The phrase that every believer wants to hear when they leave time and cross over into eternity is “well done, good and faithful servant!” Likewise, the phrase they don’t want to hear is “Depart from me you worker of iniquity, for I knew you not.” The latter phrase — taken from scripture — has been used for centuries to keep the saints in bondage.
But I’m here today to interrupt your regularly scheduled condemnation to bring you this important proclamation of Good News — They taught it to you wrong!
Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 “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. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
One of the first things that needs to be considered here is the target audience. You have to understand this that everything in Scripture is written for your understanding but is not written explicitly to you. Here Jesus is wrapping up the Sermon on the Mount and he’s in a segment pertaining to judging others.
Here’s the point — people who are secure in themselves do not measure themselves against others have no reason to judge. Sin-consciousness causes you to trot out a sin-scorecard by which you can measure yourself against others — see I sin less than you or I sin differently or less sinfully than you do! Sin-consciousness is the fruit of religion and religion is promoted by its chief salesmen — religious zealots or legalists. Jesus was speaking to the folks who fancied themselves the judge of men — ultimately the men who fancied themselves the judge of Jesus.
And, for the record, let me say here that the best way to be secure in yourself is to be secure in the Holy Spirit who dwells in you!
We are to do the will of the Father. That is patently clear. But what is the work of the Father? Better yet, what is the essence of the Father? How will the world see that we are in the Father?
Love is the work. Love is the straight gate that is difficult to pass through. It is easy to love those who you want to love but it is nearly (I emphasize NEARLY) impossible to love those you don’t want to love. As a matter of fact, without Jesus, it IS impossible to love those you don’t want to love.
Love sacrifices its own desire! Do you think Jesus — the man — wanted to love and forgive those who cursed Him, spit on Him, mocked Him, beat Him, and crucified Him? Love doesn’t always love because of; sometimes love loves in spite of!
See, in the natural, sometimes we look at people and want to say “depart from me.” You know, “get outta my face!” And sometimes we want to depart from others. But, according to the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), we should be patient and kind. According to the definition of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8), we are to endure all things. In other words, sometimes you need to put up with some stuff. Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t have to put up with stuff to the point of harm to ourselves but we can’t just cut and run!
Here’s the thing, religion will try to look like Christ. It will say the right things and put on the right face. It will have ceremonies and celebrations and will do its best to look like Christ. It will even use love as a hook to bait you into its clutches where it can beat and abuse you. It will pray publicly and fervently and will have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. And it will delude itself into thinking that it is actually doing the work of God. But ultimately it amounts to nothing.
In the translation we’re using, Jesus’ word “iniquity” is translated into “lawlessness.” Religion absolutely loves this because it will shout, “see, I told you we had to uphold the law!”
Pump your brakes! That’s not what it means. Jesus clearly said in Matthew 22:37-40 that loving God with our very being and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. In other words, the totality of Scripture hinges on love!
In other words, failure to love is the work of iniquity and lawlessness!
Here’s where it comes to a head — when you enter into Christ, you are in! You are forgiven. You are clean. You are righteous. You are holy. You are healed. You are delivered. You are prospered. You are safe. You are secure! In Him there is no sin (1 John 3:5), so you cannot be sinful. 1 John 4:17 tells us, “As He is, so are we in this world.” You are a joint-heir with Jesus (Romans 8:17) and seated with Him at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).
We are in Jesus, in whom God is well pleased (Luke 3:22). That means if you’re in Christ, God is well pleased with you, too. And here’s the too-good-to-be-true-news: He ain’t changing His mind!
In Christ, you will never have to worry about hearing “Depart from me,” but instead, “Well done, my good and faithful son!”
© 2018 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)