Have you ever picked up a piece of fruit and taken a bite, only to find that the inside is rotten? I love bananas, and when I go grocery shopping, I usually bring home a bunch of them. I try to inspect them carefully, looking for any bruising, and generally pick a bunch that are still slightly green because I know that they’ll ripen by the time I start eating them. A few times, I’ve peeled that last banana and have taken a bite, only to find that it’s mushy, the center is brown and has started to rot. It’s not pleasant.
In the same way that we examine fruit at the market in order to get the best and avoid the bad, we are to examine ourselves to make sure that we are producing good fruit by the Spirit of Christ, and not rotting on the inside. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul challenges each of us to examine ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith, and whether or not (the Spirit of) Jesus Christ is in us. So it is possible to determine of ourselves, whether or not the Spirit of Christ is in us. We can examine our own thoughts, as well as our own actions and compare them to how we are expected to act according to the Scriptures, especially the New Testament. In Matthew 7, Jesus said that ‘a good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit’ and that we would know true and false servants of Christ by their fruit (e.g. their actions and the results of their actions.)
WIth that same concept in mind, Jesus further develops the idea by using a grape vine and it’s fruit as an example of our relationship with him. In John 15:1-8, Jesus states that he is the “true vine” and that people are the branches. Jesus makes it clear that people are to both abide in Jesus, and allow him to abide in them. Our salvation and security comes from abiding in Jesus, for it is from him that we receive abundant and eternal life. According to Jesus in verse 6, if a person (branch) doesn’t remain in Jesus, he or she will be cast into the fire and are burned. This is a clear reference to the lake of fire that burns forever and ever. In verse 9 Jesus tells how to remain and abide in him, by abiding in his love, which is demonstrated through keeping his commandments.
Fruitfulness comes from allowing him to abide in us through learning his words and keeping them (verse 7), and through keeping his commandments to love each other. The entire passage shows that as we are established in our relationship with Jesus by faith in him (abiding in him), and grow in our fellowship with Jesus and others by learning and obeying his commandments (he abiding in us). By doing this, there is a progression of fruitfulness shown in the passage. Bearing fruit (verse 2), bearing more fruit (verse 2), and bearing much fruit (verse 5). In verse 8 Jesus shows how we can tell whether or not we are truly his disciples, if we are bearing much fruit through faith in him and obedience to him and his commandments.
Finally, we read in Galatians 5 what that fruit is, and what our lives should be producing. ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If these things aren’t present in our lives and increasing, then it’s possible that we’ve hindered the work of the Holy Spirit in us through harboring unforgiveness, leaving our first love, or even outright rebellion. By continually examining ourselves and prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit to reveal problem areas, we are given the opportunity to repent and receive internal healing and become fruitful once again.