Recently, I was in prayer and the Lord gave me a picture. I saw a tree, it was in great shape, a nice full tree with viable limbs and thick with foliage. As I was observing this tree all of a sudden a branch grew out from one of the limbs, and as it grew I began to notice that it was a dead branch. Now how can a dead branch grow? Well, in the natural realm it can’t but in the spirit realm (and this is the vantage point from where we are looking ) a dead tree growing, is symbolic to a work that has no life in it, this is a work that leads to death. Or “acts” that lead to death. It can be a sin, sinfulness, or the sin nature. When we belong to God he is ever working with our conscience to purge dead works out of our lives. He does that through his Holy Spirit that convicts of sin. When the conscience becomes seared, our response to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit ebbs away.
At that point in our life, if we continue in sin, we are perpetuating acts that lead to death. Though the tree may be other wise healthy there is a branch that is “flourishing in sin” according to the picture the Lord gave me. He showed me the destructive power of it when I watched this dead branch grow and begin to diminish the beauty of the limb of the tree it came from. As I watched the tree change seasons, I could see that for a season the branch and the limb were fine, but in time the foliage became less and less, and all other branches associated with the limb began to appear more and more barren. I began to realize that the branch was weighty and cumbersome, and when the winds picked up it became a liability to the entire limb of the tree. Yet, before it could cause the limb to break away from the tree, swiftly, and suddenly, the branch was cut off, to my astonishment.
Dead works are works of the flesh. The branch represented acts of sin, the limb of the tree is that which belongs to the tree. The tree is a planting of the lord in his orchard. When the limb was delivered of the dead branch it began to be covered by a thrust of new life and growth, eventually bearing fruit, even more fruit than all the other limbs.
This picture has so many levels of application It is hard to know where to begin. But one simplified truth is this, God is our husbandman. Our keeper. What belongs to him is managed by him. He knows when to act on our behalf, just when the limb itself appeared to be dying, He knew exactly when to come in and remove the dead branch on the limb, letting it come to a full realization of its fruitlessness, while still preserving that which has life left in it, though its potential growth is being retarded, for a season.
Sometimes dead works (that cover everything that is not born of the spirit) must develop into their full term to display the malignancy that they are. When sin is finished it brings forth death. This very object lesson was given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in Genesis when they found themselves to be naked and their sin discovered, God had to “cover” them with the skins of animals by making garments for them, Adam and Eve knew from where the skins of animals came from, and what it cost those animals to make for Adam and Eve their garments. This was their first experience with- when sin is finished it brings forth death.
Genesis 3:21-22 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” [In a fallen state].
Interestingly enough, this eternal story begins and ends with a tree. From Genesis to Revelation, the tree is a story board of our lives. In Christ we are oaks of righteousness the planting of the Lord. It is God’s will that no man should parish but it is his good pleasure to give us the kingdom. Luke 12:32.
The scripture tells us that the wicked was blotted out of the book of life. Indicating that they were in it from the beginning. That the Lord’s intent is that all be saved, so then we will have to be judged out of the book of life, to no longer be in it.
We can go to the fig tree and learn the lesson of fruitlessness. In the scriptures the Lord gives us the parable of the fig tree that gave no fruit in its season to bear fruit, and even when it was given another chance to bear fruit, even three years, it didn’t, eventually it was cut down. Blotted out you can say, because according to the parable it cumbered the ground. In that parable the orchard worker intercedes for the tree and gives it another season to prove itself. This is Christ ever interceding for us. But a season came and went and there was no fruit. Sometimes all that can be done is done and there is no more left to do. Separation to preserve that which is living entails. Luke 13:6.
We can apply the parable of the severed branch as a principle of every aspect of life. We can look at our own dead works that take from us productivity, and the health and well being of our families. We can look at those things that take away from the productivity of a business, or the promotion of Godly relationships, or the health of a fellowship. We can repent of dead works, turning away from sin, which for many of us boils down to living with out having faith. For without faith we cannot please God, and sin means “to miss the mark”.
So whether it is the works of the flesh as written in Galatians 5:19-21 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality,impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Or, whether we are just missing the mark, our conscience bears witness and if we listen to the Holy Spirit who convicts us of “missing the mark” we can live a productive life. In every aspect of it.
It is the mercy of God that prunes from us the branches and twigs of dead works we have allowed to flourish. Shall we gain the whole world and lose our own soul? The author and finisher of our faith is not going to allow that to happen if we have put our trust in him. Sometimes, when we have moved away from God’s counsel in our lives, radical separations shake us to the root, businesses are lost, relationships, jobs, a marriage, even our health that wake us up from the bigger picture of where we are heading, and the ultimate loss we are facing, if we do not surrender ourselves to the author and finisher of our faith. When those kind of disruptive, and painful losses occur, a death as the result of “missing the mark” in our lives take place, because of living according to the carnal nature, is naturally taking its tole. The more dedicated we are to the sin nature, the more that nature takes up good ground of potential, and draws away from it the strength of those things that are in Christ”, we will have to see loss to understand- when sin is finished it brings forth death. The good news is as much as their has been loss in our life, there is potential for restoration, if we turn to God and continue to put our trust in him.
1 Corinthians 5:4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
As trees from the root to the fruit- our works are examined, as trees in his orchard, we are pruned that we may bear more fruit. Wild fruit trees grow out as high, and wide as they can, but an orchard tree grown for its product is trimmed and pruned to bear full limbs of accessible fruit. In contrast the wild tree has smaller, more sporadic fruit growth, often inaccessible in high limbs, and diseased.
The mercy of God is dealing with individuals, people groups, and nations. What is yielded to him is pruned, whoever is yielded to Him WILL be pruned. Dead trees, on His farm are subject to removal in this old world. But if there is any life left in it, the faithful pruner will war for its life. What is left of it may not look pretty but in due season life will do what life does. It Lives! When every thing that hinders is moved out of the way. We have to “give” ourselves to the work of the pruner. This is our will and desires. When we have gone through the ravages of sin, been given over to it, have suffered loss, we still have one thing more valuable then anything we could ever have, we have our souls, we have our repentant heart, crying out for mercy. God is the author and finisher of our faith, and his desire is that we bear fruit and are fruit will remain.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.
The same principle works for lawlessness as well, (acts of the flesh gone viral) when the dead work is cut off from, it can no longer draw from the living. The nature of everything that grows which is dead, cancer, addictions, lust, greed, gluttony will come to its natural end, when it has destroyed the host upon which it feeds, it will die. So also, is it when a wayward heart is left to itself, when sin is finished it brings forth death. This is Satan’s desire for all mankind in his jealous rage against God’s creation. This the nature of sin, and the end for the “man of perdition” when all that intercedes for him is taken out of the way. In the same way, nations erupt in lawlessness, when that which is holding it back is taken out of the way. The prayers and intercession of the saints is what is keeping this world from going into complete anarchy.
In the end the hope is that men and women will call upon the name of the Lord. For God gave His only begotten son that who soever believes upon him will not perish but have everlasting life. Nevertheless, He has said, “My spirit will not always strive with man.” And in a another place, we are urged to call upon Him while he may be found, and whosoever calls upon Him, must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. It is impossible to please God with out faith.
Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
When we come to God in true repentance and trust in the work of the shed blood of Christ, we take on His righteousness, with our conscience cleansed of sin that we may, with boldness, enter the throne room of grace, where by we obtain mercy in times of need, that we might serve Him. The hope is that we never leave the Fathers house, that we never squander our inheritance and loose it in the pig pens of this world, in the deceitfulness of sin, as did the prodigal son. The son who remained in the Fathers house inherited all that was the Father’s, the prodigal found out in his utter lostness there is no place like home, knowing that to be a servant, a door keeper, in the house of our God is far better than to be lost.
The prodigal came home with nothing. But at least he came home. This is the bones of how it works when one is given over to the destruction of the flesh, it is merely letting their carnal desires take them when they choose that over the provision of eternal life, for temporal pleasure that leads to death. This proves a appoint, that in the kind of existence they’re preferring, there is no satisfaction. As the prodigal son left the Father, so it is with God, it is not His nature to leave us, it is our sinful nature leaving Him. Yet, in every son there is the memory of the good Father sealed up his heart, with a natural knowing, that He will never turn away His own child when they come back to Him, and God will do all that is in His power, through the work of the Holy Spirit to bring the prodigal home to Him. He who is the author and finisher of our faith. Nevertheless, the scripture admonishes us to come to Him while He may be found. Not to be foolish with our time in this world, but to live in such away that we are a fruitful vine.