Our church has been reading through the New Testament together as part of our midweek Bible Study.
Each week we discuss the things that stood out to us, which has pushed me to be more intentional about taking notes as I read the Bible.
It’s amazing how God’s Word really comes alive as we dig into it and seek to understand. I encourage you to do more than just read, but study and ask God to speak to you as you do your Bible reading.
As I was reading through Matthew 7, one passage stood out to me. It’s one we’ve all probably read and heard many, many times.
“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
As I read this, I wondered, what is considered good fruit?
After all, we know of many people who preach and teach false doctrine, and yet it would be hard for us to convince someone else that they were producing bad fruit. They pray, experience miracles, teach good principles that are founded on Scripture, show love, exhibit other fruits of the Spirit, and yet we know they still deceive others (knowingly or not) about important things like how to be saved, or what God requires of His people.
On the surface, it would appear that their fruit is good, and not evil.
So, what does God consider good fruit?
Interestingly, the Scriptures immediately following this passage are also well known, but not always quoted in context with the passage I just shared.
“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
Several of the things Jesus mentions in this passage we might consider to be good fruit: prophesying in Jesus’ name, casting out devils, doing wonderful works in His name and calling Him our Lord.
All of these things sound good to me.
But Jesus makes it clear that on their own, these things are not considered good fruit. He even goes so far as to say that many of the people professing to believe and do these works are workers of wickedness.
One statement in this whole passage stands out and gives us a clue to what God considers to be good fruit: “...he that doeth the will of my Father” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.
You might say, “Sure! But, prophesying in Jesus’ name and casting out devils seems like it would be the will of the Father…”
However, if it’s not coupled with complete obedience to the Word, then it’s not good fruit. We discover this truth as we continue reading another very familiar passage of Scripture.
“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.” Matthew 7:24-27
Fruit can never be measured by signs and wonders alone, but must always be held to the standard of the Word of God.
Good fruit is produced when we obey the Word of God.
When we were youth pastors, my husband had a saying in youth class that God’s keyword was obedience. From the very beginning of time, we find that He requires obedience.
The story of Adam and Eve is about obedience.
The story of Cain and Abel is about obedience.
The story of Noah is about obedience.
No matter what we think, how we feel, or who says what, we will be judged by our obedience to the Word.
Our fruit, and that of others, will only be good fruit if it is produced out of obedience.
Many can call Him Lord and do works in His Name, but still be disobedient to the Word and out of God’s will.
We will know them by their fruit, so let’s make sure we look for more than a sign, but complete obedience to God’s Word.
And as we continue to grow, let’s also make sure we are producing that good fruit.