February 26

Text: Matthew 7:22, 23

"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'  And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.' (NASB)

To emphasize the importance of God’s concept of righteousness, Jesus ended this lesson with two contrasts.   Both contrasts declare the importance of grasping God’s concept. 

The height of religious deeds in the Israel of that day was declared in three things: prophecy (or application, casting out demons, and miracles.  Anyone who did one or all three of these must be from God!  Yet, the Bible says there were false prophets (see 2 Peter 2:1).  People who were not Christians were dedicated to casting out demons (note Acts 19:13-16).  Evil people did miracles (consider 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10).  These people also claimed they did the religiously incredible by Jesus’ authority.

Surely Jesus would own these people as his “on that day.”  Anyone so strikingly religious, doing such remarkable deeds, and recognizing Jesus’ religious authority must belong to Jesus! 

Jesus said, “Not so!”  Jesus did as he instructed them to do earlier in the lesson.  He not only observed their claims, but he also examined the result of their actions.  The result: they always refused to be controlled by God.  Their claims about their deeds and motives were in contrast to their influence.

Jesus wanted nothing to do with them.  What their lives were about was not what he was about.  Their religious acts might impress people, but they did not impress Jesus or God.

Being righteous involves more than flashy religious deeds.

Suggestion for reflection: Are my religious deeds done to impress people or to communicate God’s values?  (Read Psalm 7:1-5.)

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 Copyright 2011 David Chadwell