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empty Posted April 2001
“Lawd. Lawd, I Been Good”
By Rev. Dr. S. Stewart Poullard
Matthew 7:13-27 [KJV] [Read]

Matthew 7:21-23 [Reread]
“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Bible students, and saints alike, know that Christ Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount takes place from Matthew 5:1, and goes all the way to Matthew 7:29. Some of the very same sermon can be found in Luke, from 6:20 to 6:49. Matthew 5:1 says, "And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain: and when He was set, His disciples came to Him: And He opened His mouth, and taught them saying..."

Our Lord Jesus, in a matter of 15 minutes reading time, taught and preached to thousands of people. He taught on not just one subject, but several. First, He spoke on "The Picture of Kingdom Life" [5:1-16]; next, He talked to them about "The Precepts for Kingdom Life" [5:17-48], and those precepts were broken down into the law of Moses, the law of murder, the law of reconciliation, the law of adultery, the law of divorce, the law of oaths, the law of nonresistance, and the law of love. Then Christ spoke to them, as He does to us today, on "The Practice of Kingdom Life" [6:1 to 7:12], in relation to almsgiving, in relation to prayer, in relation to fasting, in relation to money, in relation to anxiety, in relation to judging, in relation to prudence, in relation to prayer, and in relation to others. 

Lastly, from 7:13-29, Christ speaks to them -- and us -- on "The Proof of Kingdom Life." So, we find that Jesus spoke on The Picture of, the Precepts for, the Practice of, and the Proof of Kingdom Life. His sermon to the multitudes was based on the Kingdom to come: what you could expect when you got there; the laws you needed to follow in order to get there; the actions you needed to work on before you got there; and, proof that the Kingdom IS there.

Our text comes from the last of the major teachings. It comes from Matthew 7:13-27, "The Proof of Kingdom Life." Okay, Pastor, how do we get 'Lawd, Lawd, I Been Good' from 'The Proof of Kingdom Life.'" Well, let's see.  If you notice, 7:13-14 discusses the two ways people can travel in life [one path is straight and narrow, one is broad and wide]. One gets you to heaven. The other gets you to hell. Verse 14 is your clue. It says that "few" will travel the straight and narrow, few will enjoy life everlasting. In verses 15-20, Christ also gives us the illustration of two trees. We, again, can choose to be one or the other, which is the subject for another sermon. So let's get down, no, NO! Let's take a minute to look at those 5 verses.

A false prophet is a LIAR! A liar will come to you posing as your friend, and attempt to turn you against your brother! A liar will start, spread, and/or embellish gossip. But look at what the verse says. It says you will know them by their fruits. What GOOD thing is this liar doing? What GOOD thing has this liar done? Is this liar happy? [He might be, if he's got you down in the kah-kah with him]. Or, is the liar miserable? The verses say that a good tree can bear no evil, and a bad tree can bear no good! Look at what the tree is bearing, Church! Liars are evil! Gossip is evil! False doctrine is evil! You'll know, then, that the bad tree, which bears bad fruit, is also your false prophet...your liar.

Okay. Enough of that. Verse 21 starts our lesson for today. Say what? You've already had your lesson? No you haven't! That basketball game can wait. Do like Brother M., and tape it next time. Look at Brother M.: just as content; Bible opened; note pad opened. Go home with Brother M. after the game! Now, read with me. "Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven." Pretty simple, isn't it? It says, not everyone who calls out God's name, or acknowledges Jesus, or tithes, or smiles, or does any of the things that makes them look, smell or act good, will get to STAY in heaven! 

"But, Lawd, I been good!" Only the ones who will do the will of God -- look at verse 21 -- will get to heaven! "But, Lawd, I been good!" And, don't think that this is the only time Jesus warned us about maybe not getting to heaven. Look at Matthew 25:11-12: "Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But He answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not." Remember? This was when 5 of the 10 virgins were not prepared for the bridegroom's [Christ's] return. Romans 2:13 continues with, "..for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." And, lastly, look with me at James 1:22. It says, "But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves." The pattern is clear folks: You can come in here and yell, "Amen" until you are blue in the face. You can stand in every nursing home and pray for the sick. You can smile at every person you see. But, if you don't abide by God's law, you will die, and burn in hell!

"Well, then, Pastor, what is God's law?" We'll get to that in a few minutes.

Look at Matthew 7:22. "Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works?" "I'm telling you, Lawd. I been real good! You can check!" Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13:2, cuts this question into pieces! Paul says, "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so I could move mountains, and have not charity [love], I am NOTHING." Underline that word, "charity [love]", Brother M. Now, Matthew 7:23: "And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity." If you CONSTANTLY work iniquity [sin]; if you constantly backslide; if you constantly lie, cheat, and/or steal; if you constantly covet your neighbors wife, house, car, and/or job; if you constantly do any of these things, and then, turn around, and profess Jesus to be your Savior, Jesus says that you are a liar; that you never did what He told you to do; that He doesn't know you; that you should just leave His presence, and go to hell.

If I were to paraphrase 1 Corinthians 6:6-13, Paul says that we [believers] should not keep company with fornicators, the covetous, extortioners, idolaters, railers, or drunkards. If you associate with those people, you might tend to be like those people -- none of whom God has favor with. It's that old axiom: If you sleep with dogs, you will get fleas. I'm not saying, "Don't go to those people when doing your missionary work." I'm saying, "Deliver God's message. Go away. Come back again. Restart the process. If they listen not, then dust off yourself and move on." You are not there to be drinkin' and druggin' with them. You are there to show them that God's people don't need that stuff in order to have a good life!  Jesus isn't done telling us about going to hell, folks! In Matthew 25:41, he says, "Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." "Well, okay, Lawd. If you put it that way, maybe I have been a little disobedient." Even in the Old Testament, Psalm 5:5 says, "The foolish shall not stand in Thy sight: Thou hatest all workers of iniquity."

What is happening here is easy to understand Brothers and Sisters: No matter how long you stand on a soapbox on the corner and profess Jesus; no matter how often you pray at the Missionary Board and Deacon Board meetings; no matter how often you lead the worship service, sing in the choir, usher people to their seats, or even preach a sermon, if you don't follow God's law, you are going to go to hell!

"Brother Pastor, I'm REALLY needing to know what God's law is!" Remember, Christ said that He had come not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. And, in Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus made it very plain: "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, thou shall love the Lord thou God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first, and great commandment. And, the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

That's it Saints. Love God, strong, hard, and deep. Then, love man, the way you would expect to be loved. Jesus said that on these two commandments hung all the law and the prophets. Let's look at it.

Exodus 20:3-17 gives us the ten commandments handed down to the nation of Israel. In order to follow Jesus' first great commandment, "Love God," we've got to [1] have no other Gods before Jehovah [that means, before, after, or in between. It means either in addition to, or in opposition to. God will not share His worship with any other]. [2] Next we must make no graven [wooden, stone, metal] images. [3] Then, we should never use the Lord's name in vain [false swearing]; And, [4] remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Now Christ made it easy. All you have to do is love God, and you'll keep those four commandments.

Jesus then said that you had to love your neighbor, as yourself. That means your next door neighbor, be he white brown, black, yellow, or red. It also means that you have to love your boss, your coworker [redneck or not], the white man in Alabama, the red man in South Dakota, the yellow man in Viet Nam, the brown man in India, and the black man in Africa. It means you have to love the Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Baptist, Methodist, and Jehovah's Witness. It means, as Jesus put it in Matthew 5:39, let the man who slapped you, slap you again.. and, LOVE him afterwards.

The last six commandments said that we should honor our father and mother; not kill; not commit adultery; not steal; not bear false witness [lie]; and not covet.

Jesus just told us to love. Love. LOVE! He knew that the original commandments could not be kept. He knew that those commandments would only convict the Jews. He knew, since all men were born with the sin nature, that the commandments would only send men to eternal death and damnation.

However, if you love your neighbor, you won't kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet. Nor, will you dishonor your mother and father.

Saints, I don't care if you can pray better than anyone else in church. I don't care if you tithe 50% of your income to the church. I don't care if you are the preacher, deacon, missionary, usher, and bass-singer in the choir -- all at one time! I don't care if you sweep the church, plant the flowers outside the church, and bring people in to join the church. Saints, I don't care if your great-grandfather, your grandfather, and your father sat in the same seat you're sitting in. Or, that you're saving the seat for your son. IF YOU DON'T OBEY GOD'S LAW, YOU'RE GOING TO GO TO HELL!

And, finally, John tells us in Revelation 20:11-15, even those who are to live in eternal hell fire, will stand before Jesus. They, too, will probably cry out, "Lawd, Lawd, I been good!"

Rev. Dr. S. Stewart Poullard Th.D., is pastor of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Mermentau, Louisiana. Pastor Poullard holds a Masters in Theology [Th.M.] from Andersonville Baptist Seminary, Camilla, Georgia, 1999 and a Doctorate in Theology [Th.D.] from Andersonville Baptist Seminary, 2000. New Hope’s Motto: "We Teach and Preach Christ."
Email him at Opinions expressed are those of the author and are used by permission.

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