Summary: We are expected to bear fruits of righteousness as the disciples of Jesus Christ and also have a responsibility of identifying false prophets and teachers by the fruits they bear.

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Study Text: Mattew 7: 15 – 20


- Jesus Christ in speaking of trees said, "By their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). You can know by the fruit whether a tree is good or bad.

- This illustrates lives. By observing the outward actions of an individual you can know the condition of the heart.

- He also talked about the need for them to recognize the type of people they were dealing with by evaluating the type of fruit those people bear.

- He simplified the concept by explaining: “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:17-18).

- He went on to explain that not bearing any fruit is not an option: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:19).

- We shall consider the topic under three sub-headings:

1. Responsibility to Decide

2. Responsibility to Discern

3. Responsibility to Desist

1. Responsibility to Decide

- Jesus talked to the disciples about the way for them to continue bearing good fruit. John 15:1-5:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

- Jesus explained how He would make it possible for them to abide in Him and bear the same fruit. He would send the Holy Spirit after His death to abide in them and guide them. John 16: 5-7.

- The Holy Spirit, working in our minds, produces the fruit of righteousness in terms of the character we have and the way we live our lives.

- The apostle Paul listed some of these characteristics in his letter to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

- To truly abide in the vine that is Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit should help us in bringing our mind into accord with His by “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

- In contrast to the fruit of the Spirit, the apostle Paul listed the opposite kind of fruit that people can produce, calling these actions and attitudes the “works of the flesh.”

- Those works include “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21).

- A Christian has personal responsibility to decide to produce the fruit of the Spirit, rather than the works of the flesh.

- Are you producing fruit? Or is the opposite true? Instead of love, is there hatred, bitterness, or even prejudice in your life?

- Instead of joy, is there constant gloom? Instead of peace, is there turmoil? Instead of gentleness, is there a short temper? Instead of faith, is there endless worry? Instead of meekness, is there pride and arrogance? Instead of self-control, are you a victim of your own passions?

- If so, then either you don't know God at all or a recommitment to Christ would be in order.

- If you are a Christian, then people should be able to look for and find fruit in your life.

- Why? Because a disciple of Jesus Christ will produce spiritual fruit. Jesus said, " 'My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father'" (John 15:8).

2. Responsibility to Discern

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:15-16). After telling them that good trees can bear only good fruit and bad trees can bear only bad, Jesus summed it up in verse 20: “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

- In the Matthew passage, Jesus is warning those on the mountainside to beware of false prophets.

- But since he says false prophets often come disguised as true prophets, he goes on to give advice about how to sort out the false from the true. How do we do it? By their fruit, he says.

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