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Two of my friends recently posted some of their thoughts on Matthew 7:21-23.  That intrigued me since I had already been planning for several weeks to write about the same passage.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read those words of Jesus, but I find them as gripping now as ever.  They are in fact terrible, haunting words:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The words paint a frightening picture of those who spends their entire life thinking they’re following Christ, fatally unaware until the day of judgment that they had been deceiving themselves all along.

Self-deception.  Have you ever really thought about what that means?

If you have successfully deceived yourself, it means that you’ve actually believed your own lie.  And if you truly believe your own lie, you have effectively closed the door on any possibility of knowing the truth.  That is a sobering thought and a frankly terrifying prospect.  And it is also exactly what the Bible says some people do.

So how do we avoid the kind of damning self-deception Jesus was describing? In light of Jesus’ words the answer to that question is a matter of life and death eternal.

The two friends I mentioned at the beginning of this post help shed some light on that question and on Jesus’ words.  To begin with, Ron points out that those who are commanded to leave the presence of Christ…

…are attempting to stand before the Messiah on the basis of their efforts, even efforts done in the name of Christ. It seems they are attempting to stand on a sorely and absolutely insufficient foundation of works righteousness before the Holy One who spoke the universe into existence from nothing.

Now, when I read and ponder on this verse, I will consider even more carefully and understand more dearly and rejoice more heartily in the fact that I bring nothing to the table. We in Christ have nothing of our own to offer our Redeemer than our weakness, our brokenness over sin and our brokenness by sin, a heart that, quickened by God’s sovereign work of grace, becomes more repentant over time as we grow increasingly aware of how miserably far we fall short.

You and I have nothing to offer Christ but our sin and brokenness.  Never ever imagine otherwise.

My other friend, David, looks at the same passage and asks a simple question–How can I know that I am saved?  Is there a more important question than that?  David’s post is part one of a series.

Can you know that you’re saved, and not merely deceiving yourself into thinking you are?  The answer, thankfully, is yes.  Just make certain that you don’t assume too much.  Jesus gave us warnings like this for a very good reason.