I felt a little confused and worried whenever I read Matthew 7:22-23, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” I thought: If these words said by the Lord are aimed at those unbelievers or those who had believed God but then turned away from the Lord, I can understand. However, it is manifest that the Lord condemned those people who preach and work in the name of Him. What is this all about? Why did the Lord say this? What was the intentions of the Lord? These years I have been bending myself to preaching and working for the Lord, and serving the Lord in the church. Does all that I did conform with the Lord’s will? Am I to be condemned as a worker of iniquity by the Lord? How shall I sacrifice and work to receive the Lord’s approval? Having pondered over these questions for long, I couldn’t find the solution yet. I felt perplexed within, constantly seeking …
Thanks for the Lord’s guidance. One day after half a year, I finally found the answer in a spiritual book. I saw it is said in this way in the book, “In , the says, ‘Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?’ (Mat 7:22). What then does the Lord Jesus say? (‘I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity’ (Mat 7:23).) Why does the Lord Jesus say this? Why have those who heal the sick and cast out devils in the Lord’s name, who travel to preach in the Lord’s name, become evildoers? Who are these evildoers? Are they those who do not ? (No.) Who are they? (They are those who believe in God but do not practice truth.) Correct. They believe in God and follow God. They also expend themselves for God, give things up for God, and perform their duty. However, in performing their duty they are not loyal and do not have testimonies, and their performance of duty has become wickedness. So, the Lord Jesus says, ‘Depart from me, you that work iniquity.’
“What is the standard by which a person’s acts are evaluated as good or evil? It is whether or not you, in your thoughts, expressions, and actions, have the testimony of putting truth into practice and of living out the reality of truth. If you do not have this reality or do not have this living out, then you are without a doubt an evildoer. How does God look on evildoers? Your thoughts and external acts all make God ashamed. They do not testify of God. They do not put Satan to shame or defeat it; instead, in everything they are the mark of making God ashamed. You are not testifying of God, not expending yourself for God, and not fulfilling your responsibility and obligations toward God but instead are acting for yourself. What is the implication of ‘for yourself?’ For Satan. So, in the end God will say, ‘Depart from me, you that work iniquity.’ There is no reward. God does not remember them. In God’s eyes their acts have not been good but have become evil acts. Is this not emptiness?”
From these words I understood: It turns out that whether our acts evaluated by God are good or bad doesn’t depend on our external good behaviors, or how much work we have done, how far we have trekked, and how much pain we have suffered for the Lord, but on our purpose of doing all that. Providing all that we have done is for the sake of loving the Lord, satisfying the intentions of the Lord, exalting the Lord and testifying to Him, and obeying His will, then what we have done can earn the Lord’s praise; on the contrary, when we, brandishing the name of the Lord, do everything to be in exchange for God’s rewards and blessings, or fame and gain, then we will not get the Lord’s approval, but rather be professed by the Lord as an evildoer. The more I tried carefully to figure out these words, the more I was conceived. The standard by which God measures man is indeed different from that by which man judges man. This fully manifests that God observes the depths of man’s heart, and moreover, that God is righteous and holy.
Think back to those Pharisees, chief priests and scribes. They compassed sea and land to spread the of God. They were considered to be pious by man, but were condemned and cursed by the Lord Jesus. What’s more, the Lord Jesus repeatedly exposed that they were hypocrites, and were brood of vipers. Think about it carefully. Although they often explained the Bible to the masses, clung to the doctrines of the Bible in everything, and were also loving toward people. But in fact, all that they did was not practicing , nor was following the commandments of God, but was done to be seen by people, and to preserve their own status and livelihoods. As the Lord Jesus revealed, “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” (Mat 23:5-7). In order to attain their purpose of being looked up to and worshiped by all men, they purposely stood in the synagogues and on the street corners when praying, and they even deliberately made people see their fasting, almsgiving and doing good. From that we see everything they did was for deceiving and shackling others and not for serving God at all. Furthermore, they didn’t lead the people to practice God’s words and keep His commandments, but rather only led them to engage in religious worship, singing and praise, or holding on to some ancestral traditions. When the Lord Jesus came to preach and work, to preserve their own position and livelihoods, these hypocritical Pharisees flagrantly abandoned God’s laws and commandments. They fabricated rumors, bore false witness, and furiously condemned and framed the Lord Jesus, doing all they could to hinder the believers from following the Lord Jesus. In the end, they even colluded with those in power to crucify the Lord Jesus. No matter how many good outward behaviors such people had, and however hard they worked, in God’s eyes, they were workers of iniquity.
Looking back to these years during which I believed in the Lord, though I had some superficially good behaviors and suffered for preaching and working, did I sacrifice and give a lot for loving and satisfying God? Didn’t I do these things all for receiving the crown and the rewards, enjoying the blessings of the kingdom of heaven? Seeing the situation of the church was bleak, what I concerned was not the life of the brothers and sisters, but that if I didn’t nourish the Lord’s sheep well, I would not get His rewards and the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. If so, then I would lose big for I didn’t enjoyed many enjoyable things in the world, nor did God approve of me. No wonder the Lord said He had never known the ones working iniquity like us, and let us depart from Him. It turned out what we had done was unrelated to the Lord but it was all for ourselves.
Later, I saw the Lord Jesus’ word, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Mat 22:37-38). Pondering over the Lord’s word again, I was even more enlightened. I understood: God wishes us to do whatever we can with a heart that loves God and is mindful of He had a place for God in his heart and pursued revering God and shunning evil. Ultimately, in that big trial he stood firm in his testimony, and then received God’s praise. There were still other people, like Peter and Abraham, who were approved by God. None of them was like those Pharisees, who waved the banner of serving God but in fact were just doing their own business. They used their sincere hearts to believe in God, love God, submit to God, obey God’s way and walk the path of revering God and shunning evil. In the end, they received God’s approval. In the future, I shall take them as the example I follow. and to pay attention to practicing His words in everything out of our love for Him. This way, in one regard, we will be able to act in harmony with God’s will; in another, more importantly, by putting God’s words into practice, our unrighteousness can be resolved, and gradually we’ll become people satisfying God’s will. At the time, I thought of Job.
Thank God for His guidance. Now my mind is clearer, my confusion disappearing little by little. I have found the rightest direction and objective of . In my later service, I am willing to practice according to God’s requirements: exalting and bearing witness to the Lord, bringing the brothers and sisters to the presence of God, and offering my portion for loving and satisfying God rather than for my own gains of interests. That is my form of rationality as a creature. Thank the Lord!
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