“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
For many years as a new Christian I trembled in fear over the verses above. Mainly because as a new Christian I did not know how to study my Bible properly by taking things in context. So, if the verses above have left you doubting your faith, today I want to put those fears to rest. It is no coincidence that the above verses come immediately after the verses on false prophets. In fact, Matthew 7:13-29 definitely seems to have a theme in regards to who we listen to, put our trust or faith in, and how we live our lives. Today's verses can make some Christians wonder if they are really saved. After all, if you prophesied in Jesus' name, cast out demons and did many wonders all in His name, why would Jesus say He didn't know you? Probably because, as I discussed last week, the people Jesus is referring to in these verses are false prophets and false teachers.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Last week,I talked about the narrow gate and the path that leads to destruction from Matthew 7:13-14. Interestingly, this verse, which encourages Christians to enter through the narrow gate, comes directly before Jesus' words on false prophets. I don't believe it is a coincidence that these verses lined up this way. Jesus was trying to make a point. False prophets are on the path that can lead to destruction. So the question we need to ask is this - who are the false prophets we need to be aware of today, and why is their message so dangerous?
Before I get to names let's be clear on who Jesus is talking about here. The word in Greek for false prophet is pseudoprophētēs it comes from two words - pseudēs which means "liar" and prophētēs which means "prophet" or "one who proclaims a divine message from God".
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"
Many people today say they "know God" but the verses above imply God will say He never knew them. This is rather a scary verse for a new Christian. For any Christian, really, who might be struggling with their faith. So over my next three posts, I'd like to look at them in context.
These verses were part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7 also includes the verses on judging others, asking, seeking and knocking, and the wise man who built his house upon the rock. They all tie in very nicely with the ones above, for the entire chapter is about how we should live our lives before others (not judging them), how to approach God with our concerns (ask, seek and knock), how we should walk with God, who we should not listen to, and how to build our faith on a firm foundation. But we are going to concentrate on the verses above. We will start with the narrow gate.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honour, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
Have you ever noticed the first line of the verse above? I mean, really noticed it? If you haven't, let it sink in for a moment. What is God's ultimate will for you? Your sanctification. What does it mean to be sanctified? It means to be made holy or consecrated. God's ultimate goal for you then, is that you would become holy and consecrated. Why? Because nothing sinful can enter heaven. This is why Jesus was born of a virgin. If he had been born the normal way, he would have been born into a sinful body. God needed a body to house His Shekinah glory on earth (His Holy Spirit). Jesus was able to do that because he was not born a sinner and he never sinned while on earth. This is why he was the perfect sacrifice and why he was able to enter heaven. It is also why all who believe in Jesus Christ are saved. By His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5) and we are forgiven of our sins (Acts 13:37-39). How then should we live?
If you live your life following Christ's example, you do well. If however, you say in your heart, "I'm forgiven because I believe in Jesus, therefore it does not matter how I live my life. It is my own to live," then you are living a lie. For when you believed in Jesus and accepted his gift of salvation, his forgiveness of your sins and his gift of eternal life, you were in fact agreeing to live your life in such a way that it would honour Jesus' sacrifice for you and bring glory to God.