Matthew 7:21-23 Explained | “Lord, Lord… LAWLESSNESS… I never knew you…”

Introduction: This condemns the person who thinks you have to keep good works to get to heaven. You may be the one who stands before God, whichever judgment this is, and you will have to say nothing but, “Hey, I got good works, didn’t I do this, didn’t I do that?” I think a lot of people say, “Didn’t you know, Lord, I defended you in the comment sections on YouTube? You never believed in Jesus, though. What good is that? Maybe you should stop doing that and start looking at what the Bible says.”

Body: Welcome to Bible Line! I’m your host, Pastor Jesse Martinez, and today we are continuing this little series that we’re working on right now, which is explaining verses that people have dropped in the comment section to attempt and disprove the Biblical teaching of “once saved, always saved.” Now, you may be one of those haters, and I say that lovingly, who just heard me say, “the Biblical teaching of ‘once saved, always saved’”, and you think, “Oh, there! He expresses his bias!” Absolutely, 100 percent, I’m biased that the Bible teaches that once a person puts their faith in Jesus Christ, they receive everlasting life, and there’s nothing that could ever be done to change that passing from death unto life! I think that’s a good bias to have because it’s built off the scripture. But we’ve already worked on 2 Corinthians 13:5 (Video Link), 2 Corinthians 5:17 (Video Link), and today we’re going to look at one that really baffles me every time that I see it.

It’s Matthew 7:21-23, and the claim is that we teach antinomianism by saying a person can live a wicked and sinful life, and they’ll never lose their salvation. They like to use this passage to say when “Lord, Lord” is used, those are the people who are saying, “I believe, I believe,” and then they cherry-pick down to verse 23 where they say, “Ye that work iniquity is lawlessness.” And so, they point the finger at the person who believes in “once saved, always saved” and they say, “See, since you think a person could live a wicked life and still go to heaven, then you’re the person who’s going to be in this judgment because you’re only depending on your belief.” And I have to be honest with you; that last part that I just added there, I have to add that in as my own interpretation because I don’t understand why people use this verse to come against “once saved, always saved.” This verse condemns those who actually tout their good works, and it’s comical when I see it because I see just a complete lack of awareness from people.

I think people are suffering from illustration fatigue. And what I mean by that is they have only heard the Bible taught from an interpretive standpoint through illustrations. They’ve not studied something contextually to actually see, what does the scripture say? Who is being addressed here? Is there any illustration before or after that helps clarify this difficult passage? But I never, as I was growing up, and just so you know, I grew up as somebody who heard every Sunday you had to turn from your sins or you had to ask Jesus into your heart. I remember thinking I’d have to die in church because that would be the cleanest that I could be! I could confess my sins, and then I just have to die because I know as a 12-year-old kid, I’d just go out and do things incorrectly immediately after I turn from my sin to be saved. And it’s interesting because I would see people use this verse, and I would go, “Man, you know, faith or salvation is achieved by faith alone in Christ.” And this passage is talking about people who actually tout their works. How does that prove the antinomian will not get to heaven? I don’t understand it. But I want to make sure we address it because this is used frequently in the comments section here and just among the comment sections on all YouTube channels that teach the biblical method of salvation. But let’s take a look here.

Jesus is talking, and He’s finishing up an address, and he says in Matthew 7:21, He says, “Not everyone that saith unto me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.” Many will say to me in that day…” Now, I want to stop here for a moment. I think “that day” is going to be either the Judgment right before the Thousand-Year Reign or it’s going to be at the Great White Throne judgment. I’d probably lean towards the Great White Throne judgment, but there’s a chance that it could be the Judgment right before entering into the Thousand-Year Reign. I don’t think that’s the focus here. The focus is there are people who will say they are followers of Christ. That’s what the phrase “Lord, Lord” means, that they’re followers, their disciples, so to speak. But they won’t enter in because they have not done the will of the father, and that’s what verse 21 says. So then in 22, this is what these people will say: “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name cast out devils and in thy name done many wonderful works?” And then Jesus will profess unto them, those who say “Lord, Lord,” “I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” And people like to latch onto that word and say that’s lawlessness; therefore, that’s antinomianism. That’s the same as saying you can sin and sin and sin, but you’re still saved. I think it’s important to understand here that the major hinge on this verse is those who do the will of the father will be able to get in. Okay, so we’ve got to be able to know what that is. We know what it is not. It is not what they say in verse 22. It is not prophesying in the Lord’s name. It is not casting out devils, nor is it any other many wonderful works. And what I think is interesting that people miss is they look to their works to continue their initial justification. We’ve done a video here on John Piper where he says you have to be killing sin and pursuing Holiness to make sure that your election and calling are accurate. Okay, that’s a roundabout way of saying you’re saved by faith alone in Christ, but you have to have good works to prove that you’re saved. So, you’re not saved by faith alone in Christ. You’re saved by your faith in Christ and the continuing of good works. That is not a faith that saves. That’s a non-saving faith. Saving faith is the person who simply trusts in Jesus Christ apart from any good works that they could do. And that’s what the will of the father is, and that’s what is important in verse 21. And as we’re going there, I want you to go to John 6.

We’re going to look in verse 39. But as you’re going here, I want you to just listen to me right now. Like I’m not trying to be rude or divisive or, I’m not trying to make fun of you, those who do not believe like I believe. I want you to take a serious look if you think you’re saved by the continuing of good works. I want you to take a serious look at that statement in light of Matthew 7:21, “only he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven”. Compare your method of salvation to what Jesus says very clearly in these two verses. John 6:39 says, “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day.” He’s talking about the will of the Father first from His responsibility. Its God’s will that I, His son, will lose none that come to me by faith, and they will be raised at the last day. Then in verse 40, it changes from the Father’s will now is one-fold to twofold. Jesus’s responsibility; He’s going to keep you eternally secure, those who put their trust in Christ, to the sinner’s responsibility of response, which will be what makes them eligible for accomplishing the will of the Father. “And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the son and believeth on him may have everlasting life”. The reason why they have everlasting life is because they’ve believed on Him, and it’s the will of the Father that Him, Jesus, will bring them back, and I will raise them up at the last day as the end of John chapter 6 and verse 40.

So, now when you go back to Matthew chapter 7 and you realize these people are calling themselves disciples, but they’re not true disciples, they’re not even true Christians; why? Because they haven’t done the will of the Father! What is the will of the Father? To believe on His son, period. That’s the will of the Father. So now look at 23, Matthew chapter 7 and verse 23, “And then will I profess unto them I never knew you.” Why? Jesus never knew them because they never believed on him alone. They had to have their presence of works to prove their faith. This is what is so dangerous about Calvinism and why this channel is the, you know, we produce content that is aimed toward Calvinistic teaching because it is a vice grip on eternal life. It totally removes the person. If a person got saved and then they fall into Calvinism, they become profitless as far as a soul-winner goes and as far as real Christian growth. And if a person who’s lost stumbles into Calvinism, they continually look to themselves to prove their justification. But Jesus could not say to somebody, “I never knew you,” if they already believed, because it’s the will of the Father, that those that believed would be given to Him, and he’d raise them up in the last day. So, we know here that these are not people that believed and then fell away. These are people that never believed, never exercised saving faith in Jesus Christ and in him alone. They look to their works, which is why I think it’s I mean it’s funny in a dark way. I don’t know why people use this passage against us. This condemns the person who thinks you have to keep good works to get to heaven.

You may be the one who stands before God, whichever judgment this is, and you will have to say nothing but, “Hey, I got good works, didn’t I do this, didn’t I do that?” I think a lot of people say, “Didn’t you know, Lord, I defended you in the comment sections on YouTube? You never believed in Jesus, though. What good is that? Maybe you should stop doing that and start looking at what the Bible says. Get out of the echo chamber that you’re in and get into the scripture.

I think it’s funny too, this word iniquity. People like to say, “Ooh, lawlessness, lawlessness, lawlessness.” I use e-Sword, and I have this Bible called the KJV plus, so it has the little Strong’s numbers right above every word. And this word iniquity, it’s used quite a bit, but I think one of the places where it’s used as specifically iniquity is Romans chapter 4 and verse 7. And if you’re familiar with Romans chapter 4, that’s a really good passage. We’re going to start in verse 4. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” And I believe that this is talking about the person who, well, it’s not that I believe this, this is what the Bible says. The person that believes is justified. Their faith is counted for righteousness. That means that they are part of that John 6:39… that will be raised again because of the Father’s will concerning His Son. Then there’s an illustration, there’s a further definition here in verse 6, “even as David also described it, the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, ‘Blessed are they whose iniquities’ – the same word that’s used in Matthew 7:23 – blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven.”


Yes, I want to be the person that has my sin, my lawlessness, totally forgiven! Now, that doesn’t mean I teach or support that you go out and live a wicked life. Our God is a consuming fire. He has not changed. If what happened in Israel as a result of their unbelief is the way God handled it, He’ll do the same to us here. 1 Corinthians chapter 3, verse 16 and 17 talk about the destruction of the body of the believer as they desecrate this body where it is the Temple of the Holy Ghost. But the spirit is eternally delivered! People don’t like that for some reason. “Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered”. Verse 8, “blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute”, which means put to their account, “will not put sin to their account”. So, the people in Matthew 7, they do not have righteousness put to their account. They have not obeyed the will of the Father. They only look to their works.

So, the next time you see somebody drop that kind of comment, ask them if they really understand the context because that is the one verse that I would say if I’m a works based teacher, as a hypothetical, I would stay away from that passage. It condemns me, especially if I think my faith in Jesus Christ is not enough.

I pray this has been helpful for you. I’m really enjoying this series just because we get to let the scripture speak. I love that. If you have a question or maybe you’ve seen people use verses out of context and you need help with them, send them to us, Just send us an email. I’ll get that. I’ll take a look at it, try to get a response, and maybe even make a video if we haven’t already. Until next time, keep looking up. Jesus Christ is coming soon. God bless you.