Last spring I went through a DVD series by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp called "How Christ Changes Us by His Grace: How People Change." They presented a diagram of three trees. The first tree is filled with thorns and thistles which represent our sins. It is the bad fruit in our lives. The root of the tree is some form of lust, fear or unbelief. The second tree is the Cross. Here the authors encourage us to ask ourselves who God is and what His Word says about our specific sin issue. What did God do through and in Christ that can set us free to move to the third tree, the good fruit tree. The root of the good tree according to Lane and Tripp is "to seek God in repentance and faith." From this tree flows the fruit of the Holy Spirit which includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
When I was walking the dogs earlier this evening I saw this paradigm in real life. There were two trees near my apartment. One that was bare of any leaves or fruit. It was prickly and thorny. Another tree was near with its leaves still intact(crazy warm weather?) were still there. The fruit of the tree, huge acorns, (it was such a small tree what's up with that you botanists out there?) were still attached. In my mind's eye I filled in the third tree which is the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is only because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that anyone can move from the tree with the bad fruit and root and be transformed into the good fruit and root of the other tree. We sinners should be most grateful for that second tree where Christ was crucified that we might live eternally. It was there He paid the penalty for sin and broke the power of sin in the life of every one who comes to believe in Him. He alone is worthy to be praised for His glorious grace.