Jesus warned that there would be false prophets — counterfeit Christianity. So how can we tell the difference between true and false Christianity? Jesus put it this way:”Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” –Matthew 7:15-17.
I believe that the fruit that Jesus is talking about is a person’s lifestyle, beliefs, and words. That fruit reveals whether a person is a Christ-follower or not.
- Lifestyle: Does their lifestyle center around the living, resurrected Jesus? Does their life demonstrate the character, integrity, purity, love, and other qualities of Christ? Do they live like Jesus in their day-by-day life? Are they passionate about Him like the early Christ-followers were? If their lifestyle contradicts Christ, then they are not in line with Him.
- Beliefs: Is their belief system, their worldview, consistent with Christ’s? Do their belief’s align with the words of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament — the foundational teachings of Christianity. If their beliefs disagree with Christ then they are not on the same page as Him.
- Words: Is what they say consistent with both the love and the character of Christ and His teachings? If they say and teach things that differ with Christ, then they are not lined up with Him.
We not only need to recognize false prophets, we need to avoid their influence. Otherwise, we can be led away from true Christianity. The Bible says: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” –2 Corinthians 13:5. We also need to examine the fruit in our own lives and see if we are “in the faith” or not? In an environment of false prophets, it is very easy to be misled and deceived. Does your life show forth the fruit of true Christianity?
Christianity is a day-to-day surrendering of your will to the living Savior; not a lifetime sequence of simply sitting through Sunday sermons. There’s no syllabus for salvation. Follow Jesus!