By This You Will Know

Robert Wurtz II

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35 ESV).

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” (1 John 3:14 NKJV).

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. (Matthew 7:21–24 ESV).

Solomon once said that every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts (Prov. 21:2). It is sobering and frightful to know that many people will eventually end up lost for all eternity even though they read Matthew 7:21-24 multiple times. When they read it, their way is right in their own eyes, so they see others and not themselves. In the language of Paul to Timothy, “They are deceiving and being deceived.” The deceived are employing some other means of certifying themselves rather than sound doctrine. I’m convinced that some of these “lost” and deceived “Christians” have never studied God’s word in a meaningful way, and yet they prophesied and cast out devils. Perhaps they believed they were “anointed” or “chosen of God” in such a way that they no longer had to examine and obey God’s word. I suggest that this contributed greatly to their lawless lives.

Deceiving and Being Deceived

In an age of almost universal deception, how are we to know who is and who is not a legitimate saint? Moreover, is there a basis upon which we can determine with certainty who is deceiving and being deceived? What are the criteria? Is it miracles? Is it signs and wonders? Is it prophesying and speaking in tongues? How can we know with certainty who is true and who is false? Furthermore, how can I know if I am a legitimate saint? Jesus said that many are going to say to him, “Lord, Lord, …” The Greek word for many in our passage is translated as great multitudes in Matthew 4:25 and 12:15. There are many people who live their lives completely deceived. 

Notice that Jesus referred to them as “workers of lawlessness.” The Greek verb workers is in the present middle tense. These are people who never stopped sinning. Their lives showed a pattern of damnable sins (see Galatians 5:20-21, 1 Cor. 3:17, 6:9-10, etc), yet they cast out devils, prophesied, and performed miracles. It is likely that they worked diligently to cover up their sin to conceal it from the very persons to whom they prophesied and ministered. In time they hid their sin from their own eyes and became callous to it. Yet in the sobering and frightful words of the great Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, “Jesus will tear off the sheepskin and lay bare the ravening wolf.” The deceived will probably be shocked to realize that they were actually a wolf. 

Self Examination

Matthew Henry once said that “There is no faith that works by love in the miracles that these pretenders perform” (Galatians 5:6). Miracles prove nothing unless accompanied by a life exemplifying righteousness and holy living. Keep that clear in your mind. Lawlessness implies a great disregard for God’s holy word — which can be summed up with one word, enmity. Their carnal mind rejected the counsel of God, but as Simon the Sorcerer, they wanted the benefits of the promises.

Lawlessness is anti-love, and frequently these pretenders do all manner of unloving acts. When they love it is the “publican love” that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5:46-47. Publican love loves when it’s to their advantage. The love of God hasn’t been shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. They are not in reputation for being a loving and compassionate person. This brings us to the key point:

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” (1 John 3:14 NKJV).

The time would fail me to list off all the people I know of personally who behaved badly in the churches and it caused others to stumble in their faith. They were devoid of this most fundamental thing, loving others with the love of God. People who have been more concerned about the proverbial “color of the carpet” than for peoples’ souls.  

We must ask ourselves a sobering question, “Do I truly and verifiably love my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?” Am I concerned for their soul? When they are in distress, do I reach out to help? Am I a neighbor to them? Am I patient with them? Do I love them in the same way that I love my biological family (parents, children, siblings, etc.)? Or is it what the old time preacher called, “cupboard love?” Cupboard love describes the selfish, greedy or insincere affection displayed towards another person in order to get what they want. Pets are most frequently described as demonstrating cupboard love (wiki). 

The lost and lawless miracle worker doesn’t view love as the primary criteria for identifying salvation and acceptance with God. They are looking at the supernatural. It’s that voice that they hear in this inner man that they assume to be the voice of God, yet it is not God at all. In fact, Jesus said, “I never knew you.” They assume that God has anointed them and others around them bolster this view by speaking well of them and God is far from them. Otherwise, how could a person spend their whole lives in sin and not realize God rejected them? Sometimes its the closest people to us who speak well of us when a rebuke is in order. If I might say it frightfully, sadly, and soberly, enablers “loved” these lawless miracle workers right into hell. That is astonishing to consider.

Getting Right With God

It is a hard saying, but one important fact that we must not neglect is that my salvation is my responsibility. Paul told the Philippians, Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12 KJV).  Solomon’s words concerning “every man’s way is right in his own eyes” is true, but we are commanded to examine ourselves whether we are in the faith or not. This requires objectivity. We have to be honest with ourselves, and if we find that we are deceived we need to renounce all known sin in our lives and call upon the Lord for forgiveness. We must stop resisting the Holy Spirit. Ask God to give you a new heart and a new spirit. Don’t put it off. Don’t do another thing until you have gotten your heart right with God. It’s the most important issue in your life. The longer you go in deception the deeper it gets. Repent and be converted that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord. If you are deceived and refuse to repent you will treasure up for yourself more and more wrath for the judgment.   

Idenifying the Deceived

The first thing we must do is take the blinders off. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35 ESV). This is the standard. This is where we must look for evidence. Far too often we are willing to sacrifice truth to maintain a relationship with a person. We might describe this behavior as, “Contributing to the deception of the deceived.” We overlook their sinful and unloving ways or make excuses for them. No matter if its family or friends, this approach must end. It’s a hard saying, but a wolf is a wolf no matter if they share our last name or not. They can be transformed into sheep, but not while we make excuses for them. 

For this ye know, that every whoremonger, or unclean, or covetous person, who is an idolater, hath no inheritance in the reign of the Christ and God (Ephesians 5:5 YLT).

We should never become a partaker of another person’s evil because we held back or coddled a person in their lawlessness. This type of attitude has created many monsters within the churches. Our only hope is to mark them out and avoid them until they repent (Rom. 16:17, Phil. 3:17, 1 Cor. 5:11, etc.). Unfortunately, because they probably never study their bible they will not understand what we are doing. They will say, “I thought we were friends…” or some other derogatory statement meant to deflect the blame onto us. Please don’t fall for it. Stand your ground until they repent. We must speak with one voice. It might be the only way to see the deceived saved. 




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