What Does God Most Care About? Looking beyond religious rituals. By Dennis Prager This column…
Don’t Let Satan Steal Your Joy
By Grant Phillips
I have been hearing from some Christians who are struggling with their faith, stating that on occasion they have doubts about their salvation. The thought pattern may go something like this: “Am I really saved? Will Jesus say to me, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me?’”
This thinking comes from Matthew 7:23 which states, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
Thinking that we might be one of the “them” from Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:23 can be unnerving. Maybe we need to look at more than just this one verse.
“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. 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? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” – (Matthew 7:21-23)
At this point in Matthew, Jesus was finishing up His message to the crowd. When we read the Sermon on the Mount in its entirety, one truth in particular will jump out at us, and that is: we cannot keep the Law, and if we cannot keep the Law, we most assuredly cannot keep the Sermon on the Mount.
The Pharisees prided themselves in thinking that they kept the Law of Moses, but Jesus upped the ante in the Sermon on the Mount. For example, Jesus said that if you even look upon another with lust, let alone carry it out, it is adultery.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – (Matthew 5:27-28)
Only Jesus can keep the Law of Moses and only He can and does keep the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount. Our righteousness is as filthy rags.
“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.” – (Isaiah 64:6)
No one will enter the kingdom of Heaven (God) apart from the saving power of Jesus. He made it clear when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – (John 14:6)
The gospel of the kingdom is that all who repent and believe in Jesus will be redeemed and restored. All who do not will be condemned.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – (Romans 6:23)
All of those who hear Jesus say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” will have failed to do the Father’s will (v. 21). What is the Father’s will?
“This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” – (John 6:39-40)
Those in Matthew 7:22 are rejecting the Father’s will. They are all rejecting the one way that God has provided, which is through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus’ works we are saved, not our own.
When Christians have doubts, some will advise that the mere fact that they are concerned is an indication they are saved, and I agree. Satan’s followers would not be concerned since their pride would be in the way.
Even today, there is no shortage of those who claim to be a Christian, but show no evidence that they follow Jesus.
The Lord says through the apostle Paul that we should examine ourselves.
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified.” – (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Having read everything up to this point, it is obvious that there are many who are missing the point of salvation, which is that everything hinges upon Jesus. Without the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, there is no salvation. Those who brag that, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” have actually ridden on their own coattails. Any day of the week you can turn on your television and witness those proclaiming Christ with their hand in your back pocket and their eyes on your checkbook while they fly away in their private jet to one of their estates. They steal from the poor to become rich, all in the name of the Savior and Lord they say they worship.
God will never condemn anyone for being rich or poor. It is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil. Condemnation will come to those who reject Jesus and HIS works. I believe it to be accurate that most people will leave this world lost because they have trusted in themselves instead of Jesus. Instead of repenting and placing their trust in Him as a little child, their pride has gotten in the way.
We must understand that Satan is the most beautiful, the most powerful, and the most intelligent creature God ever created. If he had the nerve to tempt Jesus, the Son of God, you and I are nothing. This is reason enough that we must lean totally upon Jesus.
God said, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) If you have done this, you are His. Believe it.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” – (John 10:27-30) Believe it.
You say, “but I still sin.” When saying that, we are forgetting that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) No matter how good we are, no one could ever be good enough to be saved by their own works.
Concerning our sins, when we were saved, this is how God dealt with our sins.
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” – (Psalm 103:10-14)
When we sin as a Christian, we cannot lose our salvation, but we hurt our fellowship with Him, just as we hurt our fellowship with our earthly parents when we disobeyed. So, what do we do?
“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)
Regardless of the reason for occasional doubts, we need to fellowship with Him daily through His Word and prayer. Don’t let Satan to steal your joy.
If we don’t maintain our car or the house we live in what happens? What happens with our body and mind if we don’t feed and exercise them? Understand that I am not talking about us working daily to keep our salvation. Our salvation is guaranteed and in God’s hands, not ours. I am speaking of fellowship.
“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” – (2 Corinthians 1:21-22 emphasis mine)
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” – (Ephesians 1:13-14 emphasis mine)
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” – (Ephesians 4:30 emphasis mine)
If a baby does not eat it will starve. As it grows, it must continue to be nourished with food, water and fellowship within the family to remain healthy. It is no different with a born-again child of God. We must be nourished and maintain fellowship within our spiritual family.
Most people bathe and consume food and drink on a daily basis, but how often do we tend to our spiritual needs? I am convinced, from my own experience, that the more we are in God’s Word and talk with Him through prayer, the harder it is for Satan to attack us. What was it Peter said?
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” – (1 Peter 5:8)
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” – (John 10:10)
Satan wants us to doubt God. Don’t think so? Read Genesis 3:1-4. He stole the joy of the world when he got Eve to doubt God. I had a Sunday School teacher years ago that would say, “God said it. I believe it, and that settles it.” That’s pretty good advice.
The next time, if there is a next time, doubts arise, just say to yourself, “I’m not falling for that again. God said it. I believe it, and that settles it.”
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” – (Romans 8:1)