What Does Matthew 7:21 Mean?

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

Matthew 7:21(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

Jesus identified Himself as the good Shepherd of the sheep. He warned His disciples that many false prophets would arise, seeking to lead them astray. He referred to them as 'ferocious wolves', and explained that the fruit of professing prophets, priests, pastors or teachers would help to confirm them as legitimate ministers of Christ or identify them as a counterfeit.

Jesus explained in the previous verse that the way to differentiate between a false prophet and a godly preacher is by their fruit, and explained that a good tree bears good fruit, while a bad tree bears bad fruit. Those who do God's will produce the fruit of the Spirit, while others speak perverse things, to draw the disciples away, after themselves. Beware of the false prophets, we are warned, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves".

The Lord knew the importance of differentiating between a genuine minister and a vicious wolf. Only those who are saved by grace, abiding in Christ, walking in spirit and maintaining fellowship with the Father can bring forth the fruit of righteousness. Others make a pretence of spirituality - professing to know Him with their lips, while hiding a heart of unbelief and rebellion. 

Paul reminds us that God alone is able to read the heart of religious leaders. Only God can discern men's thoughts and knows if faith is genuine. Only He knows if man is doing His will or not. God is  omniscient, but we are not! We are incapable of reading someone's heart. We have no supernatural ability to read men's minds, and so He gave us a bona fide indicator of the state of a man's heart.

We are to identify false prophets by their fruit. Those who walk in truth, rest in Christ, fellowship with the Father and do His will produce good fruit. Unless a professing prophet is doing the will of the Father and producing spiritual fruit, he is probably a savage wolf who will proclaim a false gospel, promote a counterfeit Jesus and offer a substitute salvation.

As this passage was connected with the gospel of the Kingdom, its target audience was Israel, who had been instructed to tell the Gentiles the good news of the kingdom. However, the principle to "beware of false prophets" in the Christian dispensation is equally important today.

Israel failed to do the Father's will, rejected their Messiah and were set aside for the duration of this dispensation of grace. But all who have trusted in Christ for salvation, should be mindful that there are false prophets and counterfeit pastors in the Christian Church as well. There are 'ravening wolves', who seek to scatter the Body of Christ and refuse to do God's will.

But what is the will of the Father for His children and what fruit should be evident in the life of a minister? Well, Scripture gives the answer. It is the Father's will that we know Him, and trust in Jesus as our kinsman-Redeemer. The Lord, Himself told us it was God's will for all to come to saving faith in Him.

It is also God's will that we admonish unruly brethren, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone and refuse to repay evil with evil. True ministers encourage one another and seek after that which is good, which brings glory to God. The godly minister rejoices in the Lord, prays without ceasing and gives thanks in everything - knowing that this is God's will for all His children.

The implication in this passage, is that these vicious wolves make a shocking pretence of being God's prophets by referring to Jesus as 'Lord' - yet Paul tells us in Corinthians that no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. The question arises, how can these false prophets name Jesus as Lord, if they are ravening wolves, who do not produce fruit of righteous and refuse to do the will of the Father? They answer - they substitute their own will for God's will and expect to enter the kingdom of heaven without faith in Jesus Christ.

However, there is only one way to heaven, and that is through faith in Christ. Jesus points out that not everyone who says to Him, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter. He is the only Door into the coming kingdom. He is the only Way to the Father. Only those who produce spiritual fruit and carry out God's will can enter.

False prophets and counterfeit professors, who produce bad fruit and refuse to do the Father's will, are identified by Jesus, as 'ravening wolves', and will one day hear Him say, depart from Me, I never knew you. 

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the warning of false prophets and professors in your Word. I pray that you would guard the hearts and minds of all your children and protect them from false prophets and ungodly professors who seek to devour the flock. Help us identify the fruit of those in positions of leadership in the Church who come to us in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves... and give us discernment to know the truth and reject those who do not discern Your will. This we ask in Jesus' name, AMEN. 

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