Fruit Inspection (Part 2)
Topic: Fruit Verse: Luke 6:39–6:45
Theme: The true follower of Christ is able to recognize a teacher that is “out of harmony” with the Truth.
Introduction: Jesus graciously provides us in this most excellent message crucial admonition as to what characterizes a true believer. He began by indicating that a true believer comes to grips with the devastation of sin – overwhelmed and desperate for forgiveness through repentance and faith (vv. 20-26); overwhelmed by the love of God and eager to bring Him glory through displaying the same love and mercy toward others as God has shown (vv. 27-38). In this section, Jesus shows us that such benevolence and love does not eliminate the necessity of being discriminating – not all professing believers and teachers are legitimate.
Throughout the Scriptures, God has displayed animus toward those who pervert the truth and mislead believers into error – cp. Deuteronomy 18:20; Isaiah 3:12; 9:16; Jeremiah 23:32; Jeremiah 50:6; Micah 3:5. As a result of such devastation that false teachers bring to the people of God, we are told that teachers are under “stricter judgment” or greater accountability than others – James 3:1. God’s intolerance for such misleading, corrupting, perverted leaders who actively purvey error is perfect. He unleashes a variety of descriptions of such people:
- Ravenous wolves – Matthew 7:15
- Blind guides of the blind – Matthew 15:14
- Hypocrites – Matthew 23:13
- Fools – Matthew 23:17
- Snakes – Matthew 23:33
- Thieves and Robbers – John 10:8
- Savage Wolves – Acts 20:29
- Slaves of their own appetites – Romans 16:18
- Hucksters who peddle God’s Word – 2 Corinthians 2:17
- Deceitful – 2 Corinthians 11:13
- Servants of Satan – 2 Corinthians 11:15
- Dogs – Philippians 3:2
- Enemies of the Cross – Philippians 3:18
- Conceited and Ignorant – 1 Timothy 6:4
- Depraved – 1 Timothy 6:5
- Astray – 2 Timothy 2:18
- Captives of the Devil – 2 Timothy 2:26
- Deceivers – 2 John 7
- Ungodly – Jude 4
- Animals – Jude 10
As a result, their doom is certain and God’s wrath hot toward any who would be so reckless with the truth of God’s Word – Jeremiah 14:15; Galatians 1:8-9; Revelation 2:20-23.
Presently, our text provides us the direction by Jesus that we discriminate those to whom we are willing to entrust ourselves for teaching. We cannot be willing to “cut slack” to anyone who would corrupt the truth of God’s Word – rather, we have to acknowledge that our faith rises and falls with truth and any corruption of truth is a blow directed directly to the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ Himself. He indicates in our text that there are three essential deficiencies characterizing false teachers
I. They Have No Guidance – 6:39-40
A. The Problem: Impairment – v. 39
- Luke tells us that at this point, Jesus transitions to using a series of short parables to press His points – “And He also spoke a parable to them …”
- He is essentially describing the deficiencies that characterized the Pharisees – the alternative, opposition party to Christ Himself.
- Before Christ burst onto the scene, the Pharisees had a monopoly on the teaching and the “policies” by which the people of Israel were called to live.
- Jesus rejected the works-based, legalistic “religion” that had enslaved Israel by means of the false teaching of the Pharisees.
- The first deficiency of their false teachers that He calls the people to recognize is that they are unable to provide them guidance because of their own spiritual impairment – “A bling man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?”
- This is essentially an axiom, a truth that is self-evident – a person who is blind is not the person for a blind person to turn to for guidance.
- Blindness is here used metaphorically for a person who lacks spiritual insight – 1 John 2:11
- The result of following a person who is devoid of the truth and lacks spiritual insight is that both of you will “fall into a pit” – a reference to the condemnation that self-righteousness produces – cp. Matthew 23:15-16a
- Jesus is calling for those who are His true disciples to realize that there is a vast difference between following Him and following those who do not know where they are going.
B. The Peril: Influence – v. 40
- He then warns them to beware of who they choose as teachers – even as blind people stumble and fall as they are guided by blind people, Jesus describes the influence that such teachers have on their followers.
- He says: “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.”
- “fully trained” [καταρτίζω] – describes someone who has been prepared or equipped; outfitted or conditioned - and describes the deliberate preparation for a particular task.
- Although every mentor aspires that those that they mentor outstrip them, typically a disciple will be fashioned after the likeness of who they follow.
- This is another axiom that is universally recognized – whatever quirks or deficiencies that a teacher possesses is likely replicated in those he trains.
- A teacher can only impart to a study what is known, they cannot teach what they do not know.
- The notion conveyed here is that the teacher is purposefully seeking to influence his student – deliberately seeking to influence a student to know, think and act as he does.
- Since a false teacher isn’t from God and does not have the truth from God, they cannot lead a person to God and “being like” a false teacher will preserve estrangement and alienation from God.
- This has been a major argument in exercising discernment when choosing schools, churches, on an individual level teachers and mentors.
Why is it so important to restrict our teachability to those who are biblical?
Outcome – Jesus’ point assumes that teaching will affect the lives of those taught – how does truth impact you?
How are you able to determine whether a teacher is trustworthy?
II. They Have No Integrity – 6:41-42
A. The Problem: Hypocrisy – vv. 41-42a
- Jesus picks up the emphasis on judging and imposing one’s conscience upon another – “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
- There is an absurd contrast that Jesus provides here – using comical hyperbole to emphasize the point:
- “speck” [κάρφος] – refers to a tiny piece of straw, splinter, speck, chip or that might fly into the eye and is used as a metaphor for a minor fault.
- “log” [δοκός] – describes a beam – actually a “header” over a doorway or window; in some applications it refers to a weight bearing floor beam – metaphorically describing a major flaw in the substance of their lives.
- Whereas the one has a fault in their behavior, the false teacher has a fault in their character or belief system – “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?”
- Jesus states that such focusing on minors while being entirely corrupt in the major matters is completely hypocritical – “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”
- Blinded by the massive “log” of sin of self-righteousness causes such false teachers to focus on the incidental matters of conscience in others.
B. The Peril: Conformity – v. 42b
- The deliberate effort of such teachers is to “tinker” with the lives of those under their influence in order to make them like them.
- They obsess over the lack of conformity to them – seeking to replicate their own approach to righteousness in the lives of those following them – yet they are completely unaware of the real issue of “self-righteousness” that is damning their own lives.
- The absurdity is that having a “log” in the eye would prevent a person from any discernment of what is even in the eye of another – keeping one at a distance too great to even see the “speck.”
- Conformity to such people causes “specks” to fester into “logs” – condemning the soul and certifying hopelessness – cp. Matthew 23:15.
- Again, the only means of becoming righteous is to grieve over sin, repent, and turn to the Savior who will cleanse us by means of His sacrifice – taking upon Himself the wrath of God that we deserve.
What characteristic is common among those who have been able to successfully help you overcome a sin?
Does awareness of one’s personal sin alleviate the responsibility to admonish one another?
One of the ways to test a false teacher is the determine the focus of their conformity … to whom ought we be striving to be conformed?
III. They Have No Virtue – 6:43-45
A. The Problem: Genetics – vv. 43-44
- Finally, in this section, Jesus uses the analogy of fruit trees bearing fruit – they can only bear the kind and quality of fruit that exists within the DNA of the tree.
- He says: “For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.”
- “good” [καλός] refers to something that is intrinsically good; beautiful, attractive in appearance; useful or unobjectionable; beneficial.
- “bad” [σαπρός] refers to deficiency, corrupt or rotten; being what is undesirable or unappealing.
- Deadly evil lies beneath the surface of false teachers – lives that are corrupt, immoral, ego-centric and self-promoting.
- False teachers do not produce fruit that is desirable, but rotten – they cannot generate what is inconsistent with their own character.
- In addition, “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.”
- In other words, a tree is judged on the basis of what they actually produce, not by how it looks.
- When a person is transformed by the grace of God and begins to yearn to promote Christ Jesus and not themselves, “good fruit” is produced.
- What is in the heart will eventually emerge, and corrupt theology will result in producing corrupt lives, while God’s grace will produce the “fruit of the Spirit.” – cp. Galatians 5:22-23.
B. The Peril: Corruption – v. 45
- Jesus applies what He is saying – “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.”
- Ultimately, a false prophet’s inner character – his inner motives, standards, loyalties, attitudes and ambitions – will eventually show themselves in his behavior – John 15:8.
- To fail to inspect what is being produced before deciding to follow a teacher is to subject oneself indiscriminately to what will ultimately corrupt.
- Our responsibility to is discern whether we are being trained by what has its source in “evil” [πονηρός] – morally worthless or degenerate – since that is what will be produced in us.
- We do not want to become “better people,” we desire to become godly – and that requires grace and truth, not self-reformation or human achievements.
- We must require that our teachers be “good” – [ἀγαθός] (a different word than used in v. 43) – describing character that is everything that it ought to be, honorable – cp. Luke 18:19
- Hence, we must be sure that those who teach us are teaching us the Word of Christ, in the interest of the glory of Christ, as those who would limit their teaching to what is consistent with Christ – cp. Romans 10:17; Ephesians 4:20-21.
According to Jesus, how ought you be able to test the doctrine of a teacher?
Should we overlook sin in the lives of teachers … if no, why not?
Consider the order that Jesus provides for “goodness,” between the heart and deeds – why is it so hard to get the order correct?
Conclusion: Jesus is contrasting not merely between true teachers and false teachers, but between Himself and the false teachers. He is the alternative – the great Teacher that we ought to choose to follow. He is the Teacher that when we are fully trained, we will be like – conformity to Him is the ultimate end; He is the teacher that is able to remove the slightest splinter in our eyes; He is the Teacher who is the good tree that produces good fruit – in His followers, converting our hearts into a treasury of good fruit. This is certified by the context as the next verse He refers to Himself as the One who is called “Lord, Lord,” and yet is not truly followed as we will see next time.