"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7:20
In context, Mat. 7:20, states that we can know an individual, whether he is a false prophet (a wolf in sheep's clothing) or a man of God. How can we know that? By their fruit. This leads us to a question: What is fruit?
One needs to know what fruit is before he can recognize it. For example, if you didn't know what peaches and apples were, someone could tell you apples were peaches and peaches were apples and you would not know the difference. Then you would walk up to an apple tree and call its fruit, peaches, but you would be wrong because you had been misinformed.
Many have been misinformed as to what the fruit of a Christian really is. Some think fruit is a boy wearing his hair short, or a woman wearing a dress, or not having a TV in your home. In other words they are looking at the outside and saying that person is a Christian because he walks right, talks right, and dresses right, when in reality they may be a Pharisee. The Pharisee was clean on the outside but Jesus had some words for them in Matthew 23:25 26, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also." You see, it is right and good to be clean on the outside but that is not the fruit by which a Christian is known.
Some say the fruit of a Christian is more Christians, which in one sense is true, but that is the end product of the fruit by which they are known. Just because somebody shed a few tears and followed you in some prayer does not make them a Christian. There are many, who say they have to be a Christian because they "won" so many to the Lord. That's not the assurance of salvation and that's not the fruit that the Lord is referring to.
You say what is the fruit by which you are known? The fruit of the Spirit. Gal. 5:22 23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Notice that is "fruit", not plural "fruits", but singular "fruit". The fruit of the Spirit is present in one who has been saved because at the point of believing the Holy Spirit takes up His abode in that individual and along with Him comes the fruit of the Spirit.
Notice the fruit is nine fold and they are all present in one who is saved. At first it may not be as evident as one would like, but as you grow in the Lord they also grow. Let's look at this nine fold fruit:
1. "Love" is the first one listed, because without love none of the rest could be produced. Romans 5:5 says, "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." "Shed abroad" means to pour in. This means that love, "agape", God's kind of love floods our hearts. Because of this, love or charity leads to the rest of the nine fold fruit of the Spirit as stated in I Cor. 13:4 8a, "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth."
2. "Joy" speaks of gladness of heart, something deep settled on the inside yet manifests itself on the outside by rejoicing in Christ who is worthy. I Peter 1:8 says, "Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
3. "Peace" is tranquility of the mind based on the consciousness of a right relationship with God. Peace is a person (Eph. 2:14), not the absences of trouble.
4. "Longsuffering" is steadfastness of the soul and patient endurance of wrong under ill treatment of people, without anger or thought of revenge.
5. "Gentleness" refers to kindness, and is a quality that should penetrate the whole nature, mellowing in it all that is harsh and hard.
6. "Goodness" refers to that quality in one, who is ruled by and aims at what is right and good. It emphasizes a zeal for goodness and truth in rebuking, correcting, and chastising. Christ's righteous indignation in the temple demonstrated His goodness. Goodness is a kindred word to gentleness but the difference lies in the fact that goodness does not spare sharpness and rebuke to cause good, while gentleness demonstrates only its softness and good nature.
7. "Faith" refers to faithfulness and fidelity (faithful devotion to duty) as produced in the life of the yielded Christian by the Holy Spirit. This refers to living by faith which comes by hearing the Word of God. (Rom. 10:17)
8. "Meekness" refers to the qualities of mildness, and gentleness in dealing with others. It denotes the attitude of mind and behavior which arises from humility and causes one to receive with gentleness and kindness whatever may come to him from God or from others for the cause of Christ. Meekness is passive because it is not inclined to anger or resentment.
9. "Temperance" is self control by aid of the Holy Spirit.
This nine-fold fruit of the Spirit, is the fruit by which a Christian can be known. You can have all the do's and don'ts (law) you want but if you don't possess love you don't have anything. Jesus said in Mat. 22:40, that on love hang all the law and prophets. Love for the Lord foremost, then love for our neighbors, then the rest of the fruit of the Spirit will begin to bud in your life. Inside there will be love, joy, and peace but that will be manifested toward others, not just those who love you but even towards your enemies. You'll begin to be kind, gentle, and will suffer long with those who mistreat you. In so doing, you will demonstrate God's longsuffering, forbearance, and goodness toward them, which will lead them to repentance (Rom. 2:4).
By your fruit you are known. How are you known? As a Christian or a heathen? As a man of God or a false prophet? Your fruit will tell off on you.
"Now abideth faith, hope, and charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love)." (I Cor. 13:13) If love is not present, it is evident there is no fruit, which means you're not saved. I John 3:14, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." But if love is present, then there will also be joy, peace, long¬suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. This is fruit and by this fruit you are known!!
THE PERSUADER April-May, 1989
ARTICLES FROM THE PERSUADER
VOLUME 1 (1987-1993)
BY YOUR FRUIT YE ARE KNOWN