Series: Matthew

Choose a Side, Pt. 3

May 23, 2021 | Jeff Crotts

Passage: Matthew 7:21-23

The last thing someone says is usually the most important thing they will say. 

  • At the most memorable.

These verses are Jesus’ conclusion to his sermon. 

  • A theme emerges in Jesus’ final thoughts; he is pressing home.
    • I have made this same emphasis preaching Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
    • Current pressures beg for a decision to be made.


  • The Bible leaves no room for middle-of-the-road Christianity.
    • Either a believer or not a believer.
    • Christianity is binary.

One or the other. 

  • Identifications traced from Genesis to Revelation.
    • There are two races.
    • The line of Adam and the line of Christ.
    • You have Cain and Abel.
    • Jacob and Esau.
    • Israel and Egypt.
    • Jesus and the Pharisees.
    • Sheep and Goats.
    • Light and Darkness.


  • And in the end, those who take the mark and those who overcome.


Either, inside or outside the fellowship.

ESV  Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God

ESV  1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

These designations make up: Worshippers and Consumers. 

  • Christians gather to give OR are forcing themselves into heaven through their wills or works.

Jesus’ final statements make this point over the over again. 

  • Like in any good sermon, Jesus cuts to a decision point. 
  • Placing the burden on the hearers so they must declare a side.

Siding with Jesus in five ways.  

  1. Love like Jesus 
  • Jesus draws the line by how someone loves (v. 12).
  • Bifurcating someone’s attitude toward others.
  • Either selfless or selfish. 
  1. Lead to Jesus 
  • Jesus draws the line in terms of how someone leads (vv. 13-14).
  • Bifurcating how someone leads themselves.
  • Submitting all their life to Christ or to the world.

Randy said when during outdoor education, we ascended Slaughter Gulch, that I could illustrate the difference between the wide and narrow road. 

The last leg of that hike was hard.  And worth it! 

The fact that Randy did that post-op was pretty amazing. 

And, this definitely meant I was heading up top!  

  1. Learn from Jesus 
  • Jesus draws the line by how someone learns (vv. 15-20).
  • Bifurcating between discerning truth from error.
  • What you discern by someone’s fruit. 
  1. Live for Jesus 
  • Jesus draws the line by how someone lives (vv. 21-23).
  • Bifurcating between living a true relationship with Christ or living a lie.
  • To live for Jesus is to know Jesus. 
  1. Listen to Jesus 
  • Jesus draws the line by whether someone will listen or not (vv. 24-27).
  • Bifurcating between those who heed Christ’s warning or those who ignore it.
  • Hearing is saving, ignoring is damning. 
This is the fourth way someone sides with Jesus.
 4. Live for Jesus

Jesus draws the line by how someone lives (vv. 21-23). 

  • A genuine relationship with Christ or living a lie.
    • Living for Jesus is synonymous with knowing Jesus and vice-versa. 
  • Not performance-based religion. 
  • Life viewed in retrospect.
    • From the perspective of the
    • Measured, not by action, but authenticity. 

How to know that you know you will enter heaven?

     a. Not knowing

 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.


  • First, “Not everyone” is a niche category within a category.
    • Wide road people who believe they are on the narrow road.
    • 8 billion-wide roadies, convinced they are not on it.


  • A terrifying warning.
    • Finding out where you stand is not where you thought you stood.
      • After being on the other side.
      • After death.
      • Too late to believe.


  • Jesus, clarifying you may be self-deceived. 
    • Binary difference between wide and narrow road. 
    • You can be on the wide road, driving in a delusion. 


The idea is that you are driving in one direction while traveling in the exact opposite direction.  Have you ever miss read GPS. Relaxed driving away from where you should be going. 


This happened to Nathan and me when we had taken a late flight into LAX, hoped in the rental, and have put in the wrong address, we were heading the wrong way for a little while! 


  • The point Jesus is making.
    • To recalculate.
    • “You are on the wrong road.” 


  • First, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…”


  • Confusion born by making a false confession!
    • Saying, “Jesus is Lord.”
    • You believe you are on the narrow road.


  • 1 Corinthians 12 says you cannot say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.


  • Romans 10 promises salvation by confessing Jesus as Lord.


 “So, which is it?”


ESV  1 Corinthians 12:1-3 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.

 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however, you were led.

 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says "Jesus is accursed!" and no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except in the Holy Spirit.


ESV  Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved


  • Truly confessing Jesus is Lord is essential to be saved.
    • Not religious but spiritual.
      • Confession by the Holy Spirit.
      • Out of the mouth, the heart speaks.
      • What is inside coming out.


  • If physically unable to speak, your heart would.
  • What ultimately matters.


  • In the case of 1 Corinthians 12, Paul confronts false confessions.
    • Demon inspired.
    • Converts in this early church came straight out of paganism.
      • Rave culture, synchronized with worship.
        • Modern rave culture has crept inside of church worship, making ecstatic experiences into spiritual confirmations.
        • Swaying uncontrollably claiming to be drunk in the Holy Spirit.


  • Paganism is forbidden.
    • Rather than confirmation of spiritual life.
    • This is a condemnation.
  • Those in Paul’s day would bring this party atmosphere where they were led into worse and worse practices… “…however you were led” (cf. 1 Cor. 12:2).
  • A lot of people in the flesh, claim being “led” by the Spirit.


  • People claiming to be worshipping in the Spirit were saying “Jesus is accursed!” (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3).
    • You say, “How could things get this confused?”
      • Today, recast a biblical Christ with one who is false.
      • Worshipping self.


  • So, Paul’s point is that no one can genuinely claim “Jesus is Lord” “…except in the Holy Spirit” (v. 3).


  • Baptist culture, known for their “confession cards” and “altar calls.”
    • Praying a magic “saving” mantra.
      • Say, “Jesus is Lord” and guarantee heaven.
      • Tricking people into heaven?


  • Semi-Pelagianism (Pelagian, 400 AD, denial of total depravity).


  • Heart change must be behind any true saving confession. 


“If you cannot say the magic words for heaven, is all hope lost?”  


  • Can we know we are going to be received at all? 
    • Yes, if you do the will of God the Father who is in heaven?
      • How Jesus followed his Father.
      • How we are supposed to follow our Father.
      • Same Father and we are his sons. 


ESV  John 6:38 For aI have come down from heaven, not to do bmy own will but bthe will of him cwho sent me.


22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?'


“What constitutes, doing the will of God our Father and what is not?” 


  • Certainly not merely using the “Name” of “Jesus” or “Lord” to “do” things!
    • Note the use of “in your name” repeated three times.
      • Predicting, Pronouncing, Performing!
      • All superficial.


  • Charismatics should beware of doing things to be saved. 


  • Religious Baptists should likewise beware in trusting works to save.


  • Being Baptist or charismatic will not get you in


  • Likewise, just confessing “Jesus is Lord” and also “doing things” in the name of Jesus will not get you in. 


  • What makes you believe you are driving down the right highway, when you are on the exact opposite one. 


In verse 21, Believers “does the will of [the] Father” contra to verse 22 false believers “do many mighty works” (v. 22). 


  • Difference between a worshipper and a consumer.


  • Commitment to suffer versus Superficial ascent for prosperity.


Even lightly demonstrative works Hebrews 6 works will not get you in!  


ESV  Hebrews 6:1-9 Therefore alet us leave bthe elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance cfrom dead works and of faith toward God,2 and of ainstruction about washings,1 bthe laying on of hands, cthe resurrection of the dead, and deternal judgment.3 And this we will do aif God permits.4 For it is impossible, in the case of those awho have once been enlightened, who have tasted bthe heavenly gift, and chave shared in the Holy Spirit,5 and ahave tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,6 and athen have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since bthey are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.7 For aland that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.8 But aif it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, band its end is to be burned.9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things--things that belong to salvation.


  • Judas cast out demons.
    • Jesus taught Judas.
    • Considered Judas as a friend.
    • Commissioned Judas to preach and heal.
    • Washed Judas’ feet.


ESV  Matthew 10:1-4 aAnd he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.2 abThe names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, bwho is called Peter, and cAndrew his brother; cJames the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and aMatthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;14 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.


  • Judas, stole from, betrayed, and abandoned Jesus.
  • For guilt, hanged himself.


      b. Knowing


23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' Matt7.21-23


“…then will I declare” means full authority enacted on those who do not know God.


Everything comes down to one thing.

  • Either know God or do not.
    • Doing God’s will or not.
    • A “worker[s] of lawlessness” or not.
      • Lawlessness, a symptom of a deeper issue.
      • Your heart given to rebellion.
      • A rebellious spirit, following the world, not the Word.


“Do you actually know Jesus?” “How do you know that you know Jesus?”

  • By the witness of the Spirit. 


ESV  John 17:1-5 When Jesus had spoken these words, ahe lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, bthe hour has come; cglorify your Son that the Son may dglorify you,2 since ayou have given him authority over all flesh, bto give eternal life to all cwhom you have given him.3 aAnd this is eternal life, bthat they know you cthe only dtrue God, and eJesus Christ whom you have sent.4 I aglorified you on earth, bhaving accomplished the work that you gave me to do.5 And now, Father, aglorify me in your own presence with the glory bthat I had with you cbefore the world existed.


  • Knowing and doing the will of God.
  • Seeing God’s providential hand in your life.


To be told by God, “…depart from me” is to be cast out of Heaven and into Hell forever.


  • The premise for entering heaven is the same as not entering heaven.
    • Why you are let in is why you are cast out.
    • Entering heaven pivots on knowing the Lord personally.


  • Again, knowing God equals eternal life.


For Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, knowing the Lord superseded everything else. 


Matthew Henry in context of Jerusalem being destroyed:


In this world of sin and sorrow, ending soon in death and judgement, how foolish for men to glory in their knowledge, health, strength, riches, or in any thing which leaves them under the dominion of sin and the wrath of God! and of which an account must hereafter be rendered; it will but increase their misery. Those are the true Israel who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Let us prize the distinction which comes from God, and will last forever. Let us seek it diligently.


ESV  Jeremiah 9:23-24 Thus says the LORD: a"Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but alet him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. bFor in these things I delight, declares the LORD."


  • Knowing Jesus now, means knowing Jesus through eternity.


  • So, the consequence for not knowing Christ is being cast out of Christ’s presence. 


  • To not be in Christ’s presence now means to not be in Christ’s presence for eternity.


  • Understand, heaven is equated with Christ’s presence, so if you have nothing to do with Christ now then why expect to have anything to do with Christ in Heaven.  


Conclusion: Let me make this practical, asking a question. 


When is the last time being a Christian was hard? 


  • Put another way, “Do you ever suffer hardship in the name of Jesus?”


  • “Wide road” is “easy” (v. 13) and the “narrow way” is “hard” (v. 14).


  • Hard [Thlibw] equates to pressure or affliction or oppression.


Our victim culture creates categories for people to identify. 


  • Any pressure or oppression an unfair injustice.


  • Intersectionality puts people into a grading chart ranking you on the continuum between oppressor and oppressed.


Consider the Truth scale!


  • Concern yourself over now and eternity.
    • Whether or not you are on the narrow road that leads to life.
    • This road puts you in a state of pressure.


  • You are not a victim.
  • You are a victor.


“How do I know I know Jesus and have eternal life?” 


I know I am on this hard path. 


I mentioned before that I hiked Slaughter Gulch. 


  • Randy and I were pushing up the final march, and he the bus driver tried to say, we probably have gotten far enough.
    • To my retort which was, “I am never hiking this again!”
    • “So, I am going to the top!”
    • The kids can wait!


Big deal, right?  For non-hikers, yes! 


  • As we headed toward the top, a hiker was mocked saying, “Just think of how much harder it is to run Mt. Marathon!”


“How do you know you know you are hiking Slaughter Gulch?”


  • Your legs and cardio let you know.
    • When you make the “False Summit” you look around and say, this is beautiful!
    • Glory shines in your heart.   


Isn’t this what Paul called the “Fellowship of Suffering?” 


ESV  Philippians 3:10-14 athat I may know him and bthe power of his resurrection, and cmay share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may aattain the resurrection from the dead.12 Not that I have already aobtained this or bam already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: aforgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,14 I press on toward the goal for athe prize of the upward bcall of God in Christ Jesus.


What does Paul mean to “share his sufferings?” (Phil. 3:10). 

  • Koinwnia where your hardship is Christ’s hardship and vise versa!


  • Sharing hardship with Christ is knowing that you will know Christ forever!


When you are settled in the narrow path, everything that happens in your life that is hard is for your good. 

  • Only one thing is not.
  • Be discouraged by one thing.
  • Your sin.

I knew about Slaughter Gulch. 

My kids have hiked it. 

But, by hiking it, I know Slaughter Gulch. 


This is the call of our lives!  To truly know him! 

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