"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? 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. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them."
In these scriptures Jesus is telling His disciples and the multitude of people who gathered on the mount to watch out for false prophets, those who claim to speak on behalf of God but they are not sent by Him, nor do they have His words in their mouth. They come looking and dressing like sheep, they speak nice sounding spiritual words and even quote scripture, but inside the heart they are ravenous wolves ready to devour the sheep of the Lord. They are bad trees!
Jesus said, 'you will know them by their fruits'. What fruits was Jesus talking about here? The fruits of the Spirit.
John the baptist talked about the Pharisees and Sadducees during his ministry because he saw their hearts even before Jesus began His earthly ministry. The Pharisees knew the law and the prophets inside and out, they read the scrolls every Sabbath day but the word of God did not enter their hearts and they did not obey the law.
Their eyes were blinded by the letter of the law and even though they read the scriptures their ears were dull and they could not hear the voice of the Spirit. They reasoned the scriptures with their carnal minds, and added many of their own traditions to the law, the true interpretation of the spiritual scriptures was hidden from them.
"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Jesus and John spoke the same word about the trees (people) that don't bear good fruit. This spiritual concept of seed sowing and fruit bearing in the hearts of man can be seen throughout the New Testament scriptures and Jesus made it clear that without His Spirit, His life, and His word, (written & spoken) abiding in us we can't do anything.
"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."
Jesus is the true vine and He sustains us by His life when we are in Him. The Father is the one who prunes, chastens, and causes increase of the branch's in Christ. Every branch (person) that does not bear the fruits of the Spirit are taken away from the Vine.
These are the ones who are born from above, but don't obey the word. They receive the gift, but they don't do anything with it, they don't seek the face of the Lord and they don't surrender their lives completely to Him and allow the Holy Spirit of God to circumcise their hearts so they can bear His fruits. They are unwilling to undergo the discipline, correction, pruning, and suffering that's needed to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
Those who do go on to bear fruit the Father prunes, which means: 2508. kathairo kath-ah'-ee-ro from 2513; to cleanse, i.e. (specially) to prune; figuratively, to expiate:--purge.
So the Father cleanses or purges those who bear the fruit of the Spirit in their heart and they go on to bear even more fruit. The cleansing process is not easy for those who bear fruit in Christ and they go through many tests, fiery trials, tribulations, and suffering in the flesh, but the end result is a whole heart, maturity, sanctification, and all the fruits of the Spirit birthed in the heart.
"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. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples."
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you."
Jesus gives us a clear understanding about what His disciples need to do in order to bear fruit. They must abide (stay, remain) in Him! His words must also stay in the hearts of those who believe in Him.
Jesus also tells us that once the fruit is birthed in the heart that it will remain. Those in Christ don't ever have to fear losing a fruit of the Spirit.
Now let's take a look at the spiritual fruits Jesus was talking about:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."
1) Love - 26. agape ag-ah'-pay from 25; love, i.e. affection or benevolence; specially (plural) a love-feast:--(feast of) charity(-ably), dear, love. (SGL)
1st Corinthians 13:4-8,
"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends."
1st John 4:7-21
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also."
2) Joy - 5479. chara khar-ah' from 5463; cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight:--gladness, X greatly, (X be exceeding) joy(-ful, -fully, -fulness, -ous).
"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."
"He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled"
"And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and came to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit."
"for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
2nd Corinthians 8:1-2
"Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality."
1st Thessalonians 1:5-7
"For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe."
1st Peter 1:6-9
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls."
3) Peace - 1515. eirene i-ray'-nay probably from a primary verb eiro (to join); peace (literally or figuratively); by implication, prosperity:--one, peace, quietness, rest, + set at one again.
“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful."
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men."
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
4) Longsuffering - 3115. makrothumia mak-roth-oo-mee'-ah from the same as 3116; longanimity, i.e. (objectively) forbearance or (subjectively) fortitude:--longsuffering, patience.
"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light."
"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
2nd Corinthians 6:3-6
"We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,"
2nd Timothy 4:1-2
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching."
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
5) Kindness - 5544. chrestotes khray-stot'-ace from 5543; usefulness, i.e. morally, excellence (in character or demeanor):--gentleness, good(-ness), kindness.
2nd Peter 1:5-8
"But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
6) Goodness - 19. agathosune ag-ath-o-soo'-nay from 18; goodness, i.e. virtue or beneficence:--goodness.
"Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another."
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord."
7) Faith - 4102. pistis pis'-tis from 3982; persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:--assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.
"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people."
"Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord."
"I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me."
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
1st Corinthians 2:3-5
"I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God."
2nd Corinthians 5:6-7
"So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight."
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
"In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead."
8) Gentleness - 4236. praiotes prah-ot'-ace from 4235; gentleness, by implication, humility:--meekness.
2nd Corinthians 10:1
"Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you."
"Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted."
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand."
1st Timothy 6:11
"But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness."
9) Self-Control - 1466. egkrateia eng-krat'-i-ah from 1468; self-control (especially continence):--temperance.
"Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you."
1st Corinthians 7:5
"Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
1st Timothy 2:15
"Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control."
2nd Timothy 3:1-5
"But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"
In closing, I pray that these words of life will sink down into your hearts and ears, and that you will examine yourselves to see if you are really in the faith. (2nd Cor. 13:5)
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
In His Love,