Jesus spoke to his disciples about fruits as a reference, to the behaviours and attitudes of the people around us. The context was in relation to false prophets who outwardly present as sheep. Jesus said that on the inside they are like ravenous wolves. A ravenous wolf would suggest a wild animal with an extreme appetite for prey. What Jesus was saying is that, there are religious leaders who present as prophets. If you observe them, they can seem like leaders and their appetites are for lost souls. This hunger for souls is not to point them towards God or the things of God.
Rather, their appetite and desires lead people towards hell and draw people further away from God. It was in this same chapter that Jesus dealt with the matter of judgement. ““Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). On the one hand, Jesus was saying that we should not judge others, and on the other hand, he cautions us to be aware of false prophets. Jesus does not contradict himself in this teaching. Judgment in this case is casting aspersions against someone without a just cause. Knowing someone by their fruits is observing whether or not they demonstrate Christ likeness. This relates to the matter of discernment.
John further expounded on this matter later on in the New Testament. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). This testing the spirit relates to discernment. It would be unwise to ignore the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit, which says that someone is not of God. Just because someone has the title of minister, does not mean that they have been sent by God. We have a duty to test the spirits and to observe the fruits. Remember that grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles.
What Jesus was saying is that a prophet will demonstrate the image and likeness of God. Ministers and leaders should lead people to God and their lives should be an example of godliness. Similarly, all born again Christians should demonstrate Christlikeness and our lives should point people towards God. The outcome of your life or the fruits which spring from it, are the results of your roots. Bitterness, resentment, strife and envy does not produce good fruits. Examine the fruits of your life to determine what is at your root system. There are some things that are in our root system which needs to be uprooted in order to produce good fruits.
“He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13).