Does the Bad Guy Know He is Bad?
Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
I am occasionally told that I overthink things (shocking, I know). I am usually told this by someone of whom I have just asked an annoying question. So it was, last night as we came out of the movie theater: Does the bad guy know he’s the bad guy? My kids wanted to know why I question everything, but as I was contemplating this passage, I really wanted to know the answer. Does the wolf in sheep’s clothing know he is the wolf or does he believe himself to be a sheep?
When I read this passage, I can think of those who claim faith in Christ but act in a manner completely contrary to following Christ. The destructive fruit they bear varies but they all have one thing in common. They are convinced they are good. They believe in God and thus they have a righteous conviction that, though they produce destructive fruit, they are still in the right.
I look at the wolf and think, He must know. How could he be so destructive? How could he live with himself? I am sure there are some who know they are evil and embrace it, but the truth is, most who bear the fruit of destruction still think themselves to be good.
These wolves sit in our church, confess our faith, yet bear fruit which betrays who they really are. They believe themselves to be sheep, all the while deceiving themselves (and some of us). How then am I to know?
Jesus insists that it is not just what we confess to believe that matters. Our belief has to translate into a changed life or it is not real. So, we will know those who truly follow Christ by their behavior. Suddenly, I am a little uncomfortable.
How do I know about myself? What if I am in imposter? I have used God’s grace as an excuse to live as I pleased. I do not think I am a wolf, but that is exactly what a wolf would think.
Jesus words require brutal and rigorous introspection, which honestly, can be quite painful. What if Jesus stood in front of me as a fruit inspector and wanted to know what kind of tree I was? Do I love God above all else? Do I love my neighbor as myself? Do I tell others what He has done for me? Am I a sheep or a wolf? This is terrifying.
I like to use this passage to measure others, but I when I read Jesus words, I have to look at myself and ask the tough questions. Do I truly follow Christ or do I just confess a belief in him? Do I act or do I just say the words? There is always grace and forgiveness when I fail. I know I am not going to be perfect in this life, but do I not want to use God’s grace as an excuse to be the wolf.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful or interesting, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and share it on Facebook.