Have We Not Prophesied In Thy Name?
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
In my view, this is one of the most important scriptures in the New Testament for it lays bare one of the central problems in Christianity today, namely, thinking that because we are doing good works we will automatically make heaven our home. Jesus states clearly that even though many had prophesied, cast out devils, and done wonderful works in His name they did not do the will of the Father. Furthermore, He characterizes these people as workers of iniquity and professes that He “never knew” them.
How it is possible to be operating in the gifts of God yet be a worker of iniquity? How can a person cast out demons and still not be accepted in God’s kingdom? From these scriptures we learn it is possible to do the things of God without actually following the will of God. Jesus said that “many” will come to Him in the Day of Judgment believing that they have done great things for Him; self assured that they are in good standing with Him, only to face outer darkness because they did not obey His Fathers will.
The scriptures state in the book of Romans,
“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
Paul is referring to the position that Israel holds before God, but I believe it also lets us know a broader characteristic about our Father. God does not take back a gift given simply because the person whom He gave it to is disobedient. For example, when a person is given the gift of prophesy God does not repossess the gift because they sin. The high priest, even though he was conspiring to crucify the Messiah, prophesied,
“Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.”
If a person is given the gift of healing God does not refuse to heal those they lay hands on because they are in sin.
Jesus said that it is not what we do in our disobedience that commends us to Him, but rather how well we obey His Father’s voice and do His will. It is possible to be doing many things for God but still be in disobedience to His revealed will. If you dare to point out to someone that they are in danger of the judgment when they believe their good works prove they are right with God they will become very defensive saying that you are merely being critical. However the scriptures state,
“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?”
1 Corinthians 6:2,3
In cases where God has plainly spoken, making His judgment clear through the Holy Spirit, it is proper for us to warn those in disobedience about the possible consequences of their actions.
In the book of Ezekiel we learn,
“Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.”
And scriptures state in the book of Galatians,
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
It is not the start of the race that determines the winner but the finish. We must walk before God in obedience all the days of our lives not just part of them. When we drift away from the path of God we must return to His way with repentance and meekness.
The point of repentance is not for God to hear what we have done wrong, but for us to fully realize our error in order to avoid doing it again. Full repentance is not just saying, “I’m sorry” but understanding why you should say it. This is why confessing our sins is so important, for it allows us to take stock of our error and humble ourselves by admitting how we have fallen short. Thankfully, God promises,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
1 John 1:9
All disobedience before God brings consequences commensurate to our sin. Sometimes we pay the price, and sometimes others suffer the effects of our errors too. Abraham found himself in such a situation with his son Ishmael. God had promised him a son from his own body through Sara, but when the promise seemed to tarry beyond all reasonable and natural time limits they acted out of desperation. At the suggestion of his wife Abraham took Sara’s Egyptian handmaiden and begat a son whom he named Ishmael. This is perhaps the only time in Abraham’s life that He was clearly out of the will of His father and in the book of Genesis we learn,
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.”
Genesis 21: 9-12
The point of this story is that eventually the fruit of his disobedience to God’s will had to go in order to make room for the promised seed. It was unfortunate that Hagar and Ishmael had to pay such a high price for Abraham’s blunder, but, in His mercy, God said of Ishmael,
“And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.”
And we see that eventually both Isaac and Ishmael came together,
“And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;”
The birth of Isaac was very important to God and it had to be done in His way and in His timing. Modifying God’s will and trying to do it another way created a deviance in His plan which led to the suffering and heartache of Hagar and Ishmael down the road. Had Abraham simply obeyed God’s voice Isaac would have still been born and all the difficulties stemming from Ishmael would have been avoided.
Fortunately Abraham was able to allow God to correct his mistake even though losing Ishmael was very grievous in his sight. Had Abraham not obeyed God’s voice and failed to put away Hagar and Ishmael there is no telling what might have happened. As it turned out, because Abraham did what was hard eventually Isaac and Ishmael came together and God even made a great nation out of Ishmael’s decedents. Note: it was only through Abraham’s return to God’s plan that Ishmael was eventually blessed.
God said through Samuel,
“And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22
As servants of the most high we must consider that our part is to obey and not to direct. God fully knows what He wants; therefore, when He plainly reveals His will we must, without fail, obey His voice.