Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Bearing Fruit (Philippians 3:12-21)

"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me" (Phil. 3:12).

Because regeneration is an immediate, direct act of God on the soul, a person can often find it difficult to date the time of his conversion. He might have been one of those who grew up always hearing about Christ, and his faith grew out his life without having any dramatic change. Others live in sin for years until God changes them, and they then make a dramatic profession of Christ.

No matter how you were converted, whether quietly or with a bang, one thing is sure: regeneration, that quickening of your dead soul to new life, produces fruit. The man or woman, boy or girl, who has been born again will show forth fruit. You will have a desire to obey Christ’s commands. You will seek after holiness, delight in the Lord, set your mind on spiritual things instead of things of the flesh, long to be in His presence, and you will love to gather and worship with His people. These are just some of the fruits that grow from a regenerated soul. Though imperfect, they are present.

But you might be asking yourself at this point, “If God renews our souls in regeneration, and if, being regenerated, we produce godly fruit, why do I still sin? Am I changed or not?” This touches on one of the most difficult aspects of the Christian life. While you are changed in regeneration, this does not mean all sin has been eradicated. The basic principles of your life are changed from sin to holiness, you now walk after the Spirit instead of the flesh, you are now a slave to righteousness instead of a slave to sin, but there still remains in you seeds of sin. “Regeneration is a single act, complete in itself, and never repeated; conversion, as the beginning of holy living, is the commencement of a series, constant, endless, and progressive,” A. A. Hodge wrote. In other words, as J. S. Baxter wrote, “Regeneration is the fountain; sanctification is the river.”

All those who have been born again will be sanctified, made holy. But this is a process, a process that involves an often dramatic struggle against sin. The comfort is that God has changed you, and by His power, you will be victorious in the battle against remaining sin as sure as Christ was victorious over sin and death on the Cross.

Read James 2:14–26; 1 John 5:18; 1 Corinthians 5:9–10; Galatians 5:16–21. Can a person who is regenerated continue to live in sin as if he did not believe in Christ? What’s the difference between committing a sin, battling sin, and living in sin? Read Hebrews 10:26–39 and skim the verses below.