Daily Devotional – Known Fruit

Is Judging Always Wrong? - FaithGateway

AMP and RVR 1960 


CONTEXT:

The other day I was watching some political commentary on TV about the upcoming election. There were two participants in the discussion (plus the host) one a syndicated conservative commentator himself and the other a former chief aid to Chuck Shumer. 

Somehow the subject matter got around to abortion and the conservative made a remark something to the effect ‘VP Biden calls himself a Catholic but supports Abortion on demand’ to which the former Schumer aid responded; ‘How dare you question Mr. Biden’s Faith.’

I had two immediate observations: 1) He (the Schumer aid, sidestepped answering the question and 2) He (a non-believer I think) immediately imposed Matthew 7:1-5 upon the the other guy. 

Since I have Previously posted on Matthew 7:1-5, Is Judgment Always Forbidden?,The Most Popular Bible Verse Among Unbelievers, The Whole Counsel of God;  suffice it to say that Biblical Judgement (Discernment) is warranted  at all times and Mr. Schumer’s former aid should know better than to try and deflect answers. 

I will concentrate today instead on a much neglected (my opinion) aspect of our faith, that is How can we tell if someone is saved or not?

Most Bibles are sectioned off somewhat around Matthew 7:15-20 with a Heading of A Tree and Its Fruit. Here the theme is knowing the difference between TRUE FOLLOWERS and FALSE PROPHETS, we will know both by the fruit or works of God they bear. 


BREAKDOWN:

Ye shall – In v.15 Jesus said theses False Prophets would disguise themselves as gentle, innocent sheep. But YOU can see through their camouflage and distractions. 

know them by their fruits. – All false prophets lack Good Fruit. Oh they got fruit, it is just rotten to the core. It goes against the very Word of God. 

Do men gather – When you are hungry Physically or Spiritually, mankind will gather almost anything to eat. 

grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? – But even the most suborn and foolish should know enough that while Grapes and Figs are Good to eat, the little berries found on thorn and thistle bushes are not. Yet false prophets will lead men to these time and again. 


APPLICATION:

Thistles and Thorns can never never produce fruit, it is not in their nature. The same is true for those who claim to be children of God but are just great pretenders or as Jesus said Wolves in Cheeps Clothing. 

Is our “Judging” others Faith Biblical and Important? In a word YES! James dedicates most of Chapter 2:14-26 to the subject. Someone can claim to be whatever they want, in my example above Joe Biden claims to be a practicing Catholic but is pro-abortion, but if their lives (Fruits) do not bare witness to that claim they are Liars and False Prophets.  

The Apostle John in his 1st Epistle 2:3-6 makes the same point only this time with an inward focus. Are we really children of God that we claim? Are we working for the Kingdom or our own Glory? 

As always we need to take in the Whole Counsel of God and no go off half Cocked and start accusing and aggressively pointing fingers at everyone claiming they are False Prophets. Matthew 7 is part of the Sermon on the Mount and earlier in that Sermon Jesus said  “Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the [b]gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth. 

The Bible clearly teaches we need to be bold and point out the false prophets but doing so with a gentle spirit of humility that shows Christ in us. We need only the Word of God to be our weapon of choice and we need only use it in a manner that mortally wounds the sin while bringing peace to man. 

What type of Fruit are you known by?

 

Examining the “10 needs we must understand and live after choosing to serve the Lord” Part 5

Joshua 24:15 - ESV - Bible verse of the day - DailyVerses.net

One of my posts on 28 April, was entitled COVID-19 Is a Slow-Motion 9/11 in it Pastor Sam Rohrer of the American Pastors Network set forth 10 definitive needs every “Christian” must understand and live by after choosing to serve the Lord. I thought I would look at each one individually over the next two weeks.

{Note because of my deployments and the urge to write a typical devotional this is taking an extending time to complete 🙂 }

Be bold to identify and call out the false prophets in the wolves among us. 

(Christ warned of the false prophets and wolves—Matthew 7:15, Matthew 10:16, Matthew 24:24; Jesus warned of mass deception in the last days—Matthew 24:4-5)
Matthew 7:15,Matthew 10:16,John 10:12,Acts 20:29 (AMP and RVR 1960) 

CONTEXT: 

Definitions: 

Teacher:

Prophet:

False Prophet:

For this devotional I will interchange Prophet and Teacher purposefully as I do not believe there is anyone endowed with the specific gift of “prophecy” (Rev 22:18-19) today.  

A false prophets/teachers are anyone who claim to be speaking for God, but whose message is contrary to God. False prophets will not convict people of sin, for they themselves do not feel convicted. While true prophets/teachers speak according to God’s law and testimony, false prophets speak soft, easy things to make them more popular. These deceivers of God’s Word tell people what they want to hear. (modified from Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 7:15, False prophets and teachers will come as calm seemingly harmless persons. Likable, knowledgeable and saying the “right” things without causing a stir. 

Matthew 10:16, But Jesus said the world is full of Wolves who are ready to eat alive naive immature believers who will listen to their smooth talking fluff. (See Sermon here

John 10:12, Many churches have pulpits filled with those who only see it as a job and not as a calling from God. The difference; one does enough to get by and get a check, the other does all and more to Glorify God, protect and edify the flock. 

Acts 20:29, Was this prophecy, maybe more reality, a simple declaration that false teachers will find a way to mingle among the flock. Try as we may to protect our congregations from them; they arrive and cause their damage. 


APPLICATION:

Why is it so important to be Be bold to identify and call out the false prophets in the wolves among us? I offer I John 2:18-19 (AMP) as a chilling reminder:

Children, it is the last hour [the end of this age]; and just as you heard that the antichrist is coming [the one who will oppose Christ and attempt to replace Him], even now many antichrists (false teachers) have appeared, which confirms our belief that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us [seeming at first to be Christians], but they were not really of us [because they were not truly born again and spiritually transformed]; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out [teaching false doctrine], so that it would be clearly shown that none of them are of us

Where are the greatest of Antichrist (false teachers) those who will not only cause nominal believers to fall away but non-believers to further mock and reject Christ; from among the church!

That is why we MUST as John says here in 1 John 4:1-6 test EVERY spirit (teacher/prophet/pastor/evangelist, etc. etc.). For their twist and false doctrines will case havoc in the church. 

Here is my list of ways to ID a false teacher. It is not all inclusive but is helps guide me.

Is their teaching doctrinal sound? Does what they preach line up with the Words of Christ not man’s interpretation but solid biblical hermeneutics and exegesis.

Do they use the whole counsel of God? It is real easy to take one verse, or part of one and build a doctrine from it. Many use Ps 37:4 ‘the Lord will give you the desires of your heart’; to say we can all prosper, except that is not what it says. The whole verse is (KJV) Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. There is a stipulation there they never mention, just as they never mention God’s wrath, condemnation and the like. 

They are Prideful.  It may be most easily identified by a outward display of false humility. They appear to be humble in words but their outward appearance and acts give away their true intent. It is easy to see elders/pastors, etc. with overly expensive tailored suits, mansions for homes and they like. Are these trappings of excess really what God calls his servant to achieve? These folks are reading a different book. But they easily distract folks from this by seducing them with flattery. 

They are set in their ways and either avoid controversial issues or start them.  This statement may seem confusing, but maybe an example will help. Take for example Joel Osteen The Houston based mega-church preacher of the so called Name-it-Claim-it Prosperity Gospel, who refuses to preach or teach on Abortion, Same Sex-Union, and a host of other controversial Biblical truths. 

Their motive is always profit. Profit of in some form or another. Whether it is Jesse DePlantus asking for a 56 MILLION Dollar jet or Kenneth Copland trying to explain why he need 3 private jets personal gain is almost always easy to spot if you just look. Even if you do not do due diligence, those that claim you too can be RICH, forget to remind you to be a Berean (Acts 17:11) 

At the Core they reject Christ (Apostasy) At the heart of every TRUE CHRISTIAN should be the reformation slogan Sola Chritus or Christ Alone. Their false preaching and teaching is one for itchy ears, that preys upon the emotions and feelings of mankind. All along we are called to expound the Genuine Gospel one in which Christ is All!!!!

Here is some additional material on the subject for your edification: 

How do you define a false teacher?

How can I recognize a false teacher / false prophet?

7 Traits of False Teachers

False Teachers and Deadly Doctrines


 

The List
  1. Develop a healthy fear of God. (Have no other god before Me—Exodus 20:1-6; Obey God, serve Him and fear Him—Deuteronomy 13:4; Rehearse history and teach of God’s power so your children learn to fear God—Deuteronomy 31:13; It is whole duty of mankind—Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
  2. Re-embrace the biblical authority of Scripture. (All Scripture is profitable for life and living—2 Timothy 3:16: Living it establishes a person’s path—Psalm 119:11)
  3. Know that the ‘Church’ is disobedient, lethargic and asleep. (Christ’s warnings to the seven churches and to Laodicea—Revelation 2-3; Revelation 3:14-22)
  4. Be aware that 70% of the pulpits in America are occupied by ‘hirelings.’ (Hirelings refuse to warn of spiritual danger and the wolvesJohn 10:12-13)
  5. Be bold to identify and call out the false prophets in the wolves among us. (Christ warned of the false prophets and wolves—Matthew 7:15, Matthew 10:16, Matthew 24:24; Jesus warned of mass deception in the last days—Matthew 24:4-5)
  6. Understand that national blessing or national judgment hinges on the actions of the remnant. (“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”—2 Chronicles 7:14)
  7. Accept the reality that persecution is coming and is normal for the believer and those still standing for truth. (All who live according to God commands will suffer persecution—2 Timothy 3:12; the enemies of truth will persecute you—Luke 21:12; John 15:20)
  8. Discover that the preparation for prayer and meeting God’s requirements for prayer is far more important than the act of praying. (God demands a broken spirit and obedience before sacrifice—Psalm 51:16-17; God demands we pray His way: No unconfessed sin—Psalm 66:18)
  9. Realize that the continuance of freedom is a result of God’s blessing, which hinges on obedience and conformity to God’s commands. (Don’t forget that all blessings came from God and if you forget and become ungrateful, God will replace blessings with bondage—Deuteronomy 8:1-20, 1:19-20; 30:1-20)
  10. Understand that the choice for president or other elected leaders, while critically important, is secondary to repentance toward God and the choice for God. (Obey, and I’ll make even your enemies to be at peace with you—Proverbs 16:7)

The Chief Distinguishing Mark of a False Prophet

by 

How would you describe a false prophet? There are plenty of right responses to this question. Usually, what people think of are people who distort the Christian message for personal gain. If you said this you’d be off to a good start. But there is still one chief distinguishing mark of a false prophet above all else. What is it?

The context is Matthew 7:13-23, what one church calls “The Scariest Passage in the Bible.”¹ This is the beginning of the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. After talking about the narrow and wide gates, Jesus then discusses false prophets. Naturally, using basic Bible hermeneutics, we can conclude that there is a connection between X and Y — that is, there is a connection between the gates and the prophets. Jesus encourages his listeners to enter the narrow gate where the road is hard; false prophets do not. Therefore, the chief distinguishing mark of a false prophet is that they do not advocate the narrow gate and the hard road in the path of Christian discipleship (Matthew 7:14).

Jesus says the gate is narrow. The word narrow here is often used with a family of words to characterize suffering and opposition. Jesus is giving a realistic understanding of Christian discipleship; the way is grueling.

Indeed, he says the way is hard. What is hard, exactly? Everything Jesus just said in the preceding parts of the sermon — you know, stewarding your anger (Matt. 7:21-26), avoiding lust (Matt. 7:27-30), loving your enemies (Matt. 43-48), giving to the needy (Matt. 6:1-4), and so forth. This lifestyle places God at the center and others in second place. This is hard. But this is the way of Christ, this is the path of Christian discipleship. False prophets do not talk about this.

We can keep going. False prophets do not talk about sin and suffering properly. They will not tell you that being a Christian disciple is hard, and is a road often marked with opposition and persecution and difficulty from the world, the flesh, the devil, and even family and friends. They will not tell you that Jesus does not promise success and material possessions if you follow him. False prophets will not tell you the wide gate and easy way leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13); they entirely misrepresent Christian discipleship altogether.

In the Old Testament, a prophet is a spokesman for God. He is a mouthpiece who speaks on God’s behalf. Prophets do not exist today, at least not in the Old Testament use of the word. Our Lord reminds us that those who claim to speak for God will arrive in sheep’s clothing. “Sheep,” of course, is a metaphor for one of God’s people. Christians are referred to as sheep all over the New Testament. “Sheep’s clothing” means someone who has the appearance of a Christian.

On the outside, false prophets seem legit. They are usually excellent public speakers. They talk the Christian talk. They pray. They seem warm and approachable. They smile a lot. They might even have a theology degree and be ordained – but on the inside, they are ferocious wolves.

Jesus says to be aware of them. This  imperative is used to show that you should be on guard when you spot one. And you can spot one when their message is not consistent with the narrow gate and hard road. In addition, Jesus tells us that we can identify false prophets by their fruit (Matt. 7:20). Your fruit can be evaluated by your life — by your actions and words. And through one’s actions and words, we can discover the authentic from the counterfeit. Although only God knows the heart, the fruit of their life will generally tell us where the speaker on God’s behalf stands.

Source: The Chief Distinguishing Mark of a False Prophet


¹ = Sunday’s Sermon Series – I Never Knew You

Regulating Special Revelation

In the lead-up to the Truth Matters conference in October, we will be focusing our attention on the sufficiency, authority, and clarity of Scripture. One of our previous blog series, Looking for Truth in All the Wrong Placesstrongly emphasizes those doctrines. The following entry from that series originally appeared on June 21, 2017. -ed.

by John MacArthur / Friday, August 30, 2019

Regulating Special Revelation

If God is still speaking to His people today—particularly through mental impressions and premonitions—how can believers exercise discernment when it comes to interpreting and applying these divine messages? Put simply, how is following the private, subjective “leading” of the Lord any more reliable than gazing into a crystal ball?

As we saw last time, biblical discernment¹ runs contrary to the kind of subjective mysticism many promote in the church today. Without any objective criteria, there is no means for determining truth from error. Such blithe subjectivity leaves people at the mercy of whatever mystical “voice” they’re listening to.

Upper Abdominal Distress

It is therefore ironic that advocates of mysticism inevitably treat discernment itself as if it were some kind of subjective, mystical ability. One author speaks of discernment as “a spiritual function,” by which he evidently means that discernment does not involve the intellect. [1] In one of my earlier books I quoted Bill Hamon, one of the leading proponents of modern revelatory prophecy. Hamon’s recipe for discernment is a classic case of mystical anti-intellectualism. He believes prophecies can be properly evaluated only by people willing to set reason and logic aside:

I have sometimes heard people say, “I did not witness with that prophecy.” But after questioning them, I discovered that what they really meant was that the prophecy did not fit their theology, personal desires or goals, or their emotions reacted negatively to it. They failed to understand that we do not bear witness with the soul—the mind, emotions or will.

Our reasoning is in the mind, not the spirit. So our traditions, beliefs and strong opinions are not true witnesses to prophetic truth. The spirit reaction originates deep within our being. Many Christians describe the physical location of its corresponding sensation as the upper abdominal area.

A negative witness—with a message of “no,” “be careful” or “something’s not right”—usually manifests itself with a nervous, jumpy or uneasy feeling. There is a deep, almost unintelligible sensation that something is wrong. This sense can only be trusted when we are more in tune with our spirit than with our thoughts. If our thinking is causing these sensations, then it could be only a soulish reaction.

On the other hand, when God’s Spirit is bearing witness with our spirit that a prophetic word is right, is of God and is according to His will and purpose, then our spirit reacts with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We have a deep, unexplainable peace and joy, a warm, loving feeling—or even a sense of our spirit jumping up and down with excitement. This sensation lets us know that the Holy Spirit is bearing witness with our spirit that everything is in order, even though we may not understand everything that is being said, or our soul may not be able to adjust immediately to all the thoughts being presented. [2]

Notice that Hamon’s emphasis is entirely on feeling, while he derides the intellect, theology, reason, understanding, and by implication, true biblical wisdom. A reaction in the upper abdominal region is supposed to be a more reliable gauge of truth than all those things.

But that is superstition, not discernment. How your upper abdomen feels about a thing is certainly no measure of truth or falsehood. Neither is “a nervous, jumpy, or uneasy feeling” apart from any rational cause. “A deep, unexplainable peace and joy, a warm, loving feeling—or even a sense of [your] spirit jumping up and down with excitement” is no proof that a supposed prophecy is reliable. Those who practice this sort of “discernment” epitomize reckless faith.

And those who seek truth by analyzing inner feelings are likely to wind up with nothing but confusion.

Dueling Prophets

My editor once attended a service at the Anaheim Vineyard where two “prophets” gave contradictory prophecies. It happened in a Sunday morning worship service. When the congregational singing was over, John Wimber stepped to the platform. Before he could say anything, a young man in the congregation stood and began loudly to prophesy judgment against the leaders of the church. “Jerusalem! Jerusalem!” he began, echoing Luke 13:34, “you persecute My prophets and stone My messengers. My displeasure burns hot toward the leadership of this church for the way you have scorned My prophets and ignored My prophecies. . . .” and so on. The man evidently was disgruntled at the treatment he had received at the hands of church leaders, and this “prophecy” seemed to be his way of striking back. He prophesied in that manner for five minutes or more, earnestly calling the elders of the church to repentance. His entire message was in first person as if from God.

Immediately when he finished, before John Wimber could respond, another “prophet” from the other side of the congregation popped up and began to prophesy exactly the opposite message. This prophet began with a loose paraphrase of Jeremiah 29:11: “Oh, pastors and leaders of this church, I know My thoughts toward you—thoughts of mercy, and not of judgment. I have loved you with an everlasting love and have laid up for you a crown in heaven, My beloved. You have done according to all My good pleasure, and henceforth all men will rise up and call you blessed. . . .” etcetera, etcetera.

When the second man finished, a woman stood and sang a song, another person spoke in tongues, and one or two others quoted Bible verses or shared something brief. Then the service continued with Wimber making announcements. No reference was made to the two contradictory prophecies. No attempt was made to explain the dilemma or interpret either prophecy. Members of the congregation were simply left to draw their own conclusions about which, if either, of the two prophecies was correct.

That illustrates the impossible situation that arises when people are encouraged to voice their own subjective impressions as if they were divine prophecy. And it also reveals the predicament we are placed in if we must allow a sensation in our upper abdominal area to determine the truth or falsehood of a prophetic message.

Notice that both prophets’ messages echoed biblical terminology. Both of them were delivered with great conviction. Both of them employed first-person pronouns, as if God Himself were doing the speaking. Yet they flatly contradicted each other. They might both be false prophecies, but there is no way they could both be true. How were the people in the congregation supposed to determine which, if either, was correct? If they followed the gut-feeling approach, all the disgruntled people in the church undoubtedly opted for the first prophecy, believing they now had a word from the Lord to confirm their displeasure with their leaders.

The obvious fact is that once we stray into the realm of subjectivity, we have no way to determine what is really true.

(Adapted from Reckless Faith.)

 A good explanation of biblical discernment¹ can be found here.

Another good read on this subject Does God Still Give Revelation?