Saturday, 1 June 2013
What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. Romans 6:21
Paul’s question is asking about having fruit, not so much the quality of it. The quality naturally goes along with what the source of the fruit is. This can be seen in Jesus’ words found in Matthew 17:16-19 –
“You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Elsewhere in the Bible, it’s noted that thorns and thistles end up in the fire, just as those who bear bad fruit will end up in the Lake of Fire. These agricultural concepts are given because anyone can figure them out. No one would pick up a thorn bush and start chewing on it and expect to get delightful nourishment from it. And so Paul asks his reader to think things through. If you were a slave to sin, of course only bad fruit would result. It isn’t possible that a tree which is by nature bad could somehow produce fruit contrary to its nature.
Adam Clark states it this way: “God designs that every man shall reap benefit by his service. What benefit have ye derived from the service of sin?”
The answer is that the bad tree will, of course, bear that which is bad. The reaping then is one which is intended for death and destruction. We will see this concept reintroduced in chapter 7 as well –
“For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.” Romans 7:5
If we are a slave to sin, then our passions will work in our members to death. Think of whatever sin you wish. In the end, it always leads to death because it is destructive to the body and the soul. But more importantly than the physical death is the spiritual, eternal death which is a result of being a slave to sin. The life of sin is ultimately a life of death.
If we have become a slave of righteousness (meaning having been saved by Jesus), then why would we continue to entertain the life of sin? It is contrary to our new nature. Those things we were ashamed of when we called on Christ are no less shameful now, so don’t allow your life and your actions to be returned to the very bondage from which you were purchased.
Life application: A spiritually alive being living in a spiritually dead way is a self-contradiction. If you have been born again by the Spirit of God, then you should endeavor to live in newness of life. You will bear fruit from your labors. What type will they be?
Heavenly Father, in Your wisdom you made each tree to bear its own fruit. Some bear good and some bear bad. Before, I bore fruit which showed the type of tree I was and it wasn’t pleasant. But then came Jesus and then came a change. What could once only be bad can now be pleasant and sweet. Help me to bear that which honors You in Your garden of delight. Amen.