffeurs.
Some are very talkative. Wherever they go, there is never a dull moment. They gossip about this family and criticize that family. Some are glib about the truths. Whatever they know, they have to speak to others about them. Some like to speak words of exaggeration. They are not lying, but whatever they say, they exaggerate. All these dispositions have to do with our speaking. If we desire to overcome and live an overcoming life, we have to deal with all these things. If we are unable to rid ourselves of these things, we need to overcome.
I have to talk about these matters because the daily walk of Christians today is far from being godly.
Some brothers can only see the faults of others; they cannot appreciate the virtues of others. Only words of criticism come forth from their mouths. One time a brother from northern China had a breakthrough in overcoming. Formerly, he could never stop finding fault. When a person came to him, he would point out six or seven things wrong with him. When another came, he would point out six or seven more problems with the second one. I told this brother that he saw so many problems in others because he himself was the problem. This was his disposition, his nature.
Brothers and sisters, all of these are sins. Every overcoming Christian lives above these things, not under them.
6. No Willingness to Obey God’s Word
Not only do we have sins on the negative side. The Bible shows us that being negligent before God in our intention to obey His Word is also a sin. Brothers and sisters, how much of God’s commandments have you read, and how much have you obeyed? How many husbands love their wives, and how many wives submit to their husbands? A wife once said that she knew that she should submit to her husband; however, she always argued a little before submitting. She eventually realized that she has never had any true submission according to the standard of God’s commandment. This, of course, is sin.
How many Christians realize that being sorrowful is sin? The Bible says that we have to always rejoice. How many Christians have obeyed this commandment? We have to realize that being sorrowful is sin. Everyone who does not rejoice has sinned. God’s commandment is to be anxious in nothing. If we become anxious, we have sinned. According to God’s commandment, being sorrowful and anxious is to sin. Of course, according to man, being sorrowful and anxious is not sin. However, God’s Word says that sorrow and anxiety are sins.
We should give thanks in everything. It is God’s commandment that we give thanks in everything. In everything we should say, “God! I thank You and praise You!” Even when we encounter difficulties, we should still say, “God! I thank and praise You!” There is a story about a woman with nine children. She thought that the word on not being anxious must be very wrong. She argued that a mother has to be anxious. She thought that not being anxious was a sin. She had lost two children through anxiety, and she thought she had to raise up the other seven in anxiety. This sister did not see that anxiety is a sin. She thought that it was her duty to be anxious.
To always rejoice is a commandment of God. To be anxious for nothing is also a commandment of God. To give thanks in everything, even more, is a commandment of God. Victory and strength enable one to keep the commandment of God. Those who are unable to overcome cannot keep God’s commandments.
7. Failure to Render to God What He Requires
God requires that we consecrate ourselves absolutely to Him. He requires that we consecrate our wives and children to Him. He also requires that we consecrate our business entirely to Him. He requires that we consecrate all of our money to Him. Every Christian wants to save something for himself. But dear brothers and sisters, we have to realize that in the Old Testament there was the ordinance of tithing, the offering of one tenth; in the New Testament our consecration should be ten tenths. Our house, our land, our wife and children, and even ourselves must be fully consecrated to God.
Many Christians are afraid that God will trouble them. There was a Christian who was very afraid of consecrating himself to God. He said, “If I offer up myself to God, what will happen if He sends sufferings to me?” I said to him in a serious way, “What kind of God do you think our God is? If a disobedient child becomes yielding and tells his parents that he will be obedient to them from now on, do you think that the parents will purposely ask him to do what he cannot do? Do you think that the parents will make him suffer on purpose? If they do, they are no longer his parents but his judge. If they are truly his parents, they will surely care for their child. Do you think that God will give you sufferings on purpose? Do you think that God will play tricks on you on purpose? You have forgotten that He is your Father!”
Brothers and sisters, only those who are consecrated to God have real power. They can place their business in God’s hands. They can place their fathers, mothers, wives, and children in God’s hands.
They can place their money in God’s hands. They will not take what God has given to them and waste it in the world. They have consecrated even their own lives to the Lord. Those who are afraid of consecrating their belongings, their material goods, and their relationships with others to God have not yet overcome. The more one consecrates to God, the more strength one has. Those who willingly consecrate to God almost seem to encourage God to take more. They seem to say to God, “Please take more!” The life of consecration is a joyous life. It is a life of power. If a man does not consecrate himself, not only has he sinned, but he is also lacking in power.
8. Regarding Iniquity and Refusing to Repent of Sins That Should Be Confessed
Many people have dealt with many things, but in their heart they refuse to admit that the things they have dealt with are sins. According to Psalm 66:18, these ones “regard iniquity” in their heart.
Their heart loves these sins; they are unwilling to relinquish them. Not only is there a desiring, there is the loving, the regarding, and the unwillingness to relinquish these sins. There is a hidden love toward sin, a heart that refuses to acknowledge the sins as sins. Although we would never admit our love for these things and although our mouth would never say that we crave these things, our heart goes after them even before our feet follow after them. Many times, sin is not a matter of outward behavior, but a matter of love in the heart. If there are iniquities that we regard in our heart, we have to overcome them.
Many people not only have a heart for iniquity, but they also refuse to acknowledge many of their sins. A believer often offends a brother. When the matter is brought to his attention, he readily admits that he has offended the brother. Consequently, he makes some outward adjustments; he begins to treat the other brother better, shakes his hand in a warmer way, and receives him more affectionately. Brothers and sisters, the most we can do is change our attitude, but God does not recognize this. God does not recognize changes in our attitude. Many things require restitution. Money needs to be returned. Although many people do not have the time to listen to our long stories, we still have to confess our sins.
Concerning confession, the Bible never says that we should tell others of our sins in detail. The Bible never tells us to enumerate our sins like a novel. The Lord says, “If your brother sins…” (Matt. 18:15). It does not matter how many sins there are. When a brother comes to us and confesses, “Brother, I have sinned against you,” we have to forgive him. Many hidden stories need not be told. No ear on earth is worthy of listening to all these stories, and no ear on earth could bear them all.
Brothers and sisters, how many sins do our hearts still cherish? How many sins are left untouched? If there are any sins, we have to overcome them. Unless we overcome, we will not be able to prevail over these sins.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23b; NIV)
The book of Galatians tell us what is the fruit (note: it is singular, not plural) of the Spirit. However, is it important for the believer to possess it?
In my view, the answer is a strong ‘yes‘, because it seems that it is the presence of fruit (of the Spirit) that a true follower of Jesus Christ is distinguished from a hypocritical one.
In addition, it seems that the presence of the fruit of the Spirit serves as a criterion for whether an individual will enter heaven or not.
16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:16-23; NIV)
Seeing its importance, how then can one obtain the fruit of the Spirit?
The clue is found right after the well-known verses in Galatians that describe the fruit of the Spirit. Namely, it is by “crucifying the flesh with its passions and desires“:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24; NIV; with emphasis added)
Crucifixion is the process of putting something to death. So, when we crucify “the flesh with its passions and desires“, we, in other words, put these things to death.
Now, let’s consider what the flesh entails and how it is manifested:
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. (Galatians 5:19-21b; NIV)
Do you notice the diametric correspondence between the fruit of the Spirit and the acts of the flesh?
For example, you could say that the opposite of “love” is “hatred“. The opposite of “peace” is “discord” or “fits of rage” or “dissensions“. The opposite of “self control” is “sexual immorality” or “debauchery“, and so forth.
It seems then that if a believer was once prone to “dissensions“, for example, but if under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, that tendency has been removed (or “put to death”), then, that individual would naturally be peaceable.
In conclusion, the fruit of the Spirit seems to be obtained through death to the sinful nature.
To put it very practically, you cannot buy the fruit of the Spirit with any amount of money.
Instead, it is by dying to yourself that you obtain the fruit of the Spirit.
Sadly, there are some Christians who like to get into fits of rage. Or perhaps they like the pleasures of sexual immorality. Or perhaps they strife to be number one in everything, even to the detriment of others (“selfish ambition“).
They may say, “Well, this is my personality. This is who I am! I’m sure God understand.”
But they would be deceived to think that God winks at them and closes an eye to their sinful ways.
What such Christians really need to do is to come before God and say, “I need to change“, “I need to repent of my ways“.
More specifically, this individual needs to say “The old me needs to die“.
And, this is precisely why the Lord Jesus Christ says: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24; KJV)
Friend, if the old “you” does not wish to die, if you wish to continue in your old sinful ways, I am afraid there is no way you can obtain the fruit of the Spirit.
By and large, all sins can be categorised into one of three types: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16, NIV).
From the story of Samson, we perceive that he struggled with the lust of the eyes. We first infer this from the account of Samson asking his parents for a Philistine wife:
One day when Samson was in Timnah, one of the Philistine women caught his eye. When he returned home, he told his father and mother, “A young Philistine woman in Timnah caught my eye. I want to marry her. Get her for me.” (Judges 14:1-2; NLT; with emphasis added)
His father and mother objected. “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry?” they asked. “Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?” But Samson told his father, “Get her for me! She looks good to me.” (Judges 14:3; NLT; with emphasis added)
Samson got his wish, but it ultimately led to his grief:
When Samson did not explain his riddle to her, the bible says that she “tormented him with her nagging” (Judges 14:17; NLT) until she got her way.
Later on, Samson’s father-in-law gives Samson’s wife away, and when confronted by Samson, interestingly, Samson’s father-in-law’s reply was: “But look, her younger sister is even more beautiful than she is. Marry her instead.” (Judges 15:2; NLT; emphasis added), suggesting that he was well-aware of Samson’s weakness for beautiful women.
Shortly after, Samson’s lust of the eyes is once again exposed when he visits Gaza, and “where he saw a prostitute” (Judges 16:1; NIV; emphasis added), and was apparently so smitten by her beauty that he spent the night with her.
Subsequently, Samson meets Delilah, and the bible does not provide details over how they met, but as in the case of his Philistine wife, Samson seems to have focused on Delilah’s external qualities, rather than her inner ones, which eventually brings him grief, as Delilah is just as capable as his previous Philistine wife of “tormenting him” and the bible says that she “tormented him with her nagging day after day until he was sick to death of it” (Judges 16:16; NLT).
The bible warns that “your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23), and perhaps one might infer from the fact that Samson got his eyes gouged out (Judges 16:21) that this was his ultimate penalty for repeatedly yielding to the lust of the eyes.
Many men in modern society have a weakness for the lust of the eyes just as Samson did. This is reflected by the popularity of Internet pornography among many males.
While the lust of the eyes is often considered as a male issue, are women exempt from its temptation? Perhaps not. Some women can spend hours browsing Internet shopping sites, eventually buying things they want but don’t really need — is this not also an example of yielding to the lust of the eyes?
That said, if one has a propensity for the lust of the eyes, the best way forward would be to confess it to the Lord, and to ask Him to save one from it “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, NIV), rather than to ignore the problem and someday have to face up to its tragic consequences.
Picture Depicting The Blinding of Samson by Rembrandt