Jesus gave a pretty serious warning in Matthew 7 when He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven …” There are people, sitting in church every Sunday, who believe they are headed for heaven when they’re really in danger of hearing those words, “I never knew you, depart from me …”
Read today’s post to see what won’t save us. Don’t let pride or fear of what people might think keep you from seeking answers if you think that could be you!
Also, read about the importance of removing the logs from our own eyes before we can be any help to others in “Judging Hearts & Log Removal,” what it really means to live “Life on the Rock,” about “God’s Favor,” and from our Old Testament reading, “Why Did Sarah Laugh at the Promise of God?” and “The Outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Genesis 17 & 18
Scary Words: “I never knew you”
Judging Hearts & Log Removal
Matthew 7.1-5 reminds us of the dangers of judging the hearts and motives of others (although we are to judge sin and even, at times, to lovingly rebuke one another, more about that in a later commentary):
1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
It’s so easy to see the sins of others as logs and our own as specks, but Jesus said we have it backward. In fact, we can be so blinded by the logs sticking out of our eyes that we can’t see clearly to help anyone else.
When we fail to judge ourselves, we are in danger of God’s discipline.
31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
You can read more about this in “Excuse me, there’s a telephone pole in your eye!”
I never knew you!
Verses 21-23 contain an even more serious warning to us when Jesus said:
21 “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. 22 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?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'”
This passage should remind us that there are many people sitting in churches who think they are right with God, but who Jesus says are in danger of hearing, “I never knew you!”
Believing in God, coming to church, reading your Bible, teaching in the church, serving in ministry, taking sacraments, doing good works, prophesying (God spoke through pagans and even a donkey once so this is not a test of spirituality), casting out demons, and doing wonders cannot save you!
12 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 Jn. 5)
God wants us to know that we have eternal life, but only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can save us. Entering into a personal relationship with Him means we have come to the end of ourselves, admitted that we are sinners and cannot save ourselves. It means we have accepted Christ’s work on the cross, personally, asked Him to forgive us, and believed that He can. Don’t let what people might think or your own stubborn pride keep you from a genuine relationship with Him!
If you have questions, you might also want to read yesterday’s post, “When You Need Reassurance from God.”
Life on the Rock
But notice what the Rock is—it is HEARING and DOING what we’ve heard (“… whoever hears these words of mine and does them …” (v. 24). Just knowing what the Bible says is not enough, only living obediently out of a desire to please Him causes our house to be built on the Rock.
Somewhere I read the only way we can ever live obediently is to shoot for something much higher—to be like Christ. It’s what Jesus was talking about when he told the Pharisees not to just wash the outside of the cup (doing good things), but the inside of the cup (the heart) (Matt. 23.25-26).
Today’s Other Readings:
Genesis 17 & 18:
Why did Sarah laugh?
In these two chapters, God confirmed His promise to Abram that he would be the father of many nations. To help him and Sarai remember, He changed their names, calling Abram, Abraham and Sarai, Sarah.
God would carry out His promise in spite of the fact that Abram and Sarai had tried to take matters into their own hands. At Sarai’s request, Abram had taken her handmaid as his wife. The union had produced a son by the name of Ismael.
But God told Abraham that while He would bless Ismael, he was not the promised child. That child would come through Sarah.
And He didn’t leave it up to Abraham to convey that fact to her. He allowed her to overhear their conversation and let her know that He was listening to what was going on in her heart. When she “laughed within herself” (Gen.18.12), He asked, “Why did Sarah laugh …?” (Gen 18.13) and then said, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen 18.14) What a great promise for us to remember, as well!
As the reality that Ishmael was not the promised child dawned on Abraham, he prayed, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” (Gen 17.18). We should remember that Ishmael was his only son and he loved him. He was praying that God would not forget him, even though he was born through his and Sarah’s sinful self-efforts.
Notice God’s promise in answer to Abraham’s prayer:
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation” (17.20).
A great reminder to us that we need to pray faithfully for all our children, no matter where they are in their walk with God or where we were in our walk when they were conceived. And, as Abraham knew, the greatest blessing we can pray for them is not that they would be successful from the world’s perspective, but that they might live righteously before God. When they do, God will take care of their material needs.
The Outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah
Chapter 18 goes on:
16 Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?
20 And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 21 I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
Matthew Henry in his commentary said, “Some sins, and the sins of some sinners, cry aloud to heaven for vengeance. The iniquity of Sodom was crying iniquity, that is, it was so very provoking that it even urged God to punish.”
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord. 23 Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?
God assured Abraham he would spare the city if He found fifty righteous. But Abraham didn’t stop there, he implored God to spare it for forty-five, then forty, then thirty, then twenty, and finally ten. Each time God responded positively.
Henry goes on, “Though sin is to be hated, sinners are to be pitied and prayed for. God delights not in their death, nor should we desire, but deprecate, the woeful day.” In fact, the Bible says that God looks for men and women who will stand in the gap and pray for others (Ezek. 22.30) like Abraham did.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13.8). The sins that cried out to heaven then are surely crying out today. I, for one, am convicted that I don’t pray enough for those I know who are caught up in the same sin and others.
Verse 12, “For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.”
Why do we spend so much time currying the favor of men and women at the cost of our relationship with God, when we have His favor?
Wisdom & the Immoral Woman
10 When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
11 Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
12 To deliver you … (vss. 10-12).
What follows is a list of several things from which wisdom, knowledge, discretion, and understanding will deliver us. Included in that list is “the immoral woman, … the seductress who flatters with her words, who forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God” (“Prov. 2.16-17).
As mom’s, let’s teach our sons to have the wisdom, knowledge, discretion, and understanding that will keep them from falling into Satan’s snares in this area.
What do you need to do with what you’ve read today?
Do you know for sure you are in right relationship with God?
Are you living obediently, as a doer of the Word and not just a hearer?
Are you praying for God’s wisdom in your life and the lives of others?
Are you examining your life in light of Scripture and removing the logs God reveals?
Praying the Bible:
10 When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
11 Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you.
Lord, I pray that as I read Your Word, wisdom would enter my heart, knowledge would be pleasant to my soul, discretion would preserve me and understanding would keep me. Help me to have the wisdom I need to apply Your truths to the everyday events of my life. In Jesus name. Amen.
In the coming days, we’ll talk about those things in our lives that we may need to put on the altar, knowing when it’s time to go, the consequences of favoritism, and how we often hide who we really are.
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This Month’s Featured Resources:
Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney
“This little book is explosive and powerful.”
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
When you pray, does it ever feel like you’re just saying the same old things about the same old things?
Offering us the encouragement and the practical advice we’re all looking for, Donald S. Whitney, best-selling author of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, outlines an easy-to-grasp method that has the power to transform our prayer life: praying the words of Scripture. Simple, yet profound, Praying the Bible will prove invaluable as you seek to commune with your heavenly Father in prayer each and every day.
The MacArthur Daily Bible takes a portion of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs for each day of the year, with daily comments that guide and inform you as you read through the Bible in a year. John MacArthur’s insight maximizes the benefit of each day’s reading. If a commitment to daily Bible reading never worked for you before, this is the answer. With John at your side, there’ll be no such thing as a tough portion of Scripture.