15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them
Genetic engineering these days is fascinating. I remember quite a few years ago visiting the Land O’ Lakes Answer Farm in Duncombe, Iowa. I was there to write an article for an Ag Issue our local shopper did every year. When I asked them what they did there, I was amazed. The have a weed plot across the street from the main facility. On this weed plot were several different types of weeds that corn can come up against as it develops. They test various chemicals to see what will work best against that weed to kill it’s growth.
Another thing that fascinated me back in the early 1980’s when I visited with them was how they worked with the corn to make it resistant against pests. Those of you who don’t know farming don’t realize how many different pests there can be out there. These pests attached themselves to the seedling or the stalk and can eat through it and destroy it. There is a constant search for the most resistant seeds.
Genetic engineering in plants has come a long way since then. I’m sure the same strategies are also used in apples and oranges and other crops. They are used for livestock as well. Anything to get a better yield. But no matter how much genetic engineering they do, a corn plant will always yield corn, and apple tree will always produce apples and a cow will always give birth to a cow. You will know them by their fruit!
In the creation account found in Genesis, one of the things that is said about the vegetation is that it has it’s seed inside itself (Gen 1:11). All living things are this way. The seed inside is what is seen as the fruit outside. That seed is what is reproduced by the plant or animal. God put the seed inside so that when anything comes forth from that particular plant or animal, you would know what kind of animal it is from what is produced. It’s a principal we all take for granted and easily overlook.
Jesus says to be careful we do not fall for the deception of false prophets. There are many who are preaching a false gospel in the world today. I know I have a Catholic friend reading who believes the Protestant church is a false doctrine. I would say the same of the Catholic Church. We disagree wholeheartedly and have had lengthy conversation about the subject. I will not get into that argument today. I preach Christ and Him crucified. That is the central message of the Gospel that we must stick to. It is when we veer off the track that we can easily get into false doctrine.
For example, those who say that we are saved by grace, and once we are saved we can go our merry way and not follow Christ are preaching false doctrine. Christ tells us we must follow His commands to get to heaven (this is part of the next lesson). The woman taken in adultery had her sins forgiven, but Jesus also told her to go and sin no more (John 8:11). We cannot accept Christ and ask Him for forgiveness only to pick up those sins again. Once He cleanses us, we must stay cleansed. Philippians 2:12 tells us we must “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” God helps us along the way but we have an obligation to Him to walk in the Light as He is in the Light (1 John 1:7). There is nowhere that the Bible says this is optional.
There are others who say if you are not baptized by immersion your will not go to heaven. They say that your salvation is not complete until that baptism takes place. This is false doctrine. If that is true, than they are also saying that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was not enough to save you. I’m here to tell you that His sacrifice is enough. He gave His life so you could be saved. He did not say you had to be baptized as well.
There are many other preachers out there who bear the testimony of false prophets. Anyone who says you do not have to follow Christ’s teaching is a false prophet. Anyone who says the Bible is antiquated and we have to take it with a grain of salt is a false prophet. I hear there is a new movie coming out named “Corpus Christi” in which Christ and His disciples are pictured as homosexuals. False prophets for sure. The New Apostolic Reformation is one to really be careful of and stay away from. There are many false teaching in this church that closely mimic truth.
Jesus said we shall know false teachers by their fruit. The problem we have today is that many false doctrines so closely mimic the truth, a lot of the fruit looks real good to eat of. The NAR is a great example. Many of these churches are thriving and growing even though they teach so many things contrary to scripture. Their fruit looks good. Many churches that have been walking in the truth for years are falling for the deception. These are perilous times. Jesus said in the last days even many of the elect will be deceived (Matt 24:24). So how do we know?
You shall know them by their fruits. If what they are saying glorifies God and the Word of God, that is good fruit. If they are preaching Christ crucified as the way to heaven, that is good fruit. If they are preaching the resurrection as a way to eternal life, that is good fruit. If the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) is evidence in their lives that is good fruit. If they adhere to the tenants of scripture and don’t make up their own gospel, that is good fruit.
Those who are bearing false witness and putting forth bad fruit will eventually meet with judgment. Christ says they will be hewn down and cast into the fire. I believe that he means what He says. Anyone who says there is no hell, and God will not send anyone to hell is a false prophet. Christ is pretty clear here and in many other places where he spoke of the torments of hell. When we deny there is a hell, that is false teaching because it does not line up with what Christ taught.
Anyone who says you can be a part of the kingdom of heaven without being born again is a false prophet. Jesus was very emphatic. He said “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3). That sounds pretty straightforward to me! How can we believe anything else? Anything else goes against what Jesus said and is false teaching. The fruit we must look for is if it lines up with what Jesus said. He said He is the way. The Baptist church is not the way. The Mormon church is not the way. The Catholic church is not the way. Your church is not the way, nor is your denomination. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father except by Him (John 14:6). That is what He said and that is truth. Anything that says different is false teaching and we must beware.
The last part of this post is just as important. Make sure your fruit is good fruit. Make sure you are teaching and preaching the things that Christ did and that His Word still does today. Make sure you are doing good works, saying things that minister grace and thinking on those things that are good. Make sure you are walking in the Holy Spirit every day, seeking His guidance. The previous two and a half chapters tell us what good fruit is. Be fruitful!