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A toxic tree produces toxic fruit.

A toxic tree produces toxic fruit.

JUNE 29, 2023

/ Programs / Key Life / A toxic tree produces toxic fruit.

Steve Brown:
A toxic tree produces toxic fruit. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.

Matthew Porter:
The deepest message of Jesus and the Bible is the radical grace of God to sinners and sufferers, that’s what Key Life is all about. So, if you’re hungry for the hopeful truth that God isn’t mad at you, keep listening. Steve Brown is a professor and our teacher on Key Life.

Steve Brown:
Thank you Matthew. If you have your Bible, open it at the 19th chapter of Acts. This is kind of hard stuff and, but it’s okay, we’re family. And we’re into grace and if you are much about Key Life, you know that that’s the central message of this particular ministry and that is it doesn’t matter who you are, what you’re doing, who you hurt, where you go, watch you smoke or drink, run to Jesus, and he won’t be angry at you. That’s a good message and, but you can’t ignore the stuff that happens when you walk with Jesus. As a matter of fact, I’ve said this a thousand times, and it’s true that Christians eventually smell like Jesus and they can’t help it. I mean, if you’re walking with Christ, don’t worry about doing everything right cause you won’t. Don’t worry about perfection cause you’re not perfectable. Don’t even stay awake worrying about your sin cause you’re forgiven. But something happens when you walk with Jesus and you begin to smell like Jesus and you, and you can’t help it. And so, we’ve been spending time this week on the idea of toxic religion, and you find it manifested in the 19th chapter of Acts. Toxic religion is one that is filled with self-interest. Toxic religion can kill you. Toxic religion, well, let me show you something else. Toxic religion does not produce good results. And a fruit tree that is bad does not produce good fruit. I didn’t say that, Jesus said that. In the church I attend, our teaching pastors and they’ve asked me to participate at least one Sunday morning, our teaching pastors are teaching the book of James. Luther called that the epistle of straw, and if you want to read a commentary of James, you can’t find one from Martin Luther because he never wrote a commentary on the book of James. And the reason was not that he thought it wasn’t true, he just thought it was dangerous if it wasn’t taught with Romans and Galatians at the same time. If you get grace, James is a wonderful book. If you don’t get grace, you’re going to jump off a bridge because of your guilt. One of our teaching pastors last week was teaching the text in James that faith without works is dead. And he opened it by talking about a place where he and his wife would walk every afternoon and they noticed a horrible smell. And he said it was like something had died and they, the next afternoon they smelled it again, and the next afternoon they smelled it again and they decided to check and find out where the horrible smell was coming from. And it was a tree in the front yard of one of their neighbors. And it was a beautiful tree, and it was there for its beauty, not it’s fruit. I think that my pastor Pete said it was a pear tree, but it had no pears, it was just there for looks. And he said there was no fruit, and it smelled, but it was pretty. I’ll tell you something, if you’d lived in Ephesus, the temple in Ephesus created to Diana and to Artemis was magnificent. It would blow you away. But please note, and we’re talking about toxic religion, that the fruit of that particular religion was selfishness, self-interest, anger, and hatred. Acts 19:28

When they heard this, they were enraged and they cried out.

Listen to Galatians 5:22

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

And you better work hard at it or people won’t know you’re a Christian. No, no, no. That is the smell of Jesus that happens naturally to a believer who is walking with Jesus. And the truth is that the believer who develops those kinds of traits doesn’t know it. Often the most righteous person in the world doesn’t know they’re righteous, and the most self-righteous person in the world doesn’t know they’re self-righteous. But trust me on this, there is fruit and the fruit that comes smells like Jesus. And if you walk with him, you begin to smell like him. Paul didn’t go to the place where the riot was starting in the 19th chapter of Acts. They were getting angrier and angrier and it became quite clear that they were going to kill people like Paul and his commandments, his followers. But if Paul had gone into that room where the people were making their living with religious artifacts. If he had gone into that room, they would’ve stopped for a minute and they would’ve said, I smell something. What in the world is that? What a wonderful and sweet smell. You smell like Jesus and you can’t help it. That’s a part of the fruit that comes from walking with him. And I don’t want to be legalistic about it, but I want to remind you of it. And then finally, the religion, the toxic religion of Artemis was based on emotion and fervor and not righteousness and truth. And that would say to us that false religion is always threatened by contrary opinion. Acts 19:34

But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they presented truth

no, debated? No, talked it out? No.

all with one voice cried out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

What’s going on here? I’ll tell you what’s going on. They’re trying to cancel the truth. They’re trying to set aside a contrary opinion. They don’t want free speech to be a part of the religious discussion. Does that remind you of anything in our culture? Does that remind you of our canceled culture? Now, Christians can’t be too harsh on that cause we’ve had our own, don’t forget about the Inquisition. And Calvin burned Servetus at the stake. That’s real canceling. Of course Servetus was a Baptist, but that’s no excuse. We’ve always had a canceled culture. We’ve got to stop that because truth, when it is spoken will stand and it will change lives and it will make a difference. For years I did a skeptics forum and I learned this truth there. We met every Monday night and there were atheists and agnostics who met with me, and I was the only Christian there. And I learned to respect their views. I learned to listen to what they said and I said, if I listen to you, you’ve got to listen to me too. And over half of them became Christians. Why is that? That’s because truth, when it is spoken is true and truth makes changes that are important. That’s what happened in Ephesus. And the other toxic religion didn’t want to hear it. They didn’t want to hear a contrary voice. They simply wanted them to shut up and they shouted them down so they would be drowned out. That’s going on in our culture right now, but don’t let it bother you because truth eventually is spoken. Spurious views will dissipate. Things that are lies eventually are exposed as lies. It may take a while, but truth works that way and especially in the context of religion that is real, that isn’t toxic. And so, if we as Christians shout too much, it means we don’t believe what we say we believe. If we want others who don’t agree with us to shut up, it may mean we’re not very secure in what we believe because Christians listen and then speak truth with love and peace. You think about that. Amen.

Matthew Porter:
Thank you Steve. And with that, we wrap up another fantastic week of teaching from the Book of Acts. As always, if you wanna re-listen to any episode or just share it with a friend, be sure to stop by and don’t forget, tomorrow is Friday Q&A with Steve and Pete. Tomorrow they’ll answer this question, what does it mean to be outside of time? Well, that is a big question. Be sure to join us for that answer. Well, I am really excited to tell you about a new offer. It’s new, but it’s old. Actually, the better word is classic. It’s a classic sermon from Steve called God and the Devil based on Ephesians 6. This is an important message because one of Satan’s greatest strategies is to convince us that he doesn’t exist. In this sermon, you’ll not only learn why Satan does exist, but also how to arm yourself against him using seven weapons in the Christian’s arsenal. Get your copy of the sermon on CD for free right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. Or to mail your request, go to for our mailing addresses. Just ask your free copy of the CD titled God and the Devil. Finally, would you partner in the work of Key Life through your giving? You could charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 to give safely and securely. That’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener, supported production of Key Life Network.

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