Incorruptible seed

Written by Charles Ekong

13/05/2024

Have you ever encountered fresh insight in a seemingly familiar passage of Scripture and found yourself thinking: “This was there all along and I missed it!” Rest assured, you aren’t the first to experience this phenomenon [Isaiah 29:11-12]. God’s word is eternal [Psalm 119:89]. So, whenever we prayerfully delve into it, He will eventually show us something we’d never seen. As I mentioned last week, a series of meetings led me back to John 15, and I’ve endeavoured to spend some time daily reading and reflecting on the verses which have struck me most. As I reflected on verses 4 and 5 recently, I received a little insight into the technology that ensures every abiding branch in the True Vine bears lasting fruit [John 15:7-8, 16].

As I learnt recently, a virus infection is one of the worst things which can happen to a vineyard. A virologist I spoke to highlighted leafroll as one of those dreaded viruses worldwide. This particular disease affects the quality of the grapes and reduces the yield. It also reduces the lifespan of the vine to just a few years. There’s no cure for leafroll. So, the farmer must uproot and destroy infected vines to prevent an outbreak because just one infected vine can blight an entire vineyard. It takes three to four years for a vine to fruit. So, an infection or worse still, an outbreak, can be very costly. I see parallels between leafroll and sin: both are costly, destructive, infectious and terminal. Both eventually render their host unfruitful [Isaiah 5:2, Romans 6:23]. The only recourse for both is to destroy the current host and start again. In viticulture, the farmer uproots and discards infected vines and replants the vineyard with sterile vines. Likewise, God recreates the human spirit, the inner man, to deal with the problem of sin once and for all [Ephesians 2:1-10, 2 Corinthians 5:17]. 

When our party asked the virologist what would happen in virgin territory, his face lit up as he explained that a farmer could plant sterile vines that would theoretically fruit for decades. As I reflected on what he said, a connection developed between 1 Peter 1:23 and the first few verses of John 15 for me. Before Jesus, every potential vine we could graft ourselves to was susceptible to corruption because the vineyard was infected. No one could bear lasting fruit [Romans 5:12]. But that’s no longer the case because a believer is recreated after God’s likeness and is the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus [Ephesians 4:24, 2 Corinthians 5:21]. As Peter explains, whoever is in Christ is born again of incorruptible seed [1 Peter 1:23]. That’s akin to being grafted onto the sterile Vine planted in God’s vineyard that cannot be contaminated by leafroll [Exodus 15:17, Colossians 1:13-14]. So, if leafroll cannot corrupt my Vine, it cannot contaminate me if I stay rightly connected [1 John 3:9]. As a result, I’ll bear lasting fruit, just as Jesus said [John 15:16]. 

It’s also noteworthy that the process of bearing fruit isn’t without contention, even though Jesus promised fruitfulness for every branch rooted in Him [Ephesians 3:14-19]. Unfortunately, many Christians erroneously expect to face no contention in life because they’re children of God. Nowhere does the Bible affirm that ideology. On the contrary, believers are overcomers because the incorruptible seed in them is indomitable [Romans 8:37]. Interestingly, in the same Upper Room discourse on fruitfulness, Jesus reiterated to His disciples that they would face contention so they wouldn’t be surprised when it came [John 16:33]. Even in a healthy vineyard, the nutrients and supplies required to produce fruit travel through the vine against gravity to the branches. So, even after the farmer has dealt with external factors which can inhibit or prevent fruitfulness, there’s still an innate contention to the process. But, the firmly established branches will eventually produce grapes if the vine is healthy [1 John 4:4]. 

It took me a while to accept that contention is part of the fruit-bearing process. Before I accepted that truth, I’d be riddled with doubts and discouragement as I moaned in the face of contention. It was a slippery slope from there to unbelief, which would open the door to deception. If I didn’t arrest the situation with God’s word, fear, anxiety and worry – which are associated with the flesh, would eventually compel me to take matters into my own hands to my detriment. But now, I understand that my inner man, recreated in Christ, is incorruptible [1 John 5:18]. It’s my conduit for divine direction [John 16:13]. It also bears witness with the Holy Spirit about who I am [Romans 8:16]. So, these days, I’m learning to look to my spirit, which is connected to the true Vine, for solutions when I encounter contention, not my mind, which can only lead me astray because it’s incapable of giving divine direction. Our confidence in the face of contention comes from knowing who we are and where we’re planted [1 John 3:1-3].

Though our destiny in Christ is to bear lasting fruit, we cannot lead ourselves into that reality [John 7:37-39]: We must be led [Romans 8:14]. However, the Holy Spirit doesn’t eliminate our free will along the way. Instead, we must actively submit to His leading irrespective of how loudly our flesh yells if we want lasting fruit [Galatians 5:16-17, 1 Peter 5:6]. We accomplish this by constantly feeding our inner man with God’s word [Deuteronomy 8:3, John 8:31-32] and praying in the spirit, especially to discern personalised direction [Romans 8:26, Jude 1:20]. 

These days, recognising the importance of divine direction, I pray more fervently for ears that hear, eyes that see and a heart that promptly obeys because there’s only one possible outcome if I follow the leading of my spirit accurately [Proverbs 20:27].

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3 Comments

  1. Sue Walters

    Morning Charles! I love reading your devotions! Have you thought of putting them in a book?

    Reply
    • Ekemini Ekong

      He’s definitely writing a book, he just doesn’t know it yet 🙂

      Reply
      • Charles Ekong

        Ha! Haven’t received that memo yet 🙂

        Reply

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