In my last article, I began discussing the necessity of having intimacy with God, especially based on Matthew 7:21-23. If you didn’t read it, you can do so here. This passage is near the end of the Sermon on the Mount, which begins in Matthew 5. Throughout this sermon, Jesus is laying out the core values for Kingdom living. This is important to understand in order to grasp the significance of this passage in Chapter 7.
Reviewing some of last week’s article, Jesus spoke of recognizing false prophets by their fruit (see verses 15-19). He then described a group of people that claimed to know and belong to Him, saying, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he that does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” He then adds, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’” The day He is speaking of is Judgment day, when we will all stand before Him and give an account of our lives. This group operated in spiritual gifts, miracles, signs, and wonders for some part of their lives on earth. Yet, He not only reveals that He never knew them, but goes so far as to call them “evildoers,” and casts them out of His presence. This is as serious as it gets!
The word “knew” speaks of intimacy, as mentioned last week. The word “evildoers” means, “The condition of one without law; contempt and violation of law, wickedness, iniquity.” (It is also used in Matthew 23:28, where Jesus rebukes the religious leaders for their hypocrisy and wickedness.) He then finishes the sermon by telling the parable of the two men who built a house. This parable, I believe, holds the key to what Jesus was saying.
He said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Jesus speaks of two groups of people – those who obey His words, and those who do not. In verse 21 He stated that only those who do His Father’s will, can enter the kingdom of heaven. Again, He is speaking of obedience. Regarding intimacy, He said that if we love Him, we will obey His commands (John 14:15). This wasn’t said in a threatening way at all, which is how we often imagine. He was saying that when we truly love Him, obeying Him will come naturally, because you always want to please the one you love.
The fruit that He looks for is not operating in spiritual gifts or miracles, signs, and wonders. The fruit He wants to cultivate in us is obedience to the Father. This is how He lived His life and how we, too, will live, as we are more and more conformed into His image. As we abide in the life-giving flow of the Vine, we will naturally produce fruit without straining or striving. We will operate in spiritual gifts, miracles, signs, and wonders as well, but this must come from the overflow of our intimacy with Him. This is critical if we want to stand before Him on that day and hear Him say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”