You will know them by their fruits. Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:16-18)

One of my neighbors has a couple peach trees in his front yard. Each year, they are loaded with peaches. Last year, one tree had so many we helped him prune it to prevent the heavy, fruit-laden branches from splitting the trunk and killing the tree.

It sounds fabulous, right? Sadly, every year, the peaches are blighted and not fit for human consumption. Birds don’t even eat them. What doesn’t fall to the ground and rot is cut away and tossed in the woods. The tree is living, looks healthy, yet yields diseased fruit.

Sadly, this describes some professing Christians and many apostate religious leaders. They appear healthy and talk a good game. Yet their lives don’t align with God’s Word or His holiness. Jesus identified such diseased-laden individuals to help us avoid them—and avoid bearing diseased fruit ourselves. “You will know them by their fruits.” A natural law of nature is this: fruit always identifies the root.

Yeah, but Nate, that’s judgmental. Scripture tells us not to judge others.

Judge Righteously

On the contrary, Jesus specifically warned us against this deception for a reason. We must “test the spirits, whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). God’s Word also tells us, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

It isn’t judgmental or harsh to say a peach tree has peaches. It’s making an assessment based on observable facts. Nor is it judgmental to recognize diseased fruit. Again, it’s a scriptural assessment based on observable facts.

Instead of believing everything we read, hear, or watch on social media, let’s exercise spiritual discernment. We must intimately know God’s Word and use it alone as the absolute standard of truth.

Along with that, let’s align our lives with God’s Word. May our root yield godly fruit. “The godly are well-rooted and bear their own fruit” (Proverbs 12:12, NLT). Obedience to God is the evidence of spiritual life (1 John 2:3-6). May we pray with the Psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me … see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

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