MATTHEW 7:21-23: “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!’” NKJV
OBSERVATION: How can we know if someone is a true follower of Jesus Christ? In a day when people stand in the public forum and proclaim their Christianity, how can we discern between true and false believers? Is it possible to quote Scripture, claim to be a Christian, and yet be eternally lost?
These three verses in the Gospel of Matthew are some of the most sobering verses in the Bible. Jesus pulls the curtain back from those who merely make a public profession of faith but are not true believers. The pivotal point of discernment is not what they have done in Jesus’ name. It is what they have done that is counter to the teachings of Jesus.
A true Christ follower is not one who does a few good works in Jesus’ name. A true Christ follower is someone who embraces the totality of Jesus’ teachings and lives their life upon them. It is easy in this day of relative morality to pick and choose a few Bible passages about helping the poor and loving your neighbor, while dismissing the passages that deal with sin and obedience.
Notice the defining factor that distinguishes a true believer from a false believer. The false believer is public about their faith, yet they still practice lawlessness. Some may rise up and object saying – Christ is the end of the law! We are now under grace! Yet, this is a gross misunderstanding of the Scriptures. Christ is not the end of the law – He is the fulfillment and clarification of the law. All the law and the prophets are fulfilled in Him!
- “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV
With respect to the ceremonial laws of sacrifice, Christ has fulfilled them completely with His one and final sacrifice (read the book of Hebrews). With respect to the moral laws of the Bible, Christ is the clarification and light upon these laws and calls us to faithful obedience by grace through faith. The New Testament is the clarification of God’s commandments under the New Covenant. A true believer will both honor them and follow them.
- “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19-20 NKJV
There are a multitude of examples that could be used to illustrate this. However, the most glaring is the issue of abortion. Abortion as a means of contraceptive is murder. Murder is lawlessness. It is completely incongruent for one to claim to be a Christ follower and be pro-choice as defined in our culture. The Bible demands that we uphold the sanctity of human life for the unborn, the elderly, and all men and women. To do anything less is lawlessness.
This may seem harsh to some, but it is the truth. I would rather be honest than give a false sense of security to someone who is on the pathway of hearing these final words from the Lord –
- “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
Last night I listened to a debate of candidates who were proclaiming their Christian faith while defending the right to kill innocent unborn children and normalizing immoral behavior that is counter to the revelation of Scripture. God is not interested in hearing us quote a Scripture or two. God is looking for those who are willing to count the costs, enter in the narrow way, and live a life that upholds His commands and His nature. Anything else is merely a house built on the sand!
- “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Matthew 7:26-27 NKJV
Lord, in this day or relative morality, give me the courage to stand up for the truth. Give me the love to be willing to put myself in harms way to shine the light upon the pathway of righteousness. Give me the grace to teach Your Word in its truth and entirety.
Lord – help me to build my house upon the rock!
- “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25 NKJV
In Jesus Name!