Author: Michele at ScriptureStudy.Guide
Posted: March 3, 2022. Updated October 4, 2022.
Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV) says “15Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
What are the Fruits?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;…” ~Galatians 5:22-23
Love here is the Greek word agape. It is not a mushy, feely emotion. Agape is given to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the choice we make to sacrifice ourselves for the good and benefit of others (John 15:13).
Joy (Right-standing with God)
Joy – chara – is not happiness that depends on the world, our environment or our situation. True joy is being in a right relationship with God, and is manifested as peace and harmony when in fellowship with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:1-4).
Peace (in the Holy Spirit)
Peace – eirene – comes in the form of harmony, friendliness, safety, order, rest and contentment. Our consciences are clear when alone, and our relationships are healthy.
In the bible, the Greek word for patience – makrothumia – does not mean tolerating a bad situation or holding your temper. It actually means longsuffering in the face of persecution or abuse. We see an example of this in Jesus when He, as an innocent person, was wrongly persecuted, beaten and crucified (Isaiah 53:7). This kind of patience is waiting on the Lord God who says vengeance is His (Isaiah 40:31, Psalms 37:7-9, Romans 12:9).
Kindness (Moral Strength)
Kindness is not the act of just being “nice” which we do to affect the reactions of others toward us. True kindness is difficult. This Greek word for kindness – chrestotes – is having an upstanding moral character and integrity, and the strength to use it in all situations, no matter how difficult.
Goodness (Strength of Integrity)
Goodness – agathosune – is always associated with God, as Matthew 19:17 tells us that there is only One who is good. Goodness is like kindness on steroids. It is the ability to do what is right, no matter how difficult, and even if it hurts someone or yourself.
Faithfulness (Unwavering Trust in God)
The Greek word for faithfulness – pistis – has nothing to do with our ability to be loyal or dependable to people. This word solely means having an unwavering belief and trust in God and in His word. It is a complete surrender to Him. Our faith is proof of our spiritual kingdom in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 11:1).
Gentleness (Submission to God)
This Greek word – prautes – does not have a true English translation. It has nothing to do with how we treat other people. This word describes the spiritual condition of our submission toward God. It is our accepting His will, no matter how difficult, without resisting or disputing…. there is no concern for our own rights (Philippians 2:5-7). Gentleness can be thought of as meekness and comes from a position of great strength which comes from the Holy Spirit.
The root word for self-control/egkrateia implies a robust power, mastery, and restraining. This also is a fruit that is manifested through great strength.
The fruits of the Spirit are from the Spirit and cannot be willed by man. All that is good in us, is of God (Mark 10:18).
THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT ARE NOT EARTHLY WORKS. Works will not get anyone into heaven. Carnal fruit has nothing to do with your salvation which is a gift you cannot do anything to receive (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus tells us:
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
The Work of the Spirit
Jesus tells us in that last verse that the fruits of the Spirit will cause us to be His disciples. That’s it. That is the visible work… we become a disciple of Jesus Christ which is sharing our testimony of Him with others. Everything we do is to sing the gospel of Jesus Christ through the fruits of the Spirit.
The man who testifies that Jesus came in the flesh and shed His blood to redeem him, that is the man who is not wearing sheep’s clothing (1 John 4:2).
God Tells Us What He Requires
Micah wrote in verse 6:8 that God has shown us what is good — that is, that He requires 3 things from us:
- To do justly
- To love mercy
- To walk humbly with God
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” says the Lord (Matthew 11:30).
God says if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. God’s covenant with His people was fulfilled in Jesus Christ who explains how we love God:
- The Commandments & Sabbath According to Jesus
- Jesus’ Instructions for Us
- Paul Explains God’s Will for Us
Christians Judging Christians
When Jesus said “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned,” He was not talking about the EARTHLY life of His people being withered. He was speaking of their SPIRITUAL life. The withered branch is unseen and has no direct correlation to one’s earthly prosperity or lack thereof.
When “men gather them and cast them into the fire,” it means the man who does not abide in Christ will join worldly men and do as worldly men do — probably doing a lot of kind, good, upright works; maybe even preaching the gospel — but they all will spiritually die. The most evil of men hide behind philanthropic deeds and the “Christian” name.
We cannot judge a man based on his physical works or the amount of them. We cannot see what God sees (1 Samuel 16:7). Only Jesus and Father knew the church of Sardis was dead (Revelation 3:1-6).
God Allows Persecution
The false doctrine of prosperity is straight from Satan himself to make people believe that illness or bad circumstances is God punishing someone for their sins. Nothing could be further from the truth.
God allows the persecution of His children to save their souls and make them spiritually strong. God tells us that we will go through the Refiner’s fire while on this earth (Zechariah 13:9, Psalm 66:10, Job 23:10, 1 Peter 1:7). He will destroy the earthly life of one of His predestined if that is what is required to keep them on the narrow way.
Paul was given “a thorn in the flesh” which he called “the messenger of Satan.” And no, this messenger of Satan was not poor eyesight, but persecution by those controlled by devils which kept Paul in fear of his life. Paul said this thorn that he received was to buffer him (limit him) so he would not become prideful and of the world.
Paul prayed and prayed for God to lift this persecution from him, but God refused him. Rather, God told Paul that His grace (eternal life) is sufficient for him. God further explained that the strength given by Him is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
We do not know and cannot truly know anyone. We have no idea what kind of persecutions that others are going through. It does not matter what someone can do, or what they cannot do, or how long they do or don’t do it, or when. We do not know their motivations, their level of physical, emotional or intellectual ability, their spiritual life, or their heart.
God allows the persecution of those whom He loves if that is what will save their eternal spiritual life. Blessed are the persecuted for theirs is the kingdom of heaven — Matthew 5:3 & 10.
Be careful when judging a meek person — they will inherit the earth. Or judging one who is poor in spirit — theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3 & 5). Or judging one living under life-long persecutions like Paul — God is strengthening them. I’ve mistakenly judged people by confusing their physical works with their spiritual fruits and have repented for it many times over.
What we need to ask ourselves is this: Is the person…
- Loving? Self-sacrificing?
- Joyful in fellowship?
- Peaceful? Contented?
- Patient? Longsuffering?
- Kind? Using moral goodness and integrity?
- Good? Making the right choices in difficult situations?
- Faithful to Jesus Christ? Trusting in God?
- Gentle? Accepting difficulties/God’s will with grace?
- Having self-control? Restraining from sin?
That’s as far as we get to go when deciding if someone is bearing good fruits.
Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7).
In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:2).
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