Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Tree and Its Fruit

“Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:9 NASU).”

We observe in this scripture trees that God “caused to grow” and then we observe two trees that were “in the midst of the garden” as if they were not caused to grow there, but were present. Thus we see the latter as symbols, not literally trees. We see the “tree of life” as a symbol of the Word of God in the person of the Holy Spirit of God and the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” as Satan in the person of the Serpent. We also see the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” the Serpent, as carnality or “sin in the flesh.” The Tree of Life is the good tree that bears good fruit, the life giving, life sustaining word of God; and the tree of carnality, or sin in the flesh, is the bad tree that bears bad fruit, false doctrines that lead to death.

Looking again in the book of Genesis; this time in chapter 1, verse 12, we see a principle of reproduction.

“The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.”

The trees bear fruit with seed in them to produce another tree in its own likeness. In this principle we see the “Tree of Life” producing fruit of righteousness with the “good seed,” the Word of God, in it that will produce another tree bearing more fruit of righteousness. The same principle applies to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The fruit of this tree is unrighteousness and it has the “corrupt seed,” false teachings, in it to produce another tree in its likeness also bearing fruit of unrighteousness.

When Adam partook of the corrupt fruit from his wife, whose origin was the lips of the Serpent, the corrupt seed in the fruit sprang fort and he became like the serpent, sin in the flesh; a tree of carnality. All that are born of Adam are born into the corruptness of Adam and are sin in the flesh.

Here we see the principle, from corrupt seed spring forth a corrupt tree. Thus false prophets or teachers are the product of a corrupt seed or false teachings. By corrupt we mean of a useless character, or of a nature that produces nothing beneficial. Carnal minded false apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers are “sin in the flesh,” crafty serpents disguised by Satan himself as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15). They depend upon their own intellect or the intellect of others of their kind for understanding, thus they reap more corrupt seed. Therefore they can produce nothing more than corrupt fruit having within it more corrupt seed.

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:15-20 NASU).”

Jesus warns, “Beware of the false prophets.” By false prophets we are to understand, in the context that it is used here by our Lord, means teachers of erroneous or false doctrines, who come falsely and unjustly laying claims to divine inspiration. These false prophets or teachers are totally void of the Spirit of God, yet they are well trained in their religion. They “come to you in sheep’s clothing;” being well trained in religiosity they appear saintly, but being men of the sin nature of the flesh are “inwardly ravenous wolves.” They are deceived hirelings who come to do the biding of their father the devil, to “steal, kill and destroy.” Like the hypocrites before them they shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for they do not enter in themselves, nor do they allow those who are entering to go in (see Matt. 23:13). In their deception they unwittingly lead the way down the broad path of destruction. And like sheep being led to slaughter the unlearned and foolish follow after them (Hos. 4:6).

“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?”

Just as a thorn bush cannot produce grapes and a thistle cannot produce figs, neither can the carnal soul, sin in the flesh, produce the fruit of righteousness having within it the true Seed of God.

But false prophets are presented by their father the devil as being righteous through religious acts, such as, the way they dress, eloquent speech, ritualistic worship, long repetitious prayers in public places, false humility and etc. They are the “tares among the wheat (see Matt. 13:25-30)” and cannot be detected by their appearance. Thus a false prophet or teacher, the tare, is known only by his false teachings, not by his works.

In the book of Hebrews we read “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:14 NASU).”

A disciple of the word of God as taught by the Holy Spirit is obedient to what he is taught and because of such practice his senses are trained to discern good and evil. I once heard a parable that went something like this, “a young man was hired to detect counterfeit money. On his first day on the job for training his instructor place him in a room and gave him bills of money of each denomination. Upon looking at the money he had been given he said, this is all real money, I though you hired me to detect counterfeit money. The instructor replied, young man if you study the real thing long enough to learn it well you will be able to detect the counterfeit when you see it.” So it is with the word of God, if one will commit himself to the prayerful study of the Holy Scripture and then obey what he has learned he will be able to discern the false doctrines.

“But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one (1 Cor. 2:15 NASU).”

“So every good tree bears good fruit.” A “born again” person has received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). He has received the “Tree of Life” in the person of the Holy Spirit, thus he has living within him the Word of God; all truth is in him. The Holy Spirit feeds the hungry soul (1 John 2:27) of the “new creature” with the fruit of the “Tree of Life,” which is the Word of God, and he bears the good fruit of righteousness.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16 NASU).”

“but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” The bad tree is void of the Spirit of Truth, he is fleshly in spirit, body and soul and he is taught by his own carnal intellect, thus he bears bad fruit. “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (1 Cor. 2:14 NASU).”

“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire;” “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds (2 Cor. 11:13-15 NASU).” False prophets sin against our Lord and sooner or later their sins will find them our (see Num. 32:23ff).

“So then, you will know them by their fruits.” Selah.

James C Sanford

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