“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.”
“BEWARE”, its a sign meant to make you stop and notice your surroundings-it notifies us of a real danger. Jesus was issuing a warning here-beware of false prophets, they’re wolves dressed up as wolves-they’ll eat you! He then says something we can always count on concerning them or anyone else: you will know them by their fruit! How do you know its a false prophet and I’m not just being judgemental? By their fruit. If you knew nothing about trees and couldn’t distinguish them by their leaves or bark or shape, there’s a SURE way of recognizing them-by their fruit! A fruitless apple tree is worth nothing for food. A apple tree that grows oranges is an orange tree!
Now, let’s qualify this. Only a mature tree produces fruit. A young sappling cannot produce fruit. Second, young fruit is often indistinguishable. Again, allowing it to ripen aids us in identifying it
Thirdly, Jesus, in this passage is calling NO ONE to be fruit inspectors! He opens this chapter with “Judge not, lest you be judged.” (Vs 1) Judging bad fruit trees is not Jesus’ point! He could as easily said, “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its a duck!” The bad tree’s not the point-the BEWARE (recognize for what they are) of false prophets IS THE POINT!
Here’s the deal: a false prophet will be wrong in their message and their motive-they are as dangerous as a wolve disguised as a sheep. THEY ARE DANGEROUS! Furthermore, the CONSISTANT fruit (works or results) of someone proves their validity!
The INCONSISTANT fruit (works or results) of someone proves their invalidity! Good trees produce good fruit! Bad trees produce bad fruit! Now, the point of the passage: “beware”, is your job. God’s not equipped you with a Holy Chainsaw to cut down bad trees. That’s the Father, “the Gardener’s” job (John 15:1). In the Old Testament, the penalty of being a false prophet was death (Deuteronomy 13:5). This Law was written for the sake of the prophet, not to give permission to the prople to kill prophets! THAT WAS THE PHARISEE’S SLANT-taking on the role of the punisher instead of showing the love of the Father.
Bottom line-Jesus says, you’ll know people by their fruit! Beware of what’s false! Think about it!