We have been discussing sin and the carnal nature from which disciples are getting free. However, we cannot get free by our own strength from these things. It takes our will to want to get free in order to please the Lord and be delivered from what is bringing so much death upon the world. However, we need God's grace and His power to live free of these things.
The life of discipleship is not one of constantly focusing on sin and our mistakes. However, true, Biblical discipleship does start there. Without the consciousness of sin, we do not know our need for the redemption of the Cross. It is the consciousness of sin, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, which drives us to the only remedy for our sin – the Cross. The deeper and clearer this is to us, the stronger our life will be in Christ.
The Cross of Jesus is enough. For us to think that we then need to do something more is a basic affront to the Cross of Jesus. When we feel that we have to pay part of the price, we are basically saying that this sin is too much for God to bear, and therefore we need to pay for it ourselves.
After the remorse has caused us to repent, we need to move on. We will not be delivered from our sinful nature by focusing on our sins, but as we are told in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18:
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
We get changed by beholding the glory of the Lord, not by beholding our sins. When we sin, we must not embrace the delusion that we did not sin, but acknowledge it, go to the Cross, then bury that "body of death" and do not resurrect it. We are made righteous by abiding in Christ, who is our righteousness, not by constantly focusing on and fighting sin.
However, for a time there will be a focus on and fighting of sin. Every new Believer goes through this struggle for a period of time. Many who have been in Christ for a long time continue in it because they never built on the strong foundation of repentance that leads to the Cross and to Christ. We then need to keep our eyes on Him, not go back to and focus on the sin. When we look back at ourselves, we will be like Peter who was able to walk upon the water as long as He kept His eyes on the Lord, but as soon as he focused on the water he began to sink.
How do we cultivate? As the Lord taught in His parable, we begin by looking for good soil to sow the seed in. We are the soil, so what kind of soil produces fruit?
If these are not characteristics that we have, we need to get them. Then, once the seed is planted, we need to water it, and keep the weeds away from it, which are the cares and worries of this world. We then need to guard it from the birds of the air, which in the parable are satan and his minions. We must protect the fruit until it can mature.
A basic point that the Lord makes in His parables is that what we become in Him is intentional. We must care enough to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit. If we are intentional about this, we will be amazed at how little fighting we have to do with the carnal nature continuing to resurrect itself. Bearing fruit requires an intentional life of discipleship.