“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” —2 Corinthians 13:5
Scripture Reading: Matthew 7:21-23; 25:31-46.
How easy it is to say “Lord, Lord” and not do the will of God. It seems the verses in Matthew 7:21-23 are frequently applied to deceived people who profess Christ but haven’t really been converted—they give lip service to the Gospel, but use it for their own personal gain.
For various reasons, we rarely apply the curse of these verses to our own lives. Would it be possible to think that the person sitting in the pew next to us every week isn’t doing the will of God? Maybe she’s helping out in the nursery or he’s collecting the offering every week or he’s teaching a Wednesday night Bible study. Even more, he could pray louder and longer than most everybody else or she’s always willing to pray with someone else who’s struggling. The fact of the matter is that doing these things doesn’t necessarily qualify our actions as God’s will.
It isn’t that we don’t need people to help in the nursery or pray with others or lead a Bible study. At the root of this issue isn’t whether we’re “working” for the Kingdom but whether or not we know God. Jesus’ reason for excluding men and women from the Kingdom had to do with relational knowledge. “I never knew you…” was His response to those who had done many wonderful works (Matthew 7:23). Because they didn’t know Him, the works they performed were simply works of the flesh masked in the garb of “churchianity.”
The call Jesus places on His disciples is to know Him (John 10:1-10). If we abide in the vine, then the works we do will be His works and His will. Our starting place isn’t good works —it’s knowing God by spending time with Him in prayer, meditation, study, and so on. When we know God, then His response won’t be “depart from me,” it will be “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 41).
- How can we know that Matthew 7:21 doesn’t teach that our works save us? Romans 3:20; 11:6. What role do works play in our salvation and eternal life? James 2:14-26; Matthew 25:31-46; 19:16-22.
Note: Just because someone uses the phrase “Lord, Lord” and does wonderful works doesn’t mean they’re saved. Trusting in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the only way anyone will ever receive eternal life.
- Is the statement “Lord, Lord” in Matthew 7:21 a false profession of faith, or does it indicate an honest ignorance of God and His will?
- How is it possible to prophesy in the Lord’s name, cast out demons, and do wonderful works and yet not do the will of God? Mark 7:6-9; Titus 1:16; 1 John 3:18; Psalm 78:35-37; Matthew 23:14-15, 23-28. Could the Pharisees have claimed they did many wonderful works?
- What should our attitude be toward seeking the will of God? Psalm 40:8; 86:11; 143:10; Matthew 26:42; James 4:15; Isaiah 55:6-9.
- What types of sin tumble Christians into spiritual deception? Galatians 6:3; James 1:22, 26; 4:6-10; 1 John 1:8-10; Romans 2:1-4, 12-13, 28-29.
Note: The phrases “he that doeth the will of my Father” and “ye that work iniquity” should be seen as progressive, i.e., “he that keeps on doing the will of my Father” and “ye that continue to work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21, 23).
- Matthew 7:22-23 indicates Christ doesn’t know those who did the “wonderful” Why is it not only important to recognize we must know Christ as Lord and Savior, but also that He must know us as His children? 1 Corinthians 8:3; John 10:3-4, 14-16; 2 Timothy 2:19.
This week, think about the admonition of 2 Corinthians 13:5 by answering three questions: Do I believe my works have earned me eternal life? Do I rely on my works to keep me in the grace of Jesus Christ? Am I doing service outside the will of God? Commit a half hour of prayer and study each day to honestly answer these questions.