Most people who call themselves a Christian live a life that is not the same as God’s expectations. Most feel that they should attend church once a week, read their Bible a couple times a year, give some money to the church, and do some service projects or outreach programs a couples times a year. All the while still not living a sexually pure life, watching movies or listening to music that would grieve the Holy Spirit, treating their spouse and kids harshly, lying or tolerating sin in their lives, walking in pride every day. Others may feel like they should become a teacher at their church or lead a small group, take a mission trip and serve a couple times a month at their homeless shelter, food bank, witness on the streets, pray over people at the mall and in the marketplace, fast a couple times a year, pray in tongues and prophesy. Surely those who pray in tongues, prophesy, do deliverance and many miracles are on their way to heaven, or… maybe not?
Is God impressed with our works and spiritual gifts? Even the Pharisees and scribes were sharply scolded by Jesus and they did a lot of works, fasted, taught in the church, gave tithes, tried to get people to come to church, etc. So what does God expect from a Christian? How do we know if we are truly saved and on our way to heaven? We know of a man who was dying on a cross next to Jesus who made it into heaven without any good fruit – but that was because he died minutes after he supported Jesus. What about those who have been in church for many years and done many good things yet continue to treat people harshly and have more fruit of the flesh then the spirit? God’s grace is a wonderful thing but many in the church simply take it for granted while living a life like the world. Grace allows us to not be killed for our sin while God tries to get us to pursue living a life like Jesus with the same fruit that He walked in. To forgive all who have hurt us (because God can’t forgive those who don’t forgive others).
So exactly what does the Bible say?
Galatians 5:16-21 NLT
Living by the Spirit’s Power
16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The Bible lays it out here that if we regularly live a life full of our flesh and sin that we are not going to inherit the Kingdom of God (go to Heaven). But what if we do many miracles, prophesy and cast demons out of people. Surely that will prove we are solid Christians and will go to heaven, right?
Matthew 7:21-23 NLT
21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Yikes! So we can actually be a prophet, deliverance minister and see many miracles yet…God will not allow us into heaven…simply for breaking God’s laws and living a sinful life. That seems pretty tough but God has to draw the line somewhere.
So how do we know if we are on our way to heaven? What is God looking for? What if we prophesy accurately over people? Does God actually expect us to have godly fruit in our lives?
Matthew 7:15-20 NLT
The Tree and Its Fruit
15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
So what is the fruit that God is actually looking for in a true Christian’s life? How should we live day to day?
Galatians 5:22-26 NLT
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Is God fine with us living a life similar to the world? Masturbating, looking at porn, having emotional affairs with others, gossiping, lying? Criticizing our spouse every day? We have been taught by so many in the church that God’s grace will allow us to do most anything because God loves us and doesn’t expect us to not sin, after all no one is perfect except for Jesus which gives us an excuse for tolerating sin.
Romans 6:15-23 NLT
15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. 18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.
19 Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.
20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. 21 And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. 22 But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
So it appears that we need to pursue living a righteous life as close to Jesus as we can and not just live however our sinful nature wants. When we do sin we ask for forgiveness and repent which means to turn and change. But how can we change? Is it possible to actually live a peaceful and holy life? Doesn’t grace allow us to sin as much as we want and still get into heaven? Perhaps the main purpose of grace is to allow us to stay alive instead of dying and going to hell for our sin as we pursue getting our soul wounds healed, forgiving those who have hurt us and then coming out of any agreement with demons so we can walk in holiness like Christ.
Hebrews 12:14-15 NKJV
14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
So how do we live a life full of the fruit of the Spirit, walking humbly, sexually pure, righteous before the Lord and having a marriage full of peace and intimacy?
When we get our soul wounds healed and are able to truly forgive everyone who hurt us from our hearts, are delivered from demons that torment us then we are able to hear from the Lord and walk in humility, the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control) and sexual purity and holiness. We treat people like Jesus did. We change and turn to the Lord and obey Him and His commands. We no longer trigger and get angry, selfish, controlling, demanding, sexually impure, and prideful. He who is free is free indeed. Then we are the Christian that Jesus is looking for and will be on our way to heaven. Do we have to be perfect like Jesus? No. But we definitely need to have much more fruit of the spirit then the flesh. We need to be humble and not proud.
God looks upon our heart and our mind. Do we have good intentions or evil?
Jeremiah 17:10 NKJV
10 I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.