“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.” (Matthew 12:33)
There is only one way to bear good fruit: to be a good tree. Focusing on the fruit will not help. What farmer fertilizes the branches?
In Jesus we are grafted in to the The Good Tree. If we desire good fruit, we desire a good thing, but we must recognize our place as branches and who the source of the fruit is. Without Him, we can do nothing.
“If the root is holy, so are the branches.” (Romans 11:16)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
“It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
“However, they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day but have been made to do forced labor.”
They did not drive out the Canaanites
The Lord had promised the children of Israel that He would drive out the inhabitants of the land. Even just 3 chapters earlier, the Lord told Joshua, “I myself will drive them out from before the people of Israel.” Yet, for all that, the Canaanites remained in the land.
- Joshua 15:63 “But the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the people of Judah could not drive out, so the Jebusites dwell with the people of Judah at Jerusalem to this day.”
- Joshua 17:12-13 “Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out.”
So the Canaanites have lived in the midst of Ephraim to this day
Though the Lord promised to drive the Canaanites out from before Israel, they remained. Was it God who was unfaithful? Is it the Lord who is not strong? No, Israel was not willing to fight. God promised to give them victory, God promised to go before them in battle, but Israel folded his arms and refused to fight. So, the Canaanites remained in the land.
We also are in the midst of a battle. We war against the lusts of our flesh. Yet “though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds;” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4.
We wage a spiritual, internal war.
- 1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”
- Romans 7:23 “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.”
- Galatians 5:17 “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.”
- James 4:1 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?”
We’ve been born-again to living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because He lives, we live. Our old self was crucified with Christ. Unfortunately, it still rears itself up again and fights against us. The question is, how long will we put off claiming the victory that is ours in Christ? As Joshua said to Ephraim, “How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?” Joshua 18:3.
We are not told, “do away with most of your sin,” but to “cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God;” 2 Corinthians 7:1. Do I mean to say we will obtain perfection on this earth? No; perfection will come when Christ brings us into His presence. But we ought not go on in our Christian walk ignoring the battle around us, pretending we don’t see it, and acting as if we have no strength to fight.
Stand up! Be strong! Act like men! Get up and fight. The Lord is with you. He has given you His Holy Spirit to produce His fruit within you and to give you the power to put to death the deeds of your flesh. He has promised to give you victory in this spiritual battle we wage. It is your decision whether or not you will claim it.
- 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
- Ephesians 6:10-18 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints….”