“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.'”
This has always been a hard passage for me. When talking about funerals, a pastor mentioned he had great joy in performing a funeral for someone whom he knew had an intimate relationship with Jesus. I mean, let’s be honest–being in Jesus presence far outweighs any joy we have on this earth–so when someone who really loved Jesus passes on from this life, there is cause for nothing but a celebration!
Tonight, during our Life Group, we were discussing the dangers of being lukewarm in your faith–one of the women asked (I’m paraphrasing) “so, how do you know that those people are in heaven then, after reading Matthew 7:21–those people Jesus was talking about were doing ‘great things’ like casting out demons in Jesus’ name…how do we know those people who we thought really loved Jesus weren’t just faking it?” That is a good question. I’ve never thought about that before. So, considering I can’t sleep (again) I figured I would go see if I could find out what God had to say about it. 🙂
You know, only the Lord truly knows the heart–but I do think there are definite signals in someone’s life that really can indicate if they’ve been transformed by Jesus’ blood or not. I got out our gigantic ESV study Bible to look up this passage and see what the footnotes say.
7:21-23: The kingdom community must guard against not only false prophets (vv 15-20) but also false disciples. Lord, Lord. An oral confession of Jesus as Lord does not always indicate a repentant heart.
Ouch. An oral confession of Jesus as Lord does not always indicate a repentant heart. In this generation/time, even confessing Jesus as Lord is not something someone does lightly, as this usually will cause some sort of rift or another and will usually end up with the person being labeled just a little bit “off.” So, it might take a little bit of guts for someone to openly say “yeah, Jesus is Lord.” And even then? They might get to Heaven and hear Jesus say “I never knew you; depart from me..”???
One indication of a true disciple of Christ is a repentant heart. I searched for “repent” on ESV’s website and found 77 verses with the word repent in them. John the Baptist talks about repenting in Matthew 3–he actually has some pretty harsh words for the Pharisees and Sadducees who were really “good” men–they kept all the laws, got everything “right” And yet, they couldn’t have been more wrong; “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”
The footnotes for 3:2 say
To repent, or ‘change one’s mind,’ in the Old Testament called for a change in a person’s attitude toward God that impacted one’s actions and life choices; it involved the idea of ‘turning,’ that is, from one way of thinking and living to a different way. Common external signs of repentance included prayers of remorse and confession and renouncing of sin.
So, a very good indication that someone wasn’t just “faking” would be is their relationship with God affecting life choices and decisions they make, even on a daily basis? Are they actively seeking to avoid sin? When they do sin, does it affect their heart, because they just sinned against the God of the universe?? Are their prayers like that of the tax collector in Luke’s account of the Gospel-“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Or does their life look exactly like everyone else around them, with the only difference being they’ve slapped Christ’s name on their life hoping to get a little fire insurance in the end?
However, one might be able to argue–Ok, so they were repentant. That’s something someone can be without anyone else really ever “seeing” that. So how can you really know that someone is going to heaven and you can rejoice at their funeral? Having a repentant heart could possibly be something that one could keep pretty well hidden I suppose. And maybe not even on purpose. It just never really comes up in conversation. Ever. Because they never talk about Jesus.
Hmmm……you know, I’m going to just leave you hanging on that one. For now. It’s late and I need to get to bed sometime before it’s morning as I start my new job tomorrow!
So, stay tuned, for signs of a transformed life, part II. 🙂 Coming soon. Or maybe in a relatively “soon” time frame.
**And just a side note, I really struggle with being repentant in my attitude towards God. So this is something that is really challenging me and stretching me, so just sharing what I’m learning along the way**