I have always been troubled by the way Matthew 7:21-23 is used. In summary I was taught that ‘not everyone who confesses Jesus as Lord is saved but one must do the Father’s will in order to remained saved!’ I was taught that ‘you have to serve God faithfully, give up everything for Jesus, obey the commandments, and crucify yourself, so that Jesus will not say that He never knew you.’ In gist, make sure you live such a life of dedication liked the one Jesus lived, in order that God would be satisfied. That was being taught as doing the will of the Father. Sounds good?
I tried. I was so performance oriented that I judged myself on Jesus perfection everyday. I realised I was still involved in the same sins; pride, lust and envy.
Hence on the outside I looked great but deep down, I was rotting away. The problem is this, the more I preached about the more you need to serve, the more I felt like a hypocrite. The reason is this: you can never do enough to compensate for what Jesus had done for you.
I thanked the Holy Spirit for showing me what I am about to share with you all. Firstly, Matthew 7:22 says that the people whom Jesus never knew were very involved in ‘doing many things in Jesus’ name!’ Even miracles. Yet they were not doing the will of the Father! In fact, Jesus called them evil doers.
I began thus to realise this: to ensure Jesus never rejects you, you only need to do ONE thing. The will of the Father! What then, is the will of the Father?
In John 6:28 the people asked our Lord ‘what must we do to do the WorkS (note plural) God requires?’ The crowd was faced with same problem. What must we do? Note Jesus’ answer. This is the work (note singular) of God: to believe in the one he has sent!
God actually considers belief in His son as work. Further, this one act is ALL Father requires from me! Then Jesus says in verse 40 in John 6, ‘for my Father’s WILL is that everyone who looks to the Son and BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE AND I WILL RAISE HIM UP ON THE LAST DAY.’
Lastly, Hebrews chapter 10:10 says ”For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.” The verse is stated in the context of the Holy Spirit testifying “I will remember your sins no more!”
The Father’s will is always for us.
The will and the acceptable work which God’s require is your faith and not your deeds as you have been SAVED by Jesus! The people Jesus referred to were doing so much that they missed out what God’s will is. Like Martha we think we are pleasing to God when we give to Him. Yet Jesus says to her ‘one thing is needed and Mary has chosen the right thing.’ What pleases God is not your service but who you place your faith in: your service or your saviour?
Note if your confidence lies what you do for Jesus, Matthew 7:23 calls us evil-doers. Since realising this, the Lord in His grace has restored me.
The will and the work of The Father is you believe in His Son. Your faith will cause Him to produce deeds in your life as James says.