Understanding the Red Letters Part 11
“Not 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’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23).
I write with great sadness at how many times this passage has been used to put believers on shaky ground. Let me assure you as clearly as I can. If you have believed the gospel message of Jesus, if you have placed your faith in Jesus, you are NOT part of this group of lost souls. Jesus is not talking to believers. He is talking to the lost. How do we know that?
One clue is His declaration. “I never knew you.” If you have believed the gospel message of Jesus Christ, HE KNOWS YOU !!! Jesus proclaimed in John chapter 17 that eternal life is knowing Him and Jesus knowing you. This is the most intimate knowing possible. And what have we learned about how we obtain this eternal life? We have learned over and over that eternal life is promised to us on the basis of our faith in Jesus. Once you have trusted Jesus, it is impossible for Him to NOT know you.
Jesus also says in this passage that only the one who “does the will of My Father” will enter the kingdom of heaven. This is where teachers love to add a weight of condemnation on believer’s shoulders. “Are you sure you are ‘doing’ the will of God? Are you ‘doing’ the right disciplines and activities to keep you in the will of God? Are you studying to ‘know’ the will of God?”
Let’s jump to the answer to all these questions. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life” (John 6:40). The “will of God” is that simple; believe in Jesus.
Here is one last indication of who Jesus is talking about. Lawlessness is one of the most core definitions of sin. Lawlessness is sin to the core. The one who “practices lawlessness” (vs 23) is the one whose identity is sin to the core. This is a lost person who is still in Adam. This is not us. How do we know that? “Every one who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness … The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning … 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” (I John 3:4,8,9).
Do believers sin? Yes, but it is not our core identity. Our core identity is saint. Your core identity is child of God. And as a child of God, you NEVER have to worry that Jesus will say to you, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”