Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
This is a passage that has always struck me as a hard passage. A passage that I rather wish Jesus hadn’t uttered. It’s hard because evidently there will be people who come to Jesus on the Judgement day who think that they are believers, but in the end will have fooled themselves.
Jesus makes it clear that simply calling him Lord is not enough. Right doctrine alone will not get you into the Kingdom. What is more startling for me is not that Jesus puts an ethical call on the lives of his followers, but on his response to those who from all outside appearances were doing the will of his father.
They had the heavy “spiritual gifts” of prophecy and casting out demons. Yet in the end Jesus calls them evildoers!
What was it that turned Jesus decision against those who seemed to be doing the will of God. It was because He never knew them. WOW!
For Jesus it’s not the doing alone that is important, but it is the knowing and the doing together that is important. Often I would like to believe that Jesus is concerned with just one or the other. That we can know Jesus, but never do the works of the Father. Or we can do the works and he will be satisfied. But just one out of the two is not good enough for him.
It does makes sense though. The emphasis of this scripture is that the most important thing is to know Jesus. It was this lack of knowledge of Jesus that gets those who appeared to be followers called evildoers. Somehow these works of theirs became evil in their lack of a relationship with Jesus. The message is clear if you don’t know Jesus you can do works until you are blue in the face, but it will not get you anywhere.
From this passage it is also clear that the will of the Father is to know Jesus. When we come face to face with the transformational Son of God and we enter into a relationship with him we are never the same. So our actions must follow the encounter. It is from this knowledge that our actions must spring.
As Jesus says himself in John 14:23 “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Knowing Jesus transforms you, and when you prophesy in his name out of love for him then you are doing the will of the Father. When you are doing it for any other reason you are an evildoer.
Let me say that one last time (mostly to remind myself). When we do good works out of any other reason than love for God we are evildoers.
To know Jesus is to have eternal life(John 17:3), and without this we will turned back just like these “false prophets.”