“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:20-22 ESV).
We all bear fruit. We don’t even need to try.
Even weeds produce seeds, and just because the fruit looks good doesn’t guarantee its efficacy. Adam and Eve so clearly proved this point. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6 ESV emphasis mine). The tree was healthy in appearance, and the fruit looked delicious, but looks can be deceiving.
Jesus told us “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16-20 ESV). This was a warning about false prophets, who appear as sheep but are wolves.
While we were still in our sins we produced poisonous fruit. While it may have had an appearance of being good, bad trees only produce bad fruit. Some people think that their “good deeds” are a credit in their spiritual account. They think that God will accept them for these acts done apart from Him. But the fact remains that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23 ESV). This is what Isaiah meant when he said, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6 KJV).
When John preached repentance he implored his hearers to “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8 ESV). In other words, if you have changed, your fruit will change as well. And we know, of course, that change is not at all possible apart from a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus this is impossible. But when we have surrendered ourselves to Him our fruit will change.