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,” “Our Higher Standard,” and from our Old Testament reading, “Why did Sarah laugh at the promise of God?”
Genesis 17 & 18
Scary Words: “I never knew you”
Judging Hearts & Log Removal
Verses 1-5 remind 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).
I never knew you!
Verses 21-23 should serve as a serious warning to us:
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 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!
Life on the Rock
And finally, Matthew 7.24-27 talks about two kinds of men (and women). These men build houses on two kinds of foundations. One is a solid foundation, the Rock, and the other is sand.
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:
Why did Sarah laugh?
In these two chapters God reconfirms His promise to Abram that he will be the father of many nations. To help him and Sarai remember, He changes their names. He calls Abram, Abraham and Sarai, Sarah.
He didn’t leave it up to Abraham alone 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” (18.12), He asked, “Why did Sarah laugh …?” (18.13) and then, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (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!” (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).
That should be 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.
It’s apparent that Abraham had a heart for the people God had placed in his path, even beyond his immediate family. In Genesis 18 we see him praying again, not for himself, but for any righteous people in Sodom. I’m sure he was, especially, thinking of his nephew Lot, even though Lot had acted selfishly toward him and was not walking with God as he should have been.
That Very Same Day
One more thing I’d like to point out about Abraham is his response to God’s command concerning circumcision. In Genesis 17.23-27 we see that Abraham was quick to obey, even though what God had asked him to do must have been very unpleasant, in fact, painful! It says he did it “that very same day.”
Are we quick to obey God when the command is uncomfortable, inconvenient or difficult, or do we drag our feet, hoping He’ll change His mind or we can figure out some way to justify our disobedience?
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?
A Higher Standard
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” (vss. 16-17).
Men, pray for God’s wisdom in this area and, ladies, let’s pray for our husbands and brothers and sons. And let’s seek to be like the mother in Proverbs 31 who taught her son the characteristics of a godly woman.
And as women, certainly, there are those who purposely set out to ensnare men with their sexuality. But we shouldn’t be too quick to say there is nothing here that applies to us. Jesus always calls us to a higher standard than the “letter of the law” (Matt. 5.21-22, 27-28). We must be careful how we dress and the messages we send, intentionally or unintentionally. We should never be a stumbling block to one of our brothers in Christ or any man.
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 He reveals?
I’m praying that we all grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as we seek to know Him and His Word in 2017.
What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in 2017? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
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