Building up believers and the New Testament church

The Great Snare

"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 7:21,22)

These words from the lips of Jesus are perhaps the most severe and frightening warning that He ever spoke. They are severe, because the judgment is final and eternal separation from Him. They are frightening because they are spoken to religious people who thought they were serving Jesus. Jesus did not say, "You tried to do many wonders in My name." Something was happening. There were results that men could see. But in the end, it counted for nothing.

How could this be? Is it possible to do works in the name of Jesus with results that seem real, and yet not do the will of God? Is it possible to be well-intentioned, but miss the mark completely? Will we explain away this warning and say that Jesus could not possibly mean what the plain words seem to say? Many have done so, with reasons and self-justification, but will our arguments stand the test in the final day before Jesus Himself?

In these two verses is a warning about one of the greatest snares--perhaps the greatest snare--known on earth. Let us take the words of Jesus at face value to mean exactly what they seem to mean. How shall we escape if we reason around them to justify ourselves? On what basis do we reinterpret them to suit our own situations? May the Lord open our eyes, lest we be found cast away on that final day.