Is pragmatism an attribute of the Word of God? Is it safe to judge what we are believing is true or not based on whether it’s bearing fruit? That we need to look into what we actually belief if we don’t see the results we should see. (Based on Matthew 7:17 and 20)
@Theja What exactly do you mean by ‘if we don’t see the results we should see’? What specific types of results do you have in mind?
In the context of Matthew 7, I believe Jesus says something crucial in verse 23 - “I never knew you, depart from me”
John 17:3 says - And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I think that all of us struggle to be as selfless, loving and holy as God has asked us to be, but I do not necessarily think that is a reason to change our beliefs. We can believe the truth while still struggling to apply it to our lives at the level of practice.
I think when the fruit seems to be lacking, there are a few questions we need to ask ourselves and they need to be asked in the right order:
Do I know Jesus? Is His Spirit testifying that I am His child? Have I accepted Christ’s work on the cross?
Is there a sinful heart attitude that I need to confess? Am I holding back part of my heart from God?
Am I renewing my mind by filling it with God’s Word and spending time in prayer? Or am I still spending a lot of time filling my mind with ungodly and unhelpful things?
Are there people around me that are a bad influence and leading me away from Christ? Do I need to sever any relationships in order to honor Christ? Am I involved in Christian community?
Do I need the help of a Christian brother or sister to understand why I continue doing what I know I should not? Maybe I do not understand my own behavior well.
I do believe that God’s Word bears fruit in the lives of those who have surrendered to God, but I also think that there can be many different reasons that people struggle to see that fruit in their lives and it is important to accurately diagnose the cause before assigning a solution.
All of that said, wrong belief will obviously lead to wrong action and it is possible that wrong belief is at the root of wrong action.
Thank you @SeanO for the reply.
By ‘if we don’t see the results that we should see’ I was thinking of whether we can use ‘good results’ as an ‘indicator’ that we need to look into our hearts or examine it and the Word for answers. And by good results I think what’s in my mind is the fruit of the Spirit. When we are walking in the Spirit and enjoying the fruits of the Spirit I sometimes become comfortable and let things slide along and then suddenly I find myself questioning if I am walking in the Spirit. So I was thinking that when we don’t see the fruit can we see that as an indicator or is it possible sometimes to not see the fruit even when we are walking in the Spirit. Frankly, I think what I am genuinely asking is if there is something which we can refer to in our daily living to keep us in check to walk in the Spirit.
@Theja I’m sure other people have great insight on self-examination.
If my eyes are fixed on Christ I will not go elsewhere - or at least not far off. In soccer, wherever you point your plant foot is the direction the ball will tend to go. In the same way, if our hearts are fixed on Christ I believe we will tend to walk in obedience.
So the most important question is - what helps you personally keep your eyes fixed on Christ? It could be journaling, worship, times of prayer, the Word, art, a combination or something else.
For me personally, it has been most helpful to remember that we are both embodied creatures and spiritual beings filled with God’s Spirit. Because we are human, we are not constantly going to have an overwhelming sense of God’s presence - but we can be intentional about responding to situations with God’s will in mind and attempting to anchor ourselves throughout the day with prayer, hymns to God and the Scriptures.
In addition, I find practicing self-reflection helpful. Any time I encounter a situation, I have tried to train myself to ask:
Is the action that I am about to take in keeping with my current understanding of God’s Word?
If I sense resistance to doing what I know is right, I try to ask myself:
Is this resistance a result of my flesh / body or a result of spiritual forces?
Oftentimes if I am grumpy I just need sleep or exercise - so it is not really a spiritual issue. But I still need to crucify my flesh and treat other people well even though I do not feel like it.
If I sense spiritual resistance, I pray in Jesus’ name until it has been subdued. I find that most often the resistance is related to my physical state though.
I think training yourself to practice self-reflection in your decisions and subdue the flesh / claim spiritual victory are very helpful.
So I think self-reflection in my decisions, understanding the root cause of resistance to what is right and rooting myself in Christ periodically throughout the day have been most helpful personally.
I hope this is not out of place but I thought that it might add to the conversation.
Just want to clarify, based on your opening, it seems that your question is if we can base the truthfulness of a view based on its fruit? Then your reply with @SeanO seems to show that you are asking if we can use our life as an indicator if we are walking in the Spirit? Is your question about making sure that we are saved based on our works, or merely about making sure we are walking in accordance to what the Spirit wants of us?
I was thinking about the second question only when I framed the first question, but my wordings couldn’t match the question I intended I think. :) I think it got cleared as more input and insights came from the replies.
While asking, what was in my mind was: we walk in the Spirit by setting our mind on the things of the Spirit and as a result we bear the fruit of the Spirit. So I was asking when we don’t see the fruit, do we need to check if we are setting our mind on the things of the Spirit and thus the fruit serving as an indicator. The replies were really insightful. Do you have any comments on it?
Thanks for clarifying, @Theja. @SeanO and @Jimmy_Sellers indeed gave wonderful insights in response to your question. As I resonate on what was already given, what I could comment on is that when we don’t see the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, we need to examine ourselves.
We need to be careful as we examine ourselves though. The fruit of the Spirit is not a product of human effort. It’s mainly the Spirit’s work, which He does as we yield to Him. This does not mean that we should not be serious in obeying God. The dangers I could think as we examine ourselves is that we would either be legalistic as if it depends on our efforts, or that we would not yield to the Spirit since it is mainly His work.
This reminds me of Michael Ramsden’s lecture about the Ontological Root of the Gospel. One of the categories which we use to reduce our worldview to is doing. This should not be, since Christianity should be grounded in being. If we ground it in doing, we will question our identity when we fail. If we properly ground it in being, we could be honest with our struggles, and look at ourselves soberly to see if we are yielding to the Spirit of God. This will help us in making sure that we become filled by the Spirit, and be patient and trust God as the Spirit produces His fruit in our lives.
Thank you @omnarchy.
I checked the ‘Ontological Root of the Gospel’, you mentioned above, by Michael Ramsden. It was very insightful and helpful. A paraphrase I really liked, from it: Being a Christian involves the highest level of thinking, of feeling and of doing but our ‘root’ or identity is not in any of this but in being children(sons and daughters) of our Holy Father because of Christ Jesus.
How amazing and liberating to know that my identity is not in how much or what new sophisticated things I know everyday, or how much I feel God each day, or what I do for His cause everyday BUT in me being His son (like my relationship with my dad but much greater and purer) because of what Jesus Christ did for me on the Cross of Calvary, where He cried out “My God, My God!” so that today I could call God "Father, Father."
He is the Father who runs to His prodigal son when he returns, the Father who fearfully and wonderfully made us, who knows the number of our hairs, who knew us before He formed us yet chose to give us life and who has a plan for us, of hope and good.