Jesus spoke of the narrow road and false prophets. Before leaving the seriousness of obedience and following Him, He continued with one more crucial point.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23
To call Him ‘Lord, Lord,’ means, “You are my Master. You are my authority. I have committed myself to You and I am adopting Your lifestyle.” But note, we can go to the Lord and say these words and still not have entry to heaven.
Jesus gives three qualifications that we may offer to justify why we believe heaven is our home.
He begins with this one iron-clad entry point. If you want entry into heaven, you must DO the will of My Father in heaven. And then these supposed proofs are highlighted.
1. Have we not prophesied in Your name?
2. Have we not cast out demons in Your name?
3. Have we not done many wonders in Your name?
To prophesy—In 1st-century understanding, prophecy was used to call people back into obedience to God and His word. Today we may call it preaching. But most preaching does not call people back to obedience or repentance.
How about casting out demons? When Jesus spoke this message, He hadn’t cast any demons out of anyone yet. Still, rabbis were ministering deliverance for almost 200 years previously. The people were aware of this practice and knew what Jesus was talking about.
And last, the working of miracles. Miracles were a demonstration of the truth. What was done, only God could do. In essence, Jesus was saying, “People will use My name to perform miracles and likely attract a big crowd. Still, in that day not everyone that does these things belongs to Me.”
Men and women can act in Jesus’ name and be endowed with amazing gifts and perform supernatural works and yet not be saved. It was so in Jesus’ time and it still is today. The inward character must line up with outward appearance. People may do mighty things in His name and believe they are glorifying God, but their hearts may be lawless.
Jesus warned against deceptive miracles in the last days—for example, He said, “False Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” Matthew 24:24.
Signs and wonders are not a sure sign of God’s activity, since they can be performed by false Christs and false prophets. Secondly, God’s “elect” will, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, be able to discern the difference between false and true miracles, although they will be so convincing that even they will nearly be deceived.
The religious expectations of our day may not reflect the truth of the gospel. Most people believe that doing good works is enough. They don’t place the same importance on living God’s word.
If they came to Jesus living the commandments but not working in miracles, deliverance, and prophecy, would Jesus accept them? Yes, He would.
People today are looking for signs. There are deliverance classes and prophecy classes. Where are the classes on goodness, faithfulness, self-control, etc.?
Jesus is not highlighting the externally observable behavior. He is putting the spotlight on observable behavior without internal substance. Works do not count for righteousness unless they are born out of a faithful heart.
More and more the world is looking for the real, the truth. Are we going to re-present Jesus or just act the part?
May we get back into His word. Read it, speak it, and live it until it becomes who we are inside out. True miracles, signs, and wonders will manifest, and Jesus will be glorified.