Can you explain for us Matthew 7:18-20?Sep 4th, 2012 | By admin | Category: Questions You Ask (click for the full answer)
Amplified Bible (AMP)
18 A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear [a]excellent fruit [worthy of admiration].
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.
20 Therefore, you will [b]fully know them by their fruits.
What in your view does verse 19 mean?
And how does this help you in verse 20 regarding ‘wolves’?
It is possible that a false prophet could be very sweet-talking. Hence the fact that he was hypercritical, or tearing down the brethren, would not be that obvious. It is like the Nadab and Abihu picture. Some manifest an open animosity and opposition by the spirit in which certain things are done. With others, things are done with “honey” but are actually laced with arsenic.
The former are much easier to detect. To properly discriminate, we must do a lot of hard thinking; otherwise, the “sweet talkers” will mislead many. Unfortunately, many want to be misled, for their attitude is, “Prophesy unto us smooth things.” One should not rely on the majority opinion, line, and thought as his guideline of principles to follow. In Jotham’s parable, the people wanted the “bramble” to rule over them; this desire shows how unwise many can be (Judg. 9:7-15). Sometimes the many who are deceived are actually encouraging the deceiver in his wrong course.
Here is another example of an extreme statement by Jesus: “Neither can a corrupt tree bring forth [any] good fruit.” No matter how much we are pleasing the Lord, we are still imperfect and have some faults. Conversely, the wolf in sheep’s clothing will have some appearances of good fruit, of being a true Christian. In the final analysis, from God’s standpoint, a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, and a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit because it will go into Second Death (“the fire”).
Fault can be found in the best of Christians if one is hypercritical or if one has ulterior motives. It helps to put ourselves back in Jesus’ day. The scribes and Pharisees considered Jesus to be high-minded; they felt he had a high opinion of himself. Jesus called himself the Son of God and said that others should follow him because he was the way, the truth, and the life. The scribes and Pharisees resented these statements. After all, they were the teachers of the Law. Thus they ascribed bad motives to the truth-bearer, Jesus, and condemned him for leading others “astray.” Also, they resented his “youth” (age 30-33). Despite his youth, Jesus spoke with authority. When he exposed certain wrongs, the scribes and Pharisees accused him of undermining the Law. Instead they should have analyzed his deeds and words and realized that he had the right slant. Thus, if the scribes and Pharisees put poison in the minds of the hearers to prejudice them, the hearers had to have humble hearts in order to think for themselves and recognize the value of Jesus’ ministry. Just a mere suggestion by one or two Pharisees could sway a whole multitude; their evil connotations influenced others. For example, they said, “Oh yes, he does miracles—but by Beelzebub.” Not only did they attack Jesus personally and misread his deeds, but they caused others to misread his deeds as well.
Jesus spoke honestly. He uttered strong talk, not sweet talk, and made his position plain. He did not subtly introduce certain doctrines to wheedle his hearers away but spoke openly. “If it were not so, I would have told you” was his attitude. Jesus was open and honest by nature. “Brambles” and “thorns” are discerned by habits of practice and habits of talk, not by isolated deeds and words. Even “thorns” will do some good, but their general tenor of thought is along one line.
We cannot read the motives of one’s heart. Therefore, it is possible at times to misinterpret someone’s actions when, actually, they were performed in harmony with the Father’s will. And conversely, some who appear to have good motives can be obnoxious in the Father’s sight.
However, when one obviously manifests a spirit contrary to Scripture, it should be noted. For example, some threw large amounts of money into the coffer to be seen and honored of men. It should not be a practice to display one’s largesse openly. Sometimes public almsgiving and prayer are necessary, but this should not be the normal and usual procedure. There is sin in a multitude of words (Prov. 10:19).
Verses 15-20 directed primarily against public speakers (brothers) from the platform, although they would include any brother or sister who puts forth wrong and damaging thoughts continuously. These verses show that the misleading will be done by false prophets in sheep’s clothing, but they also show that one has to be discerning in listening to the advice and instruction of others, which must be balanced according to the will of the Father in heaven and the Scriptures. In matters of judgment, we should not be swayed by a personality.