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Know Them By Their Fruits

The Sermons of Jesus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  30:31
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Introduction

Chuck Swindoll tells the story about an unforgettable evening when a friend of his ate dog food. Contrary to what we might expect, he was not starving, nor was he being initiated into a fraternity. Rather, it happened at an elegant physician’s home near Miami. The dog food was served on delicate little crackers with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon chips, and an olive, topped with a sliver of pimento. Hors d’oeuvres a la Alpo! The deed was not perpetrated by an enemy but by a friend. (With friends like that, who needs enemies!) She had just graduated from a gourmet cooking course and decided she would put her skills to the ultimate test—and did she ever. After doctoring up those miserable morsels, she placed them on a silver tray. With a sly grin she watched them disappear. Swindoll’s friend could not get enough. He kept coming back for more. Evidently the woman’s friends were a pretty laid-back group because everyone had a good laugh when she told them what they had been eating. To each their own.

Chuck Swindoll
Pastor Chuck Swindoll tells the story about an unforgettable evening when a friend of his ate dog food.
Matthew 7:15–23 NASB95
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Fruit vs Fruits - When one uses "fruit", it means a single fruit like mango, orange, and so on. But when we use "fruits" it refers to different kinds of fruit; for example "there are fruits in the basket" means that there is more than one type of fruit in the basket. [https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/25147/is-using-fruits-as-the-plural-of-fruit-acceptable]
Contrary to what we might expect, he was not starving, nor was he being initiated into a fraternity. Rather, it happened at an elegant physician’s home near Miami. The dog food was served on delicate little crackers with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon chips, and an olive, topped with a sliver of pimento. ...
The dog food was served on delicate little crackers with a wedge of imported cheese, bacon chips, and an olive, topped with a sliver of pimento. ...
The deed was not perpetrated by an enemy but by a friend. (With friends like that, who needs enemies!) She had just graduated from a gourmet cooking course and decided she would put her skills to the ultimate test—and did she ever. After doctoring up those miserable morsels, she placed them on a silver tray. With a sly grin she watched them disappear.
After doctoring up those miserable morsels, she placed them on a silver tray. With a sly grin she watched them disappear.
So, a true grammar nazi should know this. But I wanted to head any pretenders off at the pass.
Swindoll’s friend could not get enough. He kept coming back for more. Evidently the woman’s friends were a pretty laid-back group because everyone had a good laugh when she told them what they had been eating.
[Hughes, R. K. (2001). The sermon on the mount: the message of the kingdom (p. 247). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.]
Now this cruel practical joke is a good example of something awful posing as something desirable, delightful, even delectable. After all, these little hors d’oeuvres ala Alpo, looked good, they smelled good, they were presented by a trained chef as being the best of the best. Who would suspect that anything might go wrong with such a presentation?
This is sometimes what it can be like when false prophets infiltrate the church. They look good. They smell good. They say all the right things… well, most of the right things, anyway. But there’s just something about them that’s off...
Jesus addresses this in the next section of the Sermon on the Mount as we continue in our series titled “The Sermons of Jesus.” We’re in and following today. Jesus says...
Matthew 7:15–20 NASB95
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.
Matthew
See even the Bible knows when to use fruits rather than fruit!
[pray]
Father God we come to today praising your Holy Name on high. We worship you and lift your name up before all. God we ask that you would forgive our sins and help us root out any falseness in our midst. Lord we ask you to settle our minds to hear your message today. Bless us with your words and help us to do your work and impact Los Fresnos for the name of Jesus Christ. God I ask you to give me clarity of mind, precision of speech, and a heart for your people as I bring your message to your people today. Amen

I. Watch Out! -

The first thing Jesus tells us to do in verse 15 is “Beware of the false prophets!” Watch out! is the message here.
Matthew 7:15 NASB95
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Jesus knows and warns us that the church has faced and will face multiple False Prophets, False Apostles, False Christs, and False Brothers as we go about His business.
False Prophets, False Apostles, False Christs, False Brethren, The False Prophet
Beware - this word beware means “pay attention,” “take care,” “be on guard,” “be cautious / wary,” “be alert.” It means WATCH OUT! Not just that the false prophet could show up, but Jesus KNOWS that the false prophet WILL show up and challenge your faith. We’re not just talking about THE False Prophet at the end of time, but the false teachers that show up in every age of the church.
Peter understood this when he wrote:
1 Peter 5:8 NASB95
8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Peter calls our enemy, Satan, like a roaring lion. Jesus calls him a ravenous wolf. The imagery here that Jesus is using is when a wolf gets into a feeding frenzy. But Jesus also tells us that the enemy is disguised in the clothing of a sheep.
This reminds me of one time when we began raising some ducks so we could harvest their eggs (best eggs ever). My wife was holding one of the ducks in her arms and one of the little legs was hanging down loose. Our dog Peter got up on Olga’s leg to sniff at the ducks. Olga thought it was so cute that Peter wanted to say hello to the ducks. But she didn’t see the little duck’s leg hanging down. Nor did she see Peter’s teeth showing as he tried to reach the little leg that was dangling.
Peter had the look of a ravenous wolf in the duck house.
The Apostle Paul tells us:
2 Corinthians 11:13–15 NASB95
13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.
Yes, beloved saints, it is quite possible (even likely) that we have people sitting right here in this very room who are not what they claim to be. There could be false brothers in our midst. Quite likely they look good and they smell good, but they don’t quite believe what we believe. Maybe they are quite close to believing the same, but they undermine what we teach. Maybe they add something to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or maybe they take something away.
Paul and Peter and Jesus knew that we always have to be on the lookout...
We, being disciples of Jesus Christ, are to always be on the lookout for these imposters who would lead us astray from the pure Gospel. ALL of us, as members of this body of believers, have the responsibility of understanding and guarding the message that is given in scripture. In fact, I submit that each of you who has a working knowledge of scripture has an accountability to God in Heaven to call me out and challenge me if you ever hear anything unscriptural coming from this pulpit.
But this message is not just for pastors and deacons...
ALL of us, as members of this body of believers, have the responsibility of understanding and guarding the message that is given from this pulpit. In fact, I submit that each of you who has a working knowledge of scripture has an accountability to God in Heaven to call me out and challenge me if you ever hear anything unscriptural coming from this pulpit.
We have a Christ commanded duty to be on the alert for false teachers… This requires that we ...

II. Be Able To Recognize Them -

Matthew 7:16 NASB95
16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
Jesus tells us that we “will know them by their fruits.” That means we must be able to discern their teaching and judge whether or not is scriptural. And THAT requires that we know what scripture says. If we find a message being taught in the church to be lacking, then we must be able to stand up and call it what it is.
Matthew 7:16–20 NASB95
16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.
Now, to be clear, I’m not talking about minor doctrinal differences between the mainline religions. I do know that there are some irreconcilable differences and there are a few religions that depart ways on some pretty foundational differences of doctrine. But in general a difference of tradition does not make a huge difference in whether or not one will enter Heaven to sit at the throne of Jesus and praise the name of God for eternity.
And of course, there are a few that are quite off base.
What Jesus is talking about here is replacing the sound and pure teaching of the Gospel message with something else...
False prophets talk about God… a lot. They are usually knowledgeable and convincing in their rhetoric. It can often be more telling to focus on what they don’t teach rather than what they do teach. One can also detect error in their theology.

Recognizing False Teaching

The false teacher...
What is the fruit of a bad tree...
avoids teaching holiness, righteousness, justice, and the wrath of God
avoids preaching on the doctrine of the final judgment
Galatians 5:19–21 NASB95
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
fails to emphasize the fall of man and his depravity of sin
fails to emphasize the substitutionary death and atonement of Christ
You may hear these things mentioned, but there is never any depth given to teaching these doctrines.
I know of one church that loves to focus on Love and Happiness so much that they fail to even mention the name of Jesus. This is so that they might not turn off anybody or run anybody away. This church excludes any mention of sin or judgment for living out of communion with God. They love to focus on all we gain with Christ, without actually leading people to taking any steps toward a righteous standing before God.
To be clear, false prophecy is speaking incorrect, fraudulent, or mistaken statements on behalf of God. False teaching is teaching that distorts the Gospel or is based in error.
Other churches focus on a kind of
It is our duty to correct false teaching, but also to uproot and remove false prophecy.
Galatians 5:

III. Be Able to Tell the Difference - ; ;

III. Know The Good Trees From The Bad Trees

Matthew 7:17-18
Matthew 7:17–18 NASB95
17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.
Jesus teaches us here that we must be able to determine the difference between Good Trees and Bad Trees. We can do this by looking at the fruit of the tree.
We can also apply a test of morality to the false teacher. False teachers can sometimes display a lack of integrity from the life they talk about compared to the life they live daily.
We’re in the citrus zone down here in South Texas. We can look at an orange tree and expect to see oranges hanging from the branches. We’re never going to expect to find lemons growing on an orange tree. The other thing we can see when we look at a tree and its fruit is whether or not it is healthy.
pomegranate
I have a pomegranate bush growing in my backyard. When I go out to the bush and I see puny pomegranates that are spotted black and discolored, I know one thing… that pomegranate tree is unhealthy. It doesn’t give good pomegranates. It’s missing something… some nutrient or some mineral or some protection from bugs that have gotten into the fruit.
We can do the same thing with our fellow Christian. We can look at them and see how they are practicing their righteousness before God. And if we have been given proper insight and discernment, we might see something that is keeping them from being what God intends for them to be. We might look at their lives and see that they are feeding some sin and allowing it to choke off a healthy and godly lifestyle. We might look at their marriage and see that they are mistreating their wife or ignoring their husband. We might look at their business and see that they are not applying godly economic principles to their finances.
Now don’t misunderstand me here. We don’t necessarily have the right to be judgmental and critical here. We talked about that a few weeks ago. But we do have the ability to be discerning and over the course of time gather enough information to look at our brothers and sisters in Christ and see whether they are weak and anemic in their faith and understanding of scripture or whether they are growing and changing and experiencing the favor of God in their spiritual lives.
False teachers can sometimes display a lack of integrity from the life they talk about compared to the life they live daily.
What is the fruit of a bad tree? Here’s one example from the teaching of Paul in his letter to the church at Galatia...
Galatians 5:19–21 NASB95
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19–21 NASB95
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul highlights here the deeds that should not be found in the lives of a Christ follower. Remember that a new believer may still be in the process of having some of these things pruned from their lives. But one who is presenting himself as a believer, leader and teacher, should not be given over to any of these deeds.

II. The Fruit of the Spirit

The point here is that one can pretend to have the character of righteousness and can say that they are living out the Beatitudes. But time will reveal the true nature of the fruit that is being produced on the tree.
True believers have been radically altered from deep within their person by the grace and forgiveness of God. While we may stumble occasionally and slip back into our old flesh nature out of habit, sooner or later our true nature will be revealed. We have to be able to recognize these false brothers and call them out into true discipline.

How To Recognize A Good Tree

Galatians 5:22-
Galatians 5:22–26 NASB95
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
True believers have been radically altered. They aren’t perfect, but we can see these characteristic traits of the true believer growing in their lives. They come to full ripeness and become plain to see in the true believer’s life.

IV. Apply God’s Word -

Psalm 119:11 NASB95
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.
V. Allow God’s Spirit to Give You Wisdom -

V. Allow God’s Spirit to Give You Wisdom -

When one looks at an orange tree, one hopes to find bright orange fruit without spot or blemish with fruit that one can pick and when it is opened, the flesh of the fruit is juicy and delicious.
John 16:30 NASB95
30 “Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.”

I. Not Everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord”

The same could be said of the true Christian… we must expect to find the Fruit of the Spirit healthy and abundant in that life.
Matthew 7:21–23 NASB95
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

IV. In the Orchard a Bad Tree is a Waste of Resources -

II. I Do Not Know You

Matthew 7:15–23 NASB95
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Luke 13:25–28 NASB95
25 “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ 28 “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out.
Matthew 7:19–20 NASB95
19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.
Matthew 7:19 NASB95
19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Luke 13:25-
Jesus makes it clear here that the trees that do not bear good fruit will not make the grade. A fruit orchard has no use for an unhealthy tree that cannot bear good fruit. If the farmer can improve the health of the diseased tree, he will attempt to save it by treating it with what it needs to be healthy. If he cannot, then he won’t waste any money or resources to save it. That tree will be cut down and burned so that its disease does not spread to the rest of the orchard.
Luke 13:23–30 NASB95
23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ 28 “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. 29 “And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 “And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.”

But Jesus doesn’t just use the fruit analogy to talk about false prophets. Jesus doesn’t want us to just look at the false prophet like a bad piece of fruit and say “meh, so what, that’s not such a bad deal.” He wants us to realize that the false prophet, speaking out falsely on God’s behalf, is as bad as having a hungry wolf running through the sheep pen. Damage will be done. Sheep will be hurt. And nothing will be the same again.
Jesus wants us to root out the false prophet from the church and protect the church by putting things right again.
The false prophet will destroy a scripturally sound church! It is imperative that the leadership of the church protect the integrity of the church from the teachings of the false prophet.
It is imperative that the leadership of the church protect the integrity of the church from the teachings of the false prophet.
This final section brings chapter 7 to a close by pointing to the final judgment, where the false prophets and false brethren are separated out and thrown into the eternal lake of fire.
The harsh rebuke here at the end of the section does not say anything about people losing their salvation...
Matthew 7:21–23 NASB95
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Matthew 7:
In fact this final passage is not saying that one can lose their salvation. It is saying that these false prophets never had salvation to begin with.
The real takeaway from this section of scripture is to notice that God will expose all of our heart motives on the day of judgment. His rebuke saying “I never knew you.” is a formal rejection that we ever chose Him, practiced our righteousness before God, or worked toward fulfilling God’s purposes in our lives.
[piano]
Claiming to know Jesus will gain you no entry into the presence of God if Jesus says “I never knew you.”
Attending church will gain you no audience with God if you have not practiced your righteousness for His pleasure.
Jesus’ final judgment of “I never knew you” is the equivalent of marking a tree to be cut down and thrown into the fire.
Where do you stand with Jesus today?
Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior? Have you made Him the master of your life? Do you submit your will to His and work toward the accomplishment of His purposes in the world today?
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