are you doing the will of the Father? (devo on Matthew 7:21-23)
“'Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7:21-23 NLT, emphasis added)
This verse has always been a thorn in my butt because, for the life of me, I could never understand it! Plus, it scares the crap out of me.
But in my quiet time this week, something really stood out to me, and I think I’ve finally got it.
Let’s picture the scene. Some people — probably goody-two-shoes who were religious, good citizens, popular, and powerful — are standing before God’s throne in Heaven, terrified. Crying out in desperation. Listing all of the reasons why they should be allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven.
And then we find out that they didn’t make the list because they didn’t actually do God’s will.
Every time I read these verses, I think, “Well, yeah. Why wouldn’t they go to Heaven? They did all of these wonderful and godly things. Surely they did God’s will.”
And that’s just it.
They listed what they had done. They were defending themselves based on their works.
And now we find the problem and the real reason why they aren’t getting into the Kingdom.
They did wonderful and Godly things for God’s glory (which is good and is His will!), but they expected that alone to get them into Heaven (which is NOT good and is definitely NOT His will!).
They were living a works-gospel instead of a grace-gospel.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT)
Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is the ONLY way we get into Heaven. When we stand before God, our works aren’t going to cut it, even if they are amazing. The only thing that will save us is standing before God and saying, “I couldn’t do it, but the grace and sacrifice of Jesus did.”
You aren’t enough. I’m not enough. Nothing and no one is enough to make us right in God’s eyes…except Jesus. He took all of our sins on Himself, took the punishment, and rose again. He is the sacrifice that paid for our crimes. ONLY by believing in His grace and accepting His sacrifice will we get into the Kingdom.
Got it? Good.
So, only those who do the will of God get into Heaven, so what is His will?
Pay attention to the use of words in these verses; there is a direct correlation between God’s will and Jesus knowing the people.
God’s will is that we do good works in order to KNOW Him, not to get into Heaven or get something from Him. His will is for us to have a relationship with Him, not an extensive resume. Once we have that relationship and love Him, we automatically do good works in order to get closer to His goodness.
That’s why Jesus says that those who do God’s will truly know Him.
KNOWING HIM —> DOING HIS WILL (not the other way around)
It starts with a relationship with Him.
So, to sum up, the difference between those who get into Heaven and those who aren’t are as follows:
do His will
have a relationship with Jesus
do good works out of a love for God
depend on Jesus’ grace and not their works
don’t have a relationship with Jesus
do good works to get something from God
depend on their works and not Jesus’ grace
So, friend, I don’t know which side of the spectrum you stand on.
Maybe you’re doing all of these wonderful things and trying to be a good person because you think that it will get you into Heaven. If that is you, sweet friend, please stop. The reality is that you can’t do enough. You could cure cancer and end poverty and heal people and be the most righteous person on the planet, but it will never be enough. Only Jesus can save you, and it’s only by His grace that you can enter the Kingdom.
Or maybe you have a relationship with Christ, but you’ve fallen into the trap of doing good things because you’re “supposed to” or because it’s expected. Darlin’, you are enough. Jesus has made you enough…just as you are, without all the bedazzles and tricks and good things. Just be with Him and ignore what you’re “supposed to do” for a little while. Find your rhythm with Him again.
I dare you to stop striving and to lean into His grace today. Click here if you want to learn more about Him and His grace.