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Miranda Writes: Rotten Fruit Means Rotten Root! Part 1




by Omar Miranda



Hello again. I was on the Insight Web site several days ago and came across this prayer request that was so real and so honest and so painful! Here it is:

I ask that you would please pray for me. Lately I’ve been struggling with a number of things. I watch and read things that I know I shouldn’t be watching or reading, and I find it hard to tear myself away from them. I use words/language that I shouldn’t be using. I have a problem with masturbation . . . for other girls that feel as though you’re the only person that has problems with masturbation, you’re not alone, because I have a problem with it too. My boyfriend and I have been struggling with being too touchy. We’ve both been Seventh-day Adventists since we were very small children. We know what’s right and wrong; we’re just finding it so difficult to have self-control. I’m yearning for a closer relationship with God. I hate feeling so far away from Him, feeling as if I’m drowning in all this sin. I just want an escape . . . and I’m just asking that you keep me in your prayers. I know that God hasn’t given up on me, so I’m not giving up on Him. Thank you all.—Struggling on the Inside.

“Struggling,” I’m glad you sent us this prayer request, and I want to address it in my column this week because I believe that a lot of people—not just teens—feel this way a lot of the time.

The first thing I want to let you know is that I am proud of your courage for choosing to step out of your comfort zone and write to us in such an honest manner. The second thing I want to let you know is that God still loves you so very much, just as He always has! Even on your worst days of sinning, bad habits, self-hatred, guilt, shame, and all the bad stuff that goes with that, God still loves you. But it absolutely hurts Him that you are hurting.

As I read and reread your prayer request, I realize that I have felt this way before—and not just once. In fact, I was feeling this way just the other night. Let me tell you a little about my past and my present. I am a recovering pornography (and all that goes with it) addict. I was involved in this sin, and it was like a boa constrictor. Any sin is, but especially sexual sin; it seems to promise so much: fun, freedom from self-control, love, intimacy, closeness, and acceptance. But little by little it squeezes, and squeezes, and squeezes you until it takes away everything from you . . . and it ultimately eats you alive!

I know that you’re struggling with other sins, too: the stuff you watch and read and dirty language. But all this stuff is only the fruit; what we need to talk about is where it all comes from: the root. We’ll take some time to look and see what Jesus said about our hearts and our habits. Then we’ll look and see what the apostle Paul has to say about our hearts without God. We’ll also see what King David has to say about what happened to him when he continued to live in sin on purpose and what he did to fix the problem. Last, we’ll talk about what Jesus has to say about good and not-so-good fruit and what we can learn from it.

 First things first: let’s look at what Jesus had to say about all this. Matthew 15:18-20: “The words that come out of your mouth come from your heart. And they are what make you unfit to worship God. Out of your heart come evil thoughts, murder, unfaithfulness in marriage, vulgar deeds, stealing, telling lies, and insulting others. These are what make you unclean.”* Jesus tells us that our words and the things we do make us unholy and sinful. That’s great, but truly, kind of a duh moment, right? But Jesus adds to this point in another book of the Bible. In Luke 6:44, 45 He wisely says: “You can tell what a tree is like by the fruit it produces. You cannot pick figs or grapes from thornbushes. Good people do good things because of the good in their hearts. Bad people do bad things because of the evil in their hearts. Your words [and actions] show what is in your heart.” You see, even Jesus uses this metaphor of the things we say and do as being the fruit that others can see, but our hearts, our attitudes toward God, aahhh, that is the root! So how do we change our hearts? Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we can’t change our hearts, because we’re born sinners, and without Jesus’ intervention, we’ll die sinners. But that’s where the coolness comes in. Jesus stepped in and died for us, taking our sin and giving us His perfection. All we have to do is choose to accept it and moment by moment continue choosing to live in it.

The accepting Jesus’ salvation is the easy part, but the moment-by-moment continual choosing to live in it is the hardest thing to do. Why? Because we are naturally sinful! Look at what the apostle Paul has to say about it, and you tell me if he is not echoing “Struggling’s” sentiments exactly: “We know that the Law is spiritual. But I am merely a human, and I have been sold as a slave to sin. In fact, I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. Although I don’t do what I know is right, I agree that the Law is good. So I am not the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them. I know that my selfish desires won’t let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot. Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. And so, if I don’t do what I know is right, I am no longer the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them. The Law has shown me that something in me keeps me from doing what I know is right. With my whole heart I agree with the Law of God. But in every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do. What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die? Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me. So with my mind I serve the Law of God, although my selfish desires make me serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:14-25).

You see, Paul, one of the super-ninja Christians of all time, couldn’t keep it all together. Did you hear his anger and frustration with himself? He realized that within himself there was a great war going on between his old sinful self and God’s Holy Spirit. He realized that although he loved God with everything that was in him, he still was weak in himself because he was born a sinner. But here’s the main difference: although he was tempted by sin and a part of him was strongly drawn to sin, he didn’t do it. Why? Because God’s Holy Spirit gave him a different choice. He didn’t have to sin; he was no longer a slave to it. Space doesn’t allow me to include the entire chapter of Romans 8 (read it on your own), but here’s the bottom line: the unsaved person has no choice but to follow their sinful nature and sin, but as Christians we have another choice. We can choose to make different decisions—decisions that don’t lead to sin, decisions that honor God and make Him happy. 

Aren’t you glad that you don’t have to continue in your sins? I know I am. God, through Jesus’ sacrifice and Holy Spirit power, has set me free from the very same stuff you are struggling with—and He can do it for you, too. In fact, He’s waiting for you to ask Him to do it for you. Next week we’ll finish our time together and talk about the unseen forces that cause people to want to sin and continue sinning—even after they’ve accepted Jesus’ free gift of salvation. We’ll look at David’s life, sin, confession, and repentance. And last, we’ll take a look at what God has to say about good and not-so-good fruit. I hope you’ll always choose God.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

*Scripture quotations in this article are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.





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