Jesus told us that not all who claim to be believers really know Him. Some people may have the external appearance of religiosity, but their hearts have not been transformed by receiving the love of God through faith in Jesus Christ. There are even people who do religious deeds and good works whom Jesus will not recognize. Jesus said, “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 [lawlessness]” (Matthew 7:22–23).
How can these good works be considered iniquity in the sight of the Lord? What is lawless about speaking in the name of Jesus or casting out demons in His name or doing good deeds? This assessment must involve something beyond the appearance of things. Jesus told His disciples, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). The answer depends on the condition of our hearts. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Are our works motivated by the love of God that we have received and experienced, or are we doing good deeds from a sense of religious obligation in an attempt to earn God’s favor? The latter is iniquity; the former is a manifestation of knowing Jesus and His love.
How do we know if we know Jesus? The Apostle John tells us: “Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected” (I John 2:3–5). If we love others, we want to please them, especially when we know that what they are asking is for our best interest. So it is with Jesus’ directives concerning living out Kingdom principles on earth to manifest His glory through us. We are to let His light in us “so shine before men, that they may . . . glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).