Proper Perception On Evil
“You will know them by their fruits.”
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.Matthew 7:15-20
We have a way to uncover evil. It is not intense philosophical thought, debate, moral platitudes, vetting what they say, or even direct actions.
It’s by solely looking at what they produce. What they do and the result of that action. This is how you can recognize evil. It is far more telling than what they say.
Even for my non-religious readers, this understanding is essential to have in navigating the world. Otherwise, you run the risk of being duped by those with conniving words but bad results.
One of my favorite Christian websites, Got Questions Ministry, explains what this means better than I could:
The statement “you will know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16) is part of Jesus’ teaching about recognizing true followers and avoiding false prophets.
When Jesus says, “You will know them by their fruit,” what does “fruit” mean? Jesus gave the illustration of grape vines and fig trees. When we see grape vines, we expect them to contain grapes in season. We also expect fig trees to produce figs. A produce farmer who notices one of his fruit trees not bearing any fruit will cut it down. It is useless. Likewise, we would not come to a field of thistles and expect to harvest fruit. Thistles and thorn bushes can never produce fruit because of their nature. It is impossible. They have no capacity to produce anything but thorns
Many false prophets have come and gone, and many of them lived in blatant sin while preaching their message. Jim Jones openly engaged in adultery, drug use, and profanity. David Koresh had child “wives” as young as 11. False teachers might display the “fruit” of sexual immorality, greed, materialism, gluttony, and other sins while justifying their behavior and lifting themselves up as something holy. Unfortunately, many people through the years have been duped into following such characters and joining them in justifying the sin. If only they had heeded Jesus’ warning that “you will know them by their fruit.” No matter how good or convincing someone sounds, if he is bearing bad fruit, his message should be avoided.
While we can never know anyone else’s heart, we can make wise assessments about other people by observing the regular fruit of their lives. All of us stumble from time to time, and we may go through seasons of bearing little fruit (1 John 1:8). But 1 John 3:4–10 makes it clear that those who know God will not continue a lifestyle of bearing bad fruit. We have been transformed, and the fruit of our lives is evidence of that transformation. Apple trees don’t produce bananas, and strawberry plants don’t produce figs. This fact of nature is also true in the spiritual realm. We can identify those whose hearts have been redeemed by the fruit we see in their lives.
Like they mention in that last paragraph, this doesn’t solely apply to false prophets. We assess people based on what their actions have produced. This goes above just looking for words or for their direct actions, but on what results because of these actions.
I am no theologian, but I have been using this verse far more recently in my life to great effect. We can even apply it to major political moves. Consider covid policies, for example. The ruling class touted them as moral, necessary, and for your “safety”—But what they produced was nothing but corruption, greed, control, destruction, fear, and death. Their fruits speak for themselves.
The same can be seen through our military leadership. They spoke highly of gender equality in the military, transgender rights activism, and related topics—But what they produced was a weakened military with a low morale that is laughed at around the globe.
The same can be applied to most things from our rulers. From law enforcement targeting domestic patriots, to Trump failing to do much of anything worthwhile, to our cultural exports degenerating other unique nations, to the entire Afghanistan war. Our country has been producing much bad fruit from an overall societal standpoint down to an individual ruling class standpoint.
We don’t need to be in the shadows with struggling to recognize evil. We have a very simple, easy-to-use key to unlocking the mystery of recognizing evil. You will know them by their fruits. Use it.
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