The subject of Christians and fruit and good behavior and bad behavior has come up a lot recently, so I felt I needed to clarify what it means to have good fruit and what it means to be a Christian.
To start off, Christians are not perfect. They still struggle with different issues. Christians still have issues with anger, with pride, with selfishness and lust. Being a Christian does not make you into a perfect angel. It means you have started on the path to perfection, which we will obtain by the sacrifice of Jesus when we make it into heaven. The Bible states as such.
Many people in the world however judge Christians by there behavior, and say things such as "Look that Christian lost his temper and said a bad thing so they are no different then me." or on the flip side " I am not a believer but I am nicer that christian over there so I am better then him."
You see they mistake fruit to be an individual action or behavior. The point is not if they make a mistake now and again, the question is more of as a whole, does there life show a change? Or what would that person be like with out Christ.
For instance, a person with out Christ may be likened to a baby who does not know how to walk yet. As they learn they fall constantly, and as often as not decide to crawl instead. Yes they can take a few steps from time to time, but they still wind up back on all fours. Now a Christian is like more like a older toddler. They walk all the time, however they still fall from time to time, as they grow and learn they fall less and less until one day it almost never happens.
Now I know this is not a perfect example, for of course in the natural course of life, all babies, unless crippled for some reason eventually learn to walk, and they need no outside influence to do so.
Spiritually, Christians are people who are just learning to walk, and can not do so with out the help of God to teach them. The fruit is shown that they are indeed walking, even if they stumble and fall from time to time. A baby that always crawls and rarely walks and stays that way is showing no progress, no fruit. So you see, if you knew what a person would be like, or was like with out Christ you may understand what fruit there life has produced.
Let me perhaps make it a bit clearer by me telling a bit about myself.
When I was in school I was a bully magnet. I was a good head shorter then everyone else, save one or two of the girls, I had braces head gear, neck gear, I was a nerd and a goody two-shoe. My family was also lower middle class so I wore cheap clothes and hand me downs. I was an easy target and as such I was often bulled and harassed over and over again, and the teachers, when told about it simply blamed me and said it was my fault.
This went on for a few years and by the time I was in sixth grade it was getting bad. I was threatened with a beating if I did not wear the "in" brand of shirt, I was picked on because I was still a virgin at 13 years old, and I did not fit in with any crowd. I was getting to the point that I was almost willing to do anything to stop the attacks. I was willing to throw away all of my morals if it meant a day in school with out being bullied.
Yes I was a Christian at that time and but it was not fully real to me. I was willing to throw it away to stop the pain. My mom did, wisely take me out of that school and I had a chance to regain a sense of who I was.
You see, while I was spared having to deal with that, by my parents, it showed me one thing looking back. It showed me who I would be with out Christ. I would be just like everyone else. I would not see anything wrong with weed, with sex outside of marriage with anything that was sinful. The really scary thing is this. Due to the years of being bullied, I could even seeing me lashing out like so many of the bullied kids have and perhaps even gone so far as to find a way to cause harm to my antagonists violently, as I was already wiling to start fights to keep people off my back.
You see, with out Christ, I would have eventually had produced evil fruit. For I know the darkness in my own heart, and I know that He has been changing me.
Now I am not perfect. I still have issues with my anger, and lust, and pride, even on the boards I have lashed out at people in frustration. Just because I have made mistakes does not mean that is who I am , and who I will be, it means I tripped, and fell down. Falling down is one thing, crawling and wallowing in the mud is another.
So for those who point out that Christians don't bear good fruit, you can not say that unless you know the whole story. You need to know where they are coming from and how far they have come before you can try to judge that.
Remember fruit is more then just one action, mistake or even good deed. Fruit is the over all change in the persons life, the whole package, and that may take some time.
For instance John Newton became a Christian he was a slave ship captain at the time, who in a storm had even thrown all his "cargo" of slaves overboard to save his ship. After his conversion, he still did two more slave ship voyages. Does this mean his conversion was not real, or producing good fruit? No it means he was still learning and growing. The thing is this, after he realized how evil it was to be a slaver, he became a minister of the gospel and helped William Wilberforce to abolish the slave trade in England. He also wrote a hymn that is still sung widely today where he explains how amazing it was that he was saved, although he was, as he put it ,a wretch. He is the author of the hymn "Amazing Grace."