True & False Disciples

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. 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?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!
— Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)

Not everyone who acknowledges Jesus as Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of God. This is a shocking statement! And it sounds harsh. Essentially, Jesus is saying that there are true and false disciples. Does it surprise you?

Jesus is always direct and to the point. He does not beat around the bush. We like to couch hard truths in palatable language; not Jesus. He tells you things just as they are. The reason is simple. This is a matter of eternal life and death. Therefore, people, especially Christians, need to know the truth plainly so that they are without any doubt.

Jesus is speaking to Christians. This is clear. These people acknowledge Him as Lord and they are involved in active Christian service. Not just the ministry of helps and they are not those who sit on the fringe. These people move powerfully in spiritual gifts. They prophesy. They cast out demons. They perform miracles. They do all these things in Jesus’ name.

Yet, Jesus excludes them from the kingdom of God. He asserts that He does not know them. In other words, He has no meaningful relationship with them. Many so-called Christians will be shocked on the day of judgement as they find themselves out of favour with God. No wonder the apostle, Paul, says that he does not run his Christian race like someone running aimlessly or like a boxer beating the air lest he himself be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

What disqualifies these false disciples? They practise lawlessness. In other words, they disregard the Law of God. Simply stated, they fail to obey God and His Word. Do not be surprised that you can attend church service regularly, serve actively and participate in Christian activities but you do not order your life according to the Word of God. Your mind is not renewed, and your life is not transformed. You do not think and live biblically.

In case anyone does not quite get His point, Jesus goes on to tell a parable (Matthew 7:24-27). He begins the parable with the conjunction, ‘therefore,’ clearly indicating that He is still on the same topic. The lesson of the parable is obedience to God – hear the Word of God and do as God says. Many people hear but they do not put what they have heard into practice. They do not obey. They do not follow God’s ways. These are the ones whom Jesus says He does not know them because they have no meaningful relationship with Him.

Obedience is consistently taught and emphasised in both the Old and New Testaments. Obedience is not the condition for salvation. Faith is. But obedience is the expression of our gratefulness to God and our love for Him. Abraham believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness. However, later, God tested Abraham. God asked him to sacrifice his son. Abraham obeyed proving the genuineness of his faith in God.

Anointing is not a proof that you have a genuine relationship with God. Neither is Christian service nor church activities. Obedience is. Obedience is the mark of authentic faith in Christ. It is the outward and visible sign of the inward and genuine faith. Our obedience shows that the grace of God is at work in our lives.

Coming back to those false disciples that Jesus is addressing, they are not living in the will of God because of their disobedience. God is displeased with them for many reasons. It could be an integrity issue. It could be greed. It could be pride or sexual immorality. Maybe, they are serving their own self-interest, promoting themselves and seeking their own fame and glory. While we may be taken in by their outward appearance and apparent good works, God cannot be deceived.

Therefore, take heed of Jesus’ warning seriously. Obey God. Obey Him in everything, unconditionally and wholeheartedly. Then, you will enter the narrow gate that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). Otherwise, your Christian life may just be a house of cards (Matthew 7:27). Finally, our hope is to hear Jesus saying to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:23) and not “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”

Pastors Les & Adeline Chua