Are you living in a toxic works environment? Do you feel like you aren’t enough and nothing you do is ever good enough? Let’s go on a journey together. We are going to look at one of the most terrifying statements of Jesus, but also one of the most misunderstood. There is a moment where Jesus looks at outwardly decent people and says, “ I never knew you, depart from Me.” These people had good deeds. They were working for God, or at least it appeared that way, to them. Here is the passage.
“”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. 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?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”ESV
Read that passage and then read it again. Pause to think what on earth is happening here. What is Jesus really saying? Who are these people and why is Jesus so seemingly harsh?
Let me propose that Jesus is being hard here with the same people Jesus is always hard on, the self-righteous people. With struggling, sinful people, Jesus is always gentle and comforting. Jesus heals the broken and lifts up the weak. But the self-righteous, I’m good enough people, Jesus always beats down and condemns. But why?
The answer is very important. You need to soak it deep into your inner-person. Self-righteousness is no righteousness at all. Striving to perform to be good enough for God is impossible. The only righteousness that exists is the righteousness of Christ. He is the only One who ever kept the law and He did it perfectly. Jesus fulfilled all righteousness. He did everything right, and never made a mistake, or even had a bad thought. But us regular people, we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. We have never really kept God’s law, especially not perfectly. The scripture says,
“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
( Isaiah 64:6 ESV)
This passage doesn’t say your worst is polluted and dirty before God. The best effort and performance you can muster is filthy and disgusting before a Holy God. Jesus is so hard on the self-righteous because He loves them and wants them to be saved. Jesus desires all people to repent and be born again.
In Matthew 7, do you see what is going on? Jesus is telling people who won’t come to him by faith that He doesn’t know them. He is rejecting the people who want to come to God by good works and performance, because those works could never be good enough. That my friend is a toxic works environment.
Jesus said that whoever does the will of the Father is the one who enters the Kingdom of Heaven. What is that work? What can you do if your righteousness isn’t good enough? Jesus gives us the answer.
“Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.””
John 6:28-29 ESV
The only work you can do that matters isn’t really a work at all. Your one and only work is to believe on Jesus. That He is both Lord and God, that He came to this earth, being fully God and fully man, that He lived a perfect life for you, that He died on the cross, to pay for all your sins, and that He rose on the third day, so you can be declared righteous by God. When you believe, you are justified( declared righteous by God by being given the righteousness of Christ). If you will only believe this good news and receive it for yourself by faith, God forgives all your sins, past, present, and future, and God sees the works of Jesus, when He looks at you. That’s refreshing grace.
Once you are in Christ God is pleased with you and you are credited with all the good works of Christ. Christ will always look at you and say, “ well done good and faithful servant.” Knowing Christ is not about good works, but about believing and receiving what He has already done.
Get out of the toxic works environment of performance and rest in the healthy environment of simply believing Jesus.
If you don’t know Jesus, I want to give you the opportunity to trust Him for your salvation and receive His finished work by faith. If you want to make Jesus the Lord of your life simply prayer this in your heart, as a way to put your faith in Him. Say, “ Jesus, I make you the Lord of my life. I know I’m a sinner, but I believe. I believe that You are the Son of God. I believe You died on the cross for my sins, and I believe that You rose on the third day for my justification. I ask you to save me now. I receive you by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen”