Make it hard for Jesus to say, 'I never knew you'

The writer and his wife, Patt, were baptized in the mid-1970s and began attending with the Worldwide Church of God. In the spring of 1995 they joined the United Church of God but left after a year and a half to attend with the Philadelphia Church of God. After seven months with the PCG they began keeping the Sabbath and feast days alone or with a few friends. Lately they have met with the Twin Cities Church of God in the Minneapolis area.

By James R. Steinle

ROGERS, Minn.--"I never knew you," the Savior is quoted as saying in Matthew 7:23. What do these words mean?

In the immediately preceding verse the Master said that some who have prophesied in His name and have actually cast out devils and done many other wonderful works are strangers to Him.

How can it be that He will say to people who have done these good works in His name: "I never knew you. Depart from me you that work iniquity"?

What was the iniquity they were doing? Where did they go wrong?

The Savior then said, in effect: "Whosoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, will have a rock-solid foundation for eternal life" (verse 24).

What were the sayings?

The problem seems to lie in the doing. What were these sayings of His that are of such obvious importance?

The "sayings" He refers to in verse 24 began in Matthew 5 in what is commonly known as the Beatitudes. Yashua (I will use His Hebrew name here) says blessings will be on those who are "poor in spirit."

Psalm 51:17 explains what "poor in spirit" means: "The sacrifices of Elohim Hebrew for 'the Mighty Ones'] are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O Elohim, you will not despise." (See also Matthew 18:3-4 and Luke 18:13-14.)

Blessed also are "those who mourn": those who see the sufferings of the world and cry out for "Thy Kingdom" to come (Matthew 6:10).

Blessed are those who are "meek." Meekness means a quiet spirit and a trusting attitude in our Father (1 Peter 3:4-5).

Blessed are "they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness." They hate sin in themselves and in the world. They strive to overcome (Romans 12:21). The Messiah (the Anointed One) pointed out the importance of striving to rid ourselves of attitudes of sin in our heart. Sin in our heart is just as bad as the physical act.

Blessed are those who are "merciful," "pure in heart" and "peacemakers." Blessed are those who are "persecuted" for doing and standing up for what is right, whether from the world or even our own organizations (Matthew 5:7-11).

Regarding those who consider themselves to be our enemies, our Master says in Matthew 5:44 we are to love, bless, do good and pray for them.

The good works we are to do and the attitude we are to do them in must reflect the attitude our Savior showed us while He was on earth. We must want others to praise our Father, not ourselves (Matthew 5:16; 6:1). He is the One who is good and from whom blessings come.

Look at me

That is why, whether in almsgiving, private prayer or fastings, we should do our good works in secret (Matthew 6:2-4). If we do them so other men can see our spirituality, then we set up men as our idols, violating the Second Commandment.

In our inner self we must understand, as the apostle Paul did, that in our flesh "dwells no good thing" (Romans 7:18).

Our Father looks for a heart that fears Him and obeys Him, not just in the letter (Deuteronomy 5:29; 1 John 5:3). The problem with the Scribes and Pharisees was their legalism. They fell short of real justice by leaving out mercy and faith (Matthew 23:23). Now, in our dealings with others, we are to call on the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

We are not to judge in a condemning sense (Matthew 7:1-5). We individually will stand before our Judge, who will discern whether we are a sheep or a goat (Matthew 25:33).

In an area in which many fall short, we also are to watch out for false prophets (Matthew 7:15-20). These false shepherds can look and sound good, but in their hearts and deeds they do not represent the Savior. They mainly look out for themselves and their vested interests.

If you belong to an organization, do you see meekness, or do you perceive carnal political jousting and infighting in your spiritual guides?

Are you--am I--watching for this? Our Savior says we should! The Scriptures are full of warnings about false shepherds and what to do about them (Matthew 18:15-17).

This is, in essence, the "sayings of Mine" (Matthew 7:24), the strait gate and the narrow way that lead to life (verses 13-14). In our acts of serving others let us remember to have the mind and attitude of Yashua, our Savior, as one of the Gospel writers quoted Him as saying (John 13:34-35):

"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

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