The Parable of the Tree
Jesus taught His disciples to either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree rotten, and its fruit rotten; for the tree is known by its fruit (Matt. 12:33). To better understand this parable, let's compare it with other sayings of Christ.
"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot" (Rev. 3:15). "Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy" (Rev. 22:11). "Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous" (1 John 3:7). "You shall be holy, for I am holy." (1 Peter 1:16). "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:48).
Today we would use the expression, "Get off the fence." Either start to live like Jesus Christ or continue to stay as you are! But why? What is God going to distinguish by this? He will distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who will not serve Him (Mal. 3:18). How can you tell? Anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God (1 John 3:10; 3 John 11). Then, those who practice righteousness must be the good trees with the good fruit, and the rotten trees are those who choose to remain hearers of the word (James 1:22).
Those who continually practice righteousness are truly born of God (1 John 2:29). They are the wheat, the sheep, the good trees and the righteous because they practice righteousness and are rich in good works done for God's glory (1 John 3:7). The rotten trees, the goats, the tares, the chaff and the wicked are those who claim they are followers of Jesus Christ, but don't and won't live their lives to please the Lord (Titus 1:16). They are the religious people who will put to death the righteous and think they are doing God a service (John 16:2). They will have the attitude Cain had toward Abel. "Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain asked (Gen. 4:9). Yes, you are your brother's keeper if you are like Abel, whose deeds were righteous (Matt. 25:33-46; 1 John 3:12).