“You will recognize them by their fruits.”
You’ll know them by their fruits. That’s what Jesus tells us – that false prophets will be easy to spot by their fruits. Here’s the problem; we hear “fruits” and simply think “works”. If someone is nice or does something neat, surely they’re spot on theologically, right?
Yet, right after mentioning “fruits” Jesus talks about folks who are able to say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name” and says that they are condemned! What in the world is going on here?
You tell a tree by its fruit. If you see an apple, you know it came from an apple tree. You see a peach, it came from a peach tree. And if we are looking for a Christian, the fruit we’d expect is Christ Jesus. Christ’s forgiveness and love and mercy – or even all the fruits of the Spirit that Paul mentions later on. The fruit that comes from Christ should give you Christ and His mercy. It should be the fruit of the Cross.
The false folks pointed to themselves and their own works – see what we did! See all that we did in Your name and for You, Jesus… look at MEEEEE! That’s not good fruit; that’s the selfish, self-centered and self-praising trash sin always produces. But the fruit that we ought to seek that we should long for is this: Christ Jesus died for you, and so your sin is forgiven. The fruit we ought to seek sounds like, “take and eat, this is My Body; take and drink, this is My Blood.” That way we know we are getting the real deal.
Because that is the will of the Father – that Christ Jesus wins you salvation from sin, and that this salvation is given to you again. God wills that mercy and love from Christ be poured into you over and over again by His Word and Spirit, that you are returned again to your baptismal grace. That’s the good fruit – Christ, not our works. Listen and look for Christ, and ignore the works righteous bragging of the ravenous wolves.