“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” (Luke 6:43-45)
“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad. You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.” (Matthew 12:33-35)
What is Jesus speaking about in these two passages of scripture?
1. We have good fruit coming from only good trees and bad fruit coming only from bad trees. He zeroes in on our words, declaring them to be a revelation of the contents of our heart. The words we speak reveal who we truly are.
- Outward behavior patterns and verbal statements are the mirrored reflection of the condition of the heart. Not your Sunday game-face words and actions, but those words that pop into your mind and out of your mouth when you are being you. The words that you say when you feel the pressure of the human experience pressing down on you. These are words that reveal the real you.
- If the things that are coming out of you reflect the Savior who lives inside of you then His peace is truly reigning in your heart. If the things that are coming out of you do not reflect the Savior who lives inside of you it is time to surrender your will, renew your mind and let Him rule and reign in your life.
“And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” (Mark 7:20-23)
- Jesus always stressed the condition of the heart over the outward show that men and women put on for each other. Evil words and unclean actions do not manifest themselves outwardly in your life until they have previously lived in your heart. The blood of Christ was given to cleanse the hearts of humanity. Religion will tell you to restrict the words you say and the things you do, but God through Christ demands that your heart be pure.
- We all know that the lost live in a unregenerated state, separated from God because of sin. Many lost people strive to do the right thing, say the right thing and be the right person. All will find that their words and actions cannot change what lives on the inside of them. What is on the inside of you must change in order for your words and actions to be pure.
- In the church world we find many people who do and say the right things for the wrong reasons. It is nothing new. It’s been with us since the very beginning of the church.
“When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. “Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!” But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”
- Impure desires and wrong motives about spiritual things reveal to those around you that there is no relationship with God in your life. Your heart will always shine through. Without Christ in your heart you end up wanting the right things for the wrong reasons. Spiritual things come from God; from spending time with Him, from renewing your mind with His Word and by doing the things He commands us to do. That is the only way our hearts change.
2. Righteous actions and pious behavior are rejected in the sight of God if our hearts are not pure before Him. Do you remember the Pharisees? Here is our Savior making friends and influencing people again:
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-28)
- Righteous actions and pious behavior without relationship with God turns into self-righteousness and contempt for those whom God loves. You will find yourself despising the very people who you are supposed to be reaching.
“But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. “Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied, “The first.” Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.” (Matthew 21:28-32)
- The opinions and approval of man concerning your lifestyle and reputation do not secure you favor with God. God delights in purity of heart.
3. The statements of the heart seal eternal destinies.
“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:35-37)
“But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:8-10)
- Confessions without possession are empty words. The Bible hits us again, Christ and His Word must be in our hearts to truly make a difference when we say we are His. You get a good treasure in your heart when you get Him.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
The goal of Jesus Christ is not conformity of conduct and speech but conformity of character to that of His own. Outward restrictions without inward convictions breed contempt and rebellion (ever heard of “Preachers Kid Syndrome”). You cannot mandate godly living without God living in someone’s life.
To combat the things that we do not like about ourselves we tend to treat church services like a spiritual car wash. We get to the point where we are fed up with what we’ve been thinking, what we’ve been saying and what we’ve been doing and come to church so that we can feel better about ourselves. We end up treating our heart like our car. We should walk into church and announce to the pastor that we’re here for our weekly bath.
Our heart is never going to feel good about the sinful things that proceed forth from it. We are trying to change the fruit of our lives instead of changing the root of our lives. Trying to change our thoughts, words and actions without out heart being changed is only the creation of a facade. Washing the world off on Sundays so that we can experience God on a weekly basis without ever becoming more like Christ is the problem with a lot of people sitting on pews. You simply cannot perfect in the flesh that which was born in the Spirit (Galatians 3:3).
God is the purifier of our hearts; He does the work.
“The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3)
“But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:2-3)
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12)
Cleansing that takes place in the heart manifests itself in every area of life. External cleansing is temporary and must be done continually to maintain purity. This is the difference between the Old and New Covenants.
Old Covenant Life Required:
- Ceremonial Cleansing
- Ceremonial Feasts
- Repeated Ritual Sacrifices
- Prescribed Offering for Sin
- Specific Rules for Blessing and Curses
- Rigid Obedience to Laws and Customs
Old Covenant Life Did Not:
- Cleanse the conscience of the sinner
- Allow the believer to be filled with God’s Spirit
- Provide a way for God to change people’s hearts
New Testament Life Requires:
- A realization and confession of your inability to save yourself
- Repentance from sin and a turning towards God
- Belief in the person and redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ
- Faith in Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation
- Confession of your faith in Jesus Christ
- The believer to seek God and obey His Word and His leading
New Testament Life Does:
- Cleanse the conscience from guilt of sin
- Give the believer a new heart
- Makes the believer the temple of the Holy Spirit
The church and Christians have gone through stages throughout history trying to be righteous.
- Born again as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus with the power of the Holy Ghost making our hearts pure in the sight of God.
- Heresy entered the church telling believers that the flesh and the spirit were separate; that the actions of the flesh did not affect their life in the spirit.
- In the middle ages people purchased their righteousness from the church in a “sale of indulgences.”
- During the Renaissance men and women tired to perfect holiness in their hearts by closing themselves off from the rest of the world, retreating to monasteries.
- In the modern era people have placed outward restrictions on clothing and activities in an effort to produce holiness.
The solution to holiness is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Let God, who is absolutely holy live big in you. He will produce His holiness inside of you.
“But 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)
Orange trees grow oranges. It’s natural.
Christians who allow God to live in and through them produce the fruit of the Spirit. It’s the normal supernatural byproduct of being the house of the Holy Ghost.
If you are unhappy with the fruit of your life your catalyst for change is your pursuit of God through prayer and His Word. You cannot expect to have different fruit if your heart remains unchanged and the only person capable of changing the heart of man is the Lord Jesus Christ.