“I never knew you”
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 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 in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Right after He comments on false prophets, Jesus has a few things to say about false disciples. Many people say they believe in Jesus without doing the Father’s will; that isn’t going to cut it on the last day. I want to be careful here not to give the impression that I am suggesting that they somehow haven’t earned their salvation, for salvation is not something we earn; it is God’s free gift. However, receiving grace demands a response, and it seems to me that Jesus is telling us that where there is no response other than saying, “yeah sure, I believe in Jesus,” and then going on with business as usual, we have a false disciple. I say this because of the discussion in the last section; look at the fruit. If there is not fruit, then you are no disciple.
There are many groups out there who claim to be Christian, but who are not. There are many religious leaders who take on the form and appearance of following Jesus, but who do not, and they have many followers who do likewise, and are not followers of Jesus at all, in spite of what they may claim. This is what Jesus is warning us about.
Take particular note of verse 23 where He tells how it is that He knows this: “I never knew you”. Do you see the relational aspect of that? To “know” Jesus is to be in relationship with Him; it is quite a different matter than simply “believing in” Him… as the Devil and his demons do.
Here is a trustworthy saying: Relationship with Jesus always brings about a response; where there is no response, there is most likely no relationship.
So, to conclude our look at His teachings in chapters 5-7, we are at the very same place His original hearers were: how will we respond?