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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