I think that this is the most terrifying passage in the bible.
Matt 7: 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. 22 On that Day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’
One way to view this is to say, that those who are rejected are “lawless” meaning without law, living outside of the requirements of Torah and thus it becomes an edict to follow the Torah of Moshe. And this verse is often used this way. I know because I myself have thought of it in those terms. But now I look again at the context to see deeper into the passage. And here is how we are to keep the Torah and avoid being those who practice lawlessness.
Matt 7: 12 “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets.
It sums up the Teachings of Torah. All of Torah comes down to the two great commands, to love God with all your strength and heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself. If you do these then all the rest of Torah is fulfilled. If we have doubt about how to act in given situation and our feelings are in the way of the spirit in our hearts, then we should look at the written Torah and see what it would have us do. And that prayer and submission to God should get us to the place that the Torah is kept as God wants it to be.
7 1 “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For the way you judge others is how you will be judged—the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you. 3 Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye!
6 “Don’t give to dogs what is holy, and don’t throw your pearls to the pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, then turn and attack you.
7 “Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who keeps asking receives; he who keeps seeking finds; and to him who keeps knocking, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone here who, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone? 10 or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 So if you, even though you are bad, know how to give your children gifts that are good, how much more will your Father in heaven keep giving good things to those who keep asking him!
12 “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets.
13 “Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it; 14 but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
15 “Beware of the false prophets! They come to you wearing sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are hungry wolves! 16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Can people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every healthy tree produces good fruit, but a poor tree produces bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit. 19 Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire! 20 So you will recognize them by their fruit.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. 22 On that Day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’
24 “So, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on bedrock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the winds blew and beat against that house, but it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers flooded, the wind blew and beat against that house, and it collapsed—and its collapse was horrendous!”
I think that the verse was pointed at false religion and those who do things in the name of Christ, but all their efforts are from their own flesh and often times serves to only edify their own standing or financial gain. They believe they are serving God but really they are serving their church denomination, or serving a chosen image of themselves to build up their stature in their community. It is like those who know the truth but who deny the real power therein. They are like graves, beautiful works on the outside but still only filled with dead men’s bones on the inside. Some people, some churches, hold a meeting, sit down and think of some wonderful work to do for God and then they pray and ask God to bless what they have decided to do. It is better to ask God what He wants you to do, and then go and do THAT knowing that He is going to bless your efforts to accomplish His will through you. He is going to bless and prosper your work to bring forth fruit. This is walking in the spirit by faith. Because a person casts out demons or does great wonders is not proof really that they are filled with God’s Spirit. Because the power to cast out demons does not reside in us, it not something that we own. The demons respond to the name of Yeshua. That is the authority that is effective in casting out a demon. And for great works, God can and will use all that is good to His own purpose. So even an unsaved man might accidentally do some great thing that is seen as a work of God. It is the man who lives humbly and in tune with God’s Spirit and who does the work God gives him to do that is really doing the work of the Kingdom and who is known of God.
"When you awake in the morning, learn something to inspire you and mediate upon it, then plunge forward full of light with which to illuminate the darkness." -Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
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