“Be on the watch for the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will recognize them....”
– Matthew 7:15-16
The above words are presented as part of Jesus’ famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’ where he climbed the Mount, sat down with his apostles, and began to teach them. (Matthew 5:1-2) However, by the end of this discourse, the account states that he was in the presence of a crowd of people who had gathered around him, astounded at his way of teaching. (Matthew 7:28-29)
What Jesus had to say was very different from what the crowd was used to hearing from their religious leaders. Jesus’ words were kind, consoling and comforting. He strengthened the weak, encouraged the downtrodden, comforted the persecuted. He gave dignity to the people, explaining that they were the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Although he came with a different message than their scribes, he did not attempt to destroy their faith. He came to fulfill and conclude the old ways as he introduced the new way of living, namely seeking first the heavenly kingdom.
Jesus gave instructions on how to deal with one another, how to handle disagreements, and how to short-circuit sin by changing one’s mental attitude. He taught them to no longer seek vengeance for every sin against them, but to find a way to make peace and to treat others the way they would hope to be treated. And he exhorted them not to judge one another because the standard by which they judge others would be the standard by which God would judge them.
Jesus told them that his way of living was ‘kindly and light’ (Matthew 11:30), but he warned that some people would see the peace and love that exists among them and try to sneak in to take advantage of them, like wolves in sheep’s clothing. And he gave them insight on how to identify such ravenous wolves when he gave the above counsel: ‘by their fruits you will recognize them.’
The Sermon on the Mount is timeless counsel. It applies to all ages and times throughout history. And it applies even more so in this 21st century where his unifying message of liberty, love and hope has been fractured into hundreds of sectarian creeds, each vying for the place of superiority – the seat of Moses – at the expense of all others who profess union with Christ.
By their ‘fruits’ – what they produce and what comes out of their heart and their mouths – we can recognize those ravenous wolves, those brazen judges and dividers of the body of Christ, those who produce only worthless, rotten fruit.
Although it appears difficult to know who is a true and a false brother, in reality it is very simple. It has nothing to do with what ‘mountain one worships in’ (whether they belong to this group or that group) or what label one carries (Baptist, Mormon, Catholic, Jehovah’s Witness, etc.). What identifies a true or false brother is what they produce – what comes out of their heart and their mouths.
Using Jesus’ way of identifying false teachers and false brothers does not require deep wisdom and does not entail judging. There are no questions to ask, no tests to give, no personal inquiries to be made. There is no need to employ trick questions, no need for espionage, no need to conduct an investigation. These are fleshly, physical methods of discernment that are easily defeated by a wily personality.
Any deceitful or deceptive person knows how to give the right answers to theological questions, but he cannot produce the right fruit.
“A good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce fine fruit.”
– Matthew 7:18
Without any effort from you, a false brother will eventually expose himself by the spirit of what comes out of his heart. When we recognize a false brother by means of his ‘worthless fruit,’ we do not need to condemn or judge him. If we are unable to readjust him (Galatians 6:1), all we need to do is avoid him (Romans 16:18), separate from him (2 Corinthians 6:17), ‘let the dead bury the dead’ and get on with the Father’s business. (Luke 9:60)
In this ministry, we have encountered a few individuals who, by way of email, produce fruits that demonstrate a defect in their hearts. It is our policy not to post abusive emails unless there is something of merit in it that can benefit the brotherhood. And so we will share a couple of such emails in order to demonstrate the danger inherent in self-righteousness and religious superiority – judging others and thinking too much of one’s self.
Their Fruits Identify Them
We have a regular visitor who identifies himself as a Jehovah’s Witness in Fort Worth, Texas. He regularly sends us emails extolling the supremacy and superiority of Jehovah’s Witnesses and viciously attacking any who oppose the teachings or policies of the Watchtower organization or dares to speak anything unfavorable about their Governing Body. Some of the emails are best described as idolatrous, others would be described as evil. For example, after we posted that one of us was having some serious health problems, he sent us an email expressing his fond wish that the illness is terminal. That was a personal attack that has little effect on us, other than to elicit our pity for such a lost soul. However, recently, he made a vicious attack on Christians worldwide which went too far. Here is the email:
“Recently, I assumed the identity of a Coptic Christian living in Libya which of course you quickly posted thus proving that you do not verify the truthfulness of those whom you choose to post on your website and that you do read all of my posts. I have conclusively proven that you people are mentally deranged liars and frauds who will post anything as long as you can use it to make yourselves look good and slander JW's. I have proven that nothing on this website can be trusted. You never sent any open letters to the GB and most of, if not all of, what is posted on this site is written by you yourselves. I know exactly who you are and that you are disfellowshipped and are apostates. And yes, Jehovah's Witnesses are the only true religion on earth and the only religion on earth that has the approval of Jesus Christ and his father, Jehovah God. Anyone else, including Coptic Christians living in Libya, are not true Christians. And this is the truth whether you and your merry little band of sycophants like it or not.”
We were, to put it mildly, stunned. Even though we had low expectations for this individual, we were surprised at his willingness to stoop this low, or to so brazenly reveal his true heart condition. We, of course, know that the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves, believe they are better than all others, including all other Christian denominations. As former associates of the Watchtower organization, we personally know that they have little sympathy for the tribulations of non-Witnesses, as a brother recently exposed in Question and Response 4/22/15. But we never imagined a so-called Christian would engage in such an overt and aggressive disrespect for the tribulations of others who are suffering the ultimate penalty for their decision to follow the Christ. And we never imagined a so-called Christian would attempt to manipulate prayers for the purpose of perpetuating a prank.
When we read the contents of the deceptive email purporting to be from Coptic Christians in Libya, we were moved to tears. We immediately prayed for the safety and protection of our Libyan brothers and sisters, and we posted our response in the hopes that our brothers suffering under those severe conditions would know that we care and to remind them of the Father and our celestial family’s love and care as well. And we continued, and will continue, offering prayers for them. But when we learned that the email was a prank designed to elevate Jehovah’s Witnesses and degrade Coptic Christians and all others who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses, again, we were stunned. This individual’s arrogance, lack of compassion, and utter foolishness clearly identifies who he is. By his fruits, he has been recognized.
Out of respect for true Coptic Christians and their tribulations, we deleted the prank email, but we left our response because we know that they are, in fact, being persecuted and killed, and are in need of the support and prayers of ‘their brothers in the faith.’ And we entreat all faith sons to continue praying for them. To the cowardly Jehovah’s Witness, who does not reveal his name, pseudonym or email address, and who thought it was a good idea to make a joke out of the sufferings of Christ’s brothers, we just say ‘may the Father rebuke you.’
We also want to point out that by our publishing the deceptive email, we proved that we do not fabricate the emails that are posted on our site. We showed that the emails posted are authentic emails we receive from visitors to the site, though we do exercise discretion in which emails we decide to post. For example, the same devious individual sent an email posing as an elder in Fort Worth, Texas who was about to step down from his position. This email was an obvious fraud which stood out from the other emails we have received from Elders and so we did not post that one. However, as a rule, we do not fact-check emails or interrogate the senders. And it is important to note that information we, as the publishers, assert to be true comes from people we know and trust, not random emails. And, no, we are not disfellowshiped or apostates.
Ironically, even though this individual extols the virtues of the Watchtower organization and its Governing Body, if they knew he was visiting and emailing websites other than those authorized by the Governing Body, he would, in a heartbeat, be disfellowshiped as an apostate! That is why he throws his ‘burning arrows’ (Ephesians 6:18) and hides, which also speaks volumes about his cowardliness and his disrespect for, and lack of obedience to, his “Slave!”
A Woeful Lack of Love
We are not suggesting that ALL Jehovah’s Witnesses feel the same way about non-Jehovah’s Witnesses or that ALL Jehovah’s Witnesses would perpetrate such a hateful prank. But we know, firsthand, that many of them do feel this way and freely acknowledge it amongst themselves. And we know that their pitiable view was inculcated and/or indoctrinated in them by the official writings of their Governing Body which are very easy to discover. See practically any book published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, and you will see for it yourself.
It is so prevalent that on their official website www.jw.org, they have two “Frequently Asked Questions:” (1) Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe That They Have the One True Religion? And (2) Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Feel That They Are the Only People Who Will Be Saved? The fact that these two questions are ‘frequently asked’ makes it clear that many, many people who read their publications or listen to their ministry message believe they are judgmental elitist. Rather than directly answering the question, they babble and use clever sophistry. For example, in answering the second question, they write:
"Many millions who lived in centuries past and who weren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses will have an opportunity for salvation. The Bible explains that in God’s promised new world, “"there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous."” (Acts 24:15) Additionally, many now living may yet begin to serve God, and they too will gain salvation. In any case, it’s not our job to judge who will or won’t be saved. That assignment rests squarely in Jesus’ hands.—John 5:22, 27."
They are correct that they have no right to judge who will be destroyed and who will be saved. But that has not prevented them from saying that those who lived hundreds of years ago might be saved, but today, only those who “begin to serve God” according to the way Jehovah’s Witnesses serve God will be saved. Even their use of ‘God’ in this answer is disingenuous. Every religious person serves ‘God.’ That’s the nature of religion. What is noteworthy is that they uncharacteristically used the title ‘God’ instead of the name ‘Jehovah’ because they know using Jehovah would reveal that their true answer to question no. 2 is ‘Yes, only Jehovah’s Witnesses will be saved,’ as the brazen emailer openly proclaimed.
Clearly, when one group says that they have the only true religion, they are by default saying that all other religions are false. When one group says only they, and those who listen to them, will be saved, they are by default saying all who do not join in their form of worship will not be saved. Really, it is impossible to maintain an air of superiority without demeaning and degrading all others. Judging and condemning others is practically an obligation in order to remain Number One!
Another ‘fruit’ of the Watchtower organization, as demonstrated by the heartless emailer, is their unabashed disregard for the suffering of non-Jehovah’s Witnesses. When there is a disaster any where in the world, their only concern is for the welfare of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As an example, you can look at their website report on the recent earthquake in Nepal. Here is their entire report:
“Cataclysmic Earthquake Shakes Nepal. On Saturday, April 25, 2015, a magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Nepal caused massive devastation in Kathmandu, the capital city. Multiple aftershocks followed the quake, some registering a magnitude of 6.6. Assessments are ongoing, but the local office of Jehovah’s Witnesses, located in Kathmandu, currently reports thatone Witness and her two children were killed in the disaster. Also, dozens of the Witnesses’ homes were destroyed and many others were damaged. The local office facility was also damaged, though not severely. The branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Japan is coordinating with the Nepal office to support the relief efforts.”
Not one word about the thousands of others who lost their lives! Not one mention of the millions of dollars in damage to the homes and businesses of others. Not a prayer, not a suggestion for prayer, not even a kind word! Anyone reading this report would think that only three people died in the ‘cataclysmic earthquake!’
Yet the Watchtower organization touts their “relief efforts.” But you can be sure that their efforts will be directed to the homes and offices of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Any benefit a non-Jehovah’s Witness will receive will be incidental. We doubt they will even offer financial support to the surviving family of the three who were killed. And if their history holds true, they will ask for reimbursement for any funds expended in the event the victims of the earthquake are reimbursed by insurance or Government aid. They have no respect for what Jesus said:
“However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you, so that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good and makes it rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Are not also the tax collectors doing the same thing? And if you greet your brothers only, what extraordinary thing are you doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing? You must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
– Matthew 5:44-48
And we might add this point: Have you ever heard of a hospital, clinic, second-hand store, or any other established humanitarian program by Jehovah’s Witnesses? No, because there are none. Their only concern is buying real estate and publishing books and magazines. That’s where they put their money and resources.
As a result, Jehovah’s Witnesses have become a stingy, non-giving, non-humanitarian organization. It is so bad that if a Jehovah’s Witness openly contributes to another organization, whether secular or religious, they could be disfellowshiped for apostasy for giving and/or supporting ‘Satan’s organizations!’
Thus, we have the deceptive emailer. His cold, hateful heart condition is an example of the type of fruit that is produced by an organization that elevates themselves and judges all others as deserving of destruction. He serves as a warning example of the type of people many Jehovah’s Witnesses have, or will, become if they continue in the woeful course laid out by their leadership of dividing and judging the body of Christ. There is no future in it!
“Stop judging that you may not be judged; for with the judgment you are judging, you will be judged, and with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you.”
– Matthew 7:1-2
“However, I say to you that everyone who continues wrathful with his brother will be accountable to the court of justice; and whoever addresses his brother with an unspeakable word of contempt will be accountable to the Supreme Court; whereas whoever says, ‘You despicable fool!’ will be liable to the fiery Gehenna.”
– Matthew 5:22
Revealing and Entreating, Not Persecuting
Some who read this article may feel we are persecuting Jehovah’s Witnesses. Rather than persecuting, we are revealing the ugly underbelly that serves as a breeding ground for hatred, ignorance and death. And we are entreating our brothers and sisters among Jehovah’s Witnesses to open their eyes and their ears and listen for the distinct voice of the Christ, not the counterfeit calls of ‘hired men.’
“. . . He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought all his own out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. They will by no means follow a stranger but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus spoke this comparison to them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.”
– John 10:3-6
They must learn to see with spiritual eyes, and understand using ‘the mind of Christ.’ No matter how much they proclaim “Jehovah! Jehovah!” they will never understand Jehovah. They can only understand the mind of Christ:
“For “who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, so that he may instruct him?” But we do have the mind of Christ.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:16
They must stop repeating the abusive speech of the Watchtower organization, and its abomination of inaccurate judgments against the faith sons of God. And they must reach out to all who profess a love for Christ Jesus and a desire to please the Father, because, as the Apostle Paul wrote:
“You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.”
– Galatians 3:26-28
The Apostle John quoted Jesus as saying:
“By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.”
– John 13:35
Love is the identifying attribute of those following Jesus. Compassion is a trademark of those desirous of everlasting life in the Father’s kingdom. In all the spacious rooms of heaven, never will you find those arrogant of heart and/or selfish in spirit. We know this for a certainty because the fruits of the spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) It is the natural outflow of spirit and spiritual beings.
We pray that the individual who has so boldly condemned the brothers of Christ, and who so brazenly elevates those who shut the door to the kingdom, will come to his senses. And we pray that all those who believe they are religiously superior to others and who turn their backs on others stop for a moment and consider the further words of the Apostle John:
“But whoever has this world’s means for supporting life and beholds his brother having need and yet shuts the door of his tender compassion upon him in what way does the love of God remain in him?”
– 1 John 3:17
May the love of the Christ, and his ministry message of compassion, tolerance, generosity and forgiveness shine brightly in the hearts of all who wish to drink in abundance the saving waters of life. And may you produce fruits befitting a true brother and follower of Christ Jesus, not the rotten fruit of the adversary.