Matthew 7:21–23 (NKJV)
21 “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. 22 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?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
I made a promise to myself when I started this devotional… I would avoid being the devotional that dwelled on the roses and sunshine verses. I promised that I would approach even the verses that are hard to talk about. I decided you deserved more than a bunch of fluff. There are great promises that can lift us up during difficult times, verses that truly deliver wonderful hope. The truth is, however, there are many verses that offer some pretty serious warnings and it is very important that we take an unfiltered look at them.
I think when we read verses like these, we can quickly come to the conclusion that these people are non-believers. Read what is really being said though… these people are coming to the Lord thinking in their own heart that they are believers. They are almost crying out to the Lord saying “Lord, Lord.” They even claim to have prophesied and cast out demons in the Lord’s name. Then they top it off by proclaiming that they had done many wonders in His name. These guys truly thought they were disciples of Christ. So where did they go wrong? Why is it they find themselves in a place where the Lord denies ever knowing them?
It comes down to a heart condition. These guys have all the book knowledge, they know all the right things to say, but there is no depth to their relationship with the Lord. Jeremiah 29:13 tells us that we will find God when we seek Him with all our heart. These guys were too busy trying to show the outside world how godly they were while neglecting their relationship with God himself.
I think anyone in ministry can fall into this unfortunate circumstance. I know pastors that are teaching 3 or 4 studies a week. Fortunately, the ones that I surround myself with are also fostering their relationship with the Lord, but it could quickly turn the other way. I am not at all condoning pastors that teach a lot, as long as they are truly focusing on becoming closer and closer with Jesus.
There are so many distractions we face from day to day. Work, school, entertainment, money, the list goes on and on, does it not? Many of the things we fill our lives with are perfectly fine, good even. No matter what though, we must make sure Jesus comes before all of it. Think about the stark contrast between hearing “well done good and faithful servant” and “ depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” That should be a humbling thought for all of us.
While it is very sobering to think about all this verse is saying, the important thing to remember is that we have a God that truly loves us. The Lord we serve is jealous for us. Our Lord seeks diligently after us. God does not want our works, He does not need us to cast our demons, He doesn’t need us to prophesy. God wants us, all of us, and nothing short of that is good enough for the God that saves our sinful souls.
Matthew 22:37–39 (NKJV)
37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’