“Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” (Song of Solomon 2:15)
There is one verse in the Gospel of John which tells us of the Lord’s purpose for every one of His children. That verse is (John 15:16), which contains the word of Jesus Himself: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain”: and it would seem most appropriate to set the key-verse of this study against this one great declaration of our Lord ….
We are sure of this because we are told in (John 15:1) that He said of Himself, “I am the true vine.” He said this in connection with the institution of the Lord’s Supper, when the bread and wine were employed by Him as symbols of His sacrifice and offering upon Calvary. He was therefore saying to His disciples, “I am the real, genuine vine” and of course the vine is the source of the fruit. Any fruit which appears on the vine does not derive its life from the branches or from the leaves, but from the vine itself; nor is any fruit that appears on the vine the result of any ‘effort’ on the part of the branches or the leaves! This leads us to the second truth, which is clearly emphasised in this chapter ….
We are also told in John that our Lord said, “My Father is the gardener” that is, He is the One who tends the vine and busies Himself with the branches, as (verses 2-6) indicate. But who are the branches? We have the answer in (v 5), where He says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
The branches, then, are believers, Christians, and incidentally this verse shows us exactly what a Christian is. A Christian is a branch in the vine, one who is joined to Christ, united to Him and deriving life from Him, and he is a participant of His very nature (2 Peter 1:4). A branch is not a dead stick, it is a living thing. This leads us to another truth ….
It is the function of the branch to bear fruit. Thus we read in (v 2) that “Every branch in me that bears not fruit” Jesus will take away, and in (v 4), “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must “abide” or be in Him and through Him, and in this will bear much fruit”. Then following on in (v 16) we read that we are “chosen and ordained, or appointed; but for what? To “go and bear fruit” of course. The Lord is looking for fruit in our lives, and He says, “from me is thy fruit found” (Hosea 14:8). The source of this fruit is the Lord Himself; the manifestation of this fruit is seen in the branches of the vine. What kind of fruit are we, as Christians, to bear? What is the fruit that appears on the branches which are united to the true vine?
The fruit we are to bear is the fruit of the Spirit. This is not fruit of the spirit (little “s”) meaning us; but of the Spirit (big “S”) meaning the Holy Ghost, as found in (Galations 5:22-23).
These verses give us a vivid picture of the Christian life as our Lord intended it should be. We should be loving, joyful, restful, patient, kind, good, trustworthy, humble and disciplined. This is the fruit we should be bearing. These are the graces which should characterise us as Christians. Yet, note the next part: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
This time the word “spirit” is spelt with a small ‘s’ … Remember, little ‘s’ — about us. In other words, “sins of the flesh” which are the gross sins of adultery, murder, blasphemy, drunkenness etc. The “sins of the spirit” are “the little foxes” that creep in almost unnoticed and spoil the vines and take away the fruit. What are these “little foxes” you ask?
The way I see it is there are three kinds: there are the wrong things we think, the wrong things we say and the wrong things we do. I call them heart sins, lip sins and behaviour sins ….
Thinking of heart sins: secret sins. David had something to say about these in (Psalm 51:10). What are they? They are sins such as jealousy, pride and impurity. These are “the little foxes that spoil the vineyards”, the sins of the spirit that hinder the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. God can see these ‘secret’ sins. (Psalm 90:8).
Then there are lip sins. Do you ever pray the prayer recorded in (Psalm 141:3)? I have nearly daily. “Set a watch, O Lord , before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” I must pray each morning that He place a guard on my lips, as He is still teaching me self-control. Did you ever notice the testimony of the psalmist in (Psalm 120:1-3)
“In my distress I cried unto the Lord , and He heard me. Deliver my soul, O Lord , from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?”
What a lot of harm “this little fox” of an unruly, undisciplined tongue can do, especially when it is a lying tongue, a critical tongue or a tale-bearing tongue!
And let us not forget the behavior sins. These are sins that we commit when we act in such a way that it is obvious to an onlooker that we have an unclean heart and a wrong spirit; when we are unkind, thoughtless or harsh in our treatment of others, or when we are wrong in our relationship with another person ….
Again, how these “little foxes” spoil the vines! I like how the NLT version states it: “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming”
How they rob our lives of the fruit that the Holy Spirit is waiting and wanting to produce in and through us! What can we do with these “little foxes”? They must be rounded up and put to death: crucified (Galatians 5:24); they must be mortified (Romans 6:11). If the little foxes are not put to death they will grow into big foxes! For an illustration of the way to kill the little foxes read (Judges 15:4-5), and then turn to (Romans 13:14).
But how can we do this? We cannot do it in our own strength thats for certain! Remember (John 15:5) — apart from Jesus we can do nothing!
The way to kill and destroy the little foxes is to rely on the Holy Ghost. We learn this from (Galatians 5:16) “Walk in the Spirit, and you will NOT gratify the lusts if your flesh” that is the desires of the sinful nature.Yield to the Holy Ghost, trust Him and rely upon Him to give you the victory. You have unspeakable power through Him (Acts 1:8) to do unimaginable things. Then there will appear in your life an abundance of fruit; “the fruit of the Spirit” and only through abiding in Jesus and the power of the indwelling Holy Ghost, will you not only kill those little foxes, but you will be adequately equipped and empowered to wage warand battle against all other wiles of the enemy …
Let us pray ~
Heavenly Father, how I thank You for Your Word and that by faith in the Lord Jesus, Your Holy Spirit has made me alive in Him and placed me into the family of God and the Body of Christ. Thank You that He has set His seal of ownership upon me and taken up residence within my heart, and given me the free gift of the Holy Ghost so as to empower me in my spiritual walk, as He gradually transforms me into the lovely likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. I pray that the Holy Ghost would lead and guide me in all things, and that I would learn to listen to the gentle promptings of His voice as I read Your Word or commune with You in prayer daily. Give me grace to recognize His still small voice as I search though the scriptures each day and the wisdom to discern Your spiritual nudges, when godly Christians are prompted to offer direction and give me advice. May I maintain an open heart and develop a teachable spirit, and I pray that I may walk in Your ways and live a life that is well pleasing to You, and that I may glorify You in all that I might do, say, or post, and I ask this in Jesus name, Amen ….