The Daily Word of Righteousness

The Importance of Fruit, #3

Then the man said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." (Genesis 32:28—NIV)

If you are going through your struggle with God as you are reading these lines, do not attempt to manipulate people and circumstances in order to stave off the day of reckoning. Walk through the pain. Lay hold on God and don't let go until He blesses you. Then you will obtain peace and deliverance.

When Jacob arose his name was changed from the "supplanter" to "he struggles with God." Jacob drank deeply of the cup, as all who have been destined for high rank in the Kingdom must do; and the fruit of his wrestling with God has been incredible. God called him and his descendants "Israel," the struggler with God. And so it is true that all whom God has called to Himself spend their days struggling with God.

We have a fallen, sinful, self-willed nature. No amount of religious activity can do other than strengthen this nature. It is only as we abide in Christ that the fallen nature will perish and the Life of God will come forth in us.

The fruit God is looking for in each person who receives Christ is, as we said, the revelation of His eternal moral law. Iron righteousness. Fiery Holiness. Stern obedience to the Father. God is looking for righteous behavior, a pure, holy heart, a love for Him that transcends all idols, and a mouth that is a river of life.

When such do not come forth after an appropriate time we are removed from Christ as being a useless branch. How different this is from our perception of the Christian religion!

To abide in Christ means we are progressing toward the point where every moment of every day is spent in His Presence. To the new Christian just starting out, such concentration on Christ may seem an impossible achievement. To get to the place where we are praying without ceasing may appear to be as difficult as climbing to the summit of Mount Everest.

Actually it is just a matter of training ourselves from the time we awaken until we fall asleep to keep looking to the Lord for every decision. Time for prayer must be set aside each day. We must meditate in the Scriptures. But above all we must keep looking to the Lord. God helps us to look to Him by sending trouble on us—trouble that demands we pray for help and deliverance.

The mistake often made by believers is to blame the tools God uses to chasten them. When they do this they become bitter and no fruit of Christ is borne. This is the situation in which numerous church-attenders find themselves.

But the victorious saint keeps pressing forward in the Lord Jesus. Each crisis becomes an opportunity to look to the Lord, to die a little in the fallen nature, and to gain a little of the Life of Christ. All things are working for our good when we continue to love God and trust His absolute faithfulness.

To be continued.