Home > Misc > Difficult Passages…Matthew Chapter 7

Difficult Passages…Matthew Chapter 7

There are several passages in Scripture that have proven to be difficult for people over the years.  Some of these passages are often pulled out of context or simply misinterpreted and used to promote false doctrine.  One such example that I have seen come up several times in the last couple of weeks is Matthew chapter 7, verses 21-23.  The verses in question read as follows, Matthew 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

I will give you a couple examples of how I have seen this brief portion of Scripture mishandled in the last several weeks.  The first was in a meme that shared only verse 23 and stated, “Jesus didn’t tell them to depart from Him because they kept the law, but because they were law breakers.”  Also, there was a young lady arguing that salvation could be lost.  This was one of the places that she went to.  She believed the text showed that the people were Christian because of their good works, yet Christ was rejecting them; hence, they had lost their eternal salvation.

Let’s take a look at what is going on in this story and what is really being said.

Matthew 7:21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Here Jesus makes the profound statement that not everyone who calls Him Lord will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.  That word Lord is the Greek kurios, and means:  supreme in authority; controller; by implication Mr. (as a respectful title): – God, Lord, master, Sir.  Jesus says that it is not enough to simply recognize His Lordship, as many teach today.  There are well known preachers and televangelists who teach that to be saved you must make Jesus the Lord and Master of your life; this simply is not true and is illustrated here by Jesus’ own words.  You can be saved and make Him your Lord and Master, but simply making Him Lord and Master is not what saves as evidenced by His words that “not everyone” who calls Him Lord will be saved.  At the end of that statement we find the word “but.”  But is a great word.  It is a coordinating conjunction that shows contrast.  When we see or hear the word but, we know that what is coming next is about to be totally different from what we just heard.  Jesus told us that not everyone who acknowledges His Lordship will be saved, but. . .  Now He is about to tell us who will be saved.  He says, “but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”  Okay.  Great.  To go to Heaven we simply have to do the will of God the Father.  So just what is that?  We have to look no further than the Gospel of John to find that answer.  In John 6:40 we read, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”  Matthew 7:21; John 6:40 and the rest of the Bible teach to be saved that we must believe on Christ.   Acts 16:30-31, “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Matthew 7:22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  Jesus is foretelling that there will be many who stand before Him in judgment that are surprised to find that they will not be entering Heaven.  They try to justify their worthiness of Heaven by the good works that they performed in life.  Look at this impressive list.  1.)  Prophesied (or preached) in Jesus’ name.  2.)  Cast out devils in Jesus’ name.  3.)  Performed many wonderful works in Jesus’ name.  I find it interesting that in this impressive list of accomplishments that not one of them says, “Lord, I believed (trusted) on you as my only hope of Heaven,” or, “Jesus, I put my faith in you as my Saviour to get me into Heaven.”  It’s also interesting to note that Jesus doesn’t disagree with anything that they claimed.  However, everything that they listed as a reason to be saved was something that they had done.  What does God think of our works, no matter how good they may be?  Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”  No matter how hard we may try, we simply cannot atone for our sins.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  We have no part in our salvation; all that we can do is place our faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross.  Romans 4:4-5, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  5  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Matthew 7:23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.  Jesus doesn’t dispute or deny the boasts made by these men.  In fact, today we see many professing Christians who are claiming Jesus as Lord, and are in fact, doing many great works in His name.  But no amount of good work, in Jesus’ name or otherwise, will merit your entrance into Heaven.  Jesus didn’t say that they hadn’t done all of the many wonderful works that they claimed, but He did say to them, “I never knew you.”  It’s important to note that He says He never knew them.  He didn’t say He used to know them and now He doesn’t or that He forgot about them; He says He never knew them.  This is important because it proves that these weren’t people who were saved and then lost their salvation.  These were people who were never saved and tried to get into Heaven by working their way in.  Jesus called those people who had done these many wonderful works, “ye that work iniquity.”  Their great works were worth as much as lawless works of iniquity.

Matthew 7:21-23 is not a story about people who were saved and lost their salvation, not is it a story about people who were cast into hell because they didn’t keep the law.  This is a story about people trusting in their good works to save them.  Good works will never save you and they will not keep you saved.   Philippians 3:9 says, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”  When you trust Christ as Saviour, His payment is put to your account and you are given His righteousness; you go to Heaven on what He did.  Trust Him alone as your only hope of Heaven today.

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