44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? (John 5:44)
The “belief” Jesus referred to must certainly have been deeper than a surface-level belief, since satan and the demons also have belief at some level……
19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
The demons believe that God, Jesus, and the Spirit exist (God is One), and are well aware of His power and their ultimate judgement at His hands (the reason for their shuddering). But, in their rebellion against God they rejected His right to rule over them.
That is why real, genuine, sincere saving “belief” goes beyond a mental acknowledgement of God and Jesus, all the way to a true inward and outward acknowledgement of His personal Lordship.
One illustrative image would be that of a medieval duke kissing the ring of the king to acknowledge his kingship, or a mob under-boss kissing the ring of the organization head to publicly pay homage. This public acknowledgement is spoken of several times…
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
1 John 4:15
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
1 Corinthians 12:3
3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
1 John 4:2-3
2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.
In addition, the Bible also says that this acknowledgement of Christ’s Lordship should come with corresponding action that provide a kind of corroborating evidence to the commitment made.
8 Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance;
26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
You can just imagine prideful, unrepentant narcissists arguing with Jesus on “that day” (Judgment Day), and trying to convince Him that they deserve to enter Heaven. (This is reminiscent of the Pharisee and the Publican.) On the surface, these people fulfilled the two requirements for entering heaven discussed above – acknowledging Jesus as Lord (“Lord, Lord……”), and the corroborating evidence of “works” (“did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles….”).
There are two parts to answering this. This first is to consider the timing of when people are calling Jesus “Lord”. Prior to Jesus’ return to judge the world, only sincere Christians will call Jesus Lord, as discussed at the start of this blog entry. But Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7 refers to a time when everyone will call Jesus “Lord”, after everyone has already fulfilled what is described in Philippians at the future return of Jesus to the earth.
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, everyone (including unrepentant narcissists who are not Christians, and who will not enter Heaven) will ultimately acknowledge Jesus’ Lordship, but only after it is too late. So, people who have the chance to now confess Jesus as Lord but refuse to, will be forced to do so later. But it will too late with respect to their eternal state ….. and Jesus will say to them “I never knew you”. However, the prideful, unrepentant narcissist will still try to (unsuccessfully) talk his way around it.
The second part of this answer is to consider the fact that the good works they were claiming as their justification to “get into” heaven may not have been “good” at all. Even if the works were actually done, they would have been done out of pride, and not love, and therefore would be of no profit
1 Corinthians 13:2-3
2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
- Even Satan as the biggest N of all knows that God is One (the Trinity, including that Jesus is the Son of God, the firstborn of creation, the Creator of all things)
- But, he is not willing to admit it = acknowledge Jesus’ Lordship
- Therefore, N’s can “believe” in God. But the acid test of whether they are C’s are not is whether they are willing to verbally acknowledge Jesus as Lord = Lord of their lives.
- And the proof of that acknowledgement is if there are some kind of works that confirm the sincere, genuine faith comes from profession.
For a helpful tool, please see “How To Know God Personally”
- Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here