Jesus warned his disciples to watch out for false prophets (Matt. 7:15-20). They sound like sheep outwardly. But they are wolves inwardly. You shall know them by their fruits—their false teachings. They will betray their true nature by their fruits. On the last day, Jesus will judge them.
Jesus adds another warning about false prophets in Matthew 7:21-23
21 “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. 22 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?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Many believers have misinterpreted these words. They feel that they need to perform a good work to enter the kingdom. But Jesus is not talking about followers of Christ. He is talking about false prophets. In vv. 15-20, Jesus is talking to “you,” the disciples of Christ. But in v. 23, Jesus is talking about “them,” the false prophets.
Jesus is the Judge of false prophets on the last day. On that day, false prophets will not enter the kingdom. He will tell them, “I never knew you. Depart from me.”
Previously, Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets.” Now in vv. 21-23, Jesus seems to be saying, “False prophets—beware!”
We learn three things from Jesus’ words in vv. 21-23.