From Matthew we read,
- “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16 – NASB)
This quote from Jesus comes from the great Sermon on the Mount in chapters five through seven. Jesus has just set forth a divine command to his disciples,
- “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15 – NASB)
In his great book, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, D. Martyn LLoyd-Jones writes that “false prophets,” who look like Christians, are those who pervert the message of Christ, who pervert the truth. He writes concerning them and the provides certain tests that can be applied by which to “know them,”
- “The tests can be both general and particular. Here we are, as it were, looking at someone who makes a profession of Christianity. He does not say anything obviously wrong and appears to be living a good Christian life. How do we test such a person? You can have good, ethical, moral people with a high code and standard of personal life and living, who look remarkably like Christians but who may not be Christians at all. How do you tell the difference? Here are some questions for which you must seek an answer.”
Dr. Jones goes on to elaborate on those “questions,” noting them in a category he titles, “The General Test:”
- “Why is the man living this sort of life? Why do they live as they do?”
- “Does this man live this kind of life because he holds certain beliefs or subscribes to certain moral teaching?”
The intent behind these questions is to try and discover the reasons and the motives for a professing believer’s actions. Jones goes on to write,
- “From the Christian standpoint . . . only one vital test: ‘Does this man give the impression that he is living this sort of life because he is a Christian and because of his Christian faith? It is only that which is the outcome of Christian character, and springs from a new nature, which is of any value ultimately in the sight of God.”
And so . . . “The Particular Test,”
- “. . . unless a man believes those essential tenets of the Christian faith . . . If a man is not conscious of the utter, absolute holiness of God and the exceeding sinfulness of sin, if he does not see that the real message of the cross of Calvary is that all man’s righteousness is worthless and that he is an utter helpless, foul sinner, he is going to show this in his life . . . (and) they are wrong centrally. There is in them a lack of tone and an absence of that peculiar ‘aura’ which is always present in the man who is truly spiritual.”
What we look for, the fruit for which we look, is evidence of the BeAttitudes! These are Jones says, “some of the tests.” He finishes this matter up by writing,
- “The ultimate test, however, is humility”
Chapter seven of Matthew starts off with the verse that is so often used by non-believers as their response to those who would challenge their sinful behavior. But it is quite clear that their use of this text is out of context. The Christian, he or she notes the whole of Jesus’ teaching and within it sees that Christians are commanded to “Beware of false prophets who” seek to come among us but are really not Christians at all. Regarding these, we do make judgments . . . we test “their fruits.”
Have a good day brethren . . . and know that you cannot test the fruit if you do not know and understand that which gives you the ability to do the testing . . . the Word of God.
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