INTRODUCTION [Kid’s Sermon]
I brought a bag with an apple surrounded by an orange peel, and an “apple” made of legos.
“What is this?” I held up the orange covered apple, making sure they couldn’t see the seams.
After several guesses, I revealed the apple. “Was it really an orange?”
“Can an apple pretend to be another fruit?” No.
Can you MAKE an apple? …[I showed them the lego “apple”]
If you can’t MAKE an apple, and you can’t FAKE being an [orange], how do you get an apple [or an orange]?
You can help it grow. (You can ask the kids for suggestions here.) You plant a seed for an apple tree, water it, watch it grow, give it fertilizer, put a fence around it so the animals don’t nibble it…
Well the Fruit of the Spirit is like that too.
[…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22–23)]
You can’t make it. You can’t fake it. It is something that is growing in the inside of you. It is something that grows when God’s love is in your heart. When that love is there, the fruit of the Spirit will come out. The love, joy, peace, [longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance or self control] will come out.
You can’t make it. You can’t fake it, but you can HELP it grow! How can you help it GROW? You can come to Sunday School and learn more about God. You can listen really well to other people. You can pray…,[read the Bible]
Can you MAKE the Fruit of the Spirit? NO!
Can you FAKE the Fruit of the Spirit? NO!
[The Spirit has to grow it in your heart!]
Today we are going to learn about the fruit in our hearts. Let’s turn to Luke 6 in our Bibles.
43 For a good tree bringeth not forth
neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth
44 For every tree is known by his own fruit.
For of thorns men do not gather figs,
nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
45 A good man out of the good treasure
of his heart
bringeth forth that which is good;
and an evil man out of the evil treasure
of his heart
bringeth forth that which is evil:
for of the abundance of the heart
his mouth speaketh. (Luke 6:43–45)
FRUIT REVEALS ONE’S CORRUPTION
Luke 6:43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
One of the most basic worldview questions is: Are people basically good or are they basically bad? Many believe that people are basically good.
This, of course, leads them to all sorts of conclusions about how to fix what is wrong with society. People are encouraged to be who they are and to follow their heart. Parents are to listen to experts on how to raise their children so they don’t ruin them. The idea is that, if people are basically good at heart, then they become bad because of their social environment or their upbringing or low self-esteem.
But the Bible has a different answer:
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
The problems we see with people are not the result of social problems or low self-esteem. Those might be factors that exacerbate the sinful nature. But the core problem is that the human heart is corrupt.
One can see the corruption of the human heart by the fruit that it produces. Perhaps you are pretty good when you are out in public, but what about when you are with your family? Maybe you are pretty good with your family, but what about in your heart?
If you are honest, you will admit that the corruption of your heart is revealed in thoughts of anger towards someone, or envy, and so on.
The fruit we produce reveals our sinful nature—the corruption of our heart. Here’s something else our fruit reveals.
FRUIT REVEALS ONE’S IDENTITY
Luke 6:44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
Fruit is a key to a tree’s identity. It’s true that you can also identify a tree based on leaves and other factors, but it’s the fruit that really identifies a tree. A tree’s identity is wrapped up in it’s fruit. If a person wants to gather apples, he or she doesn’t go and find a chokecherry bush. If you want oranges, you don’t try to gather them from a Cottonwood tree.
In other words, the purpose or usefulness of the tree is determined by it’s identity. And it’s fruit reveals one’s identity. An apple tree has purpose because it’s identified as an apple tree by it’s fruit.
It’s the same with a Christian. When a person believes in Jesus Christ and receives him as their Savior, he or she is given a new identity.
This new identity is not like the witness protection program. In the witness protection program, a bad guy might testify against even badder guys. He’s then given a new name and whisked off to some remote place to live out his days in safety. But has his identity really changed? No, he is still a bad guy.
For the Christian, however, his identity is changed at the heart level:
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
See? Now he is “in Christ” and so his identity is “in Christ.” He really is a Christian at the heart level. He is new. Because he is new at the heart level, his fruit will reveal his identity. A Christian is identified not by his profession alone, but by his fruit.
J.C. Ryle, a preacher from the 1800’s, wrote:
Let it be a settled principle in our religion that when people show no fruit of the Spirit, they do not have the Holy Spirit within them. Let us resist as a deadly error the common idea that all baptized people are born again and that all members of the church, as a matter of course, have the Holy Spirit.
…What fruit do people bear? Do they repent? Do they believe with the heart on Jesus? Do they live a holy life? Do they overcome the world? Habits like these are what Scripture calls “fruit.” When such fruit is lacking, it is profane to talk of people having the Spirit of God within them. (Ryle, Luke, Crossway Classic Commentaries, Lk. 6:39-45)
Anyone can say that they are a Christian. Many have had emotional experiences at the altar or have been told to say the Sinner’s Prayer, but have no Christian fruit. They are like the bad guy put in the witness protection program, they are still a bad guy. They are not really Christians, because there is no fruit revealing a change of heart.
Fruit reveals one’s identity and also…
FRUIT REVEALS ONE’S TREASURE
Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Here Jesus changes the picture from fruit on a tree to a treasure hidden in someone’s heart. The message, however, is the same. Just as fruit reveals the type of tree, so the fruit of the mouth reveals one’s treasure.
What is a treasure? A treasure is something that is precious to you. Think of those mementos that you have collected over the years. Maybe it’s a picture, or some object that one your children made when they younger. It has sentimental value to you. It may have no monetary value, but it’s still a treasure to you. It’s precious.
What is the heart? The “heart” (καρδία) refers to one’s “inner person” or control center of their lives. It’s who we are when all else is stripped away. We’ve already seen that human beings have hearts that are sick:
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
This is why it’s not wise to “follow your heart.” The default settings on the thing will lead you astray.
The sinful heart has sins as it’s treasure. The sins are precious to it. We sometimes talk about a dessert being “sinfully delicious.” Sin is like that to us humans—it’s precious, it’s delicious. Moses, the Bible says, chose not to “enjoy the pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).
How do we know what the treasure of our hearts is? What does the verse say? “…for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” A tree is identified by it’s fruit, and a heart’s treasure is identified by the mouth. Of course, our actions also reveal our hearts, but the mouth is the more dominant revealer of our hearts. Jesus said in Matthew 15—
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: (Matthew 15:18–19)
Evil actions and words are terrible, but where do they come from? They come from inside the heart—the control center of our lives. How often do we say a mean or wicked thing and, in regret, excuse ourselves with the words, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say that”?
But really, the words you said revealed something about yourself…it’s embarrassing, but we would be better off facing that sinful part of our hearts than excusing it and covering it up.
J.C. Ryle again has something to say about this,
Let it be a settled principle again in our religion, that when a man’s general conversation is ungodly, his heart is graceless and unconverted. Let us not give way to the vulgar notion, that … although men are living wickedly, they have got good hearts at the bottom. Such notions are flatly contradictory to our Lord’s teaching. Is the general tone of a man’s communication carnal, worldly, irreligious, godless, or profane? Then let us understand that this is the state of his heart. When a man’s tongue is generally wrong, it is absurd, no less than unscriptural, to say that his heart is right. (Ryle, qtd in Ryken, Luke, vol. 1, 295)
The fruit of your mouth reveals the treasure of your heart.
We need to ask two questions here: “What is the fruit of a good heart?” and “What kind of fruit tree are you?”
WHAT IS THE FRUIT OF A GOOD HEART?
We’ve seen that our hearts reveal who we really are, and much of it isn’t good. How do we get our hearts growing good fruit? What is the good treasure that we should be collecting in our hearts?
1) First, we need to have a change of heart. We need heart surgery performed on us by God. In Ezekiel, there’s a wonderful promise from God about him giving us new hearts:
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Ezekiel 36:26–27)
For Christians, this happens when we have faith in Jesus Christ and are born again. We are made into new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). Have you repented of your sin of unbelief and turned to Christ today?
2) After you are born again, the Holy Spirit comes to live in you (1 Corinthians 6:19). He grows his fruit in your hearts:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22–23)
Our cooperation with the Holy Spirit with this matter of growing fruit is essential. The Bible says that we can grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), which in the matter of growing fruit is like us planting weeds or withholding water from the garden of the Spirit in our hearts.
Our hearts, even though they are made new at our new birth, still are susceptible to the weeds of our old nature. What changes at our conversion is our desires—we want to become more like Jesus.
Part of this cooperation will be how we care for our hearts. Our hearts are sensitive guidance instruments, they need to be handled with care. The Bible says,
23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
The word “keep” is referring to “guarding” or “protecting.” We guard our hearts by feeding it God’s Word and by not feeding it worldly junk food. This is how we can cooperate with the Spirit in the task of growing fruit in our lives.
As we cooperate with the Spirit, we’ll find ourselves loving others more than ourselves. We will have joy and peace from anxiety, even in trials and troubles. Our longsuffering will bring us contentment when things (or people) don’t go our way. We will show gentleness and goodness more and more to others around us. We will have faith and be faithful. We will progressively exhibit greater meekness and temperance (self-control) in our lives.
WHAT KIND OF FRUIT TREE ARE YOU?
If you were a tree, what kind of fruit would you be bearing? Delicious grapes or figs? Or thorns and brambles (a kind of weed in ancient Israel)?
Listen carefully to fellow believers. Study God’s Word diligently. Find out what category you are in. Get the real picture of the real you.
Want to know what kind of person you are? Listen to yourself. God has a spiritual rule. You are what your heart is. An evil heart produces evil results. A good heart produces good results. How do you know what the heart is producing? Listen to the mouth. Your daily conversation issues from your heart. (Butler, Luke, 94)
The Bible tells us to…
5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Begin with these basic questions—be honest about the answers, be serious, your eternal destiny could hinge on them!
1) Is there in you a hatred of your sin? You will sin, and sometimes you will get stuck in a particular sin for a long time. So while you won’t be perfect, when you sin you cry out to God like Paul did in Romans 7:19, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”
2) Is there in you a desire for God’s Word? In every true believer there is a desire that wells up inside to know more about God. The Bible expresses it this way, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). There is such an interest that you find yourself drawn to the word on a regular basis.
3) Is there in you a desire that others know Jesus? I am not saying that you need to do door to door evangelism, but is there at least a nugget of concern for those who don’t know Jesus? Do you worry about the eternal destiny of your loved ones?
4) Is there in you a love for Jesus? Is it a love in words only, or is a real, vibrant love that is unmistakable? Do you treasure Jesus in your heart? Do you savor Jesus in your heart? Do you cherish Jesus in your heart? Do you talk to him regularly?
Please remember that you are not looking for perfection, but progress. Even if there is only a tiny seed of desire and love in your heart for Jesus, God can grow that into a mighty fruit-bearing tree.