Tag Archives: make the tree good

The Fight for Your Identity

good tree, bad tree

What kind of tree am I anyway?

Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit.

          This is an amazing formula for faith, and a great example of the faith principle in Romans 4 of “calling things that are not as though they were.”

Romans 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

          The quotation in Romans 4:17 refers to Genesis 17:5. God spoke this over Abram when He was 99 years old and childless. At the same time God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and changed Sarai’s name to Sarah. In changing the names, God forced them to say the same thing about themselves that He had just said about them. Abraham means, (“Father of a multitude,” Sarah means, “Mother of nations.”) In the name change, God was showing Abraham and all who would follow after him, the principle of faith that God Himself operates by. He speaks things into existence.

          Let’s apply this to the good and bad tree.

          If you see a tree that has apples and avocados growing on it, what would you call it? An apple tree? An avocado tree? A hybrid? Would you just make up a name? The truth is, you wouldn’t know what to call it.

         The Bible says in Isaiah 61:3 that we are “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord.”

          When we look at ourselves and behold the fruit of our lives, we see our mistakes, our bad habits, our inconsistencies, our failures, our secret sins, and we think “I must be a bad tree.” But then we look closer and say, “Wait a minute, not all the fruit in my life is bad. I help people, I am faithful to my church family, I serve in different areas in the ministry, I love people, I am generous with my time and resources, so not all the fruit in my life is bad. I am confused! What kind of tree am I?”

          We see the good and bad fruit in our lives and gravitate towards walking by sight and living by feelings. The Bible says that we are NOT to live our lives this way.

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

          We cannot allow our physical senses to dictate our identity. We must set ourselves in agreement with what God has spoken about us and not be moved by our feelings and our fallen experience. What we see, feel and experience must never be a consideration in light of what God has said about us. Abraham, the father of faith, has set the example for us.

Romans 4:19-22 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

          Abraham refused to consider the weakness in his flesh, but was fully convinced that what God said about him, God would bring to pass.

          So the question is: What has God said about us?

Romans 5:17  For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Colossians 1:21-22 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.

          God says that He has made us righteous, holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight. Although we may not look like that in our sight we must not consider what we see and believe what He said about us is true.

          How we refer to ourselves, the words we say about ourselves should align in agreement with what God says about us. When we begin to speak what God says about us, the grace of God is released in our lives to transform us into what He has spoken. When we align our words with His words, the fruit of what He said will start growing in our life. This is how we make our tree good. This is how we fight the good fight of faith. This is what produces transformation in our life.

          The Old Testament is full of stories about natural battles. We must look at those physical battles and learn how to apply them spiritually to our lives. For the most part, we see two ways that God calls his people to battle.

  1. He gives His people specific instruction on what, when and how to conquer the enemy. When Gods people follow the instruction, He is with them in battle and the victory comes easy.
  2. He tells His people to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He fights the battle for us and the victory is ours.

         When fighting to be free from our sin nature, to live righteous and holy, we tend to try and do this by our own works. We struggle against our sin, our bad habits, wrong thinking and destructive cycles of failure and disappointment. This type of behavior will only produce a sin consciousness that insures failure. The Old Testament has already proved that no one can become righteous by works.

          Submitting to the authority of the Holy Spirit on the inside of us places us in a powerful position to be transformed and overcome the sin nature. We must call ourselves righteous and holy, believing that He is at work in us to bring that to pass. We follow Abraham’s example and call things that are not manifest as though they were.

           Confess that you are righteous, confess that you are holy. Thank God for freeing you from sin and transforming you into His image. And if you stumble and fall, run to God and say “I am sorry Father that is not me! That is certainly not You in me! I thank You for the Spirit of grace that is transforming me and shaping me into Your image, removing that junk from my life and molding me into everything You have created me to be. Thank You for fathering me! Thank you for loving me, for believing in me, for being patient with me. Thank you for completing the work that you began in me. Where would I be if You didn’t father me.”   

 hold fast         This is a good example of biblical confession. This type of confession sets you in agreement with His work and His plan for your life. This will produce the fruit of righteousness and holiness in your life.

          In the battle for our identity we are supposed to follow the example of our father Abraham and set ourselves in agreement with His word, letting the Spirit of grace shape us and mold us into His image. We are not to consider the weakness of our flesh, but stand strong in faith, trusting that God is able to bring His word to pass in our lives.

So hold fast to the confession of who you are in Him and trust that He will complete the work that he began in your life.

finish

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

~ Free from a Sin Consciousness ~

sin1

          Why are good, well-meaning Christians still bound by old habits, and old thought patterns, unhappy, depressed, fearful, and full of unbelief? That shouldn’t be!Why are the promises of God seemingly illusive and hard to obtain?

          Why are we so acutely aware of our faults and shortcomings? What is it that makes us focus on the fallen nature and distracts us from focusing on our new, redeemed nature?

          This is not a prayer problem, its a truth problem. We suffer from a lack of understanding of who we are, and what we have become because of the blood of Christ. We are a sin conscious people, lacking a revelation of the magnificent gift that has been given to us by our Heavenly Father.

          Our ignorance comes, primarily from a weak relationship with our God. Most Christians are satisfied to come to church once or twice a week and leave the praying and the heavy spiritual lifting to the pastors and other ministers. After all, that IS their job, their calling, right? WRONG!

sin11          There is NOTHING that can replace your own personal relationship with the Lord. Something amazing takes place when YOU, all by yourself, when no one else is looking, worship God and spend time with Him. This is your primary expression of faith. 

James 4:8a Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…

          The greatest of all the benefits of salvation is our ability to have intimate relationship with the Lord. The thing that was standing in the way of our relationship (SIN), has been removed, abolished, taken away. Jesus Christ became our sin so the He could give us His righteousness, that we could stand before God without any sense of guilt, condemnation, or shame.

Guilt – Is a belief that you are not forgiven.

Condemnation – Is belief that your life is worthy of judgment.

Shame – is a belief that it is still who I am.

          The Old Testament Law is a belief system, and that belief system is based on the premise that “what I do determines my level of righteousness.” This thought process comes natural to the fallen man.

          God sent His Son to free us from the old belief system; the Law of Sin and Death. He abolished sin in His body (Eph 2:15) to fulfill the Old Testament law, so He could establish the new belief system, The New Testament. God made us righteous so that we would be free from that old way of believing, but the only way to be free from it, is to die to it and embrace the new belief system of the New Testament. It is the new law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that embraces the identity that we ARE the righteousness of God, holy and blameless in His sight.

Colossians 1:21-22 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—  23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard,…

       Some great revelations in this passage of scripture:

          According to verse 21, we should no longer be enemies in our mind because ofsin12 sin (wicked works) because we have been reconciled. Even if we stumble and fall into sin, it doesn’t change the way He sees us, which is holy and blameless in His sight. What happens is, if we sin, we tend to revert back to the old belief system and we become “enemies in our mind” because of the sin, and become a landing strip for guilt, condemnation and shame which alienates us from God. We revert back to the law of sin and death and abandon our true identity which is based solely on what God says about us according to the gospel.

          What does the gospel say? I’m glad you asked!

Romans 3:24  You are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 

Galatians 4:7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

sin14          These are only a few scriptures that describe how God sees us. God always sees our potential, He sees the end from the beginning, He doesn’t look upon our weakness, He sees us for who we are created to be, He believes the best of us even when we are at our worst.

          He makes us right positionally FIRST, so that we have the ability to become right in our behavior. If we first believe what He says about us is true, it empowers us to become what we believe. We must first believe that we ARE righteous, then works of righteousness and the fruit of holiness follow, delivering us from the sting of sin, the pull of sin, and even the acts of sin.

Romans 6:20-22  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

          This is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 12 when He said, first “make the tree good and the fruit will be good.”

Matthew 12:33  “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 

          Sin consciousness makes the tree bad, and therefore it continues to produce bad fruit, sin3bad thought patterns, cycles of repeating sin, and constant struggling with the old belief system of sin and death.

          Righteous consciousness makes the tree good, enabling the transforming power of God’s grace, bearing righteous fruit, producing holiness without us struggling to be holy. This way God gets all the glory and we can’t boast about being a “Super Christian.”

Defining a Sin Consciousness

          To be conscious of something is to be very aware of it. Many believers think that the awareness of sin, (having a sin consciousness) will help avoid sin. If we think about our wrong doing, feel the shame of it, carry the guilt of it then it will deter us from repeating those things. What New Covenant scriptures is that based on? That is the old belief system, Old Testament thinking. The problem is, that didn’t even work in the Old Testament. At best sin consciousness will only lead to more sinning!

          Sin consciousness is a result of having a legalistic mind. It’s the Old Testament belief system. Romans 3 says that by the law is the knowledge of sin. When our mind is law based we will live with a constant awareness of sin. The focus will be on our flesh, and our abilities. How on earth are we going to overcome sin this way? We can’t keep doing the same thing year after year having the same failed results and stay convinced that it’s the answer! No, grace is the answer! Grace will lead us to focus on Christ.

          Grace is all about His ability! Grace takes the focus off ourself and puts it on Christ. This is how we live by faith and not by sight. This is how we walk in the Spirit. This is how we step into His ability. Instead of trying to overcome sin, rather focus on how we can fill our hearts and minds with the word of God and the grace of God that declares He has forgiven all our sins, past present and future, that He has made us perfectly righteous with His own righteousness and no sin can make us unrighteous.

         What we focus on we move towards. What we think about all day is the atmosphere we create around ourself. Do we really want a sin atmosphere around us all day? And we wonder why we struggle so much with sin. It’s because our mind is constantly focused on it.

          If we meditate on the grace of God and fill our heart with Christ consciousness and righteous consciousness, even if we do sin, keep the focus on Christ, and we will see the desire and pull of sin diminishing in our life with very little effort, and the life of God expanding in our life! When we think right and believe right, living right will follow.

I will leave you with these thoughts:

Doing is the second step, and Being is the first.

What we do is determined by what we are.

Acknowledge what we are, and the corresponding actions will follow.

Make the tree good, and it will eventually bear good fruit.

Believing we are righteous and holy causes righteous and holy fruit to grow in our life.

The fruit will be true to the tree, so make the tree good and the let tree do its thing.

          JC