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Keep Your Eyes on the Fruit

• Greg Boyd

There is a distinct difference between false and true prophets. We know this difference by their fruit, by what they promote in the lives of others. The challenge is that because false prophets promote the norms of a culture they are easily embraced as being true.

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In this sermon, Greg addresses how Jesus applies the two ways tradition to prophets. There are false prophets who look like innocent sheep, but inside they are like wolves. They are master deceivers, so we must examine their fruit because their fruit will demonstrate who they truly are. To understand the nature of the fruit, we turn to Paul who also employs the two ways tradition. This is found in Galatians 5:19-21:

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

This is fruit that is contrary to God’s loving nature. These fruits are incompatible with God’s Kingdom and will eventually be destroyed.

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit, Paul says, is like this in Galatians 5:22-26:

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

Such people are cultivating a character that aligns with the God of love and God’s Kingdom. True prophets influence people to enter into the kind of life that produces this fruit. False prophets influence people to go down a road that leads to destruction.

Part of the reason that false prophets are so easily believed is because they tap into the wider belief system that promotes the wide and easy road. They promote the norms that most people embrace, even if the normal is jaded. Historical examples of this include sacrificing the first born in the ancient world, the slavery of pre-Civil War South and the antisemitism of Nazi Germany. These versions of normal are obviously heinous according to our standards today.

If people in the past could be deceived by such awful patterns of behavior, we need to ask today if there are beliefs and practices that are actually destructive. One example is sex. The Bible teaches that it is to be practiced in the context of marriage, but in the modern generation sex need not be limited to such relationships. There is a new normal where there is no need to have boundaries, no constraints. But this view of sex can lead to destruction.

The second example is consumerism. We have bought into the myth of eternal progress where we can continually improve our lives. This myth makes us into consumers who get life from buying more and more goods and services. This means that the earth and the animal kingdom exist to be consumed. The norms of today generate patterns of life that are easy to traverse because there are established systems that support this way of life. No sacrifice is required. To stand against this norm requires sacrifice.

Today we need to listen to true prophets who challenge the norms of our culture that lead us down the way of life. And we must develop ears that are willing to hear the words from these prophets so that we might see the way of life.

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Topics: Greed, Kingdom of God, Sin

Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, The Two Ways

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The MuseCast: November 22

Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 7:15-23

    Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the 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 will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

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One thought on “Keep Your Eyes on the Fruit

  1. Jerry says:

    Thanks, Greg for another powerful sermon.

    I listened this week to thatdankent.com/Thomas-Oord-on-the-uncontrolling-love-of-god

    This podcast plus YouTube Channel: “Surprising God” was of great benefit in how Calvinism, Arminianism, and Open Theism relate to one another.

    Also YouTube: Neuroscience Meets Psychology | Dr. Andrew Huberman with Dr. Jordan B. Peterson discusses Neurology, the way humans react to specific stimuli, and how this knowledge can be utilized for personal growth.

    They would concur with Greg that each new moment starts in our imagination and that God knows the future as possibilities. Yoking with Jesus Matt 11:28-30 will lead to discovering our best possibilities to work on framing into actualities.

    This might be of some value contrasting fruits of the spirit with works of the flesh as they correlate with the Romans 12:2 ongoing cosmic dance.

    Attention is the beginning of a devotion to what shapes who you become and the amount of love, joy, and peace cultivated in your life.

    Distractions that give our attention away quickly and cheaply with little thought are an enemy of the soul, pulling our attention away from what matters most.

    The ‘wide road’ is death by distraction by being pulled in many possible directions leading to an inability to keep them all in a cohesive order.

    “If the devil can’t make you sin he will make you busy because either way your soul will shrivel” – Cory ten Boon.

    A distracted life leads to disordered priorities, keeps us from the beauty of the present moment [new possibilities], and limits our capacity for love, joy, and peace.

    Studies conclude people spend over half their time, distracted, thinking about something other than the moment they are now in robbing them of the fruits of the spirit. In your distractions, things right in front of you don’t get your full attention because you’re dialed in on the past.

    “The ability to think about what is NOT happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional, relational and spiritual cost” – Daniel Gilbert

    Luke 10 38-42 Mary sat listening but Martha was distracted by all the preparations – Martha was worried and upset about many things [a wide road] – Mary was focused on one thing – even good things can distract you from a better thing. If you want to be a person of joy and peace and love you have to audit, with Jesus’ help, that which gets your attention because that tells you what you are devoted to.

    YouTube: Why Porn RUINS Your FUTURE | Jordan Peterson & Dr. Andrew Huberman correlate well with Greg’s 1st of two areas of our culture that might be deemed anti-Christ.

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