I wrote this in response to someone’s query but it never got posted. So here it is…
Matt. 7:21-23 became very important to me many years ago. As I began to recognize what was being said there, I was set on a life long journey of discovery and growing closer to God. There is much more behind Yeshua’s (Jesus’) words here then is initially apparent.
– We’d call the people being spoken to ‘Christians’, as you point out.
– Jesus does not say, “you don’t know me”, but “I never knew you!” This is backwards from most of our thinking.
– The word ‘evildoers’ is a very poor translation. The word there clearly means ‘lawless ones’.
This brings to the forefront some very important questions we should ask ourselves. First, why didn’t Yeshua (Jesus) “know” them when they were apparently “on fire” for God? They seemed to be even putting their faith into action (doing miracles and such). Why does Yeshua (Jesus) call them ‘lawless ones’?
I submit that as we learn to walk in His way (His law), He comes to know us and our hearts. The people Jesus is rebuking did not regard His law as something to be considered. They were making up their own rules and traditions, just as so many denominations do today. It’s interesting to note that of all the things the people listed as things they have done, none are in God’s law as something that He wants us to learn. They are fruits of the Spirit living in us, given to us through the grace of God through Yeshua (Jesus). Yet those people were looking not at God’s will, but at ‘neat fruit’! They thought that they could come to God anyway they wanted to (without obedience).
You point out that we need to be obedient. You are so correct! In the Hebrew language, the word for ‘hear’ is an action word, not just meaning to listen. In Hebrew thought, if you don’t ‘do’ what you heard, then you didn’t listen.