Fear must not be the driving force behind our walk with God; nonetheless, the fear of the Lord goes a long way in protecting it. Obviously, faith and obedience requires love to be in effect; and without it, faith and obedience is a nonstarter. Faith works by love (see Galatians 5:6), and to obey means to believe with the intent to conform to the desires of God out of love. When considering these basic principles, Matthew 7:21-23 becomes easier to grasp. Secondly, carefully weighing what’s said while listening to Holy Spirit is vital to understanding Scripture. Rushing through the pages of the Bible, while relying our opinions and that of others, will not lead to the proper conclusions. We must be willing to receive what the Lord intends for us to take away, if we are to truly understand His Word. That being said, let’s examine this hard saying of Jesus with an open heart.
Matthew 7:21-23Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
The will of our Father is vital to our eternal destiny, so let’s start there. Remember this important truth: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He truly desires everyone to live with Him for all eternity; however, He actually leaves the decision to accept His offer of eternal life to us. Jesus clearly states that those who do the will of His Father may enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. That means His Father must be our Father. Do not confuse doing the will of our Father with doing dead works. Our works are the result of our relationship with Him (see Ephesians 2:8-10). That’s why our works are called a labor of love.
John 6:27-29Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” Therefore, they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent”.
To begin, our work is to believe in Jesus Christ, which also means we believe the Father Who sent Him. John 5:24Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
If we believe in Him, then it is also vital to believe Him. If you do not believe Him, you will not obey Him!
People tend to do what they believe to be true; unless of course, they decide to outright rebel or revert to fear. As already eluded to, the will of God is connected to love. 1 John 4:7-8Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. Clearly, those who don’t love God, don’t belong to Him. Only those who love Him are capable of obeying Him. Those who love God, love people as well. There’s a full lesson lurking in that statement!
Matthew 7:22 reveals that signs and wonders are not the sign of God’s approval.
Remember, these things confirm His Word; not us. To be clear, they will follow those whom the Lord has accepted, but don’t assume that it’s the litmus test of acceptance. Even a false prophet can prophecy something that comes to pass (see Deuteronomy 13:1-3). Secondly, the Name of Jesus works; not us. “Name” also refers to authority. We know we can do nothing apart from Jesus (see John 15:1-12). As a matter of fact, read John 15:1-12 to further understand the will of our Father. Even though some may have prophesied, cast out demons and done miracles in His Name, Jesus will declare to them, “I never knew you.” In biblical terms, to know someone is to be intimate with him or her. That means love was not the motive behind what they did. 1 Corinthians 8:3But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. If you are questioning whether Jesus knows you, ask yourself this question: “Do I love Him?” If you answered, “Yes”,” then fear should have no part in you. 1 John 4:18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. Look at the premise: signs and wonders don’t necessarily confirm God’s approval of those through whom they operate. Consider Judas Iscariot. He was with the other Apostles, healing the sick, casting out demons and so on, prior to betraying Jesus. Another example is the Caiaphas the High Priest. John 11:49-52But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation . . . Even though Caiaphas prophesied from the office of High Priest, he was still amongst those who cried, “Crucify Him!” Prior to our opening text, we read, Jesus references false prophets in verses 15-20, which is another clue as to whom He is referring.
Another important thing to pay attention to is what else Jesus said: “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” These individuals actually practice lawlessness, or as the King James Version puts it, “iniquity.” Not only does the term, “lawless” point to trespasses, it is also a failure to keep the Law (of the Spirit and grace) which includes believing in Jesus Christ and loving God as well as people. Another example is not forgiving someone his or her offense, which is a failure to extend mercy after receiving it.
The bottom line is that those who practice lawlessness are devoid of love.
1 John 3:4-10Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 2:18-19Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.