Matthew 7:15-20 “You Will Know Them By Their Fruits”

A Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 13 November 2011

Introduction: Game: What kind of tree is this?

Show pictures of various fruit trees: Apple, Orange, Coconut, and ask people to identify them.

How did you know what kind of trees they were? Because I showed you pictures that had their fruit.


7:15 Stay away from the false prophets,

            which come to y’all in sheep’s clothing, but inside they are [sheep-]snatching wolves.

7:16 You will recognize them by their fruit.

            They don’t gather grapes off brambles, or figs off sand-burs, do they?

            7:17 Likewise, every good tree makes nice fruit, but the rotten tree makes bad fruit.

            7:18 It’s not possible for a good tree to make bad fruit or for a rotten tree to make nice fruit.

                        7:19 Every tree not making nice fruit gets cut down and thrown into a fire.

7:20 So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.


Transition: Jesus warned that the gate was narrow and the way fraught with stress which leads to life, and that the crowd would not go with His disciples down that path. This leads to the next thought that there would be false prophets who would preach an easier way that was more palatable to popular tastes, smooth things that would tickle people’s ears, and Jesus warns His disciples about this. Also,

o       In order to persevere in the narrow way, the disciples must be equipped to avoid the devil’s traps of deception. ~J. Calvin

Beware of false prophets

7:15 Stay away from the false prophets, which come to y’all in sheep’s clothing, but inside they are [sheep-]snatching wolves.

Matthew 7:15 GNT Προσέχετε [δὲ-א,B] ἀπὸ τῶν ψευδοπροφητῶν, οἵτινες ἔρχονται πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἐν ἐνδύμασι προβάτων, ἔσωθεν δέ εἰσι λύκοι ἅρπαγες.


·         Προσέχετε – Beware of/Watch out for/Keep away from

o       William Hendricksen translated it, “Hold your minds away from false prophets.”

o       The prepositions Προσ (toward) and ἀπὸ (from) both used with this command here seem to indicate Jesus is telling us to keep this command close to us while also keeping away from the false prophets.

·         Who are these false prophets? ψευδοπροφητῶν

o       In the Bible, the word “prophet” is used not only to describe someone who tells the future, but also to describe anyone who spoke God’s word to people. Here in the Sermon on the Mount, I think Jesus is including not only fortune-tellers, but also religious teachers and philosophers of any kind.

o       About the only time this word “pseudo-prophets” occurs in the Greek translation of the Old Testament is in the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a true prophet of God, but he had quite a few run-ins with false prophets.

§         Jeremiah 26:1-9 (LXX 33:1-9) In the beginning of the reign of king Joakim son of Josiah there came this word from the Lord… “If y’all will not listen to me, to walk in my statutes which I set before you, to listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I send to you… then I will … make this city a curse...” And it came to pass, when Jeremiah had ceased speaking all that the Lord had ordered him to speak to all the people, that the priests and the false prophets and all the people seized him, saying, “You shall surely die, because you have prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘…this city shall be made completely destitute of inhabitants.’” And all the people assembled against Jeremiah… [and tried to get him sentenced in court]. (Brenton)

§         Jeremiah 35:1-17 (LXX ch. 42) … in the fourth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fifth month, Ananias the false prophet… took the yokes from the neck of Jeremiah in the sight of all the people, and broke them to pieces. And Ananias spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus said the Lord; ‘Thus will I break the yoke of the king of Babylon from the necks of all the nations.’” … Now the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah… “Go and speak to Ananias, saying, Thus says the Lord; ‘You have broken the yokes of wood; but I will make instead of them yokes of iron… I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all the nations, that they may serve the king of Babylon.’” And Jeremiah said to Ananias, “The Lord has not sent you; and you have caused this people to trust in unrighteousness. Therefore the Lord said this: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth: this year you will die.’” So he died in the seventh month. (Brenton)

o       The following passages from Jeremiah and Ezekiel don’t have this exact word “pseudoprophet,” but continue the same idea:

§         Jeremiah 23:25-29 “I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ … even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams... Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” (NASB)

§         Lamentations 2:14 Your prophets have seen for you False and foolish visions; And they have not exposed your iniquity So as to restore you from captivity, But they have seen for you false and misleading oracles. (NASB)

§         Ezekiel 22:23-29 “There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in the midst of her. Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest gain. Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' when the LORD has not spoken…” (NASB)

o       Matthew 7 isn’t the only place Jesus talked about pseudo-prophets:

§         Luke 6:26 "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.” (NASB)

§         Matthew 24:3-27 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you… For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. So if they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go out, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (NASB) || Mark 13:22

o       The apostle Paul ran into a pseudo-prophet on his first missionary journey:

§         Acts 13:6-11 When they [Barnabus, Paul, and John] had gone through the whole island [of Crete] as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus… But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. (NASB)

o       And the apostles Peter and John wrote about pseudo-prophets being in the world in our time:

§         2Peter 1:21-2:9 …no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep… (NASB)

§         1 John 4:1-3 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (NASB)

§         The book of Revelation describes the final judgment of a certain influential false prophet in league with the devil (Rev. 16:13; 19:20; and 20:10).

·         Dangers of Fake Christian teachers

§         This reminds me of God’s message to the religious leaders of Israel in Ezekiel 34:3 “You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock.” (NASB) Where’d they get those sheepskins from in the first place?

§         Another possible interpretation comes from the way that prophets back in Zechariah’s day would try to shore up their credibility by wearing the same kind of outfit that the ancient prophet Elijah did – a roughly-tailored sheep-skin tunic. (Compare Zec. 13:4 with LXX of 1 Ki. 19:13 – M.Henry). “Ahh,” people would say, “He’s DRESSED like a prophet. Therefore he must BE a prophet!”

§         WRONG! On the inside, they are “ravening/ stealing/ plundering/ greedy/ rapacious/ sheep-snatching wolves” - This is the word translated “swindlers” throughout the NT - Luke 18:11, 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 and 6:9b-10 …Do not be deceived: Neither the immoral nor idol-worshippers, nor adulterers, nor gays nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards nor abusers nor graspers will inherit the kingdom of God. It is an attitude of being “on the take,” looking for an opportunity to “snatch” a sheep.

§         Matthew 23:25-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside[1] they are full of robbery and self-indul­gence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside1 of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside1 they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly1 you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (NASB)

§         Mark 7:21-23 “For from within1, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within1 and defile the man.” (NASB) I need a transformation of the core of my being in order to deal with the evil in me, and only God can do that for me as I cry out to Him in prayer for salvation and sanctification.

§         1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (NASB)

§         When you consider the character of people, you may discover that they are sincere - they are not trying to be deceptive or manipulative; they are just repeating falsehoods they have been deceived by. In this case, they may be a lost sheep rather than a ravening wolf, and should be treated as such. Be careful to “gently restore” lost sheep rather than shunning them like you would a dangerous wolf.


Transition: So, how do we tell who the false prophets are? How do we detect dangerous “wolves” in Church congregations?

Recognize false prophets “by their fruit”

7:16 You will recognize them by their fruit. They don’t gather/pickNIV grapes off thornbushes/ brambles, or figs off thistles/sandburs, do they?

Matthew 7:16 GNT  ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς. μήτι συλλέγουσιν ἀπὸ ἀκανθῶν σταφυλὴν[2] ἢ ἀπὸ τριβόλων σῦκα;


o       Isaiah 5:1-9 contains another related picture of a farmer who labors to set up a vineyard, but instead of growing good grapes, it grows something undesirable – the Greek version renders it “thistles.” God then explains the parable: “For the vineyard of Jehovah of Hosts is the house of Israel… and He anticipated for there to be justice but look, oppression…” and this, Isaiah relates, is the reason why God would allow the Babylonian captivity.

Good and Bad fruit (vs. 17-19)

7:17 Likewise, every good[5] tree makes nice[6] fruit, but the rotten/badNAS,NIV,NKJ/corruptKJV/diseasedESV tree makes bad fruit. 18 It’s not possible for a good tree to make bad fruit or for a rotten tree to make nice fruit. 19 Every tree not making nice fruit gets cut down and thrown into a fire.

7:17 GNT οὕτω[ς]1 πᾶν δένδρον ἀγαθὸν καρποὺς καλοὺς ποιεῖ, τὸ δὲ σαπρὸν δένδρον καρποὺς πονηροὺς ποιεῖ. 18 οὐ δύναται δένδρον ἀγαθὸν καρποὺς πονηροὺς ποιεῖν[7], οὐδὲ δένδρον σαπρὸν καρποὺς καλοὺς ποιεῖν. 19 πᾶν δένδρον μὴ ποιοῦν καρπὸν καλὸν ἐκκόπτεται καὶ εἰς πῦρ βάλλεται.

·         Verses 17-19 speak of bad/rotten trees that bear bad fruit. The Greek word is sapron

·         Jesus applied this stinky, maggoty rottenness to people:

o       Luke 6:43-46 “For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?” (NASB) Disobedience to Jesus’ commands comes from a rotten heart.

o      Matthew 12:33-36 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” (NASB) Out of a corrupt heart comes evil, careless words and blasphemy.

o       Matthew 13:47-51 “Again, [Jesus said] the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (NASB) Here the figure changes from rotten trees to putrid fish, but Jesus taught that natural humans with their rotten hearts will be cast into hell in the end, and it won’t be pleasant.

o       God demands fruit and destroys fruitlessness:

§         We’ve already seen this message once coming from John the Baptizer in Matthew 3:8-10 Produce fruit therefore in keeping with repentance. And stop thinking about saying among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham (for) a father.’ For I am saying to you that God is able to raise up out of these rocks children to Abraham. But already the axe is being laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore not producing good fruit is cut out and is thrown into a fire.

§         This is consistent with the writings of the O.T. Prophets: Jeremiah 24:1-10 The Lord showed me two baskets of figs, lying in front of the temple of the Lord, after Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried captive Jechoniah son of Joakim king of Judah, and the princes, and the artificers, and the prisoners, and the rich men out of Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. The one basket was full of very good figs, as the early figs; and the other basket was full of very bad figs, which could not be eaten, for their badness… And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “…As these good figs, so will I acknowledge the Jews that have been carried away captive, whom I have sent forth out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for good… And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be to me a people, and I will be to them a God: for they shall turn to me with all their heart. And as the bad figs, which cannot be eaten, for their badness… So will I deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his nobles, and the remnant of Jerusalem, them that are left in this land, and the dwellers in Egypt. And I will cause them to be dispersed into all the kingdoms of the earth, and they shall be for a reproach, and a proverb, and an object of hatred, and a curse, in every place whither I have driven them out. And I will send against them famine, and pestilence, and the sword, until they are consumed from off the land which I gave them. (Brenton)

§         It’s in the parables of Jesus: Parable of the vinegrowers: Matthew 21:34 “When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce… 43 Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.” (NASB)

§         Parable of the fig trees: Luke 13:6-9 And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without  finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?' [The gardener asks to give the tree another chance, so the landowner gives this conces­sion:] … if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'” (NASB)

§         Later Jesus did the real thing: Matthew 21:19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He *said to it, "No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you." And at once the fig tree withered. (NASB)

§         John 15:1-8 “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me… If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”

§         This principle that God demands fruit and destroys fruitlessness is also in Hebrews 6:7-9 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. (NASB)

o       So what can we do? Ephesians 4:22-32 …lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and… be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (NASB) Here is a picture of the good fruit that comes out of a heart that has been transformed by God’s power: it speaks truth patiently, works honestly and gives generously, speaks graciously words that build up, and is kind, tender, and forgiving.

Selected Case Studies of Modern-day False-Prophets

Please understand that these are broad strokes intended to make the point that Jesus’ teaching about pseudo-prophets is relevant to today. I’m sorry I do not have the time in this format to go into depth concerning each of these movements. The range of names I have mentioned is quite broad, and I believe some have strayed further than others from the Bible, so I am not trying to say that all of the below-named groups are cut of the same cloth or even that it would be impossible for a Christian to be found in any of the above-named movements. I do believe, however, that the teachings of each leader named below contradicts the Bible in some way. Additionally, this is not intended to be a comprehensive list; I am not trying to single these people out for more disapprobation than others who have the same errors; these are just some of the names that came to my mind as I tried to apply Biblical principles

A. Cult leaders characterized by:

o       Claims of new revelation from God that are equal to or greater than Biblical revelation,

o       Isolation from other branches of the church, and

o       End-time extremism.


EXAMPLES: Mohammed (Islam), Various Popes (Roman Catholicism), William Miller (7th Day Adventists), Joseph Smith (Mormons), Charles Russell (Jehovah’s Witnesses), Harold Camping (Family Radio).


The article at provides what I believe is a good critique of some of these movements. (Although I believe I can count the editor of that website a brother in Christ, there are a lot of other things on his website I don’t agree with, so “eat the corn; leave the cob.”)

2. Christian Liberalism/Humanism - Characterized by:

o       Affirmation of Humans as basically Good. Failure to acknowledge sinfulness of all humans and need for repentance,

o       Focus on Positive Thinking and good deeds as the good life. Failure to preach of Jesus’ death on the cross and His substitutionary atonement from the wrath of God against sin,

o       This-worldly focus on Wealth and Healing to the neglect of focus on the kingdom of God, the church, and the world to come.


EXAMPLES: Robert Schuller[8], Joel Ostein, Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn, Oprah Winfrey


Many of these are television personalities, so there is a lot of distance between them and their followers. This makes it easier for them to hide bad fruit in their lives. There is value in knowing the personal lives of the men whose teachings you follow. Spend some time in their home and you will learn a lot about whether they have rotten fruit!


Part of the reason I bother to mention these false teachings is that they have caught on in many other parts of the world. I remember sitting in a church service in Uganda where one of the first questions out of the mouths of the young people after the sermon was, “When will we be able to get rich?” The pastor was a godly man, and he was having to fight the false teaching his own congregants were getting from elsewhere. Likewise, I have been following a theologically-reformed pastor training course going on in North Africa. The national pastors taking this course come from several countries, and they have said that the prosperity gospel was one of the biggest issues that they had to face in their congregations. This kind of teaching has infected much of the church worldwide.


3. Post-Modern Relativism and Universalism – Characterized by:

o       Anything Goes - as long as you don’t hold your beliefs to be true for everybody else, and as long as you don’t try to tell anybody that they are wrong..

o       We are all pilgrims on a journey; none of us really know what the destination is like, but we’re sure it will be good for everybody.

o       Affirms all beliefs as basically the same. (This kind of inclusivism eventually makes religion irrelevant.)


EXAMPLE: First Congregational Church of Manhattan, KS (Many others could be cited here; this is just one I noticed this week.)


Friday morning, I was walking back to the car after the Veteran’s Day parade and noticed something interesting on the marquis of the First Congregational Church. It was a gay pride flag with the letters ONA next to it. I decided to look up ONA on that church’s website, and I found that it stands for “Open and Affirming” and is a catchphrase that signals a welcome to homosexuals. Now, FCC’s ONA statement itself isn’t that bad; it talks about sharing the Gospel of God’s love with everyone inclusively, so I thought I’d try to find out how they preach the gospel to all these people that they are welcoming and see if they are compatible with us. After all, the Congregational Churches started out with the Westminster Confession of Faith like many of us have. They simply changed it to a more congregational form of government and called it the Savoy Confession. So what do these people believe? I could not find any statement of belief on their website, and I think the following quotes will explain why: “At a time when religion is too often portrayed as narrow-minded and exclusive, many are raising their voices for an alternative vision: where God is all-loving and inclusive, where a church welcomes and accepts everyone as they are… One of the defining characteristics of the UCC is that we join in community by testimonials, not tests, of faith. Your beliefs, your understanding of God and Jesus and church are uniquely yours…”

CONCLUSION: Be fruit judges!

7:20 So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.

Matthew 7:20 GNT  ἄραγε ἀπὸ τῶν καρπῶν αὐτῶν ἐπιγνώσεσθε αὐτούς.


·         We can’t believe everything we hear. We need to evaluate the truth or falseness of everything by the fruit of the lives of those who are promoting the message we hear.

·         As Christians, we have a standard for truth, and that is God’s revelation. Whenever someone says something, we must compare what they’re saying to what God’s word says, and if it matches, then we can accept what they’re saying. If it doesn’t match up, we should not believe what they’re saying.

§         It is a tradition in many families to talk through and evaluate the Sunday morning sermon over Sunday lunch. That is a good thing.

§         You should evaluate my teaching in the church. I occasionally discover that I have inadvertently passed on things that aren’t true in my sermons. That probably means there are other things that have escaped my attention. I try to correct things when I discover my errors, but I need you to hold me accountable to the truth. There may also be bad fruit that you notice in my life. Don’t let it fester and get even more rotten. Talk to me about it.

§         But don’t stop with sermons. Every form of entertainment carries wagonloads of ideas into your mind, not to mention the minds of your children/siblings. Unbiblical ideas can be real Trojan Horses that lead to minds being overcome by deception if they are not identified, stopped and unloaded.

§         My family has a tradition of debriefing after watching movies. It’s amazing how philosophical even children’s movies are.

o       Our alertness must be up regarding every source of information in our life – the Internet, the Radio – our music and videos and reading – as well as what our friends and family say and do. Think not merely about whether it is interesting or engaging, but consider, “Is it true?” and “What are the fruits?”

§         A way to apply the fruit test is to ask what the long-term ramifications of this idea or practice are.

§         Shaklee brand cleaning products have a “Seven generation” pledge that they consider the ramifications of the use of their products for seven generations rather than just whether it is expedient to produce and use now. I’m not a Shaklee salesman, but I do think there is wisdom in that kind of thinking.

§         If your family were to watch your favorite movie for 7 generations, would the result be something positive in the lives of our descendants? Is that anecdote you like to tell something that you want your great-great-great grandchildren repeating as an important part of your family lore? Is the pattern of the way you spend your time going to produce benefits for generations to come? We need to think about the long-term effects of what we believe and do.

·         “What affections and practices will they lead those into, that embrace them? If the doctrine be of God, it will tend to promote serious piety, humility, charity, holiness, and love, with other Christian graces; but if, on the contrary, the doctrines these prophets preach have a manifest tendency to make people proud, worldly, and contentious, to make them loose and careless in their conversations, unjust or uncharitable… if it indulge carnal liberty, and take people off from governing themselves and their families by the strict rules of the narrow way, we may conclude, that this persuasion comes not of him that calleth us.” ~M. Henry

·         This is heavy stuff, considering the terror of God’s judgment against false teaching and considering the challenge of thinking hard about the long-term effects of all the information we pass on and comparing it carefully to God’s word for accuracy. But take heart, the Holy Spirit of God is with us to help us in all this (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7) and to guard our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:7) so that we are preserved all the way through our lives (Psalm 121:7, Jude 1:24): “Since we know that the Lord does not wish us to be ruined by Satan’s assaults…, we shall advance without fear, seeking from Him the Spirit of discernment, and using it to stamp upon our hearts the seal of faith, which is His truth, so as to uncover the fallacies and impostures of Satan, we shall not be tricked.” ~J. Calvin

[1] This is the same word as the one used in Mt. 7:15 and translated “inwardly”

[2] 4th Century Sinaiticus and Vaticanus Greek manuscripts, as well as family #1 of miniscules and the majority of the ancient Latin translations spell this word with the Nominative case ending instead of the accusative.

[5] ESV= “healthy,” but this Greek word is generally used of moral goodness, so I prefer “good.”

[6] This is a different Greek word from the “good” used to describe the tree. The tree is agathos (good in character), and the fruit is kalos (pleasantly good). Most English translations don’t carry this distinction through, and I don’t think it’s worth making a big deal over.

[7] In v.18, the 4th Century Vaticanus has enegkein (to carry/bear) in the first instance of poiein (to make/bear), and the Sinaiticus has enegkein in the second instance of poiein. I suspect this is the reason the NASB switches from “bear” to “produce” in this verse. Although I like “produce” better for translating poiew, I don’t think there’s enough textual warrant to use a different word in this verse.

[8] makes the case that Schuller has taken advantage of his congregation to make himself extravagantly wealthy. There is a good critique of Schuller’s false teaching at