Submission and Obedience


"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" Matthew 7:21-23.

These verses are troubling in many ways. First, they illustrate that people can work miracles in Jesus' name without belonging to Him. Or can they? What does Jesus mean? People who believe in the doctrine of eternal security say the individual being judged was never born again in the first place. Yet, the one being tried claims he or she called Jesus, "Lord, Lord" during thier lifetime.

While it's true that they could have paid lip service to the practices of their particular denomination without having a spiritual encounter with Jesus, could it mean something entirely different? I believe the Old Testament holds an answer that satisfies the question and clarifies what Jesus meant.

When Jesus said His surprising and damning words quoted by Matthew above, His hearers had just the Old Testament for reference. Certainly, Jesus was preaching and teaching from it, as well. They called Him 'Rabbi,' and that is what rabbis did. It is quite probable that His words rang a bell and the listeners hearkened back to what Ezekiel said many years prior:

"But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness, commits injustice and does according to all the abominations that the wicked person does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die. Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not right.' Hear now, house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness, commits injustice and dies because of it, for his injustice which he has committed he dies. "

"But when a wicked person turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. Since he understood and turned away from all his offenses which he had committed he shall certainly live; he shall not die. But the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not right.' Are My ways not right, house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right? 'Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel, each according to his conduct,' declares the Lord God. 'Repent and turn away from all your offenses, so that wrongdoing does not become a stumbling block to you. Hurl away from you all your offenses which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why should you die, house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,' declares the Lord God. 'Therefore, repent and live!'" Ezekiel 18:24-32.

Taking Ezekiel's words at face value, if a righteous person chooses to turn from righteousness and obedience to God's words and commands, all the righteous things that person had done are wiped away by the sins they commit. In plain words, they lose their salvation! Like it or not, there is no such animal as eternal security!

Israel's history before her 70-year captivity in Babylon was one of serving God for a while, then backsliding. God would send a prophet to bring her back to serving God, and for a period of time she would be faithful before turning her back once again on God. In His mercy, God did not send judgment on her immediately, but gave her time to repent and turn from her wicked ways.

What were those wicked ways? We know from reading the books of I & II Samuel, Kings and Chronicles that Israel's kings had a lot to do with leading Israel down the paths she followed as a nation. As well, the major and minor prophets describe in detail God's attempts to warn His people about the judgment coming on her as a nation and as individiuals if she didn't turn back to Him. So, just what were the major backslidings observed by Israel? There were two.

First, Israel slacked off from observing ALL the precepts and commands of God. She became careless. Though Leviticus carefully outlines all the observances for Israel, she stopped her careful adherence to some of God's principles. As an example, they kept their fellow Israelites as bond slaves well past the six-year time limit when they were to be freed.

Next, as her love toward God cooled, she began to adopt heathen practices of her neighboring countries. Those included worshipping idols and praying to their gods...Israel became idolatrous!

Most heinous of those practices was the offering of their infants and young children as burnt sacrifices to Baal. That enormous idol had outstretched arms down which living children rolled into the raging fire burning in its cavernous belly.

The worst of the worst being child sacrifice, their evil practices combined brought the judgment of God on Israel. Babylon carried most of them into captivity in 586 BC. Israel never again had her country restored to sovereignty until 1948.

Referencing the passage from Ezekiel, when Israel deflected from serving God with all her heart, any and all of the good things she had done in serving God were forgotten by Him. All He could see was her unfaithfulness and betrayal of Him for idolatry, and for that she was judged as a people and nation.

God's principles never change because He never changes. The same truth comes to bear on individuals and nations today. No matter how great a testimony or ministry a person may have as a Christian, should they fall away from God in their heart and ultimately in practice, their 'good works' from before their defection will not be remembered by God as a safety net. In fact, those previous good works condemn the person, because he or she had once walked in truth and knew it.

Memories of better days linger and even justify a person who departs from carefully walking in obedience to God. They can look back and recall how many people were healed, delivered, saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, how many Bible verses they memorized and so on. But, if they're idolators to any kind of false god or gods, God does not remember their prior good works. He has been betrayed! Good things the person used to do will not 'outweigh' the things in which that individual is now engaged which God calls sin.

So, back to the passage at the top of this page. When he or she comes before Jesus to plead their case, they will hold up those good works to Him and say with surprise, "Lord, Lord, did I not do....?" And Jesus will say, "Depart from Me, worker of iniquity. I never knew you."

All God will see is the sin that separates that individual from Him, and that sin He will condemn. That is why in this life, at this moment, we must make sure nothing has precedence over God and His fellowship and realness in our lives. All the vestiges of self and the old ways of the world must be burned away and our hearts purified from evil. We really must be a bond-slave of Jesus Christ!

As a believer, if your heart has not been unified and purified under the search light of the Holy Spirit and the Word, repent of your double-mindedness and seek Jesus' cleansing and forgiveness. Do not risk waiting until the judgment to find out your heart is not clean in God's eyes. By then it will be too late to repent, and hell the lake of fire will be your doom for all eternity.

Wake up! Rouse yourself to begin to pursue God earnestly without giving up until you know beyond any shadow of doubt that He is on the throne and you are worshipping humbly at His feet. Now is the time to prepare! Do not play with idolatry, because hell is for keeps!

Back to top
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®
© Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.
© 2022 A Learner

Web Host: TMD Hosting