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Before I move on from Matthew 7:21-23 there is just one bone I have to pick with Jesus. (Just to be clear, I never win when I start on this footing, but it’s how I process.) But first – the red letters:

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. 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.’ ~ Matthew 7:21-23

It has always struck me that Jesus lists the same works He did in His ministry

  • Prophecy
  • Casting out Demons
  • Performing miracles

and positions these as acts of lawlessness.

Check out some other translations:

  • ye that work iniquity. (KJV)
  • you lawbreakers! (HCSB)
  • you wicked people! (GNT)
  • you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]. (AMP)
  • you people who do wrong. (ERV)
  • you evil people. (GW)
  • you that traffic in wrong-doing. (KNOX)
  • you have worked on the side of evil! (Phillips)
  • You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important (MSG) ([i])

Iniquity, law-breaker, wicked, evil, strong words all. Every translation of the Bible puts this in the most unyielding light. And yet, Jesus did the same things, and declared, He was doing the will of the Father.

More to the point, just a couple chapters later Jesus would be sending His own boys out to do the same works.

And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give. ~ Matthew 10:7-8

So what is the deal, Jesus?

The DEAL is this. You must be connected – you must daily hear the voice of the Father for your life. You must do what you see the Father do, just as Jesus did. Trying to do these works, even doing these works, while not under the instruction of the Father is, as Eugene Peterson put it in the message “missing the boat.” He paraphrased Jesus’ words this way:

You missed the boat. All you did was use Me to make yourselves important. ~ Matthew 7:23 MSG

Check out this verse in Malachi 3 – it nails the problem as it defines the difference between the wicked and the righteous:

So You will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him. ~ Malachi 3:18

My call to you today is to walk like Jesus walked (1 John 2:6,) ever connected to His Father, and doing only His Father’s will. [Tweet This]

You can abide in Christ, and He has promised that He will abide in you.

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. ~ John 14:23

BenWalk with Jesus today – do the works that Jesus did, as you see Him lead you.

Come back again soon


By the way – I have found a wonderful tool – I am sure most of you know about, but did you know that if you type a specific verse reference, a link appears below it that lets you see “all English translations.” I love this, and use it all the time. Bible Gateway has like 44 English New Testament Version available, and some times the simple nuance you get from a different way of translation opens a passage up to your heart and mind.

My favorite Bible site is still for word studies and the like, but this tool is a huge blessing!

[i] Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation; Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) Copyright © 2006 by World Bible Translation Center; GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) Copyright © 1995 by God's Word to the Nations. Used by permission of Baker Publishing Group; Good News Translation (GNT) Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society; Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.; J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS) J. B. Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition by HarperCollins; King James Version (KJV) by Public Domain; Knox Bible (KNOX) Knox Bible. Copyright © 2012 Westminster Diocese. Published by Baronius Press. All rights reserved; The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

0 thoughts on “Lawlessness?

    1. Ben Nelson

      i like the ease and depth of the blueletter for digging into words etc, but i just live the bajillion verisions all side by side on bible gateway - really fun.

  1. Debbie

    Thanks, Mr. Ben , for showing us the difference here between what Jesus was doing and what He was calling lawlessness. I really like the MSG version too, of just using Him to make ourselves important. That definitely gives me pause and prayer tonight. God bless you and yours as you study and share with us!

  2. Caddo-Jael

    Oooh, thanks for a new tip--actually, I'm pretty sure I visited that link when I was boning up for my Souvenirs 4-parter, trying to impress everyone......Hey, whatever gets us digging deeper into the Word, right?

    Looks like you changed the decor here--or have I just been too feverish to notice before?


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