What did Jesus mean when He said, “I never knew you. Depart from me”?

A passage in Matthew 7 has led many believers to doubt whether they’re saved. Jesus is teaching there about how to tell a false teacher from a true one (Matthew 7:15). He then contrasts good trees bearing good fruit, and bad trees bearing bad fruit (7:16-20).

He’s not saying we’re saved by our fruit; He’s revealing that someone who is not saved cannot bear good fruit.

Then He says not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom, but he who does the will of the Father will enter (7:21). He is contrasting dead faith and living faith, just as James does.

What is the will of the Father? John 6:40 says, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life.”

So there will be some who acknowledge Jesus as God and Lord, like the demons do, but who do not believe in Him to save them. That’s why Jesus will declare to them He never knew them (7:23). He’s talking to those who are false prophets, who practice lawlessness, and who don’t believe in Jesus as Savior. These people were using Jesus in order to perform miracles (7:22) but were doing it for personal gain.

They did not do the will of the Father, which was to simply believe in His Son, Jesus. If you believe in Christ, then He knows you. He loves you. And He will never disown you.

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