“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 7:22-23
This subject has been weighing very heavy on my heart lately, and I feel that finally the Lord has given me wisdom to see some deep truths concerning these verses, and has given me the release to write about it.
I think the Church is further away from the Lord than we think. And why is this? Well to begin with we have a common enemy that never sleeps. He has deluded some into thinking a lukewarm life is okay. But these ones soon forget that our Lord said, “So then, because you are lukewarm…I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16
One cannot vomit out something unless it has really upset their stomach and caused a violent reaction. This is the body’s way of keeping itself clean from poisons and toxins. It is the same way spiritually, according to the Lord. It (meaning certain ones) went into His body, and His body found it repulsive and had to get rid of it. But notice something here…that they were in His body.
There has been much speculation over the years as to the meaning of the above opening scripture reference. But let us look at it very carefully in the light of the full revelation of God’s word. Just some things to consider about these people in the above verses:
- They were calling Him “Lord, Lord” – Well the last time I checked 1st Corinthians 12:3, it said that “NO ONE can even call Him Lord except it be by the Holy Spirit.”
- These ones were casting out demons (one of the signs that will follow believers – Mark 16:17) and they were even operating in 2 of the 9 gifts spoken of in 1st Corinthians 12:7-9: “prophesying” and “wonders” [which would fall under the “miracles” gift].
- And they were doing it all “in His name”
So then there has to be more to this than just meets the eye at first glance. Jesus said to them, “I never knew you.” Lets really look at this phrase carefully. Most commentators have stressed the word “never” and thereby have led many to believe that these ones were never Christians in the first place. But I submit to you a different thought – that maybe we should be stressing the word “knew.”
I think that what the Lord is really trying to bring out here is not necessarily that He “never” knew them at all, but that he never “knew” them. There are 4 different Greek words in the New Testament for “knew” and this particular word “knew” means to know very intimately. It is the same word used for “Joseph ‘knew’ (did not lay with her in sexual relations) not Mary until after she had brought forth her firstborn Son.” This word carries with it a very powerful understanding in the ears of a Greek-speaking Jew. It speaks of intimate knowledge, relationships, and deep commitment, and an even deeper love.
You see, these ones never wanted to develop a deep intimate relationship with the Lord. They wanted to “follow Him from afar” (Matthew 26:58, “But Peter followed Him from afar”). They wanted to call Him Lord, but they sure didn’t want to make Him the Lord of their life. Luke 19:14 “They would not have this Man to reign over them”.
Jesus never really “knew” them. He had only heard about them. They wanted to serve Him according to their own ideas. These are the ones who say, “We don’t need to be fanatics in our love to Him.” The relationship was according to their standard, their view of what it should be, and their carnal idea of what it means to be a Christian. They wrote their own definition of the word “knew” because His was too demanding and exacting. “I mean really, who does this Man thinks He really is to demand this type of love and commitment from me?” they say.
Now lets move on to the last part of the verse that the Lord has been really ministering to me about for the last few months…”you who practice lawlessness.” Let’s notice something here about this word “practice.” It means, “to be actively engaged in, continually practicing, giving attention to”. The KJV of this word is “work.” So now we see that these particular people were working and practicing at committing this lawlessness.
It will be hard to really understand what is even being spoken of here unless we have an understanding of what the entire theme of what the Lord is saying is brought out. This leads us to the final word in this verse, which is “lawlessness”. Consider the following verse: “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.” 1st John 3:4
Now we have an understanding of what the Lord is bringing out in the Matthew 7:23 verse. Lets now say (read) the Matthew verse a different way with an understanding of the 1st John 3:4 verse: “I never really had an intimate relationship with you, depart from me you who are committing sins and practicing sins on a regular basis.” This is not talking about the person that commits a sin and asks forgiveness. For we all know that we commit sin against God, others, and ourselves. And as John said, “if any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father.” Notice he didn’t say “when” any man sins…” but he said “if” – therefore he’s not expecting us to sin, but if someone does he can ask forgiveness and it will be granted to him.
I think this issue of sins and sinning is a huge issue as many of our brothers and sisters are living in this and practicing it on a regular basis. Don’t get confused here; when John said, “he that says he has no sin is a liar” he is referring to the sin-nature (indwelling sin in our members). You will notice that he used the word in its singular form. There were some back then that were saying that because they had become Christians, that God had taken away the very sin nature from out of their members. And we know from Romans that this is not the case, and we know from our experience that this is not the case.
The New Testament has quite a bit to say actually about those who know to do good and do it not and to them it is a sin. (“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17). All of the New Testament writers spoke of this issue and some of them even wrote about it at great length. I have been walking with the Lord for almost 25 years and have just now begun to see how serious the Lord treats this issue of sins and sinning in His word.
I feel we have grown cold, deaf, and numb to it. I don’t understand why either. Is it from a lack of teaching? Is it from a lack of personal commitment to the Lord? Is it a lack of self-sacrifice? Is it a lack of no personal prayer time and study of His word? Could it be that the love of the world has entered in? Could it be that satan has lied to us all and whispered in our ear, “legalism, don’t get legal about your walk with Him, you’re okay, it’s okay, His grace will cover it all in that day, don’t worry about it, has God really said that you will die?” I think it’s a culmination of all of the above.
All I can tell you is that personally I’m scared to death of losing out on it all just because I couldn’t believe, or really live my life for Him, I’m becoming more scared of the world and what it offers as I see it in the light of who He is and what He has promised to those who love Him. You see, many say, “I love Him – I love Him” but they do not do His commandments. I’m sorry (I’m really not though) but Jesus said, “if you love me, you will do My commandments.” What are His commandments? I think you know, or at least your heart and conscience does. And of course His word lays His commandments out in plain English.
My exhortation to you is this: begin to read the New Testament and when you find something that conflicts with your lifestyle, conduct, or conversation…change real quick. Because “to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is a sin.”
These are very serious issues indeed. It is time to wake up and awake to righteousness and sin no more lest something worse comes upon you. This is what Jesus said, not me. Let your conscience be touched by the word and by His Spirit. Do not harden your heart as our forefathers did and whose bodies fell in the wilderness because God had sworn in His wrath that they should not enter into His rest. “For the time has come that judgment must first began at the house of God.” & “The Lord will judge His people” & “If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner (unbeliever) and ungodly (one who confesses Christ) appear?”
I have literally been trembling lately as I meditate more and more on what He said in the New Testament and on what all the rest of the writers of the New Testament said. And I mean TREMBLING!!! We had better wake up real quick and see what Paul said is true, “It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” And he was writing to Christians. And one last statement he said to Christians, “Without holiness, no man will see the Lord.”
Let us REALLY consider these things and look at our own heart and living and ask ourselves this question, “Am I living right – am I doing what I know the word says I’m to be doing – do I love the world & the things in the world – is my living righteous before God?” We can say all kinds of things to attempt to justify ourselves (“and this man, seeking to justify himself said…” Luke 10:29).