A Bold Claim To Deity: Matthew 7:21-23
““21) Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22) 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?’ 23) And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭21‬-‭23‬ ‭
Something absolutely profound happened in these three verses that is often missed. Jesus makes a bold claim of being Deity. Look carefully; “Many will say to me on that ‘Lord, Lord.’” Did you see what just happened? Jesus claimed to be both Lord and eternal Judge.” He is the One we will all kneel before some day. (Philippians 2:9-11) Jesus just claimed to be the gate keeper to heaven!
This is often obscured by people who use this text to support the claim that a genuine Christian can loose their salvation. But Jesus said the opposite. Let me state the obvious; “You cannot loose what you never had!” Jesus said, “… I never knew you.” He did not say; “You once belonged to me, but I lost you.” He said; “… I never knew you!
That my friend is a very sobering thought, because these people thought they were Christians. They assumed that their religion, their church, their religious ceremonies and deeds of benevolence had saved them. They were tragically wrong! They were deceived.
Keep in mind, the context is talking about those who come through the wide gate, the broad way, false prophets, ravenous wolves, bad trees and bad fruit. (Read from Matthew 7:13-23) If you include Matthew 7:24-27, these are the ones who built their house on the sand. They were religious but lost.
But wait, another amazing thing happens in this text. Verse 22 says that these people prophesied, cast out demons and even performed miracles in the name of Jesus. How do you explain that? Well, it seems that the name of Jesus is authoritative and powerful no matter who evokes it! The name of Jesus Christ is recognized as preeminent in the spiritual realm.
For example, in Acts 16:13-16 some Jewish exorcists evoked the name of Jesus when attempting to cast out a demon. The demon recognized and acknowledged Jesus, but did not obey them.
I have no problem imagining that demons might cooperate and seem to leave in order to prop up a false prophet to deceive people. For that matter, false prophets can duplicate all kinds of false signs and wonders.
Look at what Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12. The apostasy perpetrated by the man of lawlessness is going to come with many false signs and wonders to the point that he will display himself as being God. Paul refers to this as “the mystery of lawlessness.” Isn’t that coincidental with what Jesus said in Matthew 7:23? We again see the word “lawlessness.” The end goal is deception and eternal destruction. Many will be deceived.
Many people are religious but lost! The broad gate and the broad way will be full of religious people. Saul was religious but lost before he met Jesus Christ. In his zeal for God… he killed Christians. The chief priests and religious leaders who had Jesus crucified were religious but lost. According to the Bible, many devout followers of various world religions are religious but lost. Many who call themselves Christians are religious but lost. Jesus will say to them on that day; “ I never knew you: DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”
In John 3:1-21, Jesus had a very important conversation with a religious but lost man named Nicodemus. In verse 3, Jesus told him; “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” In verses 5-6, he added that a person needs to be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of God.
The conversation builds to a climax in John 3:16-18. With these verses we discover that personal faith in Jesus Christ is the basis of salvation. These are the people who through personal faith invite Jesus Christ into their lives.
According to John 1:12; “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” We have just come full circle back to His name.
It is a very different thing to give religious lip service to His name than it is personally believe in Him, place saving faith in Him, invite Him into your life and become a child of God through faith in His name. Those who are born again in this way are known by Him. They are sealed and filled with the Holy Spirit and transformed into new people. This is what it means to be born again.
It behooves every person to study what it means to be born again from the Bible. Are you on the wide path or the narrow path? Are you trying to enter heaven through the wide gate or the narrow gate? Are you a child of God through personal faith in Jesus Christ or will He say to you; “ I never knew you: DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS”?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global