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Empty Words B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
October 13, 2020 4:00 am

Empty Words B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Grace To You
John MacArthur

If you want to spot someone who's deceived, look, first of all, for someone who's seeking feelings, blessings, experiences, healings, miracles.

Why? Chances are they're more interested in the byproducts of the faith than they are the faith itself. They're more interested in what they can get than the glory God can get.

In baseball, even the best hitters can be tricked by a good pitcher. And you know, even a sharp person can be fooled about salvation, convinced he's a Christian when really he's not. So how can you make sure that's not you? How can you be certain you're going to heaven? What are the marks of a true Christian? John MacArthur is looking at all those crucial questions in his series titled, simply, Salvation Survey. We're going to be looking at Christ's Sermon on the Mount today, so if you have your Bible, turn to the book of Matthew chapter 7.

Here's John. Matthew 7, 21 to 29. Let me read this to you as the setting for our day and ask that the Spirit of God would speak to us in these tremendous truths. Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out demons and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man who built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock. And everyone that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man who built his house upon the sand.

And the rain descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house and it fell and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. Now you will notice that at the end of verse 21 you have a key word there. But he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. It is not the ones who say and it is not the ones who hear, it is the ones who what? Who do. In other words, the Lord is saying, if you do not live a righteous life, I don't care what you say or what you hear, you're deceived.

Now keep this in mind. The Lord is not speaking to irreligious people. He is speaking to people who were literally obsessed with religious activity. They're not apostates. They're not heretics. They're not anti-God. They're not atheists or agnostics.

They are utterly religious people, but they're damned because they're on the wrong road and they are self-deluded. And the deceived come in a couple of categories, I think, in the church. Apart from the hypocrites who aren't deceived, they're phony and they know it, but they're trying to live up to their wife's standard or trying to appear religious for whatever reasons. But apart from hypocrites, there are two categories of the deceived in the church, the superficial and the involved. The superficial are the ones who call themselves Christians because when they were little, they went to church or Sunday school or got confirmed or made a decision, quote, unquote, for Christ.

And you hear very often people when they get baptized say, well, I received Christ when I was 12, but my life was a mess after that and now I want to get back to that. Well, the truth probably is that they never received Christ at all when they were 12. They went through some religious activity.

And these are the superficial. They come to church now. They were somewhere in the background raised in religion and they come on Christmas and Easter and they come to weddings and funerals and think they're Christians. They're the superficial who are deceived.

Then there's the involved who are deceived and they're a much more subtle and serious group. They're in the church up to their neck, involved. They know the gospel. They know the theology, but they don't obey the Word of God.

They live in a constant state of sinfulness. Now, how does a deceived person know he's deceived? How can we spot such a person?

Let me give you some keys and I want you to think these through. Now, not everybody in these keys that I'm going to give you is really deceived, but these are good indicators that someone might be deceived. If you want to spot someone who's deceived, look first of all for someone who's seeking feelings, blessings, experiences, healings, angels, miracles.

Why? Chances are they're more interested in the byproducts of the faith than they are the faith itself. They're more interested in what they can get than the glory God can get. They're more interested in themselves than in the exaltation of Christ. Secondly, if you're looking to see who might be deceived, look for people who are more committed to the denomination, the church, the organization, than to the Word of God.

Their kind of Christianity may be purely social. I'm a Presbyterian. Well, I've been a Baptist all my life. I'm a Lutheran.

I belong to the whatever. More committed to the organization than they are to the Lord and His Word. Thirdly, look for people who are involved in theology as an academic interest, and you'll find them all over the colleges and seminaries of our land. People who study theology, write books on theology, absolutely void of the righteousness of Christ. Theology for them is an intellectual activity. Fourthly, look for people who always seem stuck on one overemphasized point of theology.

This is the person who bangs the proverbial drum for his own little area. Some crazy quirk, and it usually is not some great divine insight. They'd like you to think that they are so close to God they have a great divine insight no one else has.

The fact of the matter is they're seeking a platform for the feeding of their ego. Watch for people with a lack of balance. And one other thought. When you look for somebody who might be deceived, look for someone who is overindulgent in the name of grace. Overindulgent in the name of grace, lacks penitence, a true contrite heart, and so forth. Now they all may be deceived and on the broad road to destruction, thinking all the while they're going to heaven. Now our Lord warns these people in verses 21 to 27. The Lord says in this passage that these people are the deceived.

These people think they're on the right road, but they are not. And first in the paragraph verses 21 to 23 is the folly of empty words, and in verses 24 to 27 the folly of empty hearts. Notice again in verse 21, not everyone that sayeth, in verse 22, many will say, the claims are amazing. The claims are beautiful.

But they don't do what they claim. Elton Trueblood has said that our main mission field today as far as America is concerned is within the church membership itself. Karl Barth, who is by no means an evangelical but did say some things that were true, said the true function of the church consists first of all in its own regeneration.

We've got to get our own act together. We're loaded with people who are filled with empty words. They say, they say, they say, they say, but they don't do God's will. Now there's nothing wrong with saying, I mean, if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God is ranging from the dead you'll be saved.

So you've got to say confession is necessary, but confession without obedience is a sham. Now look with me for a minute very briefly at their confession in verse 21. They say Lord, Lord, verse 22. They say Lord, Lord, this is an interesting phrase. The first time they say Lord it could be their respect.

The word means master, teacher, sir, it's a term of dignity, respect, recognition. They're saying Lord in a sense that we respect you. The second time Lord, Lord, may emphasize the orthodoxy of their claim for the word Lord, kurias, is the word translated in the Septuagint of the Old Testament for the name of Jehovah. They're saying we know your God, we know your Jehovah. We accept all that your deity involves, your virgin birth, miraculous life, substitutionary death, powerful resurrection, intercession, second coming.

They are respectful, they are orthodox, they use the right terms, the right attitudes. And then notice Lord, Lord, the fact that they say it twice indicates their zeal and their passion and their fervency and their commitment and their strength of devotion. And by the way if this is occurring at the Great White Throne Judgment and they're saying this at the Great White Throne Judgment, if this is the day of which he speaks when he says in that day, then it's very possible that those who come there have already spent centuries in a place of judgment and punishment. And that even adds to their fervency. Lord, Lord, what have we been doing being where we've been? And so there is a fervency and an orthodoxy and a respectfulness. And then in verse 22, they say three times, in thy name, in thy name, in thy name.

I mean they aren't even so self-centered in that sense. We've been doing it for you. We've been preaching for you. And we've been casting out demons for you. And we've been doing miracles for you.

That's amazing claim. It is respectful, it is orthodox, it is fervent, it is zealous. They proclaim and they do works. Boy, that sounds good. Let me say, these gotta be Christians. I mean they are respectful, they're orthodox, they're fervent in their private devotion, they're zealous in their public ministry of word and work.

Sounds so good. But, verse 21, not everyone that says that is gonna win it. Because not everybody who says that has been doing the will of the Father who's in heaven. And so the Lord will confess in verse 23, here's My confession, Amalageo, I never knew you. Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.

What a shock. He says, I want to give you a confession. And by the way, this is taken right out of Psalm 6-8. I want to confess this to you.

I never knew you. Well, you say, what do you mean? God doesn't know who they are? No, of course He knows who they are, He knows everything. I'm not talking simply about an awareness.

I'm not talking about mental comprehension. The word no is used in the Bible, and you have to watch this, of an intimate relationship. For example, in Amos 3, 2, God says of Israel, You only have I known among all the nations. Does that mean the only people He knew about were Jews?

No. It meant that He had an intimate relationship with them. My sheep hear My voice and I know them. To even put it more intimately, I think this will help you understand it, in the Old Testament it says, Cain knew his wife and she bore a son. Now it doesn't mean he knew who she was, or he knew her name. It means he knew her in the absolute intimate act of marriage.

And you remember that when Mary was pregnant with our Lord, as the divine seed was infused by the Spirit of God, Joseph was shocked, and the Bible says he was shocked because he had never known her. You see, the word no embodies an intimate relationship. And Jesus says, I never had any intimate relationship with you. Oh, you were around the fringes, but I never had that intimacy with you. And then He says, Depart from Me.

Get out of My presence forever. Why? Because, the end of the verse 23, you do always continue to work lawlessness.

That is a present participle. Why? Because instead of doing the will of My Father, by the way that is a term that picks up all of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. Instead of living by these righteous principles, you do always continue to do lawlessness. And instead of doing God's will, His righteous standard, you do continually always work lawlessness. You know what it means to profess Christ?

Absolutely nothing, if your life doesn't back it up. That's why Peter said what he said. If you can't add to your faith virtue, then you're not going to know you're really redeemed. That's what James meant when he said faith minus works equals zero.

It's dead. Profession is valueless. In fact, I believe that to profess Christ and to claim Christ invalidly is taking the Lord's name in vain in the ultimate sense. I don't think taking the Lord's name in vain is saying Jesus Christ or God out on the streets.

That's one way. But the epitome of violating God's name is to claim Christ when He isn't yours. G. Campbell Morgan as well said it, The blasphemy of the sanctuary is far more awful than the blasphemy of the slum. It is a Judas kiss to say, Lord, Lord, and then disobey.

That is a Judas kiss. We must be consumed with doing the will of God. That's why the prayer says, Thy will be done not only in heaven, but where?

In earth. And that means through me. Through me. You say, well, John, what about if I don't do it? If I fail? The prayer goes on to say, Forgive us our trespasses, our debts, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Yes, we know that we're going to fail, but that's where we come for forgiveness. And that's part of the righteous act. The righteous standard Jesus speaks of assumes we'll fail, but when we fail, we'll be there confessing. That's why 1 John 1 says, If we are the ones continually confessing our sins, we give evidence of the ones that are being forgiven. In other words, the ones being forgiven are the ones confessing. You see, He's not saying here's the perfect standard. If you ever fail, you're out. He's saying here's the perfect standard, and part of the perfect standard is that when you fail, you deal with it.

That's God's standard. And I would dare say that if the Sermon on the Mount is not the direction of your life, not the perfection of it, but if it's not the direction of your life, I don't care what confession you've made, I don't care if you've been baptized or whatever, you're not a Christian. You remember in John 6 they said to Him, Well, what do we do to work the works of God? And He said, This is the work of God that you believe on Him that sent Him. Where do you start with the will of God?

Believe on Christ. The only thing acceptable to God is a righteousness that is the product of repentant faith in Jesus Christ. And that produces good works. And if that's not there, no matter what you say, it doesn't matter.

It absolutely doesn't matter. And so the Lord says in verse 23, if I can paraphrase, Not for one single moment have I acknowledged you as My own or known you intimately. You are forever expelled from My presence because you continue to work lawlessness. And what makes this so shocking, and I want to just do this in closing, What makes this so shocking is that the claims they make are amazing. Look at verse 22, Lord, Lord, we've prophesied, cast out demons, done wonderful works. Three words, prophecy, exorcism, and miracles.

Now you know something? Some people who claim that will be legitimate. Some who were true prophets. Some who truly in the name of Jesus Christ cast out the enemy.

Some that God used to do marvelous things, mighty things. But there are plenty who are going to claim it, and it isn't true. It isn't true.

That's not going to do it. Some people say, well, I mean, boy, did they really do this? Did they really preach, prophesy? Did they really cast out demons? Did they really do mighty works?

There's three alternatives. Number one, they did, by God's power. Number two, they did, by Satan's power. Number three, they didn't.

They just faked it. All three could be true. You say, even if they're unbelievers, that could be true?

Yes. Do you know that God has worked through unbelievers? Well, look back in the Old Testament, and you'll find that God has actually worked His work through unbelievers. For example, in Numbers 23, 5, it says, And the Lord put a word in Balaam's mouth. And Balaam, says Peter, loved the wages of unrighteousness. He was an unrighteous, evil prophet for hire, but God used his mouth. There have been times when God has even worked through unregenerate people. I suppose you'd have to say the crucifixion of Christ was one of the most monumental ones. In 1 Samuel 10, 10 and 11, the apostate king of Israel, who was by no means righteous, of him, it says, the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied.

Amazing. Of Caiaphas in John 11, 51 and 52, The Lord put a prophecy in the mouth of that vile high priest, so that he prophesied the death of Christ for all men. It's very possible that some of these self-deluded people were actually used by God. Did actually speak God's truth.

I mean, that's within the realm of possibility. Secondly, it is possible that they may have done wonderful things, and cast out demons, and preached under the power of Satan. For Satan can express his power. Hold, Satan expressed his power on Job, didn't he? In death, destruction, disease.

No question about it. Did you know that there were the sons of Sceva in Acts 19 that actually went around casting out devils? Jesus even acknowledged that the Jews had this ability when Jesus said, If I cast out demons by a Baalzebub, who do you cast demons out through?

He was recognizing that perhaps they had even done that. And that you could cast out demons, perhaps some righteous Jews did it by the power of God, perhaps some unrighteous Jews did it through the power of Satan. You say, well, why would Satan cast out Satan? Because he's confused to begin with.

This whole system's a mess. You know that in Deuteronomy 13 it says there would come false prophets, and they would prophesy certain things, certain signs and wonders, and they would come to pass, and you still weren't to believe them? And maybe they were satanically energized. Do you know that it tells us in Matthew 24, 24, false Christs, false prophets will come and do signs and wonders? 2 Thessalonians 2, verses 8 to 10, that the Antichrist is going to come and do false signs and wonders?

Satan can do some amazing things. And then there's the whole area of just plain fakery. And I think that's what was cooking up in Egypt. I think that the magicians of Egypt who were trying to mimic the miracles of Moses were just pulling off fake things. When they reproduced what Moses did, I think it was just chicanery, just their own little magic. I call it magic shop stuff, tricks.

Now, the point is this, people. These people are going to say, we preached, and we cast out demons, and we did mighty works, and maybe some of them were used by God to do that. God will use Balaam's ass.

He'll use anything. Maybe they did it by the power of the devil masquerading as God, white magic. Maybe it was just plain old hocus pocus like most healers that you see today.

The point isn't how they did it. The point is that they were deceived. They thought it was God, but it wasn't God. It wasn't God. I think there are a lot of people today preaching, a lot of people casting out devils, a lot of people healing, and a lot of people doing other stuff that they believe is God and it isn't God. And a lot of people believe that. They say, oh yes, it's the Lord. It must be God. And it's nothing but satanic or trickery. But the point is simply this, no matter what they say, no matter what they claim, and no matter what miracles and wonders and stuff they've said they've seen, Jesus says, you are not qualified to be in My kingdom. And that's the shock, because they never came through the narrow gate.

Never. What a devastating thing. Well, to make a mere verbal profession is not enough. Father, thank you this morning for this word to us. We hear the words in our hearts of Jeffrey O'Hara's anthem. Why call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say? Ye call me the way and walk me not. Ye call me the life and live me not. Ye call me master and obey me not. If I condemn thee, blame me not. Ye call me bread and eat me not.

Ye call me truth and believe me not. Ye call me Lord and serve me not. If I condemn thee, blame me not. And we cannot blame you, Lord, for condemning those who say but don't do, for they give evidence of not being a part of the kingdom.

May no one go from this place in that category. Do your work in all our hearts in Christ's name. Amen. And I also remember the first time I heard you preach on this passage. It's unsettling. It will cause you to examine yourself. And I know for a lot of our listeners it's going to shake up their assurance. So for those who may be wondering if God has really saved them, what do you say? How do we address doubts about our salvation? Well, we're not in a hurry to remove doubt.

We're in a hurry to determine reality. So the goal of the preacher is not to make sure you don't doubt. The goal of the preacher is to make sure if you're not saved, you doubt. So you're driving at the very words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians that he had ministered to them for years is obvious. That he was concerned about them is also obvious. But at the end of it all, he says to them, Examine yourselves whether you're in the faith.

So this is not a guy who's just met some folks for the first time. This is the Corinthian church. And he's saying to them after years of interaction, examine yourselves whether you're in the faith. I honestly believe that one of the reasons for the Lord's table is that very same self-examination, because that appears also in Paul's letter to the Corinthians where he says, Don't come to the table until you've examined yourself. So the Lord's table is an opportunity, a necessary opportunity, for us to take a look at the true state of our hearts. We're not trying to produce doubt in the heart of a true believer, but we are trying to produce doubt in someone who is self-deceived.

It's very, very important to start there. Let me remind you that we have a booklet called, Is It Real? Is It Real? And it asks the question, Is your salvation real?

We'll send it to anyone who asks, just anyone. If you want a copy of Is It Real?, just let us know. It's going to help you come to grips with the question, Is my salvation the real thing, or am I deceived? It's possible that your salvation is the real thing, and this book will help affirm that.

On the other hand, it's very possible that you are self-deceived. The heart of the booklet, 11 test questions for you to answer that will help you evaluate your true spiritual condition. It also includes discovery and application questions, some prayer suggestions, and a practical assignment. The booklet, Is It Real? is yours free. Just ask for it when you contact us today.

Yes, friend, nothing is more important than knowing if you're truly saved. This booklet can help you dig into the important questions you need to answer. Again, we'll send you the booklet, Is It Real?

free of charge. Just contact us today. Call 800-55-GRACE, and that number translates to 800-5547223, or go to our website,

Is It Real? is a great booklet to go through with someone who's doubting his salvation, or give it to a new believer. To get your free copy, call 800-55-GRACE, or go to And to help you grow in your understanding of genuine salvation and so much more, I would encourage you to get our flagship resource, the MacArthur Study Bible.

With dozens of maps and charts, detailed introductions to each book, and nearly 25,000 notes covering virtually every passage of Scripture, the Study Bible is an all-in-one Bible study tool that will help you be a diligent student of Scripture. To get the MacArthur Study Bible, call 800-55-GRACE, or go to our website, Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for being here today. And come back again tomorrow as John continues to show you the marks of saving faith. That lesson is part of his current study titled, Salvation Survey. Don't miss the next 30 minutes of Unleashing God's Truth, one verse at a time, on Wednesday's Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-05 04:12:50 / 2024-02-05 04:23:37 / 11

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