Why Won’t Everyone who says “Lord, Lord” enter Heaven? (Matthew 7:21)

In Matthew 7:21 Jesus warned that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of Heaven. What did He mean?
Jesus is saying not everyone who professes to be a Christian will enter Heaven; Not everyone who goes to church will enter Heaven; Not everyone who has a church title, or church post or performs church activities and functions will enter Heaven; not everyone who is religious will enter the kingdom of Heaven; not everyone who has the appearance of godliness is truly born again.

In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says the following: “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.’

So what kind of people are these who call upon the name of the Lord but yet do not enter heaven? What kind of people are these who appear to profess Christianity and their religious works but yet Jesus Christ rejects them and calls them “workers of lawlessness”?


The Nature of the People Mentioned in Matthew 7:21-23


1. People Who Relied on their Own Religious Works of Righteousness to Enter Heaven
In Matthew 7:22 these people boasted and presented their religious works and activities as evidence that they deserved to enter heaven. However Jesus rejected them.
Our salvation and worthiness of entering the kingdom of God is not dependent on our individual works of righteousness, but instead we enter heaven by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Titus 3:5 says: He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit

Therefore our entry into heaven is not by believing in our own works of righteousness as the ticket to Heaven, but it is by believing in the gracious act of Jesus Christ who was crucified on the cross as payment for our sins. So it is because of the finished work of Jesus Christ that we enter heaven and not by trusting in our own effort.
The Bible says that our works of righteousness are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) but Jesus Christ Himself is our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Galatians 2:21 says: I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Therefore salvation into the kingdom of heaven is only connected to the work of Jesus on the cross for all sinners and not by our individual effort or works to enter heaven.


2. People Who Were False Prophets & Teachers
Prior to warning people that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter heaven, Jesus had also just warned His listeners to beware of following false prophets (Matthew 7:15-20).
Later in Matthew 24:24 Jesus also warned that there will be false christs and false prophets who will perform signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

And so in Matthew 7:21-23 we see that among the people whom Jesus rejected there are people who claimed to have performed signs and wonders such as casting out demons, prophesying and claiming to have done other mighty works in Jesus’ name.

Therefore false prophets and false miracle workers will not enter heaven despite their claim to do their works in the Lord’s name.
According to the Bible all types of false teachers will be rejected by God because their teachings and works will contradict the Scriptures and the Gospel.

2 Peter 2:1-3 NLT says the following about the destruction of false teachers: … They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.


3. People Who Are Religious Hypocrites
People who are religious hypocrites will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Why? Because they have deceived themselves and they also deceive others in the process. They do not live according to what they claim to believe.
In Matthew 7:23 Jesus describes these people as “workers of lawlessness”.
Therefore despite their religious activities and religious persona, these people were hypocrites in their heart and most certainly in their behavior.
In Matthew 15:7-8 Jesus says: “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me;”

In Matthew 23:1-36 Jesus also criticized and rebuked the religious leaders for their hypocrisy and for living a double life. He also warned them that hell awaits them because of their hypocrisy.

Furthermore in 2 Timothy 3:5 we are warned of those who have the appearance of godliness but deny its power.

James 1:22 encourages us to be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

In Matthew 7:21 Jesus said not everyone who calls Him Lord will enter heaven “but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven”

Therefore living a life of deceptive and deliberate hypocrisy can lead to the tragic scenario on Judgment Day where people who think they’re going to heaven will tragically discover that they are in fact going to hell.
A “worker of lawlessness” is one who enjoys his sins; feels no remorse for his sins; has no desire to confess or repent but yet still profess to be religious or Christian. In context, Jesus is rejecting people who hypocritically lived a double life without any genuine desire to change or repent or obey the will of the Father.


4. People Who Had No Personal Relationship With Christ but Profess to be Religious
To the religious people who will not be entering heaven, Jesus declares to them “… I never knew you…” (Matthew 7:23).
The word “knew” is [Ginosko] which refers to having a personal and intimate relationship with someone.
Therefore Jesus is saying that not everyone who calls Him “Lord, Lord” actually has a personal or intimate relationship with Him.

It is therefore possible for a person to be religious but not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is possible for a person to perform all kinds of religious activities and programs but have no personal one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ. It is possible for a person to have a religious title but not intimately understand or relate with the true nature and character of Jesus Christ.

A true and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is experienced through genuinely believing and receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour through faith (John 1:12; John 3:16).
It is by seeking a relationship with the Person of Jesus Christ. It’s by understanding that Christianity is a relationship with a Person (Jesus Christ) and not a performance of religious activities.
Therefore the objective of every human being is to know Christ and to be known by Jesus Christ.

In John 17:3 Jesus says the following: “And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”



Matthew 7:21-23 is probably one of the most tragic scenarios in the Bible. It is tragic because it speaks of a people who lived a life of self-deception. They thought they were heaven-bound, but eventually discovered that they were being condemned into hell.

Assurance of salvation is found by understanding that Jesus Christ died for sinners on the cross. He paid a debt for our sins that we could not pay. We are not saved by our own works of righteousness. Instead we are saved by God’s grace or unmerited favour. Salvation is a free gift for which Christ paid on the cross by His blood.

In Luke 18:9-14 Jesus spoke a parable to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness but scorned or mocked everyone else. Jesus spoke of the Pharisee and the tax collector who were praying in the temple. In his prayer the Pharisee boasted in his works and deeds and how he was better than other people (Luke 18:10-12). But the tax collector prayed a humble prayer to God because he realized that he was a sinner who needed God’s love, mercy and grace (Luke 18:13).
At the end of the parable Jesus says that it was the tax collector who was justified or saved – and not the boasting Pharisee (Luke 18:14).

Jesus seeks a personal and intimate relationship. True Christianity is not about being part of a religious program or performing all manner of religious activities. Instead Christianity is more about seeking and knowing the Person of Jesus Christ. It is about conforming to the nature and character of Jesus Christ. Christianity is a personal relationship with one’s Lord and Saviour.
It is about allowing the Person of Jesus Christ to lead and direct our lives in accordance to His will.



Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
This means that we have all broken God’s laws and God’s 10 Commandments like those mentioned in Exodus 20:1-17.
For example, if you’ve told a lie; if you have stolen something; if you have lusted after somebody or if you have coveted. This means you are guilty of breaking at least one or more of God’s 10 Commandments. Breaking God’s commandments makes us sinners. The fact that we are sinners who have broken God’s law or commandments means that we are accountable to God who is the Lawgiver.
Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
So you must acknowledge that you are a sinner who has broken God’s commandments and that you therefore need Jesus in your life.

Luke 13:3 says: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish”
Acts 3:19 says: “Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out”
Repenting means: to change your mind; a sincere turning away, in heart, mind and action;
Therefore God wants you to change your mind about sinful values and of sinful living. God wants you to decide to follow Him and to make Jesus the Lord of your life.

Romans 10:9 says: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”
1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
God is a forgiving God. God will forgive any sin that you have done because Jesus died for ALL your sins and to set you free from the bondage of all types of sin in your life.

John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”
You must believe that ONLY Jesus can save you and restore your relationship with God. You must believe that Jesus is the ONLY way by which you can have everlasting life and escape from eternal separation from God. You must believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and resurrected from the grave.
John 1:12 says: “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name”
By faith you must receive Jesus as your Lord & Savior and therefore; you become a child of God; you become born again; you become a Christian; you restore your broken relationship with God


Why Not Make Your Eternal Decision NOW?

We become born again Christians by GRACE through FAITH or TOTAL TRUST in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior (Galatians 3:26) & (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is a FREE gift received through FAITH in Christ.

PLEASE NOTE: You can choose to pray in your own words. This prayer is a sample prayer and it is only an EXPRESSION of your faith, belief & trust in Jesus. Salvation is by GRACE through FAITH or BELIEVING in Christ Jesus as your Lord & Saviour.

“Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your love. I thank You that You died on the cross for me and resurrected so that I may have eternal life through You.
I confess Lord that I have sinned against You and broken your laws and commandments. Today I ask You to forgive me of all of my sins, past present and future.
Today I repent and I’ve decided to follow You. Thank You for forgiving all my sins.
From this moment, come into my life Lord Jesus & take full control of my life. I want to follow You Jesus and I want to follow Your ways. Save me and from today, make me a new creation in Christ.
I receive You Lord Jesus right now by faith. I trust You as my Lord and Savior – Amen”

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