Have you ever entrusted yourself to a mentor who wanted you to be more oriented toward man-made rules than relationships? Rather than base his advice on the teaching of Christ and the counsel of the Bible, he developed his own personal potpourri of teachings. Describing two trees, Jesus addressed this dichotomy in the Sermon on the Mount when He taught His disciples how to go to their teachers and leaders (Matthew 7:15-23).
Discern. The fruit is determined by the root (Matthew 7:15-20). Jesus warned His audience to watch out for false prophets who led others away from God (Matthew 7:15; cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-18). Many had surfaced on the scene during Jesus’ day. They pretended to be good on the outside, but they were evil on the inside.
Jesus said that false prophets could be recognized by their fruit, or what their lives produced (Matthew 7:16, 20). Disciples of Christ humbly led people to God (Proverbs 11:20). False prophets led others away from God. Being fruitful in multiplying the heart of God in others was the Creator’s original idea (Genesis 1:28). Jesus communicated that the fruit was determined by the root (cf. Psalms 1). The root is either the sinful nature or theSpirit of Christ.
Paul taught that the fruit of the sinful nature were obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like (Galatians 5:19-21). However, the fruit of the Spirit of Christ is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Conduct a fruit inspection. Ask, “Am I a false prophet, or do I have one in my life?” Do you have a mentor sowing hatred over love, rage over joy, or discord over peace? Rather than being condemning (viewing him as all bad for one spoiled fruit) or careless (seeing him as all good despite a bushel of spoiled fruit), be discerning. Separate the outside from the inside and examine his fruit — what he produces in his life — recognizing that his fruit is determined by his root.