“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
For any Christian believer, this scripture ought to be one that brings a certain terror to your heart. I have wondered who it is that Jesus speaks of when He speaks the damning words, “Away from me, you workers of iniquity.”
Those words are a death sentence to anyone who hears them. They are words that condemn some delusional soul to an eternity of separation from God. They are words that are to be taken very seriously by anyone who claims the Christian faith.
I know believers who are so confident in their relationship with Christ, and so unconcerned about these words of Jesus, that their confidence borders on cockiness. I caution each and every one of you to examine your heart each day, as the scriptures admonish us to do, and don’t allow yourself to be fooled by the human mind’s bent toward rationale. If the human mind can rationalize the act of abortion, it can rationalize any form of evil.
I tell you, look boldly in the mirror each day and be brutally honest with yourself about where you stand in your relationship to Christ, and through Him to other people. As you interacted with people on any given day, was it Christ in you that they saw, or were you out in front of Him, busy taking credit for the work He’s doing, or worse, giving Christ’s reputation a black eye? There is not a day that goes by in my self-examination that I don’t find a flaw, many in fact. Things I have to confess to my Father and then humbly repent of. And they are not always things initiated by me.
I have given up certain ministry, at times, because the people I was serving were giving me too much credit for the work being done in their lives. No matter how many times I pointed out that it was Christ Jesus who was bringing blessings to them, they continued to attribute those blessings to me. That kind of adulation can and will, lead to a temptation to pride. I told them I would prove to them that it wasn’t me. I would leave that ministry and God would raise up someone else to take my place. I did, and so did He.
So who will it be, that hears those words from Jesus? John Piper says, “Consider the difference between a heart of ‘faith’ and a heart of ‘works.'”
The heart of works is forever running out ahead of God, intent on accomplishing some goal, completing some work “for” God, that he has convinced himself God wants him to do. All the while, with each work completed, he takes great, personal satisfaction in his accomplishment and, solicited, or unsolicited, also takes credit for the work.
On the other hand, the heart of faith waits for God to speak, by showing the work He wants done. It is very often not the attractive, glory job that our egos would prefer. Mostly it’s difficult, exhausting work, in the trenches. Work that can only be accomplished in consort “with” God, not “for” Him. In the end, lives are changed by the hand of God and, if we have done it right, no one takes notice of the heart of faith, only the Lord.
The heart of works will soon find himself standing in the place of the Pharisees, full of religiosity, overly concerned about the rules and who’s not following them, enforcing the law and making new interpretations that render the cross of Christ irrelevant; pointing fingers of judgement and closing himself off from the “sinful” world, in a fortress of exclusion.
The heart of faith acts humbly, knowing well that he has no righteousness beyond that of Christ’s shed blood. He shuns religious convention and its tendency to the law. He avoids making judgements about people and instead, goes among them, seeking persons of peace with whom to share the gospel of God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. He opens his heart to a lost world and shares their pain, their suffering, so that they might be healed by the power of the Holy Spirit within. The heart of faith always allows the Holy Spirit to go ahead of him, to prepare hearts and a way so that the success of the work will be assured by the power of God.