Immediately after His stern warning about false prophets (Matthew 7:15-20), Jesus identifies the fatal flaw of false teachers and their converts. Of them, He declares, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Twice in these three sentences Jesus identifies the characteristic common to all false teachers and their converts: a failure to teach and practice obedience to God’s will.
Lip service is no substitute for obedience (v. 21). Doing ostentatious things for God is no substitute for obedience (v. 22). Anyone who fails to do God’s will is a doer of lawlessness (v. 23). He is building on sand and will face complete spiritual ruin (vv. 26-27).
Samuel’s words to the disobedient King Saul three thousand years ago are still true: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).
Disobedience is deadly, disastrous, and damnable.