Have you ever wondered why we are instructed to know people by their fruits? Consider: somebody thought to be a wolf may, it turns out, be a sheep? These musings are addressed in this article using the authority of Scripture coupled with a relationship with God. That is a powerful combination. Let’s learn together.
Mathew did us a solid and obediently wrote the Gospel of Matthew. In Matthew’s Gospel, stories are preternaturally linked one after another weaving lesson upon lesson from The Creator, glistening in the sun and quietly calling to each of us to come to His laudable presence. These stories, given time, prove to serve as a warm coat in a cold world. “A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, “Son, go, work today in my vineyard.” He answered and said,”I will not,” but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second son and said likewise. He answered and said,”I go, sir.” But he did not go.” (Matthew 21:28-30). The context of that Scripture is such that the parable was spoken against the Religious Leaders of that time, for many of them carried the characteristics of the second son, while the tax collectors and sinners carried the characteristics of the first son. This, Yeshua plainly said when He told them,”…but tax collectors and harlots enter the Kingdom of Heaven before you (the Religious Leaders)” (Matthew 21:32).
For the sake of the tender, new believers, we will quickly explore the characteristics of the two sons in the parable and how the metaphor is engineered to link to real life. The first son was the tax collectors and harlots. They did not choose to serve God with their lives; however, that decision was found to be a regrettable one that led to a life full of contretemps or worse. After learning first hand what death tasted like, they came to fully serve God: with many, for the rest of their lives. This is a son who is pleasing to Our Father.
The second son, today, is not easily stultified to begin with by the threats that hold hands with a choice to serve God. He initially accepts this calling and genuinely. However, knowingly or unknowingly, falls away. The second sons begin their lives going into religious duties and service, organized or on their own. This second son ensures God is part of daily life as well as fellowship, religious ceremony attendance, alms, charity, and holy speech/jewelry. The righteous begin this walk and continue to make right choices amidst the mounting and more serious threats, suffering gracefully and serving God for the sake of God. This leads to a beautiful, mature, praiseworthy walk that more closely resembles the outside walk: selflessly serving God and man. For the second sons, when the falling away begins, slowly, the aforementioned list is not altered: what is happening inside does get altered though. Inside, the need to care for self alongside fear begin to trump serving God and others more and more as time’s beat slowly drums over their lives: a wolf in sheep’s clothing being carefully curated contemptuously, cautiously and charismatically signed with a smile, a twinkle in the eye and a reassurance of emotional maturity.
This leads us to an important point. Why does God tell us to know people by their fruits? (Matthew 7:15-20 reference). This comes down to relationship. And like trees producing fruit, relationships take time to build. The enemy, who seeks to deceive that he may kill and destroy, works through people’s selfishness. It is hard to tell if somebody is being selfless or selfish, but if you take the time to get to know somebody, then assess the fruit (not how they make you feel in the moment, but the fruit) better known as the results in your life because of a relationship with them, that is fulfilling the command. The most powerful tool the enemy has is making you feel good. If he can surround you with people who always make you feel good, but are slowly picking away at the things that matter as a result, well that is how that wicked serpent works. He plants desires in you, then guides you through the fulfillment of those desires.
Often times a good friend will hurt you where it hurts most, for the purpose of fixing a fatal flaw you posses. This is an example of a lamb that seems to be a wolf. After being hurt badly, it is very important to sit back and assess the fruits that have come from that relationship. Ask yourself: when I do what this person suggests, even though it hurts and is often hard, has it improved the things that are important to me or hurt them? Conversely, it is extremely important, after a year or so of relationship with somebody, to ask yourself: although this relationship fulfills desires and feels good, has this person proven themselves trustworthy with the things that are important to me?
A wolf in sheep’s clothing often has no idea that they are an ersatz of The Messiah. All the signs of their holiness appear on the outside as described above, but after closer inspection of the fruit that results in spending time with that person it hurts to learn that they are devouring God’s fruit, instead of tending to His harvest. Unfortunately, we have a world full of Religious Leaders who have one foot in the selfishness bucket (whether their own selfishness bucket or somebody else’s). They are stumbling around drunk on the way of salvation. There is nothing new under the sun. Yeshua told His people that the Religious Leaders of their day sat in Moses’ Seat. His instructions to them were paramount. “Do what they say and not as they do, for they tie heavy burdens on the backs of the common people while refusing to lift a finger to move the burdens from those they have oppressed.” (Matthew 23:1-5 paraphrase) Unfortunately, today these instructions are not as applicable: Most preachers are unable to see straight while they read their Bibles, as their desire to spread salvation to as many as possible has slowly, over many many generations, adulterated the message such that very nearly all of what they say, can not in good conscience be labelled Biblical. The Rock, to them is a pile of sugary pudding that renders that sweet sweet taste every time.
Now-a-days, it is up to us as individuals to vet the leaders and organizations we join, by reading Scripture for ourselves: for studying ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15 reference), that we do not find ourselves with pearly white canines drenched in the slop that comes from the flesh. Manumit yourselves from spiritual slavery through the power of The Truly Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, my friend. Be strengthened by the power of Yeshua Our Messiah and have a sound mind that can judge between those who are producing good fruit and those producing bad fruit.
“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.
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, (added: leaders and common people alike who were wolves in sheep’s clothing who had no idea they were wolves in sheep’s clothing, they deceived many) ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on The Rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on The Rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
And so it was, when Yeshua had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the Scribes.” (Matthew 7:15-30).
My friend, you are loved. Trust in God’s authority in your life and the life of your community’s members. Be true to a Scriptural walk and let’s grow together. Praise His mighty authority and goodness.
By: T.Griffin ben Yeshua Messiah
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