Artwork by Full of Eyes
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
᛭ INI ᛭
The works and fruit of the flesh reveal who we are when we see them. It’s worse when others point them out. It’s worst of all when God points them out.
Our flesh and blood, our nature, who we are, who we really are, our true self, the person we see in the mirror every morning, every evening, the person in our selfies: that person—you!—is deeply flawed. Turned in on yourself. Unaware of anything except what matters to you. Selfish. Sinners. Those two “s” words are almost synonymous with each other.
“The works of the flesh are evident.” Some of it evident to ourselves. Some of it evident to others. All of it evident to God. He sees to the core of who you are—your heart, your soul, your mind, your strength, your conscience. Nothing is hidden from Him.
And you are exactly what His Word says: a sinner. And the fruit that you produce of yourself is what He says that fruit is: sin. And you get what you deserve because of who you are and what you do. What you deserve is what the Lord says you deserve: “The wages of sin is death.”
All the things we do produce something else, too. What fruit do we get from all the works of the flesh that we do daily and much? It’s not just that “the end of those things is death,” as Paul says. Who we are, and how we sin and do wrong to the people in our daily lives, well, these are “things of which you are ashamed.”
The Lord sees your shame. The Lord sees your sins. The Lord sees you, but in spite of what He sees, out of His great love and mercy, He wants better for you. He wants you better, not just better—forgiven, holy, redeemed. “While we were sinners Christ died for the ungodly.” All “our sins and evil desires” were nailed to Him, left behind in His empty tomb. Now, He also wants better fruit for you. He wants “you to bear fruit and that your fruit would remain.”
So, that’s what He does. He does it for you. It’s not only what He did 2000 years ago, when Christ died and rose for you. It’s what He’s been doing for each of you the past 14 years, and especially so the past 2, and what He will continue to do for the rest of your lives, as each of us can all attest to.
The Lord Jesus sent you the Spirit in the waters of Holy Baptism. Made you a child of His Father—“washing of rebirth.” Also His Word: “Blessed is the man who meditates on the Law,” the Instruction, the Word “of the LORD.” You’ve received that Word in the Small Catechism.
There the Lord’s fruit abounds! The 10 Commandments fruit is that “whoever knows the 10 Commandments perfectly must know all the Scriptures…In fact, the entire book of Psalms is nothing except thoughts and exercises upon the 1st Commandment.” The fruit of the Creed is that you know and believe all that God has done for you: creating you, saving you, making you holy. The fruit of the Lord’s Prayer is that you learn how to pray and believe that Jesus’ Father is your Father through Baptism and that He wants to hear your prayers. The fruit of Baptism is not just new birth but the daily life of repentance and faith. The fruit of Confession is faith “that our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.” The fruit of the Supper is forgiveness, life, and salvation given to you through Jesus’ body and blood, delivered into your mouth with the bread and the wine, and Jesus will even “resurrect you on the Last Day.”
Jesus is the vine, and you are His branches. You are planted in Him. He died for you, He was planted in the ground, but now He bears much fruit—you! The Spirit He freely gives to you will bear fruit. Jesus unites Himself to you so that you would bear fruit—“apart from Me you can do nothing,” He says. Your salvation, your holiness, your actually loving others are all His fruit.
He makes it all sprout and grow in and through you. He does this through His Word and Gifts. Not just reading your Bible or hearing Sermons or going to Confession or eating and drinking His body and blood. It’s also the Catechism! “Remain a child and student of the Catechism… Catechism study is an effect help against the devil.”
This isn’t the end. It’s only the beginning. A new beginning. A new way for the Lord to work on you and in you. It’s not that you’re not done. It’s that the Lord’s not done with you yet. He won’t be done until your face to face with Him.