1. The San Francisco Chronicle reported a survey by the Smell & Taste Treatment
and Research Foundations. Heres what they claim to have discovered:
People who like vanilla ice cream are gregarious but basically private.
People who like double-chocolate-chunk ice cream are lively,
bored with routine and easily influenced.
People who like banana-cream-pie ice cream are perfectionists.
People who like chocolate-chip ice cream are competitive and cant stand
People who like strawberries-and-cream ice cream are shy and pessimistic.
2. Such surveys reflect an ancient teaching of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught that what
a person does on the outside comes from who a person is on the inside. Jesus didnt
use ice cream as an illustration, he used trees to make his point. Heres what he
said in Luke 6:43-45.
"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear
good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from
thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored
up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his
heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."
3. This simple point from one of Jesus sermons raises many issues. Does this
means that we are all hard-wired to be good or bad, to like chocolate or vanilla, to be
murderers or saints, heterosexual or homosexual? Or, do we have a choice in the ways we
If we cant change, are we morally responsible? If we can change, how can we do
I. Jesus Teaching
A. You can tell a tree by its fruit Luke 6:43-44
1. Jesus started out saying that you can tell a tree by its fruit.
For me, thats about the only way I can identify a tree. I have only a
general sense of the non-fruit differences between trees. I know oak trees grow taller
than orange trees. I know that cherry trees have smoother bark than apple trees. But I
couldnt tell you anything about the difference between a lemon tree and an orange
tree or between a Minnesota poplar and a Colorado aspen.
But, show me the fruit and I can tell you the type of tree. If the fruit is
little and red and soft, its a cherry tree. If its bigger and greener and
hard, its a crab apple tree. Acorns, apples, and lemons come from oak, lemon and
An orange tree isnt an orange tree because it produces oranges. It
produces oranges because it is an orange tree. The fruit on the outside reveals the type
of tree on the inside.
2. Jesus said it like this: "Each tree is recognized by its own
3. Sometimes people try to trick us. They hang apples from the branches of
evergreen trees at Christmas time. Looks good, but it wont last long. Plant the tree
outside and no apples will ever grow on it. Bury the apple in the ground and youll
never grow a blue spruce!
4. Jesus said:"People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from
5. It is interesting how far we have brought Jesus teaching into our
everyday culture. For example, some people have showers for friends and include a
Money Tree - - - in case youve never seen one it is a tree with dollar bills or
bigger tied and taped to the branches. Except we have a saying everyone knows that "money
doesnt grow on trees."
B. You can tell a persons inside by the outside Luke 6:45
1. But Jesus wasnt lecturing on horticulture. He was talking about
people like us, saying that you can tell a persons inside by the outside. In his
"The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and
the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart."
2. Sometimes we will hear people say "Its true I stole some money,
but its not like Im really a thief." Jesus disagreed. Of course
that person is a thief. When a person cheats it is because he is a cheater. When someone
commits adultery it is because she is an adulterer. When people lie it is because they are
liars. When a person gives to others, it is because that person is generous. When he tells
the truth it is because he is a truthful person. When she treats you with kindness it is
because she is kind.
3. Good things come from good people. Bad things come from bad people. Just like
apples, oranges, figs and thorns. We all produce on the outside what we are on the inside.
4. Jesus gives a practical check test. It is like squeezing the orange or biting
the apple to make sure you know what kind of tree you are growing. He explains that "out
of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."
Jesus is saying that the true test of a persons character is in what he
says and the way he talks when his guard is down, when he is relaxed and the words are
freely flowing out of his mouth. Anyone can look and sound good for the short term or
when pretending to be something he is not. It is amazing how people can clean up their
Ive had some very interesting conversations with strangers on airplanes.
The flight is a couple of hours along. Several rounds of drinks have been served to the
guy sitting next to me and he is very talkative. His language is full of obscenities and
profanities. Then he casually asks what I do for a living. Before I answer, I know that
with one word I will totally change if not conclude our conversation. As soon as I say I
am a pastor, the language changes. Even after several beers at high altitude, it is
amazing how much better a man can talk when he wants to look and sound good.
I remember watching a television interview of Billy Graham when he was asked about
his relationship with President Richard Nixon. Mr. Graham thought he knew our 37th
President very well. They had spent a lot of time together. But when the White House tapes
of private conversations were made public he heard the former President speak in ways and
with words he had never heard from him before.
Jesus said: "out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."
Who we really are on the inside is revealed when we set aside the script, quit acting and
behave straight from the heart. It is who we are to our family members. It is what we
think when we are alone.
5. We do who we are. But that raises a whole list of personal and practical
questions. If we are tuned in to Jesus, the questions are more about us than they are
II. Our questions
A. Who am I?
1. The first and most pressing question is "Who am I?" We
all need to take long enough to get a grip on our true self identity.
2. This is not what I do, but who I am. In our society we place so much emphasis
on outside behavior that we often ignore inside character. We are very quick to think of
ourselves as salespersons, managers, clerks, professionals, homemakers, students or by
some other behavior category. But that really doesnt matter very much. What is most
important is who we are on the inside.
3. Computer science has added a word to our English language: "hardwire."
It refers to the logic circuitry permanently connected inside a computer. It cannot be
changed by programming from the outside. The operative word is "permanent."
To understand who we are requires some knowledge of the Bibles teaching on how we
We are hardwired in the image of God. Every human being is created to be like
God. Animals are not. Angels and demons are not. We are like God in that we all have
intellect, emotion and will. But, we are also hardwired to be moral beings - - that is, we
can distinguish and choose between what is right and what is wrong. Dogs and cats and fish
are not moral beings. They are created by God but are not like God.
It is a brilliant and wonderful and beautiful thing to be like God. Gods reflection
can be seen in everyone of us.
You know the way sons and daughters have looks and speech and mannerisms so much like
their fathers and mothers? We are that way with God. We are hardwired to think and speak
and love and choose - - - like God.
Were also hardwired to be individuals. God has wired every one of us to be like him
and wired every one of us to be unique - - - just as we all have different finger prints
and DNA, we all have individual personalities and talents and gifts. So, I am uniquely me
and you are uniquely you, but we are both created in Gods likeness.
Our wiring has been fried by sin. Like an outside power surge that melts and
short circuits in a computer or other electronic device, every one of us has been short
circuited by sin.
While we still have the image of God in us, it is truly messed up. The circuits dont
work right. Where we were hardwired to love, we short circuit to lust. Where we were
hardwired to tell the truth, we short circuit to lies. Where we were wired by God to
worship him, we short circuit to worship cars and boats and art.
Its crazy what has happened to us. Were a mess. Were sinners. This is
frustrating and awful. When we should do good we do bad. When we want to do right we do
wrong. As hard as we try to change, nothing ever quite works. Our wiring is fried.
4. St. Paul struggled with all this and wrote about his struggle in Romans 7:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do
I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . . As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but
it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful
nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do
is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now
if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me
that does it."
Paul is just totally frustrated by what sin has done to his circuits.
5. So, to answer the question "who am I?", each of us must take a look inside
of ourselves and see Gods image, see our individuality and see sins damage.
When we understand all three we get a good picture of ourselves.
B. Who do I want to become?
1. The next question is "who do I want to become?" If I
could be everything I want to be, what would I be like?
2. Frankly, different people have different answers. Some people enjoy sin and
want to be better at it. Some like the way they are and dont want to change even
though it is far short of what God originally designed them to be.
3. Jesus was talking to people who wanted to be good people. He was talking to
men and women who wanted to bear good fruit. . . people who wanted their circuits put back
the way they are supposed to be. . . people who know that they need to change on the
inside in order to change on the outside.
4. I know what we should want to become:
God-centered instead of self-centered
Loving instead of hating
Generous instead of selfish
Good instead of bad
Truthful instead of lying
Forgiving instead of resenting
Kind instead of mean
Earning instead of stealing
Be what God wants us to be instead of trying to be like someone else
C. How do I become the person God wants me to be?
1. The next critical question is "how do I become the person God wants
me to be?" Assuming God has the original designs, assuming God alone knows
the way we are supposed to be wired to be like God and to be ourselves - - - how do I get
2. The answer is not self-help. We are as unable to rid ourselves of the
internal damages of sin as a computer is unable to rewire its circuits. We need outside
help. We need God.
3. Jesus said that a person needs to be born again. Today he could say that a person
needs to be rewired. That is, God himself has to put in new circuits. God himself must
change us on the inside. That is what happens when a person becomes a Christian. When we
accept Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin and Lord of life, God replaces our fried
circuits and restores us to the way we were meant to be.
4. How does this happen? God already has the offer on the table. We must accept.
That is called faith:
the belief that God alone can change us from the inside out
surrender to allow God to completely take over and rewire our lives
If you have never struck this deal with God or have doubts, please do so today. Believe
and submit. Tell God in your own personal prayer that you accept Jesus Christ as your
Savior and Lord. Tell God you want to be born-again, that you want to be rewired on the
inside to be like God and become all your were meant to be.
5. Most people experience some instant changes. Your life runs differently. You
start bearing good fruit instead of bad. It is a wonderful thing to experience and to see.
6. Some changes take time. In fact, some repairs take years before they are
completely finished. But God gives us all the resources we need for the change process.
St. Paul experienced this himself and shared with us how it works in Philippians 4:6-9.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is
pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from
me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
7. To again use a computer comparison:
God will change our hard wiring on the inside when we become Christians.
We are still responsible for the software we program into our lives.
The Bible says, be born again (be rewired by God) and then put only good stuff inside
your life (nothing that will contaminate your mind or soul).
The result will be that you will be transformed. You will bear good fruit. You will see
the difference and so will everyone else!
1. Lets conclude with a private look at our lives . . . and our souls. What
kind of fruit grows out of your life? What are you like when your defenses are down?
2. Do you need to be rewired by God? If yes, please decide and pray today. Say "Jesus,
I accept and submit to you and Savior and Lord. Please change me on the inside to be all
you want me to be."
3. Do you need to change your software? Is it time to delete some bad habits? To
break off some wrong relationships? To quit downloading sinful stuff into your soul? If
thats you, decide and pray today. Tell God the changes youre going to make.
4. Lets take just one minute for each of us to privately and silently pray to