Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
Jesus discussed two gates-wide and narrow-and now he paints a picture of two kinds of fruit-two kinds of prophets or leaders. He says: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-20)
This brings us to SECRET #38: The follower of Jesus is cautious of false prophets and teachers. This is a significant and strong teaching about the deception that is present within the circles of those who claim to know Jesus and his teachings. But Jesus gives us a clear understanding of who these people are so that we can identify those who are false and those who are genuine with respect to their relationship with Jesus.
But NOTE what the test here really is. The term fruit is the operative word here. In order to check out a prophet’s fruit (not their show or outward demonstration), you need to observe the person and ministry over a prolonged period of time. It takes time to produce fruit. There is no instant fruit. So watch for the fruit over a long period of time and you’ll know.
Now NOTE what these false prophets actually do. This is amazing! “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. 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?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Jesus says that there will be people who come before Him in the last days, calling Him Lord, but will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Just using the right language will not get a person into the kingdom of heaven. HOWEVER, the one who does the will of the Father will enter-the person who not only talks a good game, but walks it and proves it out by his actions. Jesus explains this later by describing the one who enters as hearing his words and doing them.
The deceptiveness of these false prophets is very difficult to discern. Beware!
The best defense against the counterfeit is to know the genuine very well. His name is Jesus and all he requires of you is to follow him!