Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you shall know them. Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:15-23 KJ2000)
There is an interesting flow in this discourse by Jesus. He starts out talking about false prophets and ends by talking about workers of iniquity. But in the middle He speaks of bearing fruit and that this very fruit will be the true manifestation of whether they are true or false prophets and whether their works were born of the Father.
We are warned in the New Testament that false prophets, false apostles and false teachers will abound in these last days. To those without any depth and spiritual discernment they look on the outward as fellow sheep. To discover their true natures we have to look at the inward nature of these people and the Spirit of God gives us this discernment, the discerning of spirits. There is also an outward sign given as to what their agenda and nature is, you look at their fruit. You look at the outward by-product of what they are really producing. Many people think that “fruit” is strickly the number of people a person “leads to Christ.” They look for the amount of new members and the amount of baptisms that happen in a church or how many people one can get to repeat a “sinners prayer.” Yet, Jesus did not say, you will know them by their buds or their flowers. Fruit is not seen for what it is until it is in full maturity and you take a bite of it. If you try to eat most fruit before it is mature it is very bitter and will make your mouth pucker. So, you see, for fruit to be a true sign you have to partake of it once it has matured. Some fruit when it matures has worms in it. Others have rot in the center and both have to be thrown away. It is interesting that the eggs of the apple maggot are layed in the apple blosom itself and mature with the fruit and finally bore out to the surface as the apple matures. Not all apple trees play host to apple maggots. The trees that do bear fruit that has iniquity in it!
Jesus never said, “Go out into all the world and make converts to Christianity.” No, He said, go forth and make disciples. There are millions of Christian converts, but oh so few who have come into a mature relationship in Christ where they can say as He did, “If you have seen me, you have seen my Father.” Frankly, most fruit that is made in and by churches today is rotten inside. If it wasn’t then why do “Christians” have the same divorce rate as the world’s people do. Why is it that most “Christian businessmen” are as cut-throat and dishonest (if not worse) than the world’s businessmen? Most “Christians” are as hooked into the lust for the things of this world as any of the un-saved of this world are.
It is one thing to make converts, but a whole other thing to make a disciple of Jesus. One time I prayed, “Father, make me like Your Son… that I would only do the works I see you doing and that I would only speak the words I hear you saying.” I had just enough time to think to myself, “Man! That was sure a righteous prayer!” And then He answered me, “No, my son, that is only the STARTING place.” How many of us have reached the beginning of the race that God has set before us? How many of us who name Christ as ours have grown into such a love for Him that we pray with Paul, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10 KJ2000)? Yes, many of us would love to have His power, but few love the idea of being conformed into Christ’s sufferings and death! This is the road to maturity, wanting to be fully conformed into all that Jesus is. Many want power, but few want to drink from the cup that Jesus had to drink (Matthew 10:37-39 and Isaiah 53). There is a huge difference between a mere convert and a true disciple.
So Jesus said of these times we are in, speaking of modern day ministers and ministries in Christendom, “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works?’” What does it mean to be IN the name of Jesus? Do we just use the name J-E-S-U-S as some kind of magic word or incantaton to get our wills to be done by God? That is how most Christians use it, “In the name of Jesus we pray….” The Greek word translated “name” is:
Onoma and according to W. E. Vine it means: for all that a “name” implies, of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, etc., of everything that the “name” covers: (a) of the “Name” of God as expressing His attributes, etc.
You see, to do anything IN Jesus name we must be walking IN who Jesus IS! In John chapter fifteen we read of Him saying, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5 KJ2000). All true spiritual fruit is born our of a relationship in Christ. Too many of us are still trying to be Chrsitians without abiding and living IN Jesus and only in there will we be living out His character, excellence authority and power.
So these Christians who were using and claiming His name who “ prophesied in His name, cast out demons in His name and did many wonderful works in His name” were not IN His very essence, character and under His authority while doing all these things, but were just using His name to do their religious works to be seen of men for their own glory. How many of the works that Christians do today with all their ministry building will be shown to be iniquity in the judgement of God when that time comes? Because of their seeking financial gain, glory and power, they will already have got their rewards and have nothing left to receive in eternity.
Abiding IN Jesus is the key to bearing fruit that is eternal unto the Father. If we abide in Him He will abide in us and from this relationship alone we will bear heavenly fruit. Just as we had to be born from above in the Spirit to be sons and daughters of God, so must the works we do and the fruit we bear be born by the Spirit of God. Just because we read about a “good work” that was done in the Bible, does not mean that WE have are authorize to run out and do it of our own wills and energies. It might be “biblical” but it is not born of the Father in Christ until the Spirit of God initiates that work and brings forth from it by His power and authority.
Speaking of those who did not bring forth His fruit, He said, “I never knew you.” Have you ever pondered how the all-knowing God could possibly not know one of His created beings? I have, so I decided to look up this word “knew” and “know” in the Greek. W. E. Vine wrote:
ginosko – In the NT ginosko frequently indicates a relation between the person “knowing” and the object known; in this respect, what is “known” is of value or importance to the one who knows, and hence the establishment of the relationship, e.g., especially of God’s “knowledge,” 1Co_8:3, “if any man love God, the same is known of Him;”
Again, all that we do in and for Christ must be born out of an intimate relationship with Him. All that we do as His saints must be born out of a relationship with Him and Him alone or it is not conceived, given life or brought into maturity by Him. All fruit that is His is born of a love relationship with and in Him and not of the initiation and energies of that old Adam within. His place is to only be crucifed in Christ and for Jesus to live out His life within and through us. With God, nothing we do is born out of religion or religious “good works,” but is always born from our love relationship with Him as we rest in the Son.