21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21–23, NKJV)
Calling Jesus your Lord and Savior is not sufficient to assure your entrance into heaven (v. 21). Saying “Lord, Lord” but not doing what Jesus says does not please Him (Luke 6:46). We must do the Father’s will to enter heaven. This teaches us faith alone is not acceptable to Jesus. Well-intended religious activities are not sufficient to insure entrance into heaven, either (v. 22). Declaring to act in the name of Jesus does not make it so. Verse 23 explains that even well-meaning actions that are not approved in the word of God, are lawless (without law, not sanctioned by God’s law), and therefore, rejected. When religious practices are not revealed in the word of God they are lawless (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 John 3:4). Heaven is for those who are doers of the word. So, do the will of God and do not rest your hope of heaven on well-intended practices that are not approved by God’s word.
A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of wicked intentions He will condemn. (Proverbs 12:2, NKJV)
The word of God points out that good intentions alone will not wash away our sins (cf. Cornelius, whose good intentions and moral life did not save him, Acts 10:1-2, 22; 11:14). It is equally apparent that without good intentions we will not obtain God’s favor. Wicked, evil motives bring God’s condemnation. God’s favor is reserved for the good-intentioned person who actually does what He says is good (Eph. 2:10). So, Cornelius was told that “whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35). Let us couple our good intentions with doing the good will of God, so that we will be received by the Lord and blessed by Him in Christ (Eph. 1:3; Jas. 1:25).
61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62)
Good intentions without genuine commitment may soothe the conscience, but they do not satisfy the Lord. This person not only had a problem with setting the priority of following Jesus first, his words revealed another common hindrance to being a disciple of Christ Jesus; His dedication to his family was superior to his commitment to Jesus. The Lord is not condemning telling one’s family goodbye. But, He is undoubtedly saying no one can truly follow Him until every other commitment is made secondary to His will. Some people simply will not fully commitment themselves to following Jesus because family fondness trumps fidelity to the Son of God. By doing so they prove themselves unfit for the kingdom of God. Jesus demands first place and total commitment; no exceptions. Set your hand to the plow and always be committed to Christ first.