do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. for the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. [galatians 6:7-8]
God is not mocked
what does this line mean? this is in the context of paul teaching on confronting each other in sin, and doing good works in humility, trusting that God will grow fruit from our good works. in that context, this seems to mean that God will not allow good fruit to grow out of sin. the fruit of our labors comes from God, and what can God have in common with evil?
if this is the case, why do so many successful christians and pastors only get caught in their sin after appearing to bear a lot of fruit for so long? and if this is the case, how then can someone with a fruitful ministry ever be confronted? would not their fruitfulness prove their innocence?
there are a few possibilities.
- that person sowed to the Spirit for a time, indeed bearing fruit, and only later forsook sowing to the Spirit in favor of the flesh.
we need not believe that all “fallen leaders” never knew the Lord; some of them fell under the temptation that their increased power and influence subjected them to.
- that person had people around them actually bearing fruit
for others, they truly were sowing to the flesh from the beginning, but led people who were truly sowing to the Spirit. somehow in God’s sovereignty, he allows this to happen quite a lot.
- their “fruit” smelled bad all along
perhaps one of the richest aspects to the biblical analogy of bearing fruit is that it’s not just the quantity of fruit that matters, but the quality. fruit can be tasted; it can be felt, smelled, and digested. what “taste” does spending an hour with someone leave in your mouth? if someone has 3 followers or 10,000, how are they growing and serving? are they bearing the fruit of repentance in humility, or that of pride, self-service, and elitism?
and now, bringing this back to us, how can we assess ourselves? it is important to remember, faithfulness is fruitfulness. whether you seem to be bearing lots of fruit right now or very little, are you pursuing obedience to God right now? are you pursuing repentance? are you asking the Lord to grow your desire for him? as we grow in these things, we can start to taste the fruit of the Lord growing in us. and if this describes you today, scripture has good news!
just one verse later in galatians scripture says and let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. God will not be mocked! as we sow to the Spirit, he will be faithful to grow fruit in and through us! and for those who seem to bear fruit but are inwardly sowing to the flesh in sin, God will not be mocked! he will hold them accountable, we hope in this life in a way that leads to repentance, but if not in eternity to come.
no one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. for nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.
-Jesus, luke 8:16-18
~ stephen hall