What does fruit represent in the Bible? What significance does this have for the Christian?
Knowing Christians by their Fruit
Jesus once said that “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles” (Matt 7:16)? This is because “every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt 7:17-19) and Jesus conclusion is this; “you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matt 7:20). Jesus’ point is clear; you will know them by their fruit whether they are genuine Christians or just professing to be one. A true Christian will not bear fruit such as thorns or thistles; instead they will bear good fruit and not bad. A tree is recognized in nature by the fruit it produces. You can stick a label on a thorn bush and call it a healthy tree but the thorns give it away that it’s not good fruit at all. John said that “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God” and “Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister” (1st John 3:9-10).
John chapter 15 tells us the only way that we can possibly bear fruit. Jesus said “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4) “for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b). If a tree isn’t bearing fruit then Jesus says it’s taken away and set aside for the burn pile for “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). If there’s no fruit then there’s no root and if there’s no root, then it will be taken and “thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:6).
Fruits of the Spirit
Paul lists what type of fruit the Christian should be bearing, for example in Galatians 5:22-23 the fruit of God’s Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” If one is truly filled with the Spirit then they will be “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:19-21).
As where Jesus had earlier said that if we are not abiding in Christ then we cannot possibly bear any fruit at all except briars, thorns, and thistles. Evidence of ungodly fruit are “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21). Those who produce these kinds of fruit are set aside to be burned and those who bear this type of ungodly fruit “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” That is why there should be no “filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph 5: 4-5). If these are the visible fruits, you can be sure of this; there will be no inheritance in the kingdom but only a fearful expectation of the judgment of God (Rev 20:12-15).
Don’t let anyone fool you; he or she that produces godly fruits of the Spirit is of God and as a child of God they will naturally produce the kind of fruits like patience, love, joy, peace and others like these but those and who do not but instead produce visible fruits like anger, rage, sexual immorality, divisions, strife, envy, and drunkenness will not be inheriting the kingdom of heaven but cast into the lake of fire as Revelation 21:8 says “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” You cannot mock God for what you sow you will surely reap. “For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal 6:7-8).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.