Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). That kind of straightforward evaluation should not only be applied to “them,” but also to us. In the upper room, not long before his crucifixion, Jesus told his twelve apostles, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
At that time, you’ll remember, one of the Twelve was secretly conspiring to betray Christ, cashing in his association with the Messiah for thirty pieces of silver. Judas wasn’t intent on bearing “much fruit,” instead he was busy keeping up appearances while working out his own selfish agenda. All too often people who associate with the church are adamant about publicly “professing to know God,” while privately “denying him by their deeds” (Titus 1:16).
Of course, no Christian has achieved sinlessness (1 John 1:8; James 3:2; Ecclesiastes 7:20), but we need to be honest with ourselves—fairly comparing our claims to follow Christ with an actual pattern of following him (2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 John 3:2-10). Genuine Christianity transforms lives (2 Corinthians 5:17). The indwelling Holy Spirit always conditions real disciples to repudiate hypocrisy, driving them to pursue the kind of bona fide fruit-bearing that demonstrates the reality of their faith.