[July 25]--The Great Divide

Matt. 7:15-23

During these times, it’s always popular to talk about unity. Presidents are elected by convincing enough people that they're “uniters” and not “dividers.” All division is considered to be bad. Of course, this isn't a completely negative change: We used to be divided by race, and that’s no longer considered acceptable. But the Bible talks about divisions as well, and not all of them are bad. In fact, some of them are God-given.

The first division in this passage is between false teachers and true. It always amazes me when people are scandalized by the latest preacher to be caught doing something wrong. Naturally they assume that anyone wearing minister’s clothes is to be trusted. I wish it were so, but it’s not. And worse, a bad minister doesn’t just hurt himself; he usually leads others astray. And we need to keep in mind that the Lord holds us accountable for following bad teachers: “If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

So how do we distinguish between false teachers and good ones? “By their fruit you will recognize them.” This isn’t just referring to their lifestyle but also their teaching. Do both conform to God’s word? This isn’t to say they need to be perfect, since all of us are sinners in need of God’s grace. But they need to be following Christ, and attempting to live up to his standards. And we need to hold up every sermon, every teaching session against the standard of God’s word. And of course this means we need to study it, read it, and know it.

Then Jesus moves from fake teachers to fake believers. This is an amazing passage to me. These alleged followers pointed to prophecies in his name, casting out demons, and performing miracles, and he never disputed their claim to have done so. Is it really possible to prophecy (or preach) in his name, cast out demons, and even perform miracles of some sort, and still be lost? It sure looks like it to me.

What was the central issue, the main concern? Why would Jesus cast them out of his presence? He makes it abundantly clear here. When he says “I never knew you,” it doesn’t mean he doesn’t know their names, it means that they never had a personal relationship with him. They'd never really put their faith in him, had never repented of their sin, and had never claimed his gift of grace. They'd spent years and years play-acting, pretending to not only be a Christian but a miracle-worker. But he wasn’t impressed, and their little game was exposed in the end.

Friend, this is a solemn warning to each of us. Have you truly placed your trust in the Savior? Or have you been play-acting? If you’re reading this and haven’t ever done so, please read this. He knows your heart, and you know that you need him. Please stop the games.

Lord Jesus, I thank you for saving my soul. I know that I’ve placed my trust in you for salvation, and I completely turn away from any claim to righteousness apart from you. You are my all in all.

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