By Pastor Jason Swedeen, The Rock, Little Falls
It may seem like an odd question and most certainly in the world we live in it is important that we are judged by the fruit of our life. But when it comes to what really matters at the end of the day, or in reality, at the end of our life, “who knows you” is really what matters.
Men and women today are praised and known for what they do and receive rewards for this accomplishment and that accomplishment. Never have I seen or heard of one receiving a reward because they were “known” by somebody.
But believe me, there have been many amazing things that many people have done that have helped humanity and even have been done in the name of Jesus. Things like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, saving refugees, giving shelter to the homeless, even things like casting out demons or doing miracles, as Jesus mentions in Matthew 7:22.
Often times, spiritually speaking, people do great things thinking that it will cause God to love or accept them and allow them to enter heaven for eternity. But that is not what Jesus teaches.
In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
Jesus is saying that there are people who think that they know him or should enter heaven because they have done some wonderful things in his name. Jesus makes it very clear that heaven will be occupied by only those who have done the Father’s will.
What is the Father’s will? Well, first things first. Let’s look at how Jesus ends verse 23: “You who practice lawlessness.” Lawlessness is a state of disorder due to a disregard of the law. Disorder is anything that is outside of the order that God designed.
To understand what Jesus is saying, we need to understand the reality behind the law. The law, in the natural, shows us how things are to work, ie: law of gravity, law of thermodynamics and so on.
The law in the Bible, likewise, is to show us how we are to function in relationship to God. The law actually reveals our need for a savior, not how much we can do for him. It points to intimacy through relationship. Does God want, and even need, all the good things that are done in his name to be done? Yes. But, things done for him were ordered to be done from a place of relationship, never to gain anything from him.
Lawlessness, in what Jesus is talking about, is about having disregard for the law of relationship, the intimacy that the Father paid such a huge price for us to possess, which having disregard creates disorder in that we do good for something rather than because of a relationship.
So, what is doing the Father’s will? By order, by design, it is rooted in a living, intimate relationship with Father God. So, again, Jesus is saying that those who bypass the order and importance of relationship and jump to just doing good, even in his name, even if it looks really good as an accomplishment in life, he does not know them and therefore will not enter the kingdom of heaven. The Bible says that “Our righteousness (the good that we can do) is as filthy rags.”
Though God desires great works to be accomplished, his delight is in our relationship with him. The first and greatest commandment, as we read in Deuteronomy 6:5 is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.”
Clearly the order is: Relationship, love. Our “right of passage” into his kingdom is because we are covered by his blood, not what we have done.
Are you known by Jesus because of a relationship or are you known by your works? Let us agree together, by the power of Jesus’ name, to break off any religious spirit that would attempt to get us to bypass God’s order and let those of us who truly know him as Lord, guard our hearts to keep him as the pursuit of our lives.
Grace to each one of you.