Matthew 7:21-23 "21 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. 22 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? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
If Jesus is saying only those that do the Father's will can enter into heaven, why then does He rebuke a group of people who've done the Father's work? Because, if the work is not done out of love, it doesn't count... let me explain.
Power ≠ Salvation
Jesus says to the group, "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Before we go too far, I want to address another equally powerful meaning of this scripture. You don't need to know Jesus Christ to prophesy, cast out devils, or do miraculous works. It's for this reason that we as followers of Jesus Christ can't use signs and wonders as indicators of someone's closeness to God or even authenticity of message. Romans 11:29 clarifies that the gifts and calling are without repentance. In short, God's gifts can't be earned and neither can the office He's called you to. Two individuals in scripture further drive home this point, Judas and Balaam.
Judas was one of the first 12 apostles that received power to heal all types of sicknesses, diseases, and the ability to cast devils out, Matthew 10:1. And later we read how Judas sells out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver in Matthew 26:15. The second example is Balaam. He was a prophet who had the gift of prophecy, but used it to curse people for money (Numbers 22)!
So it's clear, power doesn't equal salvation, so what does it mean to know Christ?
Knowing OF Christ
Many people confuse knowing OF Jesus with KNOWING Jesus. The lost world knows OF Jesus, and so does the kingdom of darkness! James 2:19 "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." People can believe Jesus is God, they can know what he's done for us on the cross, they might even attend Church, clap along, and even join bible studies. But all these people lack of change. They miss the first step in Acts 2:38 and Romans 10:9, repent and making Christ your Lord.
The definition of Lord is "someone or something having power and authority", and that someone should be Jesus having power over your life. Repentance is turning from evil and beginning to walk the narrow road of holiness. Doing this is not possible without first loving God. Religion replaces love for knowledge, and this vain knowledge is evident in these "knowers of Christ" constantly telling everyone their good works. God isn't in religion and when you exchange God for religion, you also exchange his love and approval for self-righteousness and vain approval.
Knowing Christ isn't complicated, to those of you who are married it's just like how you know your spouse. Sure many people might know OF your spouse, or might even know some things about your spouse, but no one knows them like you know them. Love and commitment is what separates your relationship with your spouse from others. You're fully committed, you're intimate, you're in constant communication, and you express your love for them regardless of how you feel!
Knowing Jesus requires commitment, similar to when you first found your spouse you decided in your heart, "This is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with!" Your commitment to Christ is no different, you decide to give up your old ways and come under His covenant, His rules, His way, and His leadership. It's Yahweh or the highway (to Hell!), it's no longer your body or your choice, rather it's now His temple doing His will. It's when you're in love with Christ that the works count!
Your First Love
When Jesus judged the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:4 He acknowledges their works, labor, and patience, but has one specific problem. He says "I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
Jesus says in John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments." And in John 14:21 Jesus states a person obeying the commandments out of love will lead to Jesus manifesting his love to the individual. Yet, Romans 8:13 clarifies that no one can end the deeds of the flesh but the Holy Spirit. So now what? Are we stuck in this loop of perpetual failure always trying to overcome an insurmountable task?! When you, with all your heart submit to God and love Him for who he is, the Holy Spirit comes and brings the supernatural change you're unable to make on your own, obedience out of love. When you're in love with God, His Spirit leads you over mountains, through the wilderness, and over waters. He makes new ways for you that might have never existed, He changes your mind to think in new ways, and corrects you like a father would a son.
When you KNOW Christ, you're not fixated on anything but his heart. Don't let the flash of gifts and miracles cause you to lose focus on the only thing that matters, knowing every part of God's heart and giving him all of yours.
Let's end in a prayer to recommit our hearts to the Lord!
"Jesus, I am so grateful you died for me, I am so thankful you rose for me, and I wanted to take this time to tell you that I'm yours. Your heart is all I need and your heart is all I want. I wanted to apologize for losing focus on that. Please forgive me and change my heart to never lose focus on you, I recommit my life to you. You have my whole heart, you have all my obedience, and I give every part of me to you. My heart is clay in your hands, please mold me, please reform me, and please conform me to being like you Jesus Christ. Please do what I can't and fill me with your love. Thank you for hearing me and for loving me! In Jesus name, Amen."