"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 NASB)
First, we must recognize that this text is spoken by Christ in the context of being aware of false prophets, and moreover that false prophets will be known by their fruit. At the same time it is also critical to realize that in some sense all people who make a profession of faith and make a statement about God, or a statement ‘from God’ are indeed prophets. This blog is prophetic in that it proclaims scripture and then seeks to explain it, and what God had intended the scripture to mean. Moreover, the professing Christian who has a conversation about Christ is having a ‘prophetic’ conversation. To profess... is to be prophetic. Unfortunately we view ‘prophecy’ to be telling the future, or having some special unique revelation from God, but that is not typically, if ever, the case at all. To be prophetic is to speak the word of the Lord as it is revealed in scripture. Even Christ and the apostles continually quoted from scripture, not expressing some new divine revelation, but expounding the God who has been revealed in His Word. So what is the point of all this? Everyone who makes a profession of faith in Christ is in some sense a prophet, and this text Matthew 7:21-23 is to viewed in light of that fact. We make a grave mistake if we view this text only in light of false prophets such as Jim Jones, and David Koresh.
Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’... realize that repetition here is a way of emphasis. In the Hebrew culture to emphasize a point you repeated words. To say someone is extremely Holy, you would say ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ to emphasize that someone has made an earnest profession that Jesus is Lord, they would say to Him, ‘Lord, Lord’. The reality of this text is that not everyone who makes an earnest profession of faith in Jesus Christ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. This is incredibly important, especially in our western culture where we want to have things easy and quick. We live in a culture where salvation has been reduced to ‘I prayed the prayer’ and I ‘confessed with my mouth Jesus is Lord’ and I am sure ‘that I believe in my heart God raised Him from the dead’ therefore I am a Christian. Jesus pours a big bucket of cold water on that notion in this text. He says that not everyone who makes that profession will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but He who actually lives out the profession by ‘doing the will of the Father’ will enter. At the same time we ought to be very careful to not over shoot this and make it into a works based salvation, or that we must perform the will of God by our strength in order to validate our profession and not be a false prophet. In fact, this verse goes a long way to speak against that notion as well... ‘did we not prophesy... cast out demons... do miracles...?’ The false prophet will argue with Christ on the Day of Judgment based on his or her own workings, not upon the merit of Christ.
“He who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter...” What is the will of the Father? “That we know the Him the one true God.” See John 17. We can do many things without knowing Him with any degree of intimacy, those ‘many things’ give us no standing with Him, as evidenced by this passage. Jesus labels those whom He will declare that ‘He never knew’, He calls them ‘You who practice lawlessness’. In other words Jesus tells those who have lived as though God never gave a law are commanded to depart from Him. So often we are quick to blast the Pharisees for legalism, but we venture to the other extreme. The opposite of legalism is lawlessness. In the case of legalism we see man implementing rules and regulations that go beyond the will of God and ultimately removing freedom which God intended people to have. On the other end you have lawlessness which essentially is to treat God as though He allows all things and has never spoken a law or given a regulation that must be followed. The problem in our day is not the problem of the Pharisee but the problem of Lawlessness. Moreover, because we are so accustomed to lawlessness as the norm, anytime someone mentions law, or speaks dogma concerning right or wrong action, they are immediately and falsely labeled pharisaical.
So what is the application? Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith, or if you are a false prophet. Do you only say ‘Lord, Lord’ and do nice things, or are you about the Father’s will which is to know Him intimately? Do you profess faith, and yet live as though God never gave a law? Will you hear the words... depart from me? It is too important of a question to dismiss.