The Most Horrifying Words Ever Spoken

The Christian life is more than saying a prayer and being baptized. It’s more than attending church, singing in the choir, or teaching a Sunday School class. It is even more than reading a daily devotion and praying daily.

Perhaps the most horrifying words ever spoken are found at the end of the longest teaching that our Lord ever offered. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

In that day many will say to Me, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we preach in your name, didn’t we cast out devils in your name, and do many great things in your name?”  Then I shall tell them plainly, “I have never known you.  Go away from Me, you have worked on the side of evil.”  — Matthew 7:22

He is telling people who had preached, cast out demons and done many wonderful things in His name that they had worked on the side of evil. How can that be?

The emphasis is that He had never known them. There had never been a personal, one on one relationship. What a terrifying thought.

The Judgement

“That day” refers to the judgement at which every person will stand after their final breath on this side of eternity.  For believers it will be the “Judgement Seat of Christ” where rewards for faithful service will be given. For unbelievers it will the the “Great White Throne.”

Imagine the absolute horror of hearing the Lord Jesus say  “go away from Me, you have worked on the side of evil.” Imagine hearing that as a person who has been in church every time the doors were opened their entire life, sung in the choir, gone on mission trips, tithed, and done many wonderful things.

Yet, there had been no relationship. The key to understanding this dire situation begins in Isaiah 64:6:

“But we are all as an unclean thing. And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”

The Truth

The Truth is that the best we can offer God, on a good, day, is filthy rags. Our hope lies not in that we can do for Him, but rather what He can do through us. Hence, His words in John 15:5:

“I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without Me ye can do nothing.”

The metaphor our Lord uses in this passage speaks of a branch that has been broken being grafted into a healthy tree.  Paul describes it in Romans 11:11-31. The branch which was in and of itself dead now lives as the beneficiary of the roots and trunk of the healthy tree.

Taken literally it describes a surgical procedure in which a branch (us)  which suffered what would have been a fatal injury (sin), is saved when a healthy tree (Christ) is wounded (Calvary) in order that the surgery (salvation, being born again) may occur.  

From that moment forward it is His life living through us continuously and producing fruit. The things that we do as Christians are the effects of the relationship that we maintain with Him, not the cause of or a substitution for the relationship.  

The Relationship

Our part is to establish the relationship through salvation and then diligently maintain it through a hundred choices a day to abide in Him, allowing Him to abide in us. To do things His way through trust and obedience and not our way through doubt and unbelief.   

As we decrease, He will increase. As we walk with Him daily, He will become our dearest friend who sticks closer than a brother. Then when we stand before Him we will hear Him say the words “well done, good and faithful servant.”

The Apostle Paul encouraged the church to examine themselves, whether they were in the faith.  As Pastor Johnny Hunt says so very well “eternity is too long to be wrong.” Scripture assures us that we can be sure.  

If there is a hint of doubt now is the time to be sure that you’re sure.  You may want to prayerfully read and meditate on the entire passages listed above. Ask God to search your heart to reveal any hidden sin. Talk to your pastor or a mature Christian. Do not rest until you know that you know that you know.