Today’s Sermon From The Ranch – Bearing Fruit To God
(This Day’s Thought is pleased to bring you Eric Elder’s new sermon series, “Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind.”)
Bearing Fruit To God
Lesson 15 from Romans: Lessons In Renewing Your Mind
By Eric Elder
While this is actually a reasonable idea on the surface—at least in terms of being forgiven of your sins by Christ—when you look at it at a deeper level, grasping what happens to your relationship with God and those around you every time you do sin, you’ll see that your best bet is to stay as far away from sin as you can, as often as you can, and for as much of your life as you can!
It’s like a kid saying, “My dad says not to run out in the road. But I know he’ll still love me even if I do run out in the road, so what’s the big deal if I do it once in awhile?” A kid like that would be missing the point entirely. The point isn’t whether or not the dad would love him just as much if he ran out in the road. The point is that the dad doesn’t want him to get hit by a truck!
If the only reason you shouldn’t sin is because Jesus might be mad at you if you do, then you need to re-adjust your thinking! It’s not that Jesus won’t love you just as much if you sin—it’s that He wants you to live! He wants to protect you from engaging in things that could be dangerous to you and to those around you. Sure, He’ll still love you. But that’s the reason He doesn’t want you to sin…because He loves you.
The Apostle Paul addresses this issue very clearly in his letter to the Romans, who, having been convinced that Jesus has forgiven them of all their sins, could be tempted to fall back into sin again, thinking that it no longer matters, because they can be assured of Christ’s love for them. Paul says:
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! … What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:15,21-23).
Sin leads to death, but Christ gives you life! If the choice is to sin or to follow Christ, Paul says to follow Christ!
But there’s an even greater reason to drop your life of sin and follow Christ. Paul says that it’s because God wants you to bear fruit—good fruit. When you follow sin, you bear fruit that leads to death. But when you follow Christ you bear fruit to God. Here’s how Paul says it in his letter to the Romans.
“So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:4-6).
God didn’t abandon His laws when Christ came. His laws are still good and will protect you from sin. What God did was to make an offering on your behalf to pay the penalty for your sins so you wouldn’t have to. Now, when you put your faith in Christ, you receive forgiveness of your sins. If you continue to sin, there will still be other consequences—for sin still always has consequences—but the good news is that you will no longer be separated from your eternal relationship with Him because of your sin.
Whenever you sin, even if it’s “just a little,” it puts a wedge between you and God, as well as between those around you. God doesn’t want that wedge, and neither do you. He loves you too much for anything to come between you. And I believe, if you’ve read this far into the message already, that you love Him too much to put that wedge between the two of you, too.
I was once teaching a class of adults how to use computers. One of the students had been using very colorful words throughout the class, not necessarily swearing, but they were certainly “off” color. I had introduced myself as a technology expert, which I was in my role as their teacher. But it wasn’t until later in the day that I mentioned that I was also an ordained pastor. Immediately, this man who had been so colorful with his words all day turned red in his face, too! He quickly began to apologize for his language in front of me and the rest of the class.
In my attempt to be honest, for I truly wasn’t bothered by it, I said something that made him turn red even further. I said, “That’s OK. You don’t have to apologize to me. I’m not the one who’s been watching over you every day of your life.” The whole class turned to him as if to say he was really in trouble now!
The truth was that his language really didn’t affect his relationship with much at all. But by his reaction, it seems like it may have affected his relationship with God quite a bit. It may have seemed like a “little sin” to him, but the fact that he was embarrassed about it in front of me gave me an indication that it may have been a much bigger deal in his relationship with God.
I didn’t say this to the man to make him feel more guilty than he already did for saying those things in front of me. Just like I’m not saying these things to make you feel more guilty of the things you may be doing in your own life. Believe me, I know how hard it is to keep from sinning, even though I’ve been trying to follow Christ with my whole heart for 24 years. I’m still not by any means “sin-free.” I wish I were though, because whenever I realize that I’ve sinned, I see the damage it causes. This, in turn, makes me want to stay away from it as much as humanly possible.
And in the bigger picture, I not only see the damage that sin causes, but I also see that it hinders my ability to bear fruit for God. And that is perhaps the biggest damage of all.
God has created you to do good works. He has things He wants you to do in this life. When you sin, you hinder those good works, sometimes more than you can possibly imagine. Believe me when I say that God has good works for you to do. He has created you uniquely, with special gifts and abilities. He’s poured talents into your life. He’s trained you up to be an asset to Him. He wants to use you to reach out into your world, both large and small ways.
Don’t let Satan hinder you from accomplishing all that God has created you to do. Don’t follow the path of sin that would keep you from the path God has lined out for you. Don’t let yourself become a slave again to those things which you’re now ashamed of, things which bore fruit for death. Serve God fully instead, bearing good fruit to Him.
How do you do that? By keeping away from sin as much as possible, and by staying close to Jesus as much is possible. As Jesus said:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:5-8).
God wants you to bear fruit—much fruit, as Jesus said. Keep away from sin, even “little sins,” as much as possible. Not because God will love you less if you do sin, but because He loves you so much He doesn’t want you to leave His side even for a minute. When you stay close to Him, you will bear fruit to Him.
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for loving us so much that You gave us rules for how to live the best possible lives here on earth. Thank You for saving us from what we have earned because of our sins, and giving us the gift of eternal life instead, if we’ve put our faith in Christ. Help us to stay as close as possible to Him so that we can bear as much fruit as possible for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. If you can spare another 3-1/2 minutes, I’d love for you to watch a video testimony of a friend of mine who discovered the value of leaving her life of sin and following Christ completely. Her name is Laura, and she co-leads a group with me that focuses on helping set people free from their sins so they can live more fully for Christ. I’d love for you to hear this brief version of her story in her own words. You can watch it at the link below:
Watch Laura’s Story
Questions for Reflection
1. Read Romans 6:11-7:6. What does Paul say we should offer to God in verses 11-14? How might offering these things to sin lead to death, whereas offering them to God leads to life?
2. In verses 15-18, Paul says that just because we’re free from the law, it doesn’t mean that we’re not still slaves to something else. What is that other thing, and why is it so much better than being a slave to sin?
3. In chapter 7, verses 1-3, what illustration does Paul use to talk about being set free from the law? What does being freed from the law allow us to do?
4. Is anything specific hindering you from bearing as much fruit as possible for God? Is there an action step you can take this week to help you drop whatever is hindering you, and get any closer to Jesus? Ask God, and perhaps a few trusted friends, to help you do it so that you can bear as much fruit for Him as possible.
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