Why will Jesus tell many who prophesy, drive out demons, and perform miracles in His name to depart from Him because He never knew them?
Matthew 7:21-23 indicates that many who say, "Lord, Lord" will not enter the kingdom of heaven. They will have prophesied, driven out demons, and performed miracles in Jesus' name. Yet, He will tell them to depart from Him because He never knew them. How can this be?
I do not have a firm belief about this issue. I suspect that some people who have a true belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior and have been given certain gifts of the Holy Spirit use these gifts for the wrong reasons. They extol themselves rather than giving God the glory.
They may prophesy, drive out demons, and perform miracles for their own veneration and exaltation rather than to glorify God. In essence, they are taking the place of God and may come to feel that this power is emanating from themselves rather than from God. Thus, in a sense, they are elevating themselves to be equal with God. In effect, this is blasphemy of God, which is diminishing God by exalting oneself to the level of God and even claiming to be equal to Him.
This is what the Antichrist will do (2 Thessalonians. 2:4; Revelation 13:5). This also is what Satan does, since he also has miraculous powers and can bestow them upon people (such as in Revelation 13:13). Perhaps for some of the people who have utilized the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but whose minds and hearts are focused on themselves rather than on God, God's power is withdrawn from them and Satan's power replaces it.
When Peter and John healed a man crippled from birth (Acts 3:1-8), they had no interest in bringing attention to themselves for performing this miracle. When astonished people came running to them, they asked why the miracle had surprised them, reiterating that it was not their own power or godliness that had made the man walk (3:11,12). Then they focused attention on Jesus (3:13), saying that it was Jesus' name and the faith that comes through Him that had brought the healing to the man who could not walk (3:16).
On the other hand, Simon the sorcerer had been boasting that he was someone great. He evidently was using satanic powers to perform magic to amaze people (Acts 8:9-11). Then it says that he became a believer and was amazed by the miracles that Philip performed (8:13).
When he saw that believers received the Holy Spirit after Peter and John placed their hands on them, Simon felt that he could pay to receive this power (Acts 8:14-19). This seems to indicate that even though he had become a believer, he was missing a fundamental understanding that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given freely by God to those who want to use the gifts to glorify Himself, not themselves.
It would appear that Simon's former nature, of wanting to exalt himself, still remained. Peter even told him that his heart was not right before God, that he had wickedness in his heart, and that he was captive to sin (Acts 8:21-23). Simon then gave the impression that he understood the severity of the situation by asking for prayer (8:24).
We do not know if the heart and mind of Simon ever actually changed. In any case, it may be that those who outwardly seem to be doing the things of God, but in their hearts and minds are actually rejecting God because they want to glorify themselves instead, will be rejected by Jesus (Matthew 7:22,23).
I cannot judge whether or not this means that such people permanently have lost their salvation. Perhaps God will be merciful and accept them if, at any point, they truly have had a belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. God probably judges such things on an individual basis, since He is the only one who fully knows people's hearts and minds.
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