Keeping God at Arm’s Length
We are 100% saved by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8). That means it’s 100% undeserved. We are 100% saved by trusting in Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-13). That’s faith. We all have areas we struggle in. Transformation is a journey (Philippians 3:12). It takes time to renew our minds (Romans 12:2). Shame will keep you defeated, but God’s grace says you are beloved and you are mine. We can find great comfort in that.
So why does Jesus say, “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” (Matthew 7:21). Listen carefully, because I think this is a crucial reality of the gospel. Lord means Master. The gospel isn’t to simply believe a man named Jesus died on a cross and now I get to go to heaven when I die (James 2:19). The gospel is that Jesus is the Master of the universe (He-man pun intended). That’s good news because through his death and resurrection, God’s Kingdom can begin to reign on the earth and in those who believe. That means forgiveness of sin, reconciliation, restoration, eternal life and so much more.
So what Jesus is saying is that you can’t call Him Lord if you have no plans to make Him Lord. No, Jesus isn’t expecting absolute perfection. He had to die for a reason right? However, being “born again” is not only an act of receiving God’s Spirit into our lives (John 3:5). It also means that we now see Jesus as our Master. So Jesus says in essence, “Don’t call me Lord if you have no plans to do what I say. You are lying to yourself and you are lying to me.”
So here is the question. And again, I’m not asking if you are perfect. I know you aren’t perfect. God knows you aren’t perfect. But let’s be real for a moment. When you believed the gospel, did you just believe that Jesus was your Savior, or was He Lord?
Are you struggling? That’s different. God knows. Are you in a rough season. Jesus will bring you out. They are called seasons for a reason. But do you have no plans to give Jesus your life? There is not really any ongoing transformation, not because you’re human, but because you haven’t surrendered to God’s Spirit in your life. Much like the singer who recently walked away from the faith had confessed, you’re bored with the church, the Bible, and following Jesus because you’ve either misunderstood the gospel or you just never really believed. You love your life the way it is too much. In the process you’ve kept your guard up, “Only God can judge me.” But Jesus is calling you to put your guard down so that he can come in and work. Whoever surrenders their life for His sake will find it (Matthew 16:25). You’ll find so much more than you ever bargained for. Don’t let this “season” become the definition of your life, slowly drifting until it’s over.
The gospel is that the risen Jesus is Lord. That’s the good news that delivers us from darkness to light (Colossians 1:13). That’s the good news that gives us the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). Believe it! (Romans 8:13)