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.’Jesus, Matthew 7:21-23
Who is the spiritual man? How do we identify a man or a woman of God? Is it by how much they pray? Is it based on their relentless focus and passion about Christ and His purpose? Is it based on their preaching? Or even, their endurance of persecution, like a missionary in the field? No matter how many times the Bible warns us, we are still a poorly discerning crowd, at large. For us, a spiritual person is someone with a spiritual discipline higher than our own. Maybe they pray more than us or they preach better than us or they are being persecuted in a way that we can’t imagine enduring. We somehow have defined spirituality on the basis of the flesh which seems inherently flawed. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15). Understand that there is a form of Christian look-alike-ism that can fool you and it will be so even among the prophets and the teachers. Not only that, but this can also result in a dangerous, self-deceiving situation, where some of us may believe that we are the children of God because we have put on a ‘cloak’ of Christianity that is not real.
“You will know them by their fruits.” How? Look at Matthew 7:21 again. If we identify Christians as those who call upon the name of the Lord, we see that many of such confessors will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Some of them may have even prophesied, cast out demons and done mighty works, all in the name of Jesus. If nothing else, we would see a person’s ability to prophesy as definitive proof of the Spirit, wouldn’t we? Is it not proof that the one casting the demon out is a servant of God? Amazingly, no! None of these things are the ultimate proof. They are all sheep’s clothing that even wolves can wear.
Then, how can we know? How can we ever be sure? Look for the works of the law! We know clearly from the books of the New Testament that none are saved by meeting the requirements of the law. Yet, the law is altogether holy and righteous and good. No one is capable of keeping the law, no one but the One who did keep it for our sake, Christ our Lord. And now, those of us who believe in Him have the perfect obedience of Christ imputed on us, covering our ineligibility. So, we now stand blameless before God. And the Holy Spirit not only brings to effect this saving imputation of Christ, but He Himself now dwells in us so that we may now be continually sanctified and conformed to the image of Christ. Therefore, the true believer who is saved by the free gift of salvation in Christ’s perfect work and obedience, will now inevitably end up growing in obedience to the law, not by their own strength but by the power of the Holy Spirit. These are the men and women of God, who grow in obedience to God’s holy law.