“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.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?’And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." Matthew 7:21-23
This is one of the tough and troublesome sayings of Jesus.
Before we wade into tackling this troublesome theme, let's set the scene.
Jesus is teaching on the Kingdom of God and painting word pictures to illustrate it. This new Kingdom will be a spiritual kingdom based on a new faith relationship and not on religious practices.
He warns of false prophets who were prevalent then and would multiply exponentially as the end of the age approaches.
Prior to this statement, Jesus has presented Himself as the door to the Kingdom. There is no back door or side door into the kingdom, only the main Door - Jesus! If you want into the Kingdom you enter through Him!
Paradoxically, the way through the Door to the kingdom is to open the door your YOUR soul to Him! The Kingdom consists of those who live in a dependent faith relationship with King Jesus!
The struggle has always been between religion and relationship.
Religion rests on the premise that you can keep rules and perform rituals to earn your way into God's favor. Honestly, Jesus mentions some impressive works performed by these professed followers - prophecies and signs and wonders!
How many signs and wonders have you performed? How many have you witnessed?
Can you understand how people can be fooled?
Relationship rests on the promise that God has already provided a the way into the Kingdom for you. He has accepted you, just accept Him!
Religion says, "It's about what I have to do!"
Relationship says, "It's about what He has already done!"
Trust His provision and reject your puny efforts. Stop trying and start trusting!
One more thing!
How powerful is the Name of Jesus that even religious people can claim the name and drive out demons!
So, how much more powerful should we be who rest in relationship with Him?