Updated: Sep 28
As we opened the weekly meeting, I was fully prepared to continue our recent discussions on Biblical Manhood. Sitting next to me was Dale. (I’ve talked about Dale in a previous devotional. His nickname is “Murph”) As I was about to dive into all of the study materials I had prepared, Murph interrupted my intro, “Guys, I’ve had something happen to me that I feel I need to confess.” Now, Murph is 87 years old. Needless to say, I was intrigued. When Murph speaks, I definitely listen as he always delivers a golden nugget of biblical truth when he does. He went on, “I was at church early on August 6th. I was listening to the worship band rehearse before the early service. Boy that music was loud! A thought popped into my mind, ‘What if all of this isn’t true?’ I mean, there are so many religions in the world today. Even the number of different denominations of Christianity seem uncountable. Most people out there are dead wrong and are destined to hell, which I can’t even fathom. What if it’s us? I can’t imagine an eternity in hell. The scripture that keeps coming to my mind is Matthew 7:21-23.
“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. 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?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
My friend continued, “It hit me hard that morning. For 80 years of my life, I have professed my identity in Christ, Trey. What if, when I die and transition to be in front of Jesus, I hear him say, “Murph, I never knew you?’ How in the world would I handle that?”
STOP! . . . Did you catch Satan’s tactic with Murph? That’s right, he actually used scripture to plant doubt in a Christan of over 7 decades!
Murph went on with his story and how he identified the lie being planted in his mind by the deceiver. He, like me, had heard that scripture read from the pulpit in our youth. There’s always such a serious undertone from our pastors when they deliver this scripture. I heard words like, “So you think you’re a Christian, but do you REALLY know Him? If you doubt that, then how can you be? You need to try harder and produce the fruit that shows you’re a believer.” (Isn’t it amazing how many Christians who become certified fruit inspectors?)
Now my thought on this passage is, “Wait a minute . . . would Jesus really say that to a Christian? Would he really look at me and say He doesn’t know me? Even though I confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that He rose from the dead. According to Paul, that’s how I know I am saved?” -Romans 10:9
As we read that passage in context with the entirety of Matthew chapter 7 and through the lens of the finished work of the cross, it becomes apparent that, in this case, Jesus is talking to someone who isn't looking to Him for their salvation. These are people bragging about their works. They have an agenda other than Him. These people are not Christians. (Technically, at this time, there really weren’t Christians yet. Jesus was still rounding people up) Jesus is reminding them that their works are going to be meaningless when they stand before God. Those works aren’t the will of God. Why? Well, the answer about fulfilling God’s will can be found in John 6:40. “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” God’s will for us is to know, to truly know Jesus as THE ONLY WAY for us to have eternal life with Him. Working hard and bragging about our effort and work gets us nowhere. These people in this scripture never truly believed only in Jesus for salvation . . . Jesus simply, never knew them because they didn’t know Him. Yet, Satan used this scripture to plant doubt in my friend Murph. A friend who has known Christ since his teenage years some 70 years ago. Satan, as always, seeks to confuse us believers about our endless salvation and the power that Jesus’s blood had in fulfilling His Father’s promise.
What’s crazy is the fact that the deceiver will use good people in the Church or people I know and trust to propagate the confusion. My life is littered with scriptural references used out of context, by people I have trusted, that have created doubt in me about my salvation at one time or another. The baseline question to these lies is simple, "Did Jesus’s blood and resurrection truly work? Did his blood truly fulfill God’s promise to forgive our sins? Did his resurrection truly fulfill God’s promise that we would have eternal life if we believed this in our heart?" Satan wants us to doubt this truth and the promise of God Himself. He will even use the same scriptures that we so strongly believe to try and confuse us otherwise. If we don’t believe these things happened and God’s promise, that our sealed righteousness is granted to us by His grace through our faith in Him and not what we do, then we might as well just pull Jesus down off the cross and act as though He didn’t die at all, because that was His purpose. – See Galatians 2:19-21
So, when the deceiver, puts those thoughts in your head . . . Hold your head high with boldness and confidence that God didn’t make a mistake. He kept His promise. The words in that bible in your hand are very true. Jesus did die and now lives (according to scripture) and that you believe in your heart that his death forgave ALL of your sin, and his resurrection ensured your eternal life. Because of this truth and God’s promise fulfilled, you, like my friend Murph, can shout out to the world that Jesus will NEVER turn to you and say, “I never knew you.”