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Commentary on Matthew 7:21-23: A solemn Warning from Jesus

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Afraid after Reading Matthew 7:21-23


“Not everyone 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. 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? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

The first time I read the above passage as a “baby” Christian, I thought, “Oh dear! If people who lived closed enough to Jesus to prophesy in His name, cast out devils, and work miracles in His name were denied entrance through the pearly gates; should I really hope to be saved in the end? I know the Lord is called a hard man in the scripture of Matthew 25:24, but I didn't know He was that harsh!”

I was one of many believers who was deceived into believing that the key to not hearing Jesus say in the last day, “depart from me”, was to make sure I do His will. This is what many respected Christian leaders teach. It sounded like the right interpretation of the Matthew 7:23-24 passage. After all, Jesus does say in it, “...he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” However, focus on doing the will of God, though extremely important, is NOT the key to fully understanding what Christ is revealing about these people who, in the last day, are utterly shocked to find out they will not be entering heaven. In fact, the Lord tells them to depart from His presence. These people are lost! But why?

Jesus Said, “I NEVER knew you.”


To the people who thought they were so greatly used by God, because they prophesied, cast out devils, and worked miracles in Jesus' name; the Lord said, “I never knew you” (Matthew 21:23). In the basic sense of the word “know”, the Lord knows everyone of course. But the Bible reveals another definition of “know” when it comes to salvation. The spiritual definition revealed by God's Word is to have an intimate relationship. To be “known” of God is to be saved from your sins. It is to be in fellowship with Christ. It is to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. We read:

“But if any man LOVE God, the same is known of Him.” (1 Corinthians 8:3)
Only those who love God are known of Him.

“But now after that ye have known God, or rather are KNOWN of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:9)

For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am KNOWN.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

As unknown (of men), yet well KNOWN (of God)... (2 Corinthians 6:9)

The use of the words “know” and “known” so strongly signifies a close relationship that they are even used to refer to physical intimacy in scriptures such as Genesis 4:1 and Matthew 1:24-24.

Now then to be known of Jesus is to be in intimate fellowship with Him. Only those who have repented of their sins, received Him as Lord, and walk in obedience enjoy the blessing of an intimate relationship with the Son of God.

Note that in the passage of Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus not only says He does not KNOW these people who prophesied in His name, who cast out devils in His name, and who did many wonderful works in His name; He says He NEVER knew them. Plain and simple, these people NEVER entered into a relationship with Christ. They were never known of Christ. They never converted to Christ. The never served Christ. They never obeyed Christ. They never walked with Christ. Had they ever even once converted to Jesus, the Lord would not have said to them, “I NEVER knew you.”

”Ye that Word Iniquity”


Not only did they never have communion with the Lord, we are told by the Lord Jesus Himself that they were “workers of iniquity”. Iniquity is wickedness and sin. But if they were workers of iniquity, how is it that they were able to prophesy, cast out devils, and do many wonderful works in the name of Jesus? The answer is they did no such works in the name of the Jesus of Nazareth. Is that speculation, or is such a conclusion backed by scripture?

Such a statement has scriptural backing. In the book of Mark, we read of a man who did not travel with the twelve apostles--a man who cast out devils in the name of Jesus. We're not told this man's name. In fact, very little is written about him, but what little we're told about him is extremely important. This is what we read about this man of great faith:

“John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us. And we forbade him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not, for there is NO MAN which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.” (Mark 9:38-40).

Unlike the people in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus does not say that the man in the Mark passage is a worker of iniquity. What's more is He lets His disciples know the man, whether he travels with them or not, is on their side. The Lord also teaches us that NO ONE who even lightly speaks evil of the Lord can cast out devils or work a miracle in the name of Jesus. It's impossible. Now then, if you can't cast out devils or work miracles in Jesus' name if you even lightly speak evil of Him, why would people who are workers of iniquity be permitted to prophesy, cast out devils, and work miracles in His name? The answer is they NEVER did those things in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God--but they thought they did.

The prophesies, the casting out of demons, and the performance of “wonderful” works were all done in the name of a false Jesus. Did not Christ warn us all about this when He said, “There shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24)

Satan is the great deceiver. Deceiving people into thinking they're witnessing the power of the Holy Spirit, when in reality they're witnessing the power of very unholy spirits, is a most powerful way to deceive the masses. But why would God allow those souls to be so deceived? Because they chose to reject truth, and to take pleasure in unrighteousness. God will not strive with us forever. He will give us up to all the sinful practices we insist on keeping until our stubborn insistence deceives us to the point we think we're serving Him.

“For this cause God gave them up into vile affection.” (Romans 1:26)

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

Jesus warned His true disciples that, “The time cometh that whosever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” (St. John 16:2)


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