But Lord, Lord …

They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. (Titus 1:16)

I find that verse of Scripture chilling. They profess to know God, but they don’t. So are they lying? Or do they really think they know God and they’re just missing the mark?

But how can you think you know someone when you don’t? There has to be a fair amount of self-delusion. I think of movie-star stalkers. People who follow and photograph stars often think they have a real connection with that famous person. But they’re deluded. They know about the star, but they don’t have a relationship. The truth is, the star has no idea who they are.

God, of course, knows who we are, whether we are His children or not, but the reverse is not true for everyone. These people who profess Christ don’t actually know who He is.

Jesus pointedly asked those who followed Him this:

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

So the first clue that people don’t know God is that they don’t do what He says. John makes this same point:

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:3-4).

Matthew addresses this issue, recording what Jesus said this way:

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves . . . So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ ” (Matt. 7:15, 20-23)

So these people Jesus was addressing were doing things in God’s name–they weren’t sitting idly by. What “fruits” then was Jesus referring to? The fruit of obedience–doing the will of the Father.

Apparently these people were doing what they thought constituted service to God–prophesying and casting out demons and performing miracles, all the while producing “bad fruit.”

Paul gave a fairly detailed description of what this bad fruit looks like in his second letter to Timothy:

For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these . . . But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Tim 3:2-5, 13 – emphasis mine)

The thing is, considering these verses seems to bump up against Scripture’s command not to judge “lest we be judged.” Too often, I think, we Christians give a shrug when we hear false teaching and say, well, I think they’re wrong, but who am I to judge?

The truth is, we’re not judging anyone. We’re recognizing a fact: people who claim to be Christians but disavow God’s Word can’t really know Him. If they claim the Bible isn’t God’s word and therefore they don’t have to obey the Bible, how can they know the Author?

They’re pretty much calling God a liar when they claim the Scripture He inspired isn’t actually from Him. They set themselves up as the authority, not God, and tell Him what He’s like rather than listening to Him reveal His own character.

What a sad day awaits them when they stand at the judgment seat with a pile of burned up wood, hay, and stubble, saying, But Lord, Lord, …

Shouldn’t we warn them?

Published in: on July 25, 2012 at 6:54 pm  Comments (10)  
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  1. Hey, Becky, very provocative post. I find verses like these chilling as well. I can’t imagine a greater horror than arriving in heaven only to hear Jesus say, “Away from me; I never knew you.” That terrifies me. I can look at that passage from 2Timothy and read myself right into almost every descriptor. Seriously, if I linger too much on this topic, I can really sink myself into a funk of despair. I can see myself in heaven, “But Lord, I thought I’d believed in you. I confessed every sin I could think of. You even let me write books for you, didn’t you?” And it sounds much like the “But we cast out demons in your name,” kind of thing. I don’t want to go to hell, and I don’t want anyone else to either. I take solace in knowing that God is absolutely good. He’s not a trickster looking for ways to boot people out of heaven. He is faithful, even when we are faithless. His salvation trumps my sin. But…I still need to be more obedient. Definitely.


    • Wayne, I know what you mean. Those lists of behaviors hit too close to home. My soon-to-be new pastor helped me understand how to verbalize this seeming dichotomy. He used the word picture of a father. This is not a role a man must earn by doing the fatherly things well. He simply is a father because his child was born. However, from that point on, he must determine whether or not he is to live up to the name “father.” Will he act like a father or not? Will he or won’t he protect and provide and nurture his child.

      In the same way, we who confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts are in fact adopted into his family. Because of this new relationship, we will start living up to the name we now bear–that of a child of God, redeemed and forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ.

      Are we going to get it right a hundred percent of the time? No. But just like the father who stumbles in his fatherly duties, our stumbling does not alter who we are. We are still God’s child.

      What then about the Lord, Lord people? Clearly their issue is that they went about doing religious things instead of doing what Jesus said. Their religious activity was a substitution for obedience. They had no intention of putting faith in Christ because their faith was in they own efforts. Their disobedience to the Christ’s word was the evidence of their disregard for Him.

      Part of what separates Christians who battle the world, flesh, and Satan and non-Christians who are trying to earn their way into God’s good graces by their own religious activity, is repentance. A Christian enters into relationship with God based on our repentance of sins. We stay in fellowship with Him because of our every increasingly sensitive heart that shows us when we grieve the Holy Spirit and we respond by repenting.

      You are so right, Wayne, that God is no trickster. We can trust that He has done as He said He would–forgiven those who come in faith in the shed blood of Christ to cleanse them from ALL unrighteousness. There’s no expiration date on His sure word. We do now and always will stand forgiven because God is not a liar. And yes, we need to live up to our right standing before Him. That, I’m convinced, is what we’re supposed to be learning here on earth.

      Thanks for taking the time to interact on this important subject, Wayne.



  2. I’ve been seeing all this “judge not” stuff on facebook today because of the chik-fil-A stuff. It’s so silly.

    Good post. Yes, we should warn people.


    • OK, I’ve not kept myself informed about this Chick-fil-A business. I’m going to have to do a little reading and see what it’s all about. Thanks for for your input, Sally.



  3. Thanks for this. When does “judgment” mean assess, or discern, and when does it mean condemn? I don’t know.


    • Hi, Charis,

      I think we have to determine the meaning within the context of the verse. There’s one section of Scripture where Paul says, don’t judge, and then seemingly turns around and judges.

      There’s also the issue of treating Christians and non-Christians differently. I think Scripture is clear that we have a responsibility to settle disputes within the family of God, which of course, necessitates a judgment. (See 1 Cor. 5:12-13 and 6:2-3). If you’re interested, a couple years ago I wrote a post on the subject, entitled “What is Judgment?”

      The point that is pertinent to this post is that Christians too often take “don’t judge” as a blanket command to cover all people in all circumstances, and that isn’t what Scripture teaches.

      Thanks for the thought-provoking question.



  4. […] people who profess Christ but who don’t actually know Him in yesterday’s post, “But Lord, Lord …,” I posed a question early on: Are they […]


  5. It’s funny, providential, that you should deal with these verses. I recently heard a sermon by Paul Washer on the text and haven’t stopped thinking about them since. It is a chilling thought to think your in and your not. Paul’s take, and I believe he’s right, is that these are people who’ve made a confession without a repentance. As a child I was taught to make the decision, pray the prayer, and accept Jesus into my heart. I did. A hundred times. But where was the repentance. I didn’t consciously make a change. If God was changing me – I couldn’t say as a child. Did I enter the narrow gate and the straight, hard way, denying myself, crucifying the flesh, being sanctified. The consequences are severe and eternal for the sincere but unconverted professor.

    Repentance is an effort, but it is also a sign of a true conversion. So I believe that if we put our trust solely in Christ and not any work of our own, (in the verses the people are saying WE did this and that) and we diligently turn from sin, confessing our failures it shows the grace of God is working in us. And we will be in.

    Thanks for the post and comments.


    • Bob, as I’ve written before, my story is much like yours. I prayed to accept Jesus, then wondered why I still argued with my brother and sister and disobeyed my parents. I prayed again. Did it “take”? The thing is, at some point, I did repent, too, but I continued to battle things I knew were wrong. At one point, I realized I simply had to trust that God would do what He said–forgive me, wash me, cleanse me. It was in believing that He is a promise-keeping God that I finally had assurance of my salvation and my relationship with God began to grow.

      I think I’ve learned more than anything that there’s no salvation formula. God meets each person where they’re at, addressing the needs of their heart. The issue for us is believing, or not.

      I think the Lord, Lord people are deluded into thinking their religious activity is what God wants, as opposed to what He says He wants–confession and belief and repentance.



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