Weekly Devotional - April 12, 2017

“If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” (John 15:6)

Scripture Reading – Matthew 23:23-36; Galatians 6:7

True faith is known by its fruit. False faith doesn’t produce fruit. It doesn’t accept the Father’s means of salvation, and it doesn’t involve itself in doing the works that Jesus did.These branches are not thrown into the fire because they are dead, but because they are fruitless. Branches that seem to give as semblance of life because there are many leaves, are only a deception. Many Christians can seem spiritual, but they have not yet received the grace of God. Israel is an example of that. Israel should have been proclaiming the gospel to the entire world. They were given Moses and the temple as a testimony to the gospel that the Lamb of God would come to take away the sins of the world. But they rejected God’s grace and manipulated the Law and the temple to justify their wicked hearts. And because Israel rejected Jesus the Messiah, Israel was rejected by God.

Judas is another example of false faith. He was a branch that was externally connected to the true vine, but internally he was abiding in a completely different vine. For three years, Judas followed Christ. He was sent to villages in Israel to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to cast out demons. Looking from the outside, you would have concluded that he was successful in ministry. He also witnessed miracles and heard the teachings of Jesus firsthand. Judas enjoyed many of the blessings that we all long to enjoy. However, when things were not going according to Judas’ plans, the true love of His heart became apparent to all. His first love was money. He had the external forms of a disciple, but his heart never really was filled with love for Christ. Don’t be deceived. Many will appear to be holy, diligent in prayer, and willing to serve, but they are not abiding in Christ.

Some believers wear spiritual clothes, but have the heart of Judas. As long as the situation in their ministry is to their benefit, they smile broadly and praise the Lord. But when the situation turns on them, they immediately complain and threaten others in the ministry. I have often witnessed disciples threatening other disciples. And on several occasions, I have been threatened as well. We each need to evaluate our hearts. Perhaps externally you are covered with leaves, but your heart is withered. Growing in Christ means that we will produce the fruit of becoming like Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). Not only will our character become like Christ, but we will also produce physical fruit of souls being brought to faith in Christ and good works reflecting Christ’s love to the world.

In the end, the branches that are only externally connected to the vine, but don’t have the life of the vine flowing through them, will be cut off and burned. These branches will be destroyed and will not be given another chance. Grape branches are useless except for bearing fruit. If I cut down a coconut tree because it doesn’t produce coconuts, I could still use the wood from that tree to build a house. But grape branches have no other use, so they are destroyed. These branches were not even used to cook food since they burned so rapidly. It’s the same way with our lives. Outside of Christ, there is nothing in our lives that can be used to build God’s Kingdom. On the Day of Judgment, all those who have false faith will be thrown into the fire of Hell. When that happens, many will defend themselves saying that they ministered in Christ’s Name, but Jesus will say that He never knew them. If today you realize that you have a heart like Judas, a heart that loves something other than Christ, don’t reject the grace of God. Repent by confessing you know that your religious works can’t get you to heaven, and accept the grace of God so that you can abide in the vine. Then the life of Christ will flow through you. Are you abiding in Christ?

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