Matthew 7:15-29 — The Fruit of a True Believer (Week 19)
PLEASE READ: Matthew 7:15-29
Good fruit is the hallmark sign of a true believer. But what does good fruit look like. Really? Do we truly know and understand what God is looking for? Because as it seems, there is a lot of confusion regarding good fruit in the Body of Christ. The proof of that is how much bad fruit is hanging on the proverbial trees.
Fruit is produced naturally by a tree. It’s not something we struggle to bear if we are “abiding in the Vine” of Christ Jesus (see John 15). Another aspect to this is that the seed of any tree is responsible for the fruit it ultimately bears (see 1 Peter 1:23). As we progress through this passage we’ll find that Jesus Christ makes it absolutely clear what good fruit is — and what it isn’t.
The Ability to Know
Let the guessing games end. No more speculations are needed. Christ says we will know. That “knowing” is easily determined by the fruit we bear.
Christ makes it clear: We will KNOW them. We will KNOW them by their FRUIT.
If I see apples, I’m going to know that is an apple tree. If I see cherries, I’m going to know it’s a cherry tree. If I see lemons, I’m going to know it’s a lemon tree — etc., etc. This is not difficult. This is truly kindergarten level Christianity. But for some odd reason, we have become confused and even deluded. And what is the confusion? He tells us right here:
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them,” (Matthew 7:15-20, KJV).
Let us understand the application here: You’re not going to find thorns on the grapevine; and vice versa. And you’re not going to find figs where thistles grow. Simple enough. But oddly, we are convinced that because someone claims to speak the Word of God — that they are a man or woman of God. Absolutely not true.
There is a strong delusion in the Body of Christ about what is truly “prophetic”.
Paul says prophecy is the greatest gift (see 1 Corinthians 14:1). Perhaps this declaration lends some understanding to us as to why Christ mentioned “false prophets”. Everyone is eager to prophesy. Yet the Body of Christ has failed to heed the “more excellent way”, which Paul makes clear to be a life of agape love (see 1 Corinthians 13). In no way is prophecy elevated above this. In fact, Paul makes it clear that prophecies shall cease.
Charity never faileth (ceases): but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail (cease); whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity,” (1 Corinthians 13:8-13, KJV, emphasis mine).
Prophecy, unlike other gifts, demands a spiritual trust and responsibility that far outranks any other spiritual gift (and that is not to demote or belittle the others, because they all come from the Holy Spirit). There is no room for error with prophecy. None. Period. When studying prophecy, I believe there are very few true prophets. Very few, indeed. And the spiritual trust and responsibility this gift (and office) requires is something most people would never ask for or seek if they truly understood what it entails.
Let us fear God.
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged,” (Romans 3:4, KJV).
The principle truth is this: God absolutely cannot lie. It’s impossible. Any anyone speaking for Him isn’t going to lie either — especially if they are His prophet. Every jot and tittle they speak will be God-breathed and it will come to pass. It will be absolute because it is God’s revealed Word and sovereign will to His people. Therefore, the judgment a prophet will endure is sure to be extraordinary. Make no mistake. The prophets of God will be held accountable for every single word they speak. Every single one, even as we all will be (see Matthew 12:36). But their judgment will be much stricter.
For example, I’m a teacher. And even teachers will be held to a stricter judgment (see James 3:1). The fear of God I carry upon my life and calling is something I find difficult to even articulate. It’s enormous. But the office of a teacher is beneath that of a prophet. Therefore, it stands to reason that if teachers are so accountable to God, how much more a prophet? I dare to think or know.
But I digress. Let it suffice to say:
Prophets both speak and act according to the revealed Word of God and the divine will of God. Hence, good fruit. And although they hear and see from the throne of God, what they reveal will NEVER transgress scripture, and it will always come to pass without fail according to God’s appointed time. The plumbline of God’s Word — that standard God has set is absolute. His Word cannot, nor will it ever be altered or pass away. Every jot and tittle will come to pass. God’s Word is unalterable.
Prophets will always edify the Body of Christ, but that does not mean their words and actions will always bring comfort. In fact, most of the prophets who spoke for God brought words of warning, rebuke, and even harsh judgment or a foretelling of God’s wrath and punishment — as well as His revealed redemption and mercy. Edification, by definition, is what brings growth and maturity. Growth and maturity cannot be realized when sin is not addressed. Therefore, the office of a prophet will bring discipline when needed — just as Christ demonstrated, and as His apostles demonstrated in Acts and their epistles.
True prophecy is clandestine information only God can reveal. What is mistaken for prophecy in the Body of Christ are often words of Knowledge or Wisdom. Let us understand: there are words of Knowledge, and there are words of Wisdom. Both of these gifts can be more difficult to discern because they can be manipulated by the enemy who has knowledge and power. This is why psychics often have knowledge; yet it is obtained by a demonic spirit through occultic practices. But prophecy is different. It cannot be obtained by the demonic. True prophecy exists on a different spiritual plane entirely — precisely because it can only be obtained from God Himself. This is not information or knowledge the enemy has any access to at all. Prophecy is clandestine. It is Kingdom information no other spiritual entity could even possibly know, let alone disclose. The enemy is not omniscient as God is. He is very limited in knowledge and power. Therefore, let us clearly understand that prophecy is not just about knowledge or wisdom, although those gifts cooperate with prophecy. True prophecy reveals the secrets of God which no one knows. That is why the spirit of prophecy is “the testimony of Jesus Christ” who is the Word of God (see Revelation 19:10). It’s very simple: They are one and the same. Jesus Christ is the sole source of any prophetic word given unto man. It cannot and does not come any other way.
JESUS CHRIST IS THE WORD OF GOD.
Therefore Christ makes it clear: beware of false prophets who are ravenous wolves. We will know them by their fruit. And let us fear God in speaking for Him as a “prophet”, lest He call you a liar and you suffer judgment. Before you seek to “prophesy” let God prove your character (see 2 Corinthians 13:1-8). And above all, prophecy is to be diligently tested, tried, and proven as we are instructed by two or three witnesses — and is to be judged by the prophets of God, whom I believe are few indeed (see 1 Corinthians 14:29-32). How did I arrive at this conclusion? Easy. Just as Christ said, you will know them by their fruit. I rest my case.
God does not command us to prophesy. He commands us to love.
That alone is the fulfillment of the law. That command is something every believer is called to do. How? Because love is not a gift. It is FRUIT. Love is the fruit of the Spirit which every believer is commanded and expected to produce. It is the most excellent way. Those who walk in love demonstrate the character of God. It is by this virtue alone that we are recognized as belonging to Him, and it is by this virtue that we are truly known by God (see John 13:35, and 1 John 5:1-3).
But if any man love God, the same is known of him,” (1 Corinthians 8:3, KJV).
Prophecy cannot and will not ever be the hallmark sign of a true believer.
Doing the Will of the Father
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity,” (Matthew 7:21-23, KJV).
This is the key. You either do one of two things, and it matters not how you address Jesus Christ, because even the devils know Him as “Lord”. They cried out at Him in the Gospels many times with that profession. So what are those two things? You either do the will of the Father — or you’re a worker of iniquity.
And look at their confession. They call Him “Lord”. Yet their confession is all about them and what they’ve done in His name. It has nothing to do with what Christ accomplished for them on the cross. And despite their works for Him, the lives they lived were incongruent with Christ and the will of His Father. He declared He never knew them and that they were workers of iniquity. That is a sobering statement.
The reality is you can do things for God in His name and still live a life of iniquity.
Here is what Christ says:
While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother,” (Matthew 12:46-50, KJV).
Therefore, it’s about obedience and living a life of holiness that is congruent with God’s will. Jesus Christ said that doing the will of His Father was his “meat” (see John 4:34). However, this is a spiritual diet with which most Christians are unfamiliar and/or uncomfortable. Doing God’s will requires a spiritual constancy and consistency — the abiding in Christ — which is very much a decision we make requiring a crucifixion of the flesh. For as Christ said, we are to take up our cross daily and follow Him (see Luke 9:23). Following Christ while living is the flesh is not possible. That lifestyle is a spiritual oxymoron.
The Wise Servant
The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD (see Proverbs 9:10). One who has wisdom has understanding. As for a spiritual gift, it is one marked by the fear of God — and not merely knowing how to appropriate God’s will in a situation. When the fear of God becomes real in a person’s life, they not longer act upon their own free will — but the will of God. They are careful. They are deliberate about their decisions and actions. They become intimately interested in what He wants to accomplish with the vision and faith to appropriate it.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes, ” (Matthew 7:24-29, KJV).
The hallmark sign of wisdom is the fear of God which is manifest by obedience.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding,” (Proverbs 9:10, KJV).
Christ promises that storms will come, threatening to destroy the spiritual house we’ve built. This allegory is a powerful one that applies to everyone. The storm is coming. That is unconditional. But how we build will determine the outcome of our lives. How we build is conditional upon how we hear the Word of God and our obedience to it. I talk about this principle truth extensively in my book, Stand: The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail.
Here is what Christ has to say about the wise servant:
And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more,” (Luke 12:42-48, KJV).
This is all about appropriating wisdom, which as we can clearly see, is manifest by doing the will of God. So let us understand that good fruit is the produce of a life that is abiding in Christ, walking in the wisdom and fear of the Lord, which ultimately yields faithfulness and obedience to Him.
As for the false prophets, they abound. As Christ warns, be careful. They, too, call Him Lord.
Cheers & Shalom,
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