Faithlife Sermons

Matthew 7:21-23

Matthew  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 8,987 views
Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Introduction

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

This particular text is likely one of the scariest texts in all the Bible, and it comes directly from the lips of our Lord. Jesus has just finished speaking to his disciples concerning false prophets, and has told them to beware of false prophets, or those who come in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. False prophets are purposeful imposters, they’re posers, posing as someone they’re not.
False prophets are purposeful imposters, they’re posers, posing as someone they’re not.
However, in our text here today Jesus speaks of a different kind of person, one who believes they’re saved, one who is deceived into thinking they’re a disciple of Christ, and yet are not. One who thinks they know God but on the day of judgement discover that God does not know them. And this is precisely what makes this text so scary, the idea that there will be some who believe they know God yet are not known by God. Not in the sense that God does not know about them but that God does not recognize them as his son or daughter.

Doing the will of our Father in heaven

These words are directly connected to the passage before it when Jesus’ taught them that they would recognize false prophets by their fruits. Similarly, Jesus says here in verse 21 that the defining mark of the one who is deceived is that he does not do the will of his Father in heaven. We read again in verse 21,

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

In other words, there will be those who believe they are saved, who call Jesus their Lord, yet because they did not obey his commandments they will be sent “away into eternal punishment.” () They will be told to depart from him, that he never knew them.
The disconnect between ‘Lord’ and obedience
Notice the connection here between what this group of people call Jesus and how Jesus describes them. They call him Lord. Now, the definition of lord is, “someone or something having power, authority, or influence; a master or ruler.” Therefore, this group of people is attributing power, authority and influence to Jesus, they are calling him their master and their ruler. Yet Jesus points out that while they call him lord they refuse to do the will of his Father in heaven.
Luke records what appears to be the same teaching in chapter 6, verse 46 of his gospel which reads,
Luke records what appears to be the same teaching in chapter 6:46 of his gospel account which reads,

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

A personal plea
The point here is that their profession that Jesus is their lord is empty. There’s no obedience to back it up, they call him lord and yet do not do what Jesus tells them to do. To them he’s lord only by title, with no real authority in their lives.
A personal plea
And what’s even more grievous about this text is that they not only call him lord but say to him “Lord, Lord.” Now, what’s significant about this use of the word ‘lord’ twice is that it indicates that their plea is rooted in a perceived intimacy, it’s a very personal plea. This group of people has truly deceived themselves to believe that Jesus is their lord even though their life is devoid of genuine obedience.
We see this literary structure used throughout the OT, usually using a person’s name. In Abraham is commanded to sacrifice his only son Issac, and despite the obvious difficulty Abraham obeys God and nearly puts his son to death, stopping short only because God calls to him and says, “Abraham, Abraham! … Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” ()
In we see God appearing to Moses in a burning bush, and as Moses approaches the fire God calls out to him from the bush saying, “Moses, Moses!”
We even see examples of this in the NT. When Jesus enters Lazarus’ home he finds there Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet to learn from him and Martha is distracted with much serving. Martha approaches Jesus in frustration and says to him, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” But Jesus rebukes her tenderly by saying, “ Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
We even see examples of this in the NT. When Jesus enters Lazarus’ home he finds there his sisters Mary and Martha. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet to learn from him and Martha is distracted with much serving. Martha approaches Jesus in frustration and says to him, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” But Jesus rebukes her tenderly by saying, “ Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
And in Luke chapter 22, verse 31 Jesus foretells Peter’s denial of him, but first tells Peter this, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
These are examples of addressing someone with personal affection. This type of greeting is typical for those who share a close relationship. So you can see the contrast of the person who addresses Jesus in such a way as, “Lord, Lord,” yet in deed it’s obvious that there is no such relationship.
This also tells us that this group of people that Jesus speaks of in are genuinely deceived in their appeal to him as their lord. They speak to him as though Jesus is going respond in like manner.
What we learn here is that it is not enough for us to think we know Jesus, Jesus must know us.
In we see God appearing to Moses in a burning bush, and as Moses approached the fire God called to him out of the bush saying, “Moses, Moses!”
Self-deception
Also, listen to what James the brother Jesus later says in his letter to the church,

be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James identifies something very significant here, that those who are merely hearers of the word deceive themselves. They go away comforted that they’ve heard the word of God, yet their souls remain in peril because they do not become doers of that word. They deceive themselves, and this is the danger that Jesus speaks of here in his sermon on the mount. That if we persist in our hearing of the word of God, and yet remain unchanged by it, if we are not pursuing obedience to it then we put our souls in danger that on that day when Jesus calls all men to account that he will declare to us, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Receive with meekness the implanted word
Therefore, our response, instead, ought to be as James describes it in chapter 1, verse 21,

21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

So as we listen to God’s word preached, as we read it in our daily devotions, or on the radio, or wherever else we hear it, let us make a point to receive it with meekness, and to pursue obedience to it. Let us be those who delight in God and therefore delight in his law, leading to an obedience that comes from the heart.
The gospel is our lifeblood
And let us not forget that it is the Gospel that empowers our lives as believers. It not only saves us unto eternal life but it is the power of God in us to turn from sin and to obey our Lord. The love that God had for us in the life and sacrificial death of his Son is what drives our hearts to love and obey him. The Gospel is the lifeblood of the Christian and the Christian life. So let us not forget that as we sit under the tutelage of God’s word that God has given us the means to understand it and obey it. One of the hallmarks of the Christian life is that the law of God is not burdensome. Why? Because we are a people who delight in the law giver.

Many mighty works in your name

Now Jesus continues in verse 22,

22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

You’ll notice the phrase “in your name” is repeated three times, “did we not prophesy in your name,” “cast out demons in your name,” and “do many mighty works in your name.” Now whenever you’re reading the Bible repetition is your friend, it indicates emphasis, the writer means to get your attention. It’s similar to how we might use bold lettering or an exclamation mark within a sentence. And so it is here that Jesus is driving home the point that our actions can be done in his name, and yet still be counted as lawlessness.
False assurance
Now, again, what Jesus is doing is making a distinction that’s even narrower than before. At first there were false prophets who were wolves in sheep’s clothing (and they knew it), then there were believers who had deceived themselves to believe that Jesus was their Lord despite their disobedience to him, and finally he describes believer’s who have deceived themselves not only to believe that Jesus is their Lord but even doing things in his name wrongly assuming that these things give them assurance of salvation, all the while their work is found utterly displeasing to God. Jesus, in fact, calls it lawlessness.
Now, typically, acts done in the name of Jesus are favorably looked upon throughout old and new testaments, but Jesus here is making a distinction between acts done in his name that are pleasing to him and acts done in his name that are categorically wicked in his sight. This is a remarkable contrast, there is no middle ground according to Jesus.
Doing mighty things for God is not enough
There will be those on that day who come before him, and with endearing words, say, “Lord, Lord, did we not do many mighty things in your name?” “Dearest Lord, didn’t we preach for You? Didn’t we share our testimonies for You? Didn’t we teach Sunday school for You? Didn’t we go to the mission field for You? Didn’t we give tithes for You?” (R.C. Sproul, Matthew Commentary, p. 210) And then Jesus “will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” ()
Not what, but why
I can’t imagine coming before my Lord and appealing to him to accept my service, and him responding by saying, “I don’t know you. I never knew you.” Now, this is an important reminder that our assurance is not to be found merely in what we do, but rather in why we do it. Are our actions rooted and motivated by our faith and love for Christ. Or are actions motivated by something else? Hebrew 11:6 says that, “without faith it is impossible to [God].”
Faith makes the difference
Both Cain and Abel brought sacrifices before God but only one of those sacrifices was acceptable, and the difference was faith. You see, faith is what unites us to Christ, and if we are not united to Christ we are not a part of the family of God, it’s why Jesus says that not everyone who claims to be a child of God will enter the kingdom of heaven. Only those who are united to him by faith will enter the kingdom of heaven. And it’s only those who are united to him by faith that can please him. Good works apart from faith in Jesus never please God.

without faith it is impossible to please him,

Closing

Good works apart from faith in Jesus never please God.
So when Jesus talks about knowing someone he’s talking about whether that person is a son or daughter of his Father in heaven. And the point of this text is that there will be many who claim to know Jesus, but in reality do not, and the caution for us is not to deceive ourselves. To guard against calling Jesus our lord while neglecting to obey his commandments, to guard against thinking that any act of service, no matter how spectacular, is proof that I know God. To take account of my life to see whether I have truly repented of my sin, that I have truly trusted in Christ for my salvation, and that I have embraced him with all my heart.
And the glorious truth is that if I have then Jesus, my Lord, will one day say to me, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” ()
These words of Jesus here in are not intended to distress the contrite hearts of God’s people, but to challenge us to take seriously our salvation, to take stock of our lives, to hold ourselves up to the Scriptures, and to hold fast to the grace of God. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church writes in chapter 13, verse 5,

5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.

And in the same vein the writer of Hebrews writes, “strive…for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

Prayer

My prayer is that we would heed the words of our Lord and take heart that our Lord cares enough for us to warn us of being deceived.

Prayer

Related Media
Related Sermons