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!’ Matthew 7:21–23
Jesus has warned us to enter by the narrow gate and also to beware of false prophets. Now He gives His third and final warning: we are to beware of a false profession of faith: “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” (7:21).
This is a sobering exhortation, and it is particularly relevant in our day. Many people are under the delusion that their sinful behavior is somehow tolerated, even approved, by God. But Jesus said, “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!’” (7:22–23).
Doing the Will of God
Those who are saved are not those who merely say, “Lord, Lord,” but those who do the will of God. Those who “practice lawlessness,” on the other hand, will be sent out of God’s presence. The idea of practicing lawlessness refers to continuing in a lifestyle of sin. Those who do so contradict the very objective of salvation—deliverance from sin.
John expressed this clearly: “He was manifested to take away our sins” (1 John 3:5). Anyone who thinks he or she is a Christian, yet continues in a lifestyle of sin, is self-deceived.
True faith in Jesus is evidenced by life transformation, not by a mere change in vocabulary. Believing in Jesus Christ for salvation means repenting of our sin and then obediently following Him. People fool themselves thinking that because they’ve adopted some “Christian” phrases like, “Praise the Lord,” they are guaranteed a ticket to heaven. But the ones who will enter the kingdom of heaven do not merely “talk the talk,” they “walk the walk.” That is what Jesus is telling us here.
We need to take His words seriously because they speak of eternal destiny—of the reality of heaven and hell. Hell is an unpopular topic, and men have generally convinced themselves that if there is a hell, it’s only for mass murderers and other similarly evil people. Jesus tells us something much different. All those who refuse to do the will of God will be barred from heaven, the will of God being genuine faith in Him.
Obedience to God’s Word
As long as our faith is genuine, showing itself in obedience to God’s Word, we don’t ever have to worry about deceiving ourselves regarding our salvation. But if we are saying “Lord, Lord,” yet practicing lawlessness—living in a habitual state of sin—we need to take Jesus’ warning to heart. Jesus said, “They who love Me keep my commandments” (see John 14:21).
Lord, our hearts are prone to sin. Help us never to be self-deceived in regard to our relationship with You. May our hearts be always tender and sensitive to the work of Your Spirit.