WFW: Doers of the Word

Matthew 7:16-21 "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? "Even so, 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. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into th fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven...."

There are varying opinions on what this verse means, so today, I'd like to focus on this passage briefly.

Let's start by examining verse 15:  "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Here, we see that Jesus was speaking about hypocrisy. But it is important to notice that this was right after He said, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (vs. 13-14). You see, Jesus was making it perfectly clear that in our journey with God, there will come along many people who will SAY that they believe, but will not ACT according to what they profess to believe. This is why Jesus said in verse 22, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

See, they say, and then don't do. They are hearers of the word, but not doers (see James 1:22-24 and James 2). But Jesus gave us a sign by which we can tell if someone is really true to God or not: "By their fruits you will know them." This is why James says, "Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing; my brethren, these things ought not to be so! Does a spring send forth salt water and fresh from the same opening. Can an olive tree, my brethren, bear grapes, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good coversation that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom..." (James 3:10-13). Our good conversation is what shows people whether or not we are truly following Christ. We are to "Receive with meekness the IMPLANTED WORD which is able to save your souls, but be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceving yourselves" (James 1:21).

We see, then, that the context of James 3 is about the mouth speaking two different things as opposed to actually living out their faith and bearing fruit (see James 2). The parallel here is that Jesus talks about people who are falsly prophesying. It is interesting to note that the word " false prophets" doesn't just mean one who prophecies falsely; it also means "religious impostor" -- this is why Jesus called them "wolfs in sheeps clothing"! They are those who pretend to be something they are not; they say, "Lord, "Lord," but they never really knew Him. Their was no heart change; "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45).

This is why their fruit is what will really show it -- do they just talk about it or do they do it? I've been reading the Pilgrim's Progress lately and there is one particular character with whom Christian and Faithful meet on their journey; His name is Talkative. He is an excellent example of the point I'm trying to make! He talked so much of the things of God that Faithful almost believed that he was a true pilgrim. However, Christian warned him that Talkative did not "walk the walk"; he merely "talked the talk" -- he was a completely different person when he was around everyone else! I would like to briefly share some of their discourse in order to bring out the point of what I am saying:

Faithful: Well, I see that saying and doing are two things, and hereafter I shall better observe this distinction.

Christian: They are two things indeed, and are as diverse as are the soul and the body; for as the body without the soul is but a dead carcase, so saying, if it be alone, is but a dead carcase also. The soul of religion is the practical part. Pure religon and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. This Talkative is not aware of; he thinks that hearing and saying will make a good Christian; and thus he deceiveth his own soul. Hearing is but as the sowing of the seed; talking is not sufficient to prove that fruit is indeed in the heart and life. And let us assure ourselves, that in the day of doom, men shall be judged according to their fruit. It will not be said then, Did you believe? but, Were you doers, or talkers only? and accordingly shall they be judged.The end of the world is compared to our harvest, and you know men at harvest regard nothing but fruit. Not that any thing can be accepted that is not of faith; but I speak this to show you how insignificant the profession of Talkative will be at that day.

Faithful: This brings to my mind that of Moses, by which he describeth the beast that is unclean. He is such an one that parteth the hoof, and cheweth the cud; not that parteth the hoof only, or cheweth the cud only. The hare cheweth the cud, but yet is unclean, because he parteth not the hoof. And this truly resembleth Talkative: he cheweth the cud, he seeketh knowledge; he cheweth upon the word, but he divideth not the hoof. He parteth not with the way of sinners; but, as the hare, he retaineth the foot of a dog or bear, and therefore is unclean.

Christian: ...Paul calleth some men, yea, and those great talkers too, sounding brass, and tinkling cymbals, that is, as he expounds the in another place, things without life, giving sound. Things without life; that is, without the true faith and grace of the gospel; and, consequently, things that shall never be placed in the kingdom of heaven among those that are the children of life, though their sound, by their talk, be as if it were the tongue or voice of an angel.
"He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season. Whose leaf also shall not whither and whatever he does shall prosper..." ~ Psalm 1:3


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