Daily Scripture ReadingGalatians 5

Verse for the Day – Matthew 7:17-18
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.

Devotional Thoughts

As we look at the fruit that our lives and the lives of spiritual leaders and teachers produce, we must discern the good from the bad, because the good will be produced by the power of the Spirit through the good and true teachers – the bad comes from the fleshly false teachers. Jesus could not have said it any more plainly – good produces good, bad produces bad.

Corrupt theology or unsound doctrine will always be made manifest in the life of one who holds to error as if it were truth. You see, false doctrine is powerless to aid us in overcoming evil. True living faith, on the other hand, opens the door for God to show His strength in our weakness. These false teachers who produce bad fruit illustrate the Scripture that says that there are those who have “a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.” (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

The false prophets may look real and genuine. They probably even sound authentic. But give them time and they will hang themselves with a reaction or an attitude. A false teacher, the one who uses the gospel for gain, will use whatever means he can to deceive his followers into believing that he is the real thing. But the Bible promises that a false teacher cannot continue for long at his deceptions. Discerning believers will see through the hypocrisy and will warn other believers. A true minister of God will produce in his life fruit that is eternal and beneficial. A false teacher sows bad seed – distrust, pride, selfishness, suspicion, greed, etc. – and those things can’t stay hidden away forever. God Himself promises that He will reveal all that is hidden by the false teachers.

A false teacher, if clever enough, may keep up the deception even after being caught once or twice. But the fruit he produces is plastic. That’s right! It looks great and seems to be real, but just try to take a bite. Bad fruit can be disguised, but it can never be turned to good fruit. Bad stays bad. So, even though the deception may continue, if a believer is not fed good, true food by a minister, he should begin to discern the things that just don’t seem right. Follow the Spirit and listen to the Word of God.

While true believers are producing the fruit of the spirit, false teachers are developing the works of the flesh (see Galatians 5). And those who follow them will likewise be shallow and useless spiritually – they will be prone to failure and compromise. Bad fruit will not feed the believer and after a while he will either forsake good food or he will compromise to get what he wants for himself – then he, too, is full of bad fruit (and always was – for a good tree cannot bear bad fruit). From the root to the fruit, the challenge is for us to be real and faithful. If Christ is our Savior, then we are to let others know with our lives. Our own good fruit should testify to our faith. If we are producing bad fruit all the time, then guess what? We aren’t a good tree, but a bad one – repent and be saved!

I want to close today with a few examples of good and bad fruit and the ministers who exhibited each. Let’s start with good fruit. Think about RC Sproul, Alistair Begg, or John MacArthur. They indeed produce very good fruit!

Now think a minute about the following teachers – and let the image that first comes to mind sink in. This will give you a taste of plastic, bad fruit. Bring Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye to mind – or Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Robert Tilton, Earl Paulk, etc. Now think about Jim Jones and the suicidal kool-aid communion or David Koresh and other. I could go on – here is the point – when you hear a spiritual teacher claim to teach God’s Word, but their life doesn’t back up what they teach – watch out! They are false teachers and will produce only bad or plastic, useless fruit. Don’t let yourself become the bad fruit of their “ministry”.

Jesus tells us to examine the fruit and the lesson is clear, we must also examine ourselves. What fruit is being produced through us? And be assured, a good tree will produce good, useful, lasting fruit. A bad tree will produce bad fruit. Don’t judge but inspect. Don’t make condemning decisions, but be watchful. The false teachers are still there. They will destroy the faith of many. We have the keys to exposing them, beware of the false, hypocritical, shepherd imitating, greedy, proud, puffed up, seemingly good, but really plastic and fake teachers who claim to speak for God. HE DESPISES THEM! So should we.

Bible Reading For Further Study
Proverbs 12:17; 14:5; 19:5, 9; 25:19
Jeremiah 24:1-10