When it comes to walking with God and learning to grow spiritually, I believe keeping things simple is always best. We human beings seem to enjoy complicating matters. This usually leads to confusion and misunderstanding and none of us have time for that. I strongly believe time is short. We must be about our Father’s business of expanding the Kingdom, first in our own lives, and then in our spheres of influence.
We hear a lot of talk, stories, and testimonies these days of God’s Kingdom breaking in here on earth. People are getting saved, healed, and delivered of demons, and all of this is good! God can certainly use anyone, including a donkey, to accomplish His purposes (see Numbers 22:21-30). Yet He is waiting for mature sons and daughters that He can use most effectively. Even creation expectantly waits and longs for that reality (see Romans 8:19). We are told in Revelation 19:7-8 that the bride must make herself ready. God is always faithful to do His part, but we must do ours. We cannot do His part and He will not do our part.
One of the most sobering passages of Scripture to me is Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus describes people who call Him “Lord” and walk in signs and wonders (prophecy, deliverance, and miracles). He prefaces this description with, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (v. 21). This statement begs the question — isn’t operating in spiritual gifts the will of the Father? These people He speaks of seem shocked by His statement as well. They reply, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” (v. 22). His response to them is, “I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!” (v. 23). So what exactly is He getting at here?
In the verses immediately before, Jesus is speaking of how to discern false prophets. (Of course, this would also apply to false teachers, pastors, apostles, evangelists, etc.) He says that we will recognize them by their fruit. Many, even today, consider the “fruit” of one’s life or ministry to be that which is seen outwardly, like miracles, signs, and wonders, operating in spiritual gifts. I have seen and known many who flock to meetings and conferences to receive some kind of impartation, prophetic word, or other “touch from God” that will radically change their lives. Not all of this is bad, nor am I condemning their desires. I have done the same thing many times. However, so often, our flesh wants to take the easy way – have somebody lay hands on me and impart to me what they have in God – and it just doesn’t work that way. Spiritual growth is a process. God will, at times, use others to impart gifts to us, but we cannot neglect taking responsibility for our personal growth and relationship with Him.
In verse 23, Jesus states, “I never knew you.” This word means: to come to know, understand, recognize, to understand completely. It implies the “knowing” of relationship. It is also used to convey the thought of connection or union, as between man and woman. In other words, it speaks of intimacy. Jesus is saying that intimacy with Him must come first. So what does this look like and what does it mean for us? We will look at that in next week’s post, stay tuned!