I’ve been preparing for Saturday’s study on Acts 19, but after reading the verse of the month, Jeremiah 17:9, I got side tracked. I read the pre and post-script in Jeremiah 17 to put things in context. I then proceeded to run through the cross references and their pre and post-script for context. One of the references took me to Matthew 7. As I read through chapter seven, I came to 3 verses that had hit me a couple of months ago and prompted a study I hadn’t completed.
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
I “really” read these verses a couple of months ago and they hit me like a sledgehammer! Jesus is speaking about people denied entry into the kingdom. These people come to the door fully expecting entry, yet are denied. In my opinion, this is one of the most sobering passages one can read.
So who do you think Jesus is speaking of here? Jesus is warning us of confession, verbal profession without belief, without a changed heart. The bible says in Romans 10:9,10 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness… This is most assuredly a two-fold commitment, profess outwardly, believe inwardly. As I cross referenced these three verses from Matthew, they all warned of the implication of giving lip service to the Lord, and not having a believing heart.
If you take a pig and clean him up, clothe him and teach him to sit in a chair you’d have something pretty special. In fact, you’d have a pig that didn’t seem much like a pig anymore. However, open the gate to the field and watch him find the first wallow he can, jump in and ruin those fancy duds. My point is, all the primping and shining you did on that pig was for not, because at heart, he’s still a pig. You can fool a great many by how you dress, act, sing, pray, but you can’t fool God. He knows your heart.
Acts 19:13-16 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
In Acts 19:13-16 we see some Jewish exorcists, astounded by the power of God’s work through Paul’s hands, attempt to call on Jesus and counterfeit His miracles. It fails miserably. Why? They didn’t believe in Jesus’ authority in their hearts.
The people knocking at the door, “Lord, Lord” are the people who gave God lip service, polished up, looked the part and played the role, but never knew the heart of Jesus.
Mike said it earlier this week, “the heart of every problem, is a problem with the heart”. The more I grow in my faith, the stronger my relationship with the Lord grows, the more scripture I read, examine and internalize, the more I’m convinced that this is the meat of the matter. You want to know God, be close to God, spend eternity in heaven with your Father, pursue His heart and then let His heart change yours.
When I knock at heaven’s door I don’t want to hear, “Scott, you don’t know Me!” I want to be welcomed with open arms, “Son, I’m so glad you’re here!”
What’s the condition of your heart? Are you just going through the motions, giving lip service and playing the part? Or, are you eagerly, enthusiastically and emphatically pursuing God’s heart and allowing Him to change yours? You know the answer to these questions, but more importantly, so does God.
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,