“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Israel was warned against false prophets, and the church is warned against false teachers (see 2 Peter 2:1). But both classes come in sheep’s clothing. According to Jesus, we are to recognize these false teachers by their fruits. That is what we are to watch for in their lives. The two trees represent two different kinds of fruit. Jesus said, “Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” This shows that those who are walking on “the narrow road of life” and who are exercising saving-faith in Jesus are living the kind of life that produces fruit for God’s glory. “Everything in nature reproduces after its kind, and this is true in the spiritual realm.” – W. Wiersbe
What is this spiritual fruit that Jesus is talking about here? In Galatians chapter five, Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These attributes are the evidence of someone who is living according to the Spirit. Some would say that these are the attributes of Jesus. So, the evidence of the spirit-filled life is that we are becoming more and more like Jesus.
So, Jesus is saying that we cannot judge sincere spirituality by outward appearances but by the inward evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. This is not only true for teachers and leaders but applies to all Christians. He goes on to say that, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” These are very strong words! This indicates that those who do not evidence the inward working of the Holy Spirit are not true followers of Jesus and will find themselves in fire “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (see Matthew 13:42, 50, 25:30).
In Second Timothy, Paul warned about people in the last days who would be described as “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” These are people that appear to be religious on the outside, but on the inside their lives are marked with greed, pride, conceit, and a lack of love for God and others. This is not unlike the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who were described as “white-washed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead man’s bones and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27). Jesus referred to these people as “hypocrites.” This means people who wear masks.
Questions to Ponder:
Is your faith in Christ transforming your character? Do you show evidence of the fruit of the Spirit? Is your religion just a mask you wear when you are around other Christians?
- Hallow the Lord. Exalt His name. Worship Him for He and He alone is Holy, Perfect, Righteous, and True.
- Enter His courts with thanksgiving and praise. Thank Him for His Word that we can read. Thank Him for His Spirit inside of us that guides, directs, empowers, convicts, and ministers to us.
- Thank the Lord for the prophets and teachers in our midst. Those who proclaim the Word of God with boldness and conviction and live out the truths of His Word every day. Thank God now for Pastor John who gave this sermon. Thank God for Pastor Bob, our leader and shepherd. Thank God for Pastor Dave who writes the devotions each week. Continue to thank God for every pastor, elder, leader, teacher, and shepherd at our beloved Oak Pointe Church Family.
- Ask the Lord to protect, sanctify, strengthen, and encourage our leaders in our midst, our church family, and those in our region. Pray we all will continue to walk in unity and love. Pray that any mask worn by anyone would be removed and freedom would come by walking and living in the Truth of the Lord.
- Ask the Lord to deliver and heal anyone in our midst who is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Ask the LORD to remove them from our church family if they will not repent and turn from their sinful ways.
Merciful Savior, Shepherding Teacher, Faithful Father, I praise You that You are all-powerful and all-knowing. I worship You as holy, clean, right, and perfect agape. You know all things and see all things. Nothing is hidden from Your sight. You are everywhere all at the same time, and yet so intimately acquainted with all of our ways. Who is like You, Lord? No one! Who am I that I can come boldly to You, into the holy of holies? Who am I that You have found a place to reside and abide in me by the Holy Spirit? Jesus Christ, the Hope of glory, the Anchor of my soul lives inside of me. It’s too amazing to be true, but it is. Thank You for Your overwhelming love for me, personally. Abba, I want to bear good fruit for Your kingdom today. Give me Your daily bread. Thy kingdom come in and through my life today as it is in heaven. Enable me by Your Holy Spirit to yield to You throughout the day, to walk in step with the Spirit, to listen to You and obey even when it doesn’t make sense. Help me to test the Spirit and make sure what I am hearing lines up with Your Word. Father, prune anything today in my life that does not glorify You, and prune me so that I may bear everlasting fruit for Your kingdom, to bring Glory and honor to You and not me. Hide me in You, Abba. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.