August 9 I Tuesday
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them.” —Matthew 7:15-16
How do we recognize false prophets? Jesus tells us two things that can help us identify them—their clothing and their conduct. On the surface, they are wearing “sheep’s clothing,” where they look gentle, innocent and part of the flock, but below the surface, they are ferocious wolves. Jesus states that by their fruit—their conduct, their character, their teaching—we will recognize them.
Jesus makes the point, “Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, 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” (Matthew 7:16-18). The type of fruit that a tree produces depends on the type of tree it is. Jesus uses the imagery of a tree and its fruit to draw attention to the tree and not its fruit, which is the source of their influence. Fruit cannot make itself grow; it is a derivation of a healthy tree planted in good soil. Good fruit is a by-product of a good tree. While the opposite is true, a sick, dying and bad tree cannot produce good fruit. A bad tree produces bad fruit and is only good for one thing, to be cut down and thrown into the fire.
What is the source of the good fruit? Jesus tells us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As Christians, Jesus is the true vine from which all nourishing truth flows into our lives and from which fruitfulness abounds in our lives. We bear fruit because we have been grafted into Him, into the true and healthy vine from which fruitful living is derived.
What is the source of the bad fruit? Paul reveals, “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). The source and power of the false teaching is actually Satan himself. Although the name of Jesus may be preached, it is a distorted form, a counterfeit and not the Jesus of Scripture. Jesus warns that during the end times false teachers will perform miraculous signs and wonders and have power to heal and deceive people.
Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognise them” (Matthew 7:16), and we could turn this statement inwardly: the kind of fruit we produce reveals the source we are abiding in. Have we been grafted into the life-giving, fruitful vine of Jesus Christ?
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, You alone are the true vine and I choose to remain in You to bear good fruit. Help me to be discerning of the fruit being produced in my life. Thank You, Lord.