“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” – Matthew 7:22-23 This passage has caused many Christians to question whether they would hear this statement from the Lord Jesus, and doubt if they are really saved. Let us look at the context of the passage.
In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus warned the people of false prophets:
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” – Matthew 7:15In Greek the word “prophet” is pseudes (Strong's G5571) which is translated solely and exclusively as “prophet.” Because the word pseudes means to speak forth, or speak out, some have said that it means to teach or preach. This is only part of the meaning. It’s full use indicates one who speaks forth what has been revealed to them by the Lord. They are a prophet.
The Lord Jesus was speaking of someone who claimed to speak for the Lord. He continued by indicating that their fruit was bad, or evil:
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” – Matthew 7:16After using the metaphor of good trees producing good fruit, and corrupt trees producing evil fruit (Matthew 7:17-20) the Lord Jesus made this statement:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” – Matthew 7:21-23 (emphasis added, clearly)Jesus said that those who do the will of God will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Please note the nature of the qualifications claimed by those whom Jesus says He never knew. They claim prophecy, casting out of demons, and wonderful works. But any abilities that we are given should be only for the glory of God. It appears that these persons were doing these works to their own personal aggrandizement and to deceive. An example is Simon the sorcerer. (Acts 8:9-24) These are people who depend on works they have done, not a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Remember the context, they are false prophets.
You who have repented and proclaimed Jesus as your Messiah, please do not include yourself in this description by the Lord Jesus for He was describing false prophets and workers of mysterious works. Do not let anyone cause you to doubt or have guilt by the use of the passage quoted at the beginning of this lesson.
Faithful, born-again Christians can, and do, wonderful, and sometimes miraculous, works by the power of the Lord, and to the glory of His name. Please note the distinction between bringing glory to God and glory to one’s self. God is able to do these blessings through His children. All praise, honor and glory are due Him. Praise His name!