Jesus’ Response To Empty Words

“‘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).

On first reading, these are some of the most startling, convicting words Jesus ever uttered. The key issue for Him is obedience to His Word and will. He later declared, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31; cf. Rom. 6:16; Col. 1:22–23; Heb. 5:9).

All the empty words and professions of respect for Christ and the shallow works of supposed dedication now come to condemn all disobedient claimers to the Lord. When Jesus tells them, “I never knew you,” it does not mean He didn’t know their identities, but in essence, “I didn’t know you as My disciples, and you didn’t really know Me as Lord and Savior. You chose your kingdom, but it wasn’t My kingdom.”

A life that professes to be a Christian but in no way actually reflects His holiness does not possess true salvation. Such a profession comes from a dead faith that results in no good works (James 2:17).

It’s not that faithful disciples will not stumble and sin sometimes; otherwise Jesus would not have taught about forgiveness of debts (Matt. 6:12) and confession of sins (cf. 1 John 1:9). Believers cannot expect perfection in this life, but they should expect to be heading in that direction.

Those who persist in lawlessness show that they are not Christians. No matter how orthodox and outwardly fervent, religious activity that doesn’t stem from repentance of sin and manifest a desire for obedience to Christ is still rebellion against God’s law.

Ask Yourself

It’s not bragging on ourselves but on Christ when we admit to areas of spiritual growth and victory over sin. In what ways are you seeing yourself increasingly conformed to the nature of Christ?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.