Fruit: The Ultimate Test
Robert Wurtz II
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. (Matthew 7:15ff)
Our passage is insightful, simple and straight-forward. Jesus is warning us to beware of wolves that would seek to come in to our midst under the guise of the prophetic, but lack the fruit of the Spirit. No doubt the enemy can counterfeit certain aspects of the prophetic through the use of clairvoyance. This is supernatural power or revelation that does not come directly from God. People that move in these realms may be defrauded into thinking that what they are experiencing is the Holy Spirit, but in reality it is not God revealing things it is the enemy. How can we know the difference? One way is to pay very close attention to our passage; Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. You cannot flip back and forth from the Spirit to the carnal mind like we often think people can. We are fooling ourselves to think such things. A tree don’t bring forth apples one day and thorns and briers the next day. In other words, you can’t move in the prophetic one minute and act as mean as a junkyard dog the next. If a person cannot discern what spirit they are of, how are they going to discern the spirit that everyone else is of? This is what Jesus told the disciples that wanted to call Fire from Heaven. You know not what manor of Spirit you are of. Paul’s litmus test for all of the spirituals (Spiritual gifts) was does it edify (the believer or the body)? Does it build them up in the faith or does it harm the church or the believer in their walk with God? Is it spoken in love or in bitterness? False prophets get mad and then start putting words in God’s mouth that are not so.
Notice how Jesus describes them; false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Wolves are notorious for killing and carrying off sheep. We have the wolf motif in Ezekiel 22:27ff, Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, “Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD had not spoken. (Ezekiel 22:27-28) Here they were taking advantage of the people speaking things that God had not said, divining lies, seeing false visions, plastering them with untempered mortar; that is to say, they were not preparing them for the destruction that was coming. They were suiting themselves and seeking their own ambitions. They seek dishonest gain while the people are about to be carried off by their enemies. They are thinking about their own plans and have no clue of what God is doing right now, though they truly,truly think they do. Ambition and desire for dishonest gain are always a deadly combination and is one of the reasons God had to deal so strongly with Ananias and Sapphira. Their greed caused them to hold back a part of the price, but their ambition was the beach head on which the enemy charged into their life with a lie to cast them in a favorable light in the church saying they gave the whole amount. They wanted favor with the people and were willing to lie to the Holy Ghost to get it. People moving in these and similar things are toxic to the churches of God. This is why God smote them dead. The whole story is exemplary.
There is a sobering pattern in Jeremiah’s writings that is summarized in one verse, How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart. (Jeremiah 23:26) This is a staggering thing to consider that they are the prophets of the deceit of their own heart. Notice that the false prophet is deceived himself (or herself) and is articulating from that deception when they prophesy. They believe things that are not true and put a false construction on events based upon that deception. For Ananias and Sapphira, Satan had filled their heart to lie to the Holy Ghost. A person with ambition is blinded by their own desires until they may actually believe they are the only person they know that is truly hearing from GOD. They have so confused their own will with God’s will, that unless what transpires in their life is what they want, God’s will is not being done. This is madness and dangerous. Pretty soon the whole flock is in an uproar and confusion because the wolf in sheep clothing is prophesying the deceit of their own heart. What do they do? When those things do not come to pass they cover it by saying that God’s will is not done. This is nonsense. In the Old Testament when that happened a funeral was held for the prophet. But there it is.
By their fruits you will know them
If a person does not live in such a way that they consistently display a Christlike Spirit, they are not qualified to preach or prophesy. God can speak from a whirlwind, a donkey, rock, or anything else He may choose; but we have this passage from Jesus that gives the normative way of things, namely; Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. Don’t even bother hearing the person if they don’t display the fruit of the Spirit. Moreover, if the Spirit in which the prophetic message is delivered is not Christlike, but bitter and angry, consider our passage. A prophet in modern times (if there were such a thing) should be expected to yield the same Fruit of the Spirit as everyone else that ministers before the Lord. Moving in the gifts is no excuse to act out. This is why there are so many offenses in the churches of God. I dare say that in some circles, if we had everyone back that were foolishly and carelessly offended out, we would probably not be able to contain the people. Why pray for revival if we can’t act right? In fact, if a person is mean and spiteful, you already know what fruit they are of. Watch the fruit of the persons life. Do they live holy lives? Do they have a good reputation among unbelievers as an honest person? Are they universally loving or do they love just those they wish to love? Do they act hateful? These are all valid common sense questions that take little to no discernment.
The gifts as a weapon?
It should go without saying that the prophetical gifts are not weapons to be used on people that we are in conflict with. If we are upset at a person, we had best leave God out of it and not be putting words in His mouth or the Holy Spirit’s mouth in order to inflict harm to a person. The spirituals (spiritual gifts) are to be approached with great soberness, reverence and love. They are for the perfecting and building up of the Saints, not for the furtherance of the agendas of men. God warned Israel through the Prophets and the Disciples through the Lord Jesus. When Israel was deep in sin their prophets still thought they were hearing from God. Amazing! In fact we read in 2 Chronicles 18:23, Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near, and smote Micaiah upon the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the LORD from me to speak unto thee? Here is a man punching or slapping the true Prophet, while he was a false prophet. This tells me that sometimes people don’t even know that they are moving at enmity with God when they are prophesying, etc. To operate in the gifts purely and with no spurious input from either the enemy or our own mind of deceit, you and I have to come out of the world and draw near to God. We have to be being filled with the Spirit in such a way that we walk in love and speak the truth in love. Otherwise we risk being the very thing Jesus spoke of. The saddest thing of all would be to think we were sheep and shepherds, when in reality we were deceived totally, had no real fruit in our lives, but still believing we were right with God.