Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven….”
Who Are The Deceived Believers
Unlike the false temporary believers we discussed in the last post, deceived believers go to their judgment thinking they are saved.
Jesus recognized this in Matthew 7:21-23, where He warned, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord in Your name did we not prophesy, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name do many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”
In the parable which immediately follows the parable of the Sower and the Seed (Matthew 13:3-9), Christ shares the Parable of the Tares (weeds that mimicked wheat) among the Wheat in (Matthew 13:24-30):
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘
Christ explains the parable of the tares in Matthew 13:36-43:
“Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
The Tragedy of False Hope
Once again, I refer to 2 Corinthians 4:4, which confirms that “…the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ….” This is one of the most woeful verses in Scripture. It is one thing to blind someone into believing they are saved only to recognize they are not a believer, due to affliction or persecution, as discussed in the Sower and the Seed parable of Matthew 13:3-9. It is even more tragic to have one never question their salvation, only to discover at the judgment that they have been deceived all along, as in the Wheat and Tares parable of Matthew 7:21-23.
Who are these people? Around the time of Christ, Jesus called out the Pharisees in John 8:41-44 by warning, “You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of sexual immorality; we have one Father: God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Clearly, the Pharisees thought God was their father, yet Christ pointed out it was the devil who was their father. They were deceived into believing they were righteous.
What beliefs deceive people even now? The Bible addresses this in Galatians 1:8-9 – “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!”
Who is to be accursed? Any theology that preaches a false gospel. Any faith where redemption includes works. Any religion that provides for traditions, councils, and new revelations that override the Bible. Any view that teaches easy believism and that a canned prayer can be a “get out of jail free” card. Any trust that includes a gospel outside of what the apostles taught in the Bible.
Salvation is by repentance and faith alone, in Christ alone. Any reliance beyond or short of that simple gospel will result in fraudulent salvation.
The truth is that Christian churches and churches that call themselves Christian will include unbelievers who claim to be saved. True Christians are recognized by their fruits, not their associations, memberships, or genealogy. Salvation is a divine work and choice of God the Father, and it is He who initiates and secures our election. Salvation is not granted because one is born into a Christian family or through membership or participation in a Christian or Christian-like church.
Once again, as true believers, we are both to test ourselves to ensure that we are indeed saved (2 Peter 1:10 “…be all the more diligent to make your calling and choosing sure; for in doing these things, you will never stumble”) and continue to grow in our sanctification through obedience to God’s word (1 Peter 2:2 “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation”).
Christ advised Nicodemus in John 3:3, “Truly, truly, I say to you unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Unfortunately, many will be astonished at the judgment when rejected by God since they were never genuinely redeemed.