The Proof: On the tree; Not under the tree!

fruit treegifts under treeNow, I know it’s just late August and it is a bit early to be thinking about Christmas trees! But I want to invoke the image of a tree in regard to gifts to illustrate a common fallacy that many people make today in the quest to determine whether or not a person is a real Christian or not. Many people in the church are looking in the wrong place for the evidence!
Now, this is not to say that we should be judgmental or critical of one another because Jesus condemned that practice. But while he didn’t say that we are to judge in the sense of being critical, he did say that we are to be fruit inspectors! In reference to identifying false profits (Oh! I sorry, I meant) false prophets; Jesus said that a tree is known by the fruit it bears and that we would know them by their fruits! Now, I am writing this because in many of the circles in which I travel, I think people are using the wrong measuring stick! Many of the people I know are looking at what they believe to be the gifts of the Spirit to ascertain whether one is of God or not! But Jesus didn’t say that we would know them by their gifts; he said we would know them by their fruit! Therefore, the correct measuring stick is not the spiritual gifts but rather the spiritual fruit!
In my study of the Scriptures, I have come to the understanding that while all believers don’t have all of the gifts of the Spirit, all believers should have all of the fruit of the Spirit! The list of the fruit of the Spirit to which I am referring is found in Galatians. Paul is contrasting life in the flesh (the mindset that is alien and against God) with life in the Spirit. He said: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Gal 5:16-23 ESV) Those nine attributes listed in verses 22-23 are the evidence that the Spirit of God is present and abiding in an individual’s life! They are the evidence of the Spirit’s presence and thus the evidence of salvation, since the Bible declares in Romans 8:9 that anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ!
The gifts are not the evidence, because Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the possibility of having or exercising the gifts to no avail without the manifestation of the fruit! (See 1 Corinthians 13). Aside from that, some of the gifts could easily be confused with natural gifts, talents and abilities.

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Who Told You Who You Are?

two faced personIn Genesis 3, Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of God because they were ashamed of their nakedness. The interesting about that situation was the fact that they were naked all the time! It was only after they had sinned did their nakedness become something of which they were ashamed! Nevertheless, I did not raise the issue of their nakedness to start a discussion on the “theology of clothes.” I raised it because of the question the LORD God asked them as they were trying to hide themselves. He asked: “Who told you that you were naked?”
Most of the information we have about ourselves from which we formed opinions about ourselves that eventually shaped our personality, came from other people. In other words, initially, we didn’t know who we were! Other people, such as our parents, relatives and other trusted authority figures told us who we were!
But have you ever stopped to think about the fact that many of the people who told us who we were might have had ulterior motives? Most of what people tell you about yourself is slanted and at best, tainted by their own insecurities and misconceptions. At the other end of the scale, many people tell you who you are in an attempt to manipulate and control. Some of what our parents told us about who we are may have been tainted by what they were told by their parents! Therefore, the insecurities and inferiority complexes that they experienced as children were passed on to their children!
I read in a book somewhere that if you want to know the purpose of a thing; don’t ask the thing, ask the inventor of the thing! The same is true with the identity of a thing! There are many people today who suffer from various phobias and anxieties, simply because they really don’t know who they are! They formed their identity based on the manipulative lies and insecurities of other people. But, if you really want to know who you are; ask God, because He is the inventor of all mankind and of the world in which we live!
According to the Bible, humanity was the apex and the grand master-piece of God’s creation! Man was crowned with wisdom and honor and was made a little lower than God! There was no “monkey-business” in the Garden of Eden; we were created in the image and likeness of God! Therefore, be mindful of people who always try to identify you in an inferior and negative way! Did you know that the great cosmic battle in the spirit world is all about the fate of humanity? The enemy raised Hell and the Incarnate Son gave up Heaven in the battle over humanity!
The bottom line is this: You are valuable! You have eternal worth! Do not allow people who don’t even like themselves to tell you who you are! You are an offspring of the Creator of the Earth! There is royal blood running through your veins! You were born to win! You were created to be a physical, visible expression of the spiritual, invisible God! That’s who you are!
Now, stop living as an orphan and lay claim to your royal heritage! If you don’t have a personal relationship with God; it’s time for you to come back home! God is waiting on you to quit asking and listening to other people to find out who you are. Sincerely ask Him and the answer will be given!