The tree is known by its fruit.
Saving faith appropriates the finished work of the Lord Jesus, and so saves by itself alone, for we are justified by faith without works; but the faith which is without works cannot bring salvation to any man. We are saved by faith without works, but not by a faith that is without works, for the real faith that saves the soul works by love and purifies the character.
If you can cheat across the counter, your hope of heaven is a cheat too; though you can pray as prettily as anybody, and practice acts of outward piety as well as any other hypocrite, you are deceived if you expect to be right at last. If as a servant you are lazy, lying, and loitering, or if as a master you are hard, tyrannical, and unchristianlike towards your men, your fruit shows that you are a tree of Satan’s own orchard, and bear apples which will suit his tooth.
If you can practice tricks of trade, and if you can lie — and how many do lie every day about their neighbors or about their goods — you may talk about being justified by faith as you like, but all liars will have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, and amongst the biggest liars you will be, for you are guilty of the lie of saying, “I am a Christian,” whereas you are not. A false profession is one of the worst of lies, since it brings the utmost dishonor upon Christ and his people.
The fruit of the righteous is righteousness: the fig tree will not bring forth thorns, neither shall we gather grapes from thistles. The tree is known by its fruit, and if we cannot judge men’s hearts, and must not try to do so, we can judge their lives, and I pray God we may all be ready to judge our own lives and see if we are bringing forth righteous fruit, for if not, ye are not righteous men.
From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled "The Soul-Winner," delivered January 20, 1876
in the "Public Domain".
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