The Importance of Life in Raising Fruit

Dr. Steve Viars April 23, 2000 Romans 7:1-6

- This morning I’d like to ask you to imagine yourself in the following situation.
- it will seem a bit outlandish at first, but I think the point will be become obvious.

- Suppose you’re stopped at a traffic light downtown in the front of the First National Bank.
- there is a armored car parked next to the curb taking money from the bank.
- the drivers are obviously in a hurry.
- they carry four bags out of the bank, set them down on the ground, open the back doors, place three bags in the truck....
- hurriedly close the doors, and drive away, inadvertently leaving one of the bags sitting on the sidewalk.

- you, because you hate to see messes left on the sidewalk, get out of your car, pick up the bag, and get back into your car.
- you drive a few miles down the road, pull your car over, and look in the bag.
- it turns out to be filled with money.
- neat little stacks of $100 bills, each with a little wrapped that says “Property of First National Bank”
- you count it quickly, and it comes out somewhere to around $200,000, give or take a few thousand.

- on the way home, you stop at the mall and buy a few new outfits with your new-found cash.
- then you stop at Mountain Jacks and have a big steak dinner.
- and then you stop at one of the car dealerships and pay cash for a brand new SUV.

- and now you’re home.
- but something’s’ not working.
- you don’t feel so good.
- you ate too much at Mountain Jacks
- that bag of money is sitting in the corner saying “you’re a’re a thief.”
- your new outfit is itchy and everything you scratch you hear this little “you’re a’re a thief”
- you look out in the driveway and see you car, and the headlights are going on and off, flashing out the message “you’re a thief, you’re a thief”

- now, picture yourself in that condition and I want to ask you a very important question.
- what should you do now?
- you’re feeling terribly guilty, because according to the law you are terribly guilty....what should you do now?

- I’d like to suggest that you have at least three options.
1) You could try to change the law.
- you could go on some kind of crusade to enact legislation that people in your situation should just be able to keep the money.
- you could make the talk show circuit touting the “finders keepers losers weepers bill”

2) Or, you could try to drown out your guilt....
- take some of the money and buy a real loud stereo...and crank it so high that you can’t hear your conscience
- or get a big screen TV with 200 cable channels and watch TV until your mind is too fried to receive messages from your conscience.
- surround yourself with people who agree with you and listen to them over and over until your conscience is seared and no longer effective.

- so change the standard, or ignore the results of breaking the standard....or....what’s the other option?
3) You could choose to make things right.
- you could turn yourself in.
- you find a way to change your relationship to the law....
- from being a thief and guilty, to being a law-abiding citizen with a clear conscience.

- now let me ask you two more questions....
1) in the short term, which of those options is hardest?
- by far the third---there will be a price to pay at this point in the project.
2) but in the long term...which will result in the most joy and peace?
- which will be most fruitful?
- which one will be most alive?
- the third.
- the principle is --- when you’re guilty, the best thing to do is to find a way to change your relationship to the law.
- and I realize that why we’re talking about all of this on Easter Sunday may not make a whole lot of sense yet, but I want to ask you to trust me, and open your Bible now to Romans chapter 7.....[page 123 of the back section of the pew Bibles]
- In this chapter, Paul is going to make this exact same argument [when you’re guilty, the best thing to do is to find a way to change your relationship to the law], and then tie it to both the topics of fruit-bearing and the resurrection.

- for those who are visiting with us today, we’re in the middle of a study of the fruit of the Spirit.
- we’ve been looking at Galatians 5:22-23 and that marvelous list of nine characteristics that the Spirit of God wants to be developing in, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
- since its the time of the year when we especially think about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, last week we asked the question....How important is death in the process of raising fruit?
- and we studied Jesus’ s words in John 12:24 - unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
- in other words, in order to bear spiritual fruit, there has to be a death.

- now this morning, we’d like to look at the other side of the equation.
- How Important is Life in the Process of Bearing Fruit?
- and I realize on the surface you might say, well that’s obvious.
- dead plants don't bear fruit
- and the healthier [or more alive] a plant is, the healthier the fruit.
- that’s all true on the surface....
- but the question I’d like to pose this morning is, specifically what kind of fruit is produced because of the resurrected life of Jesus Christ?
- with that in mind, I’d like to read the first 6 verses of Romans 7
- now before we read, remember that Christianity is a thinking person’s religion....
- and the book of Romans is the most systematic theological statement in the entire Bible
- Paul assumes that we are committed enough to carefully follow argumentation, or logic.
- there’s some important points here, but we have to work for them.

- READ Romans 7:1-6
- The questions we’re asking today is, How Important is Life in the Process of Bearing Fruit?
- in these verses, we can find three principles about how the resurrected life of Christ can help you develop sweet, lasting fruit.

I.  Death Frees You From the Law - verses 1-4.

A.  Statement of the principle - v. 1
- that principle is clearly stated in verse 1
- the law has dominion over a person as long as he is alive.
- and that’s not talking perse about the law of God, that’s true of any law.

- for example, why wasn’t Lee Harvey Oswald ever brought to trial for allegedly killing John F. Kennedy?
- because he took his own life.
- the law is only binding on those who are living.

- remember the principle we saw earlier from the silly bank robbery illustration --- when you’re guilty, the best thing to do is to find a way to change your relationship to the law.

- now, the principle is illustrated in verses 2-3
B.  Illustration of the principle - v. 2-3
- Paul chooses the issue of marriage.
- if a wife isn’t satisfied with her husband and decides to go get a couple of more, she’s got a problem with the law....
- that’s called bigamy....
- but if the spouse dies, that’s death completely changes the picture....that death frees her from the law.

- so let’s not make this harder than it is....the only thing Paul is saying in these first three verses [and its very easy to understand]....death frees you from the law, or its changes your relationship to the law.

- the surprising thing is what happens in verse 4, because Paul applies this to Christians, and their relationship to the death and resurrection of Christ.
C.  Application of the principle - v. 4
- re-read verse 4
- now, we need to chew on that verse very carefully.
- this is the point that Paul has been driving to.
- v. 1 - death frees you from the law
- vs 2-3 - illustrated by marriage - death frees you from the law
- for Christians, your union with Jesus Christ freed you from the law.

- the $100 question is --- in what sense is that true?
- let me answer that question by asking you two questions....
1) Did Jesus Christ come to abolish the law?
- no, He said in the Sermon on Mount that He didn’t come to abolish the law, but the fulfill it.
2) Second question -- Is the law intrinsically bad?
- no....its not that the law is bad, its that the law has a negative impact on us as unbelievers.

- now if you say, PV, my head is starting to spin here....
- this should clarify what Paul is saying....

- what law are we talking about?....Christians died to the law....what law?
- that’s the kicker --- the word law is used different ways in the Bible....
- let me give you five different ways the word law is used (and these aren’t the only ways, but they’ll do for today)...and then I’m going to ask you----which one of these laws have you died to if you know Christ?

1.  The Old Testament ceremonial law.
- all of the dietary standards, and ceremonial days
2.  The 10 Commandments.
3.  The curse of the law.
- we don't measure up to God’s standards
4.  The negative effect the law has on us.
a.  makes us want to sin.
b.  makes us feel guilty when we do sin.
5.  All of God’s Word
- the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.

- the word law is used in these five ways and more in the Bible.
- now when Paul says, “you also were made to die to the law through the death of Christ”....which of those is he talking about?
- the answer is, 1, 3, and 4.

- let me add one more verse, and then try to wrap some of this up.
- Galatians 3:13 - Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"- -

- meaning, you no longer....
1) have to keep the OT ceremonial law
2) living under the curse of the law
3) no longer are living under the power of the law where you constantly want to break it, and you have to deal with the guilt of breaking it and having no way out.

- now, let’s lay out this next principle, and we’ll try to tie it together....

II.  Christians Have Become Dead to the Law and Married to the Resurrected Christ.

- and you might say, PV, that’s sounds pretty wooden.
- that’s true, but I’m trying to follow the wording of the verse very carefully.
- Paul said, you have become dead to the law.

- now I want to ask you to notice two things about the way that is worded.
1) This happened at a point in time.
- in the original language its the aorist tense which denotes finality or a completed action.
- a person has to make a decision at a point in time in their life.

2) this is done to you.
- when a person places their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, God Himself changes your relationship to the law.
- He unites you to the death of Christ and He frees you from the law.

- now, you might say, PV, what does all of this have to do with the way I live today?
- it really does go back to that silly illustration I used at the beginning.
- you’ve stolen money from a bank.....
- you’re feeling guilty....
- and you can either try to change the law, or try to ignore your conscience, or do something to change your relationship to the law.

- and friends, many people find themselves in that very situation.
- where they know that there is something wrong with the way they are living....and they know their sin has separated them from God.....
- but they take one of the first two options....

1) Some folks try so hard to change the standard, or change the law....
- I’ll decide what’s right and wrong for myself....
- I don't care what my parents say...
- I don't care what my society says...
- I don't care what the Bible says, or the church says....
- I’ll decide what’s right and wrong for myself....
- the problem with that is this little device God has placed inside each of us called the conscience.
- its like that person who stole the money sitting on the couch saying “finders keepers loser weepers”, but everywhere they look --- they’ll still’re a thief, you’re a thief.
- we all know --- simply saying that’s something’s right....doesn’t make it right.

2) so then others try to ignore their conscience.
- they just get busy....
- they try to block God out of their minds...and out of their lives.....
- they fill their existence up with activity and noise....
- and sometimes that works for a while.....
- the Bible calls that a seared conscience....
- its the contemporary approach to ethics today captured in one of many people’s favorite words...”whatever” doesn’t really matter, whatever....
- the problem is, it does matter....
- because God’s law is still God’s law....
- for those who don’t know Christ, it does make us want to sin all the more....
- and that does produce guilt and shame....
- which is why the Bible describes this condition as being dead in trespasses and sins
- now what’s the solution according to verse 4?
- that you might be joined [married] to another, to Him who was raised from the dead.

- the Bible speaks in many places about believers being “married to Christ”....we are the bride of Christ....
- this is not some sort of casual relationship that really doesn’t affect either party.

- here’s the point of this message thus far, when you place your faith and trust in the Resurrected Christ as your Lord and Savior....your relationship with the law changes....
1) instead of it being something that keeps whispering, you’re guilty, you’re guilty, you’re guilty....
- now your position of guilt is gone because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ

2) instead of the law whispering, break me, break me, break me....
- now the resurrected Christ makes it possible for you to actually want to do right....
- now somehow to earn your salvation, but out of appreciation for the salvation you freely received

3) now instead of that law whispering, you’re powerless, you’re powerless, you’re powerless....
- now you have the ability to begin living a lifestyle that is growing in holiness, and growing in Christlikeness....
- and the guilt is being replaced with a clear conscience....
- the cowering down kind of fear of God is being replaced by love and adoration....
- the inability to understand Him is being replaced by a knowledge of Him
- the lack of focus in life is being replaced by biblical goals and purposes....

- it’s in that sense that we can sing....
Free from the law, O happy condition. Jesus has bled, and there is remission
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall. Grace hath redeemed us once for all
Once for all, O sinner receive it.  Once for all, o brother believe it.
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall.  Christ hath redeemed us once for all.

- we’ve been speaking from pretty deep theological perspectives....let’s try to illustrate all this as clearly as we can.
- do you know what it feels like right after you’ve been to the dentist and had your teeth cleaned?
- can you picture that feeling in your mind.....
- now contrast it to a situation where you haven’t been able to brush your teeth like you really wanted to....
- or you wake up after eating something that was especially strong...and your mouth feels like the inside of a sweat sock.....

- the first is what it’s like after the life of Christ has freed you from the law, the latter is what its like while you’re still under the law.

- let me try to illustrate it a different way, because it was this very issue that God used to bring me to Christ.
- my mother insisted that me and my sisters go to church, where I clearly heard the gospel.
- but I refused to believe it....
- I gave my mother fits about going to church
- I refused to make friends with kids from church
- I stayed as far away from it as I could

- and as a teenager, I started hanging around kids that did not know Christ, and who did things that went along with that kind of lifestyle.
- and what I learned early on in that process was....the guilt was unbearable....
- sure we laughed and acted like we were having a great time....and we certainly bragged about what we had done the following day at school....
- but the law was working on me....
- and it was convicting me, and it was making me want to sin more....
- and the emptiness of it was overwhelming....
- its was exactly like verse 5 is saying....For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

- and friends, I am so thankful for the grace of God, and His patience and long-suffering towards me....
- coupled with a whole bunch of people who were patient with me as well....

- but here’s what God did....he brought some teenagers into my life from a local Christian high school....
- [and I’m sure he could have done it with some godly teens from a public school, in my case He used some godly kids from a Christian High school]....and those kids started reaching out to me....and inviting me to do things with them....
- and I was a piece of work.....if you think I’m a pain now, you should have seen me then...
- I was a teenage porcupine....

- but those kids were different....they knew how to have fun, but they didn’t have to sin in order to have fun....
- they weren’t goody two shoes, but they actually acted like they wanted to try to please God....they wanted to try to honor their parents.....they wanted to try to do right....
- and I could hang around with them, and have a great time, and not feel guilty the next morning

- the bottom line is --- they were living in verse 6, and I was living in verse 5
- they had been freed from the curse of the law and I was living under it
- they were alive and I was dead
- their life was like a mouth after just having one’s teeth cleaned, mine was like a mouth with a dirty sweatsock in it.

- it was that issue, coupled with the idea that it was possible to know for sure that you’re on your way to heaven, that God used to draw me to Himself.

- now, let me ask you to lock on to the end of verse 4.
- this is how all of this fits together with our study of the fruit of the Spirit on one hand, and our celebration of Easter on the other.
- Re-read verse 4

- the third principle is:

III. Jesus’ Life Makes it Possible to Bear Delicious Fruit.

- see, what kind of fruit?
- fruit that is the natural result of having a changed relationship with the law.

- and what that means on Easter Sunday is this....the empty tomb, that fact that Jesus Christ is alive....makes it possible for you and I to have a quality of life here and now that was not possible through any other means.

- there is an “aliveness” to having one’s sins forgiven that cannot be matched by anything the world has to offer.
- there is an “aliveness” to having hope that you can change that cannot be matched by anything the world has to offer....
- there’s an aliveness to....
- waking up in the morning rightly related to God....
- having purpose and direction....
- being able to talk to God...
- being able to sing about Him...
- being able to serve Him....

- the empty tomb does not simply represent a home in heaven for believers some day....
- it represents an approach to life, and a quality of life that is absolutely delightful because our relationship with the law has been changed.

- “Married to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.”

[develop --- those who served in the Passion Play]
[end with an appeal to trust Christ]

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video