“Lord, Lord” Or ABBA Father?
Robert Wurtz II
“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 7:21-23).
You will notice in this passage a contrast between those “who do the will of the Father in heaven” and those “who are workers of lawlessness.” The simple point is that a person’s behavior reveals their father. Workers of lawlessness (iniquity in the AV/KJV) “are of their father the Devil and the lusts (desires) of that father is what they do” (John 8:44). Children of the Father in Heaven do His will because “He works in them both to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Jesus came into the world, in one respect, to purchase for and freely give individuals the authority to become children of God (John 1:12) and bring them unto glory (Hebrews 2:10). This means that people have the opportunity to change fathers (if you like) from the Devil to the Father in Heaven. How awesome is that?! He plans to change the “Lord, Lord” types who work iniquity — into those who cry from the heart, ABBA Father, and do the Father’s will (Romans 8:15-17, Galatians 4:5-7). This is a radical transformation in which we “begin in the Spirit” living in the Spirit’s power.
The Nature of Sin
Some Bible teachers believe and teach that people sin because they want to sin. This is true so far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. What’s overlooked is the Devil working in them to want to sin. Paul spoke of “the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2). That spirit is in accordance with the Prince of the Power of the Air—one of Satan’s titles (the Devil). This spirit has to be expelled, and the Holy Spirit takes its place. It must be changed if one is to be a child of God (John 1:12), and this change is emphasized in John’s writings. Man’s problem is spiritual.
Jesus told Nicodemas that he must be born again (John 3:3). Why? Because he (as were we all) was born into the world with the wrong spiritual father. We are born dead towards God and alive towards the Devil on a spiritual level. As the old-time theologian said it, we are born with our back towards God. This is why peoples’ behavior is reflective of the Devil and not the Father in heaven.
Nobody has to be taught to lie and to cheat or any other sin. People in the Old Testament were taught and trained to do the Father’s will by using the Old Covenant law. When this failed, it showed the people that something was wrong with them that needed changing (regenerating). Paul spoke of his own experience fighting this battle in Romans 7:7f. Nevertheless, everyone has a basic sense of right and wrong “built-in” to their mind and heart. Everyone has a conscience, etc. But there was nothing to enforce this sense of right and wrong within the individual once the conscience was seared.
The Spiritual Law
Why did Paul struggle with the law? Why did everyone in the Old Testament struggle with the law? Because the law was Spiritual, and the people were carnal and sold under sin. The natural man (ψυχικός psuchikos) does not receive the law of God because it is spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). The people needed changing on a spiritual level. How can this happen? By being born again by the Spirit (John 3:3f). How can that happen?
When a person is baptized into Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, they are grafted into the vine (John 15:1f). This is just a way of explaining that the life of Christ (the Father’s life) begins flowing in the mind and heart of the person grafted in and their desires and affections become reflective of the Father’s desires and affections. We know this theologically as regeneration. It is this process and outcome that has been nearly lost in modern evangelism.
Baptism into Christ by the Spirit
Once we are baptized into Jesus Christ by the Spirit, we are like a branch grafted into a vine. The branch draws its life from the vine. Whereas we used to bring forth thorns and briars on our branch (a metaphor for sins and lawless deeds), now we are yielding fruit (the fruit of the Spirit). In other words, when we are baptized into Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, we begin doing the will of the Father in heaven. We are His children and operate from a different relationship than someone saying, “Lord, Lord.”
Apparently, there is a generation (as it were) that fears God enough to call Him Lord, Lord, but are unwilling to yield to His Spirit in such a way that they become His children. The religious leaders, according to Stephen in Acts 7, “always resisted the Holy Spirit.” This is why they could never be children of the Father in Heaven. One cannot resist the Holy Spirit, who makes one a child of God, and expect to be born again. Nicodemus may have struggled to comprehend the new birth because he, too, (at the time) may have been resisting the Holy Spirit (See John 3:1f).
Servants but not Sons
Our Heavenly Father isn’t interested in people doing all kinds of “works” in His name, whether they are natural or supernatural if they are not His children. These types of works don’t save people. The religious leaders did all sorts of things to express their religion, but it was too often self-serving. Our text reminds us that iniquity workers may do (or at least think they do) many “wonderful” works. The Father doesn’t want works from a life of iniquity. He desires children who reflect His character and person. He wants love to be the motivation. He wants what we sometimes call a “chip off the old block” or a child that “doesn’t fall far from the tree.” What do those sayings mean? Simply that the child behaves like the parent (father in this case). What an honor to be changed to act like our Heavenly Father?
It’s not enough to come to God, having gotten rid of some bad habits and confessed “faith” in Christ. The devils believe and tremble (and that’s more than some people do). We must repent in such a way that God will blot out our sins and give us His Holy Spirit in the genuine article. This is the promise. Yet we can’t receive the Spirit and resist the Spirit at the same time (though this doesn’t stop people from trying). Many want POWER, but they don’t want to be free from Sin. They want their name written in heaven, but they don’t want to do the works of the Father who is in heaven.
There is a “gospel” that says you can have Christ as Savior and not Lord. Really? What devils made up that theology? Understand that if our works don’t flow from the life of God working in us, they are dead works. I have heard of people speaking in tongues and prophesying who never once truly (and I mean genuinely) repented of their sins and forsook their life of sin. Some turned temporarily and went back to sin but kept operating in spiritual things. I have to wonder what spirit they received because it wasn’t the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 11:4). God wasn’t fooled by them any more than He was fooled by Simon the Sorcerer.
What’s the solution? Peter preached in Acts 2 and 3. “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19). Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:38f).