By Stan Counsell
“Depart from me, I never knew you!”
Matthew 7:15-23. Luke 6:46-49. Luke 13:22-28.
These portions in the Bible appear to be a disturbing head-scratcher to many a believer or curious reader. And, with the best of intentions, we try our hardest to figure it out based on our own reasoning or by what we have been taught.
Just what did Jesus mean in Matthew and Luke? Where do we fit in these verses? Are we accepted or are we just not “good” enough? Some will feel their salvation is in peril, thinking, “I haven’t done those works, they did and still got condemned.” Still others will think that perfect church attendance anywhere, and a few dollars in the plate, punches their “ticket” to Heaven. So, just what did Jesus mean?
Simply put, Jesus was warning His followers that there are two different faiths regarding Christianity, one to attain and one to sternly reject. Faith is either true or it is false. And, in its context, Jesus was teaching what type of faith people needed to have in order to follow Him.
True faith thrives within true Christianity, not in popular religious churchiness. Such faith cherishes God’s complete Word but steadfastly refuses alleged “inspired” books, false teachings and other practices. It is enamored with God’s abounding love and forgiveness for His people. It joyfully seeks and delights in a relationship with God, being made anew in Jesus Christ, becoming born again.
This faith births a continually changing life of turning from sin, growing in the Holy Spirit and committing to a local body of believers. It sees discipleship as a goal to joyfully grasp because it is active and alive, creating an exciting believer’s heart. It’s not muddled in continual excuses for inactivity.
Nominal Christianity and cult organizations and doctrines are rich breeding grounds for false faith. A constant is the continual changing of its “truths” and beliefs when they become unpopular. In short, they follow what seems right for now. In such deceit, one person’s “truth” is allowed to contradict another’s, but they are still considered the “truth.”
Jesus never said, “No one comes to the Father except by Me. But, gee, there might be other ways too.” False faith speaks about God, but it is lip service and “God talk.” It is void of biblical convictions and obedience. The Bible might be seen or displayed, but there is no attempt to genuinely study it as the only unchanging truth about God and humankind.
Its adherents claim Jesus is divine, but they have no genuine identity with the real Christ, they just claim to. Instead, Jesus is placed on the same pedestal with other false religious systems. Jesus is denied, ignored or seriously falsified into what He isn’t.
To be clear, Christianity has always been infused with false apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Jesus said it would.
From the beginning of creation, Satan has been at work trying to distort or eliminate Jesus. We can become gods, have special/secret knowledge, possess books “equal” to the Bible, believe in reincarnation or cherry-pick Bible verses. In short, Almighty God is reinvented into what He isn’t. So, let’s study the real truths laid before that crowd of listeners.
False confessions can fool people, but not Jesus. On the day of judgment, He will separate His true followers from those of Satan. But, the rejected will take umbrage, loudly declaring they are “Christians” too, that Jesus is making a horrible mistake. Let’s see the lies put forth by them.
Not everyone who calls Jesus “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. For Lord (kurios) means “anointed Savior, Master of all life, God, the Messiah.” To say Lord but not mean it is tragically abhorrent.
They will boldly declare, “We prophesied in your name.” But did they? Prophecy is speaking as an oracle of God, always being correct. But false prophets (Greek) means “act as if a prophet, lofty speech, to refute God’s teachings.” They are motivated by pride, elevated social/religious status, money and Satan.
“We cast out demons in your name.” Cast (ekballo) is “to cast, drive, or send away.” But, it cannot be achieved by human effort or gimmicks. Remember the seven sons of Sceva went about using their various “tools of trade” for deliverance. This time their “tool” was the incantation of the names of Jesus and Paul. Their reward was a serious “beatdown” from the evil spirit. Casting out evil spirits is not to be for show or selfish gain.
Lastly, the rejected ones claimed that they “performed mighty miracles.” But, in this case, “performed” became twisted into a meaning of “transgressing the law, providing for self, to lay in wait, [saying inwardly] this doesn’t move me.” We should never seek to do God’s work to self-aggrandize ourselves. Only Jesus’ name should be lifted up, not ours.
Trying to impress the Lord is utmost foolishness. For Jesus proclaimed, “Leave Me, you who practice lawlessness” (NASB). Or, “Depart from Me, you law-breakers” (CBC). The Greek makes abundantly clear what Jesus meant. When He said, “I never knew you,” the Greek was “not ever, not as a friend.”
Let’s look at another portion of the verse, “you who practice lawlessness.” This word (poieo) has a very wide application to which we disgustingly find “produce contempt for the truth, wickedness.”
Jesus never wants for His followers to depart; He loves us and saves us. His disgust is for the fakes making money or a name for themselves. As a former lawless one, Jesus drew me to repentance and deliverance. So, what is Jesus saying? There is a divide between real and false faith. Where do we fit? Choose Him, not distorted words and actions.
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