Jump Start # 1937
Matthew 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
You see it all the time. There are lists made up of the best and the worst. The best songs of the decade, or, the worst movies of all time. The best catches of the NFL. The worst political blunders of all time. These things dominate the web. There are lists for everything. I often don’t agree with the choices on these lists. They are made up by the people who are promoting them. It’s often based upon their opinion or a small sampling of suggestions by others. Because someone says, ‘Here are the top ten worst things you can spend your money on,’ doesn’t mean it’s true.
Now, having said all of this, I came across an old sermon of mine the other day, “The Worst Words in the Bible.” It’s an old sermon. I don’t know when I preached it. I don’t know where I got that title from. It was based upon our passage today. Three simple thoughts. I will share them with you.
1. It’s the worst words because of when they are said. The previous verse says, “Many will say to Me on that day…” On what day? Not just any day. Not just some day. “That day.” That day, was the last day, the day of judgment. This is what is being discussed here. These are the worst words because they are spoken on the last day. There is no more time to change. There is no time to make things right. Had these been said on the half-way point in life, adjustments, repentance and changes could have been made. Course corrections could have made a different outcome. But as it is, it’s on THAT DAY. Worst time to hear those words. It means a lifetime wasted. It means too late to do anything about it. It means condemnation from the Lord.
2. It’s the worst words because of who said these words. This isn’t spoken by our parents. It’s not spoken by a boss, a roommate, a wife, or, a neighbor. None of those. It’s Jesus who said these words. These words of condemnation come from Jesus on THAT DAY. Had an apostle said these words, we could hold out for hope and mercy from God. Had our preacher said these things, we might believe that he doesn’t know the whole story. Had our church felt this way, we may think that they just do not understand. But as it is, Jesus said these words. Jesus is never wrong. He never misunderstands. He knows all and hears all. He can read our hearts and see through the fog of our excuses. He knows our motives and our attitudes. He knows when we are faking things and when we are genuine. It is Jesus who said these things. You can’t go above Jesus’ head. There is no one that you can appeal to beyond God. If Jesus is the mediator between man and God and it is Jesus who says these things, then all hope is gone. We have disappointed, disobeyed and let the Lord down.
3. It’s the worst words because of what is said. Jesus said two things. Both of them are shocking and condemning. First, Jesus says, “I never knew you.” This is what strangers say to one another. ‘Have we met?’ one asks. The reply, “I never knew you.” This means a lifetime was spent not in fellowship with Christ. It means one did not walk with Christ, follow Christ, nor make Christ the Lord of his heart. He did not read the words of Jesus. His character, his heart and his behavior was not shaped by Christ. He did what he wanted to do. He may have heard about Jesus, but he never really KNEW Jesus. He may have had his own impression of Jesus. He may have thought that Jesus doesn’t mind what he does. He may have believed that Jesus loves and for that reason alone, everyone is going to Heaven. How wrong he was.
I never knew you. The Lord didn’t say, “I once knew you.” A long time ago, we knew each other. He didn’t say, we once were friends but you defriended me. The Lord didn’t say, ‘you look familiar to me. Have we met?’ No, it was the bold, “I never knew you.” NEVER. Never—not when you were first starting out and I could have guided you. Not when you first got married and I could have taught you about Biblical love and forgiveness. Not when you started making money and I could have shown you how to help others. Not on Sundays, because you didn’t worship Me. You never talked to Me. You never sought Me. You never had a relationship with Me.
What is surprising is that the people who heard this actually thought that they knew the Lord. It was in the name of the Lord that they were casting out demons, preforming miracles and prophesying. How did they do this without the Lord? That, I do not know. But in their minds, they not only knew the Lord, but they were working hand in hand with the Lord. So, wrong. So, confused. So, misguided. Their disobedience, their lawlessness, their failure to do the will of the Father, was the very reason that Jesus did not know them. It doesn’t matter what good we do, if we do not follow God’s will, we distance ourselves from Him. They believed they knew Jesus, but Jesus declared that He never knew them.
The second thing that Jesus says, is, “Depart from Me.” Leave. Get out of My sight. You are not going to be where I am. We remember in John 14, Jesus said, I go and prepare a place for you. That where I am, there you may be also. Not so for this crowd in Matthew 7. They are not going to be with Jesus. Depart. There is only one other place. If it’s not Heaven, then it’s Hell. Eternity without God. No hope. No future. No help. No God. That’s Hell. Here are folks who claimed to cast out demons, prophecy, and do miracles. By those very words, we’d classify them as being spiritual. Spiritual people in Hell? Yes. They were there because they did not obey God. They were there because Jesus never knew them. What this tells us is that not everyone who goes to church services goes to Heaven. Heaven is for those who know Christ and He knows them. Heaven is for those who do the will of God.
The worst words…spoken on the last day…spoken by Jesus…declaring depart from Me. The door closed. Too late. A life was spent doing the wrong thing. Lost forever. Lost, when they didn’t have to be.
Are these truly the worst words in the Bible? It’s be hard to top them. But more important than that, are we wasting a lifetime ignoring the will of God? Will those words be said of us? Until our last day, we can do something about it. We best begin today!