Forthright Magazine

Become a fruit inspector

Physicians have a number of tests that help diagnose almost every disease. Doctors have x-rays, ultrasound, and can even apply sound waves to the heart to find problems.

When it comes to detecting false teaching by those who do not teach the truth of the Bible, the diagnostic test is much easier. Just look at the fruit.

In Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” the Lord gave us a sure way to diagnose false teaching. Why do we need this? Think about the tests the doctors perform to find heart disease. Ultrasound can give a view of the heart that can disclose if blood is getting to the organ or if that blood flow has been compromised. But unless we know what is actually happening to the heart, we risk dying of a heart attack.

False teaching is sometimes difficult to detect. The false teacher wears a smile and shows a certain concern for people so his ideas will penetrate into a person’s heart. Jesus said these teachers come disguised in “sheep’s clothing,” (Matthew 7:15). Their true purpose lies under the sheepskin. They may appear to have someone’s salvation at heart when they really want to spread a spiritual infection.

Jesus taught people must become “fruit inspectors.” In order to detect and prevent these false teachers from implanting the wrong ideas in our heads, we need to put them to the test of God’s word. A wolf may wear a sheepskin, but underneath it is still a wolf. The process of identifying false teachers is to look at their fruit not their outward appearance.

Bad trees grow bad fruit; good trees produce good fruit. It is the fruit that determines what kind of tree is bearing the fruit.

There are plenty of “teachers” in the world whose motives for their teaching are just plain rotten. They try to overcome people so they will serve them. If we want to follow Jesus, we must learn to distinguish the rotten, false teachers from those whose teaching is true and will benefit us.

Too often, people use their feelings to make that determination. The problem with that is that feelings are an undependable way to detect false teachers. The wolves always want the sheep to feel secure until the wolf has had a chance to devour the sheep.

The good fruit that we need is the truth of the gospel. We must place the Bible in our minds and with the truth securely implanted in our hearts, we will produce good spiritual fruit in a life that is obedient to the Lord.

A preacher once said he was a fruit inspector. That is a pretty good way of expressing the process of determining who is teaching the truth and who is the wolf in sheep’s clothing.


John Henson
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