I Believe But I’m Not Changing: Where’s The Fruit?

deliveredfish asked a question:

Hello. I understand that my own works could never get me into Heaven, and it’s pointless to weigh myself down with rules and moral obligations. Nevertheless I do believe that genuine faith results in a changed lifestyle, and that good works are a byproduct of faith. This causes me to question the sincerity of my own faith, as I notice that my natural inclination is to sin/my nature is still corrupt/I don’t display much fruit of the spirit. I miss feeling secure in my salvation. Any advice?

Hey my dear friend, I absolutely believe that a follower of Christ is going to have evidence of change in his or her life.  But please consider a few things before you go too hard on yourself.

– Change is a process: we don’t realize how entrenched we are in certain patterns and behaviors until you try to break them.  Every act of righteousness is a miracle, like giving birth to another baby. It’s foreign, exciting, wonderful.  Have grace for yourself, and be willing to confront your heart with the freeing power of truth. That’s what grace does: it gives rest and resolve.

– You’re asking a theology question, “Am I really saved?”  But instead of asking that one, how about, “God, what would you have me do today? Who could I become?”  Too much theological second-guessing is often the result of someone else’s guilt-shame-and-fear tactics, or even worse, too much privilege to over-think our own faith.  Persecuted Christians in oppressed countries don’t even have time to play with this.  Try re-orienting your questions to how God wants to shape your heart.

– Galatians 5:16 says Step by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of your flesh.  No one ever stopped sinning by trying to not sin.  Ever.  When you can ask God how to move you and then embrace that mission, the volume of sin will begin to decrease in your life.  This isn’t a perfect ratio, but when we’re focused on what Jesus wants, we start to outgrow our old desires.

– The feeling of “security” or “assurance” in salvation can become its own legalism.  It’s exhausting.  If I kept telling you, “Believe harder!” — it’s like running a marathon with no finish-line.  It’s an arbitrary parameter.  While I believe God absolutely wants you to feel secure in your faith, the very irony is that we try to “get more secure” in His security.  Think of how crazy that really is.  You can’t try to be your dad’s son: you are or you’re not.  And if you love Jesus, you’re the Father’s child and in His family.  Adopted as His own, done deal.

– My one practical advice here would be to hang out with mature Christians.  Sometimes at church, we pick and choose the cool people to be around, but we leave out the elderly, the ushers, the powerpoint guy, and the piano lady.  Find out the stories of Christians who are further along than you. Be inspired and challenged and provoked and rebuked.  Allow the church community to encourage you.  When you can get into the stream of what God is doing on the earth, you’ll leave behind the old life without hardly knowing it.  That starts with His church, His people.

— J.S.

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3 thoughts on “I Believe But I’m Not Changing: Where’s The Fruit?

  1. A good friend of mine (initials JSP) once said that we cannot turn from our sin until we turn to Christ. Trying to turn away from sin without turning toward Christ is like trying to not think about something. The more we try not to think about it the more we think about it.

    Rest in this truth also. When Christ saves us, He changes enough of us to prove that he is who he says he is and has done what he says he’ll do, but leaves enough of us unchanged to show that for us to live for him means we need him every day.


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