True Christians Bear Fruit


Israel was God’s chosen people. They were chosen by God to represent Him to the nation. As God’s chosen people they directly interacted with God, His prophets, and His chosen leaders. If anyone should know God’s will and what He expected of them, it should have been the Israelites.

But even though they knew God’s will and they looked promising, they didn’t live according to His commandments. They didn’t bear fruit. Sure, they were religious. They went to the Temple to worship. They said their prayers. They made sacrifices. They kept the religious festivals, but even in all that they weren’t obedient to God. They didn’t live according to His will because their heart wasn’t given to God.

Since Israel was unfruitful they faced God’s judgment just like the fig tree faced Jesus’ judgment when He found it didn’t bear any fruit in Matthew 21.

What Does Israel’s Actions Teach Us?

Israel’s actions teach 21st Century Christians it is not enough to be Religious. It is not enough to look the part. God doesn’t just want us to use spiritual language or do spiritual things. No, God wants more.

What God Wants

God wants us to give Him our hearts. He wants us to live for Him. He wants us to be a true follower of Jesus. He wants us to be someone who takes what He says and applies it to our lives. He wants us to bear fruit and bring glory to Him.

What Happens If We Don’t Bear Fruit?

If we don’t bear fruit and just live a life of religiosity, we are no better than the Israelites. And we will face the same fate they did – we will face God’s judgment.

A Plea

Don’t be like the Israelites. Don’t be like the fig tree. Truly bear fruit. Truly follow Jesus, that’s what it means to be a Christian. Being a Christian doesn’t just involve saying a prayer or being dunked in a baptistry. Being a Christian means giving your whole life to Jesus. When you give your life to Jesus and follow Him, you will bear fruit.

What Do You Do?

Have you given your life to Jesus? Do you live according to God’s will? Do you follow Jesus? Or do you just come to church on Sunday and do some religious activities because you think you have to in order to appease God, your spouse, or your family? Which one are you?

Questions for Reflection

  1. Are you the true follower of Jesus who bears fruit?
  2. Or are you the religious person who bears no fruit?



Post adapted from my most recent sermon: The Unexpected Enacted Parable of Jesus

Respectable Sins: Impatience & Irritability | Part 2

Last time I took up the topic of impatience. Closely related to impatience is irritability, which is today’s topic.

Irritability Defined

“Describes the frequency of impatience, or the ease with which a person can become impatient over the slightest provocation.”[1]

This definition reveals that impatience and irritability are closely associated. So much so that we can say “the person who easily and frequently becomes impatient is an irritable person.”[2]

Irritable people are impatient most of the time. They are the type you have to tip toe around. The grouchy person, the one no one wants to be around those are who we would consider to be irritable people.

As Christians, irritable people do not serve as a good witness for the gospel. They are not able to lead others. They are not good accountability partners. For these reasons, and that irritability is a sin, we should rid it from us.

How do you respond to an irritable Person?

We have two options when it comes to responding to an irritable person:

(1) Jesus’ Example – In 1 Peter 2:23, “when he [Jesus] was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”

Jesus did not retaliate and neither should we. Rather, we are to allow God to judge and deal with those who are criticizing or insulting us.

(2) Confront the Person – A conversation with the person who is continually impatient or irritable towards us is at times necessary. We must not be afraid to confront others about their sin, but we have to be cautious here. We should not confront the person until we “have resolved the issue in [our] own heart and can speak to the other person for his or her benefit.”[3]

Remember if we choose to follow step two and the person does not respond well, we should not blow up on them, or walk away seething. Rather, we should revert to step one and allow God to judge and deal with the person. As well as we should pray that the Holy Spirit would convict them and work in their heart to remove their sin.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have you ever confronted an irritable person? How did it go? Where they defensive or did they respond well?
  2. Why is it important that we not be irritable people?


[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 118
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.,119


Respectable Sins: Impatience & Irritability | Part 1

This week we are going to take up the subject of impatience and irritability. In order to do them both justice, I will look at impatience today and irritability in my next post in this series. Let’s start by defining impatience.

Impatience Defined

“A strong sense of annoyance at the (usually) unintentional faults and failures of others.”[1]

Notice Jerry Bridges uses the word unintentional faults and failures. These are things that people cannot help given their life circumstances or physical limitations.

For example, if someone’s hearing is bad, we should expect to have to repeat ourselves, or that that they will misunderstand us. When those things occur, we should not become impatient.

There are other unintentional faults or failures that should not cause us to be impatient, but often do, such as:

  • People not running on your time schedule.
  • Traffic / Slow drivers.
  • Parents impatient with their children not learning what they want them to learn quickly.

The Heart Sin Impatience Reveals

The sin of impatience reveals our desire to be in control by desiring others to conform to our expectations. If that is true, then the events in our lives are not necessarily the things that cause impatience, they are just the means by which the sin of control is manifested in our lives.

The Environment Conducive to Impatience

Impatience often, but not always, manifests itself in our homes. While it is easy for us to be patient with those in public places, it can be difficult at times to exercise the same patience with those under our own roof.

Why is this so?

Our homes provide us with a certain level of comfort. The environment and the people are not new to us. We know them and what they think about us. We don’t worry so much about our appearance or even winning them over. Our increased comfort often allows our true character to shine forth. This is why, like it or not, the home is a great place for sanctification.

What does Scripture have to say?

There are several scriptures that speak to impatience. Let’s take a look at them now.

1 Corinthians 13:4

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

1 Thessalonians 5:14

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Galatians 5:22-23

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Ephesians 4:1-2

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

Colossians 3:12-15

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Scripture reveals impatience is a sin. When we are impatient, we are not loving, we are not manifesting the Fruit of the Spirit, we are not living in a manner worthy of our calling, and we are not acting as God’s chosen ones.

How to Deal With Impatience

We can deal with the sin of impatience by praying the Lord would convict us and empower us to rid this sin from our lives.

In addition, when we sense ourselves growing impatient, we should preach the gospel to ourselves. Reminding ourselves, as Paul did Timothy, that in saving us God exercised His patience toward us (1 Timothy 1:16). If God, the Ruler of the universe, exercised patience towards us while we were rebelling against Him, then we can exercise patience toward someone who is not running on our schedule.

Moreover, we need to remind ourselves that God is the One who is in control. The circumstances that occur in our lives are sovereignly brought about and are used by Him to teach us and grow us, even the ones that might give us opportunity to become impatient.

Questions for Reflection

  1. In what area(s) of your life are you impatient?
  2. How have things gone when you have confronted someone who is impatient?
  3. How do you react when people are impatient with you? If you have reacted negatively, what was the result?
  4. Can you think of a reason why in God’s sovereignty He would allow you to encounter an impatient person?


[1] Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 116


Battling the War Within

How do we win the war? What war you ask? The war within. Paul tells us there is a war going on inside of us. He says,

For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members (Rom. 7:22-23)

The redeemed and natural man are waging war inside us. Even though there is a war inside of us, it is a war we are capable of winning. In Christ we have the power to kill the flesh (Rom. 8), destroying its dominion over us. The killing of the flesh is what John Owen calls the mortification of sin, which is the title of one of his books. In The Mortification of Sin, Owen provides believers with ways they can do battle with the natural man.

Instead of providing you with all the ways we can kill, or mortify sin (you will have to read the book for those), I would like to provide you with the place we must begin. My thesis, or rather Owen’s thesis, is as follows:

Only Believers Who Rely On the Work of the Holy Spirit Can Mortify the Flesh

Mortifying the flesh in the power of the flesh by means of bodily exercises, self-performances, and legal duties such as wearing rough clothing, making vows and penances, and disciplining yourself is vanity. In regards to such disciplines, Owen says,

Even if some are not neglecting the things appointed by God to lead to mortification, they may not be using them in their proper place and order. Praying, fasting, watching, meditation, and the like, certainly have their use for the business at hand, but many consider them as the fountain and not the stream coming from the fountain. These actions are the means only, and are subordinate to the Spirit and faith (15-16).

The actions Owen mentions, without the gospel as its fountain, are only performed by men while they feel a conviction of sin. After their guilt passes, they quit seeking to kill their sins, which results in their sin returning to its former dominion over time (17). To completely keep the flesh at bay, men must be believers. Owen says, “There is no self-endeavour that can accomplish mortification. Almighty energy is necessary for its accomplishment” (17). To try to kill the flesh by the work of the flesh without the work of the Spirit is vanity.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

As believers, we are given the Holy Spirit, who resides inside of us. He works in our hearts to root out our fleshly desires, “by causing our hearts to abound in grace and the fruits that are contrary to the works of the flesh” (17). The Holy Spirit causes us to see the grace of God for what it is, a free gift to sinners who deserve nothing but death. He also works in our lives to manifest the fruit of the Spirit, which serves to restrict the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19-21) (18).

While restricting the works of the flesh through the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit takes away our stony heart and “brings the cross of Christ into the heart of a sinner by faith, giving us communion with Christ in His death, and fellowship in His sufferings” (18). By taking away our heart of stone and bringing us into fellowship with Christ in His death and sufferings, we are empowered to root sin out of our lives because Christ has defeated the grip of sin once and for all in His death, burial, and resurrection.

We Work Along With the Holy Spirit

Even though the Holy Spirit works in our lives, we are responsible for mortifying the flesh as well. Owen believes the Spirit “works in us and upon us, as we are able to be wrought in and upon, and yet He preserves our own liberty and free obedience” (See especially Phil. 2:13) (19). The Holy Spirit works on our understandings, wills, consciences, and affections, as long as we allow Him (19).


We can win the war within us, but it is a war that can only be won if we are a believer. For if we are not a believer in Christ, there is no war to be fought, only slavery exists. Those who are not saved by the blood of Christ are enslaved by the Prince of this world. No amount of work will ever break the bondage of that slavery. Only the power of Christ can free us from the enslavement of Satan.

Once Christ has broken the bonds of the flesh, we are free to war against our worldly lusts. A war that we can and will win as Christ’s children. A war the Holy Spirit empowers us to fight.

To those who try to fight the flesh without first believing in Christ, Owen says,

They try many perplexing ways and duties, to keep down sin, but, being strangers to the Spirit of God, they find it is all in vain. They combat without victory, have war without peace, and are in slavery all their days (20).

May we all understand that the war within is not won alone. Rather, it is only won through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our subsequent belief in His person and work. Our belief in Christ brings the Holy Spirit into our lives, allowing us to take up combat against the natural man.


All references refer to John Owen’s The Mortification of Sin: abridged and made easy to read by Richard Rushing, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2004.

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