Have you ever pondered the question why some Christians can sit under the Word of God, and as it says in Matthew 13:23, produce bountiful fruit, 30-, 60-, and 100-fold throughout their lives, while others can sit under the same Word and seemingly make little spiritual progress or fall away all together from the Lord?
Obviously, it can boil down to simple choice and will, as some choose not to apply the Word they have heard. However, there seems to be those Christians who genuinely desire and even attempt to apply the Word with little success. I have pondered this question, when from a very early age as a Spirit-filled Christian, I have watched as personal family members and respected members of the Body of Christ have fallen away from the Lord or have continually walked in defeat, though they considered themselves Christians. As I have considered this, I have also asked the Lord for wisdom to understand the strategies and schemes of the devil that causes such defeat. As James 1:5 promises, the Father has granted to me some answers as to why Christians have such different results in their lives.
First, let me summarize some well-known truths from the Word. Isaiah 61:1-3 (RSV) reads: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s
favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant those who mourn in Zion; to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified”. Jesus proclaimed these promises again in Luke 4:18-19, at the start of His ministry. He wanted all of us to know at the beginning of His ministry, that He was fulfilling the Isaiah 61 prophecy, and that He had come to bring total victory to everyone who would believe in Him. Through His power, we could be healed in body, soul, and spirit. It is obvious according to these verses that through Jesus there is everything needed to become a strong and victorious Christian. He demonstrated His plan for all Christians, as He walked on the earth healing and delivering everyone He came into contact with in need. He then commissioned all Christians to walk in this liberty, and to deliver the same message of healing and freedom to the whole world (Matthew 10:8; Matthew 28:18-20).
However, though this was and is His plan, many people claim to be Christians, but do not exemplify the promises of these verses. How this can happen can be understood by looking further at the analogy Jesus taught in these verses.
The analogy in the Isaiah 61 passage compares a Christian to an oak tree, and shows us a picture of how to become strong in our Christian walk. When one thinks of an oak, a picture of a large tree with a strong trunk and deep roots comes to mind. However, the tree did not start out big and strong. It became that way over a period of time by drawing water and sustenance from the ground through its roots. If the roots could not draw water or sustenance and deliver nutrients to the tree, quality growth would not have occurred. Likewise, in order for a Christian to grow and become spiritually and emotionally strong, he must draw strength and sustenance from Jesus and the Word. His roots must go deep into Him, and the flow of the life of Jesus must come into him unhampered and unblocked. This process is also summarized in John 15:5 (RSV): “I am the vine, and you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit, for without me you can do nothing”.
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