The obedient kingdom life

The whole of Matthew 7 teaches us about what kingdom living looks like.

The whole of Matthew 7 teaches us about what kingdom living looks like.

Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

The kingdom of heaven coming to this earth is not a place but a practice. It is not a destination, but a journey. It is not something to be achieved, but is a fluid reality constantly being lived out by those seeking it.

This is why Yeshua taught that obedience to the will of God is the marker that identifies those who are true followers of him. Many will claim to know him and call him Lord, but their practices will reveal they don’t really know who he is.

The context of Yeshua’s statement above sits squarely at the center of his teaching on the narrowness and exclusivity of the way.

Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”

He also speaks of the fruit, the evident outworking, of those who can be identified as sincere or false in their doctrine:

Matthew 7:18 – “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit.”

The entire context of this passage is speaking on how the kingdom is a specific ideal that must be constantly and diligently striven after, and how the actions one does demonstrates their harmony with this ideal. Yeshua captured this thought by warning against hypocrisy:

Matthew 7:3 – “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye?

Notice, each of these different concepts work together to create a picture of the kingdom being a demonstration of a life lived in sincere obedience to the will of God. This can be shown by stating the reverse, and viewing who Yeshua says is NOT in the kingdom. Hypocrites are not in the kingdom. Trees with bad fruit are not in the kingdom. Those who do not accomplish the will of God are not in the kingdom.

The kingdom kind of life is a life that is constantly open to learning from God, seeking how to best honor him. In doing so honestly and sincerely, one will be granted access to that which they desire.

Matthew 7:7-8 – “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

When one walks with God in this way, not with the dogmatism of human assertion and the inconsistency of hypocrisy, but with humility and openness to understand the behaviors and practices God desires, then the kingdom becomes manifest through that individual. Living in obedience and harmony with God’s will is what the kingdom is all about, and what God desires for all mankind.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Keeping our hearts from unfair judgment

When we criticize, it becomes that much more difficult to forgive.

When we criticize, it becomes that much more difficult to forgive.

Matthew 7:1-2 – “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”

This command of Yeshua to not be unjustly critical of others comes in the context of avoiding hypocrisy.

Matthew 7:3 – “Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye?”

However, beyond avoiding hypocrisy, and if we are honest with ourselves, we can recognize that when we are unjustly critical of others who are close to us we diminish our ability to provide forgiveness to them.

Judgment is the opposite of forgiveness, and harboring critical judgment in our hearts toward someone else numbs our sensitivity to forgiving them if they were to come to us in repentance toward some personal injustice. Because we have pre-judged them, we already have a negative emotion that is easier to act on than a rational acceptance of their genuine repentance which can lead to our forgiveness.

This pre-disposition to unfairly judge others is so common that Yeshua felt it was necessary to issue a clear command to avoid it at all costs.

In the story of the Prodigal son, Yeshua describes how the Father’s love for the son allowed him to suspend judgment on the son’s actions because of the larger benefit and joy of having his repentant son home again. The brother’s reaction was critical because of his jealousy at the prodigal’s apparent avoidance of accountability for poor choices. But it was not the brother’s place to judge the prodigal; it was the father’s, and the father had forgiven the prodigal son. So the brother ended up being judgmental and frustrated for essentially no reason. He could not participate in the celebration of the prodigal’s return because of the unjust judgment that he retained in his heart.

And this is an unintended result of our retention of unfair judgment of others; it robs us of joy. There is nothing happy about wanting to hold judgment over others when there is no reason to do so. This insistence on retaining criticism causes frustration and ongoing hostility. Instead, we should focus on removing unfair judgment from our hearts, especially when it is not within our right to judge someone else, or as in the case of the prodigal, someone else’s son.

Paul uses this logic when speaking of the critical judgments that existed between believers in the Roman congregation:

Romans 14:4 – “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall…”

When we realize it is not up to us to judge everybody else, we can instead focus on building positive relationships and remain open to avenues of forgiveness when inadvertent wrongs are committed and repented of.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Asking, seeking, and knocking

Being persistent in the ways of God is expected by Yeshua of his followers.

Being persistent in the ways of God is expected by Yeshua of his followers.

Matthew 7:7-8 – “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Yeshua’s teaching has been an inspiration to many over the centuries, encouraging believers to be persistent in following after God’s will. By consistently asking, seeking, and knocking, the faithful believer will have those things that God desires for them in the outworking of the kingdom here on earth.

It begins with asking. Asking God in prayer for his will to be accomplished in one’s life through the work of his holy Spirit is an imperative.

Matthew 21:22 – “And all things, whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.”

As we seek for his ideals to be worked out through us, we recognize that we are carrying out his purpose for his kingdom.

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Yeshua promises that for whoever knocks, the door will be opened. But there was also a warning to those of his generation who would not accept his message. The message of salvation from physical destruction was effective for his people for a limited time; the wrath of God was about to be poured out on Jerusalem in their lifetimes. There would be those who would only understand the truth of Yeshua’s prophecies and teaching when it was too late, and the day of Yahweh would be upon them. To those, Yeshua mentioned no amount of knocking would open the door.

Luke 13:24-25 – “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won’t be able “once the homeowner gets up and shuts the door. Then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up for us! ‘ He will answer you, ‘I don’t know you or where you’re from.'”

The good news is, through the faithful apostles of that generation, the message of the gospel of the kingdom went far and wide throughout the known world, and the remnant of God’s people everywhere heard the message and accepted it with glad hearts. Then, rather than knocking upon the door of God’s chambers for admittance, they instead responded to the knocking of Messiah upon the door of their chambers.

Revelation 3:20 – “See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

The life of a believer today still consists of an ongoing relationship with God through our diligence in asking, seeking, and knocking. We must remain ever watchful for opportunities to correlate our lives within the context of his kingdom. By doing so, we will find that we receive the direction we need, we find what we have been looking for, and the door is opened to the presence of God each day.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Following Yeshua for the right reasons

The signs of God working in the life of a repentant believer reveal the true power of God.

The signs of God working in the life of a repentant believer reveal the true power of God.

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

We have looked before at what it means to do something in the name of God, or in this case, in the name of Messiah. It means to conduct oneself with the character and reputation of the one whom one is claiming to be associated with. To take the name of God was to associate with everything that God represents as one of his people. To do something in the name of Messiah was to associate with everything Messiah taught and did as one of his disciples.

In this passage, Yeshua is warning against hypocrisy. There would be many who would claim him as their Lord and Master, only to falsely represent him with their actions. They would claim to be associated intimately with him by doing their works in his name.

To many believers today, prophesying, casting out of demons, and doing works of power are all things to be sought after. People continue looking for miraculous happenings as some sort of evidential truth that they are involved with the true work of God. And yet Yeshua condemns these types of individuals as being workers of iniquity who don’t really know him at all. If they are just seeking the miraculous events, they are no better than the thousands who followed Yeshua just because he miraculously had fed them all; they weren’t true followers, just miracle-chasers.

This is similar to the man Simon whom the disciples encountered in Samaria. He was known for amazing people with sorcery and magic, things that are forbidden by the word of God. The text says he became a believer when he heard the disciples’ message of the kingdom.

Acts 8:13 Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.

Yet, there was hypocrisy in his heart. As it turns out, he was fascinated not with the repentant life of believer, but with the real power of God working through the disciples. This would suggest his own “magic” was more of a deceptive show than than the real thing.

Acts 8:18-21 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God.

Simon was focused on the ability to perform miraculous signs, not the repentant heart that allowed the sign to occur. Because of this hypocrisy, Peter rebukes him. Simon wanted to do the miraculous, but Yeshua was not truly his Lord, as evidenced by his actions.

This should stand as a witness to all who would seek only to be associated with miraculous happenings rather than simply and sincerely submitting their lives wholly to the life and teaching of Messiah as their Lord. The true repentant heart will seek to be faithful to God’s word and to serve others, yet remain vigilant in avoiding association with those who are only miracle-chasers.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

The compassionate commandments

Yeshua taught the true intent of the ten commandments.

Yeshua taught the true intent of the ten commandments.

As we view the ten commandments delivered on Sinai at the revelation of God to his people, we find that within the ministry of Yeshua he emphasized the expanded intent behind the commandments that had gotten lost within the oral Torah of the Jews.

For example, some of the Jewish leaders had done the bare minimum in taking care of their parents, claiming that the support that they would have provided to their parents was instead a service that was rendered to God in other ways.

Matthew 15:3-7 – “…And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.’ But you say that whoever tells father or mother, ‘Whatever support you might have had from me is given to God,’ then that person need not honor the father. So, for the sake of your tradition, you make void the word of God. You hypocrites!…”

This hypocritical practice negated the command of honoring parents, which is the whole point of the fifth commandment: to support them and take care of them when they can no longer care for themselves. Yeshua emphasized that by trying to get by on a technicality with the commandment, they were essentially making the word of God void of any meaning. Instead, they should have been respecting the God-given authority of their fathers and mothers, being helpful to them, that they would all live long and productive lives.

The eighth commandment is a prohibition against stealing. Clearly, the command states that we should never secretly take anything that does not belong to us. Here, too, Yeshua expands on the idea that not only should believers not steal, but we should be willing always to do the opposite: to give generously of all our resources.

Luke 6:38 – “…give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

The tenth commandment is an admonition to avoid coveting. Some rabbinical minds over the years have come to the conclusion that the prohibition against coveting is a kind of summary of all of the other commandments on the two tablets, a proposal not without merit.

For example, if we are not covetous, we are less likely to kill, commit adultery, steal, or lie. All of these actions related in the second table can be traced back to covetousness.

Also if we are not covetous, we are not likely to seek out other gods for help, serve images, associate with God’s people in vain, work through the sabbath to try to get ahead, or deny assistance to our parents; all of the commandments from the first tablet.

Instead of coveting, Yeshua encourages the very opposite: to provide generously of all that God has given you.

Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Yeshua encourages his followers to fill their minds with gratefulness and take pleasure in all that God has graciously given them. They are to share the blessings they have received freely with others.

By emphasizing the positive compassionate actions behind these commandments, Yeshua sums up everything in the Golden Rule:

Matthew 7:12 – “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”

This is why Yeshua could state that breaking the commandments was an offense that was still active within the kingdom of God. By negating or trying to get around the commandments on technicalities, those individuals would be missing the intent of the commands in the first place and removing themselves from the work that God intends to accomplish through his people.

Matthew 5:19-20 – “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Seeking out and performing the compassionate positive actions behind the commandments should be the common practice of all believers. By taking the “thou shalt nots” and re-stating the opposite of each as a positive command, we can find that Yeshua was teaching the true compassion contained within each of the commandments revealed at Sinai.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Where the authority of the throne resides

Overcoming sin requires sacrifice.

Revelation 3:21 – “To the one who conquers I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

The Kingdom of God is all about authority, and this authority is captured in the imagery of a throne. A throne is the source of power and the residing place of one who wields that power.

When we read of kingdoms and thrones in the Bible, we tend to immediately think of them as literal thrones and literal, physical kingdoms that exist someplace and sometime. From a historical, earthly perspective, there are many kingdoms and thrones listed in the Bible that have to do with the physical nation of Israel and those surrounding nations and empires within which the Bible story is told. However, when it comes to the Kingdom of God, we move away from physical locations and enter in to a representation of authority; specifically, the authority of God within his Creation.

Since the beginning of the physical Creation, God has desired that mankind “rule” over his Creation.

Genesis 1:27-28 – “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

Being created in the image of God, it is man’s role to represent Him in all things in this world, and to overcome and conquer all rebellious activity known as sin.

Genesis 4:6-7 – Then Yahweh said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? “If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

This idea of ruling over sin only comes from having a sense of authority over it. The Bible makes it clear that no matter how much we understand “about” sin and doing what’s right (illustrated by the law provided through Moses) unless we demonstrate authority over it, we cannot conquer it; instead, it tends to conquer us. That is a picture of the human condition outside of the spiritual Kingdom of God.

However, when Yeshua arrived at the culmination of Israel’s history, he taught that the Kingdom of God was the very thing that believers should pursue at all costs, and in doing so, they would be fulfilling the very will of God.

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Since the time of Yeshua, those who are believers in Messiah (as the fulfillment of all that God had promised to Israel) have been tasked with carrying the light of God’s word and authority to the world. We are not born into a physical kingdom, but must be born again or born from above to recognize and experience the authority of this Kingdom. Yeshua taught that the key to overcoming this tendency to sin is to die to oneself and one’s own selfish desires and live instead for God, serving others in his authority, not in our own.

Those who conquer sin can only do so through the authority, the throne, of the Kingdom. The caveat is that the throne of that Kingdom is not in a stately palace with precious metals and gems, it is instead an altar of sacrifice, where we lay down our lives for the will of God.

Romans 12:1 – “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.”

Yeshua set the example for us and will be recognized for all eternity for this demonstration of abiding within the will of God through sacrifice.

Revelation 5:5-6 – Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Look, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered so that he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw one like a slaughtered lamb standing in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders….”

This is why he has the authority of the throne and the ability to overcome; and he urges believers to do the same, to rule and reign with him through sacrificially living for the will of God for all time.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Hypocrisy is defiant and leads to unforgiveness

We can only forgive when we faithfully assess ourselves in light of God’s word.

Matthew 7:1-2 – “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. “For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use.”

Many times, this verse has been used to prevent anyone from being judged for anything they do. Even if the person is doing something that is incorrect by God’s standards, they claim this verse as a type of “home base” in a game of tag and say, “Remember, you can’t judge me because Yeshua said not to judge.”

However, the intent of this verse was not to eliminate all legitimate judgment, but to prevent hypocritical judgment when doing the same thing that one may be accusing another of doing. Most people stop at verse one and don’t include the conclusion of Yeshua’s thought in verse two.

The apostle Paul had the same perspective on hypocritical judgment.

Romans 2:1-3 – “Therefore, every one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth. Do you really think ​– ​anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same ​– ​that you will escape God’s judgment?”

Hypocrisy is a critical factor in unforgiveness, because it is defiant and proud. Hypocrisy maintains one’s own integrity while chastising someone else for the same thing. In these situations, the hypocritical person cannot see past the “log” in their eye, yet tries to remove splinters out of another’s eye. Why is this?

When we are judgmental and hypocritical, we become so focused on looking for error in others that we begin to lose sight of our own performance. This is why we are encouraged to constantly evaluate ourselves in light of God’s word to ensure we haven’t gone off track in our own walk.

1 Timothy 4:7 – …train yourself in godliness.
1 Timothy 5:22 – …don’t share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
2 Timothy 2:15 – Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth.
Titus 2:7 – …Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching.
2 Corinthians 13:5 – Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. …
James 1:21-22 – Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
1 Peter 2:1 – Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.

All of these examples point to the same conclusion: we should have humility in our relations with each other based on our self evaluation according to God’s standards. Hypocrisy may be proud, but forgiveness is based on humility and allowing to be wronged for the sake of unity with others.

Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.
1 Peter 5:5-6 – … All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time…

When we review our own lives in light of God’s word, we find we have little room to stand in condemnation of others. The good news is that the same forgiveness is available to all, and our humility with each other should be a uniting factor among all of us.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Vigilance in remaining pure

After coming to the truth, we need to continue in the truth.

2 Peter 3:13-15 – But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…

This admonition of Peter to “those who have received a like faith as ours,” (2 Peter 1:1) is to remain vigilant in pursuing a spotless and blameless life, and by remaining on guard to not be carried away by rebellious men.

The spotlessness he speaks of hearkens back to the idea of the perfection of the sacrificial animal who was to be entirely clean and whole, or without defect.

Numbers 6:14 – “‘He shall present his offering to Yahweh: one male lamb a year old without defect for a burnt offering and one ewe-lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering and one ram without defect for a peace offering…”

This motif sets the principle in place that the believers were to view themselves as set apart like the sacrifices of the old covenant, remaining acceptable to God because of their wholeness in purity.

Other examples of this type of purity were encouraged by Paul to Timothy, along with the apostle James.

1 Timothy 6:12-14 – “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Messiah Yeshua, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Yeshua Messiah…”

James 1:27 – “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

1 Peter 1:18-19 – “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Messiah.”

So Peter says the believers were to be found spotless, without any spot, stain, or blemish and also to be blameless. This can also be translated as unblameable, in the sense that their lives should be so exemplary that they could not be truly accused of defilement at any time. They were to be diligently pursuing this spotlessness and unblameable-ness so that they might be living in peace or tranquil assurance of their position before God.

Can that be said of believers today? Are we in vigilant pursuit of keeping ourselves from being stained by this world as James admonishes? If we were to be a sacrificial animal in ancient Israel, could we be selected as a substitutionary sacrifice because of our wholeness and purity?

Some might say, “I am in Messiah, therefore I am holy and blameless in him.” That may indeed be the case; however, that reality for believers today is not without responsibility to also continue to diligently walk in paths of undefilement and to remain in that state since we have come to know him and believe in him.

2 Peter 3:17-18 – “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand [i.e., that the patience of the Yahweh is salvation], be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of rebellious men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Yeshua Messiah..”

Too many people today claim to know him and yet don’t walk after him, believing that his cleansing of our sin is all they need and they can continue to live as they choose, or they excuse their licentiousness with false grace. These are those who have been “carried away by the error of rebellious men” as Peter concludes, and no longer walk according to the whole truth, only the part they want to, because it suits their preferences.

To those who have dropped their guard and fallen from steadfastness, who believe they are justified even in their continued waywardness and lack of discipline, I can only present the words of Yeshua:

Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Identifying the bad fruit of false prophets

Actions speak louder than words.

Matthew 7:15-20 – Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.

Like many believers, I have always applied these verses as making sure I am staying away from false prophets and teachers by avoiding false doctrine. I have believed that false doctrine can lead you astray and is the evidence that a teacher is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

While that certainly is true, looking at the verse carefully does not reveal any indication of recognizing false prophets by bad teaching, but by bad fruit. I think, at least for me, in my mind I have always substituted the concept of teaching for fruit. However, in the Bible imagery, fruit always represents two things: actions and multiplication.

As for actions, the actions that are the result of truth should be actions of repentance. This is witnessed by some of the earliest teaching of John the baptizer.

Matthew 3:8 – “Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance.

Luke 3:8 – “Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones.

Even the motive of Yeshua’s ministry was that the Israelites would repent of their sinful ways.

Luke 5:30-32 – But the Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? ” Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a doctor, but those who are sick. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

One of Yeshua’s most well-known parables focuses a great deal on fruit.

Matthew 13:23 – “But the one sown on the good ground ​– ​this is one who hears and understands the word, who does produce fruit and yields: some a hundred, some sixty, some thirty times what was sown.”

Luke 8:14-15 – “As for the seed that fell among thorns, these are the ones who, when they have heard, go on their way and are choked with worries, riches, and pleasures of life, and produce no mature fruit. “But the seed in the good ground ​– ​these are the ones who, having heard the word with an honest and good heart, hold on to it and by enduring, produce fruit.

In these two representations of the parable of the sower taught by Yeshua, look at the words that are used in describing the good soil: honest, good, enduring, producing fruit (actions) and large yields (multplication). These are the characteristics of those who are living repentant lives for God.

Ephesians 5:8-10 – For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light ​– ​ for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth ​– ​ testing what is pleasing to the Lord.

Here’s what Paul tells the Ephesians that the good fruit consists of: good actions, righteous actions, and actions based on truth.

Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.

All of the fruit of the Spirit are words that are meant to be action words: love in action, joy in action, peace in action, patience in action, and so on. All of these are actions that demonstrate a repentant lifestyle, one that is no longer choosing to do what is wrong in God’s eyes.

For balance and clarity, Paul also provides lengthy lists of bad fruit (works):

Galatians 5:19-21 – Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things ​– ​as I warned you before ​– ​that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 6:8-10 – Instead, you yourselves do wrong and cheat ​– ​and you do this to brothers and sisters! Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.

Romans 8:7-8 – The mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

These are the works (actions) of the flesh (non-repentance), all types of bad fruit that Yeshua was warning about false prophets. None of these actions are pleasing to God. These are the fruits to be aware of when it comes to discerning the wolves from the true shepherds. If they, as individuals demonstrate these characteristics, or if their followers are being multiplied in these fruits (actions), then these are false teachers.

Paul reminds the Corinthians of how they have come out of those bad fruits into the power of the Spirit of God, being set apart by repentant actions.

1 Corinthians 6:11 – And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Yeshua Messiah and by the Spirit of our God.

While keeping an eye out for those destructive actions in our lives and the lives of others, we should focus vigilantly on maintaining repentant attitudes in all we do.

Colossians 1:10 – so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God,

John 15:8 – “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.


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