21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?’ 23 But then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil.’
Jesus here is concluding his long and excellent “Sermon on the Mount’. After declaring profound truths about God’s Kingdom requirements, he directs a stern warning to false disciples. To hypocrites. He tells them how useless it is to call him Lord – to use his name and authority – while living lives of disobedience to his commands.
A mere outward profession of Christ, no matter how remarkable or showy, won’t get a person into heaven. The final judgement is in the Lord’s hands. He alone decides the terms of eternal life and death, and will judge each person accordingly.
And here Jesus stated that plainly. “Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” shall enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus knows intimately each person’s heart. He can’t be fooled by an outward show. We can’t just “compliment” Jesus by calling him Lord. It’s necessary to do the will of his Father. To believe in Christ, repent of sin, live a holy life by the power of the Holy Spirit, and love one another. To be set apartfor him. It’s a mockery to call Jesus “Lord” when your life fails to conform to his word.
Here Jesus shows hypocrites pleading their cases before him on grounds other than the obedience he demands. Jesus answers that in that great day --- the final judgement day --- secrets of the heart will be revealed. He will expose the charade of their outward religious show.
These false disciples plead to him in great confidence. Lord, don’t you know? I prophesied in your name. But Christ didn’t send them; they only used his name for their purposes. A man may appear to be a gifted preacher, and even help others get into heaven, yet remain shut out himself.
He may cast out devils using Christ’s powerful name, yet be a devil himself. He may perform miracles, but without the justifying faith that works by obedience and love. He may gain man’s approval, but fall short of acceptance by God.
Being saved by grace through faith can get a soul into heaven without him performing miracles. But a person performing mighty miracles --- even in Christ’s name --- yet lacking saving grace is still eternally damned.
Jesus, the One who laid out God’s requirements, will be the one who in the end judges each life by them. As a judge in a courtroom, he here overrules the hypocrite’s frivolous pleas and passes sentence. “I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice evil.”
Notice that Jesus calls these same ones, who just declared their “religiosity”, workers of evil, and he condemns them.
It’s implied that these false disciples were indeed ones who had been around Jesus. Yet he says, “I never knew you!” He’s saying, “I never owned you as one of mine.” In spite of their public performance, Jesus always knew they had evil hearts. Finally, he puts an end to their charade. “Depart from me, you workers of evil.”
In these days, the Savior still calls sinners to himself for salvation. But on that day of final judgement, he will drive them from him forever. Separated and condemned for the rest of eternity; cut off forever from any hope of salvation.
We must examine our hearts now before God. Make sure you truly are one of his. The consequences are eternal.