The Tree And It’s Fruit
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 7:15-20 NLT
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” Matthew 7:21-23 NLT
My Thoughts: Jesus opens this section by warning us to beware of false prophets and He specifically says they will be well disguised. I certainly don’t want to get into scary details but we’ve seen some terrifying news stories about false prophets that were disguised like sheep. As the lives of their followers were lost or seriously maimed it supports what Jesus warns; these false prophets were vicious wolves!
So how do we recognize a wolf that is disguised like a sheep? We must know and understand the word of God, which is the Bible.
When I committed to learn the Bible, I purchased a “Life Application Study Bible.” I love LA Study Bibles because they have comments at the bottom of each page to help us learn what many scholars believe the verses are saying. It’s a fabulous tool to aid in understanding the Bible.
There are also multiple Bible translations to help us better understand what Gods is saying to us. When I purchased my first LA Study Bible I chose the same version my church used which was the New International Version (NIV). I now use the English Standard Version (ESV) for church, and for my blog I primarily use the New Living Translation (NLT) or a combination of multiple translations.
The more I read the Bible the more I like to compare what each version says. Although I do own multiple translations of Bibles, I frequently use an online Bible application called YouVersion so I can easily move between different translations. It’s a free app that can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet.
Other ways to learn more about the Bible are through studies provided at your local church. If your church doesn’t have the resources to provide studies, a fabulous group to get real biblical teaching is called Bible Study Fellowship International (BSF). These groups are hosted by local churches all over the world and they provide day and night classes. It is a very comprehensive way to learn more about the Bible. You can do further research about them on their website at www.bsfinternational.org.
I cannot stress how critical it is to know and understand the Bible. It truly will help us to know and understand if what is being said or taught is coming from a false prophet, which means we will know they are a ‘wolf’ fairly quickly and therefore must remove ourselves from their presence.
Jesus tells us that another way to detect a false prophet is by the “fruit” they are producing. As we encounter or consider leaders, friends, teachers, and even someone we might want to date, we must look at what fruit they are producing in their own lives. Is their fruit encouraging, does it teach us to become a better person, or look more like Jesus? Then they are modeling and producing good fruit. If it feels uncomfortable or consistently embarrasses, it’s probably bad fruit. If it’s illegal, immoral, or unjust, it absolutely IS bad fruit! Run from these people!
In the final section Jesus tells us that not everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved. How do we know whether they will or they won’t? Well, you might not ever know because it’s a decision we all make in our heart.
Do you remember what Jesus said about that?
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 NLT (emphasis mine.)
Jesus is the only one who can truly know what we believe in our hearts. There will come a day when we will all stand before the Lord and what we believe not what we do is what will determine if Jesus knows us by name. Faith in Christ is the only thing that “counts” on the Day of Judgment.
It’s time for us to take inventory of our lives again. What is the status of our heart? What type of fruit are we producing? What type of fruit are our leaders, teachers, and friends we associate ourselves with producing? Is it time for a change in our lives? Is it time for us to truly surrender our hearts to Jesus? What better time than Christmas when Jesus came to save us all from our sins!
Closing Prayer: Father God we thank You for this warning that in our lives we may encounter false prophets and we must know You to recognize these wolves. Now that we know how to detect them, Father I pray that if we have aligned ourselves with these wolves you give us the strength and courage to leave immediately and bring new people in our lives that produce good fruit. Father I also pray that if anyone is reading this and they need to surrender their hearts to You, I pray that they have a supernatural courage to get themselves to a church that follows Jesus and Your Word so they can surrender their hearts to You. I pray this in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.