By Roger Bear
What is the most terrifying statement in God’s Word as far as you are concerned? For me, Jesus’ concluding words from the Sermon on the Mount make me shudder.
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ “ (Matthew 7:22-23)
How can this be? How could such a terrible misjudgment of relationship ever develop? I have spent long periods of time in my own life in the throes of doubt and dryness, begging God to assure my heart and make Himself known to me. I’ve often found myself longing for the faith and confidence, the demonstrations of the Holy Spirit’s power that I’ve heard, seen, and read about other Christians’ lives and ministries, particularly those who prophesy/preach, who speak and uncover demons and depravity, who heal with their hands and their words, who lead great movements!
So how can this be? What will have taken place in a man’s or woman’s life so that when he or she stands before our Lord Jesus He will say, “I don’t know you,” and more, name him or her an “evildoer”? The key has to be in the innermost desire of our hearts.
In the Sermon, throughout all of Jesus’ life and words, and in all of Scripture we are warned that we can long for and set our affections on the things of God, the benefits, the beauty of creation, and what God has and can do for us and through us rather than longing for Him. In many and subtle ways we can become addicted to the work of God’s Hands rather than the beauty of God’s Face, the Face of Jesus. We can fall victim to our Enemy’s greatest deception: that accomplishment, success, growth, accolades, appointments to boards and committees, recognitions (and all of these in the name of Jesus, the church, evangelism, missions, building, expanding) are the same as knowing Him. But they are not.
Jesus says later in John, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) And Paul, whose life and experiences epitomize the work of preaching, casting out demons, and healing, who had the credentials and the oratory skills to silence his critics, and whose rugged and ragged journey would have made him a “saint” in anyone’s book, said, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. “ (Phil. 3:10-11) Do you know Christ, or have you set your affections on the things God has given?
One of my daily prayers? “Oh, Father, please know me, so that I can know that I am known by You.”