Jesus once said, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:22-23)
What an amazing thing for Jesus to say don’t you think? He says “many” will say this one day in hopes to gain favor with God. What can we make of this? Doesn’t God want us to do good things? Isn’t this part of what being a Christian is all about?
God is into the source of things, and has the ability to look further back and deeper into things than us mere mortals to see the origin and motives of our behaviors. I think this may be part of the lesson in these verses. Jesus is telling us that there are many people trusting in themselves to do what is pleasing to God.
It’s interesting to me to hear Jesus’ response to this list of “good deeds.” He says, “I never knew you.” Wow! So this clearly shows us that there are people that do not have a relationship with Christ that can perform wonderful things even in his name. What about Jesus telling them they were practicing lawlessness? What could that mean?
Remember this is set in the context of Jesus warning of false prophets and how one can spot them. He said, “You will know them by their fruits.” The Law is summed up “We are to love God and love our neighbor” so any work or good deed that is coming from any other motive or attitude isn’t the correct source. If there is a motive to make one “right” with God apart from a relationship with Christ it is evil. There is absolutely no righteousness apart from Christ; we simply cannot come up with our own. These folks were saying, “Didn’t we?” Right away Jesus heard a satanic pride and independent attitude.
Wasn’t it Lucifer who said, “I will make myself like the Most High?” He thought he could be like God and perform up to some standard of righteousness without God being the source. In other words he thought he could be a source of goodness all his own. He refused to acknowledge he was a simple vessel. Rather than live a restful life trusting God to be his power source, righteousness, justification, wisdom, sanctification etc. He decided to attempt living as if he was righteous in himself. This is the height of deception.
For anyone to think they are going to stand before Jesus Christ one day declaring how great they are and why they should be rewarded would have to be delusional. This is why Jesus said to them “I never knew you” because anyone that has truly known Jesus Christ would know he is the only one that deserves any credit at all. Apart from him we can do nothing. Jesus told us we are the branch and he’s the vine. If we abide in him we will bear much fruit. The key is staying connected to him though we, as a branch, cannot bear fruit of ourselves. Therefore, as a branch, I will never stand before Jesus saying, “Didn’t I produce all this fruit?” He would most definitely say to me “I never knew you.”
The truth of the matter is we, in and of ourselves, have no hope of being made right with God because of any behavior or actions of our own. The very faith we have to even believe God to begin with is a gift. Paul said, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” We cannot put any confidence in the flesh (human strengths, abilities or achievements.)
Written by Louie