If you are a country girl like me, you are well aware of what a bridle is. It’s an instrument that you harness over a horse’s head. For what purpose? So that you can lead the horse exactly where you want him to take you. Unfortunately, many Christians only develop a bridle love for Christ — we follow Him because we want Him to take us exactly where we want to go — toward power and success on this earth and toward heaven once it’s our time to leave. But He longs for our bridal love instead.
Many people in the Bible thought they had a bridal love for God. They knew Him and believed they were serving Him wholeheartedly. But in Matthew 7:21-23, He says to these folks, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”
In his book A Heart Ablaze, John Bevere gives great insight as to why Jesus would say such a thing:
You may question, “If Jesus said He had never known them, how could they cast out devils and do miracles in His name?” The answer is that these men and women join themselves with Jesus for the benefits of salvation. Though they accept Him in order to be saved, as with the children of Israel, they do not come to know the heart of God; they go only as far as His provision. They seek Him for their own benefit; their service is self-motivated, not love-motivated.
In Jesus’ statement “I never knew you,” the English word knew is the Greek word ginosko. In the New Testament, it is used to describe intercourse between a man and a woman (Matthew 1:25); it represents intimacy. Jesus is actually saying, “I never intimately knew you.” Moses intimately knew God, but Israel knew Him only by the miracles He did in their lives. This is no different.
We read in 1 Corinthians 8:3 (NKJV), “But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.” The word known is the same Greek word ginosko. God intimately knows those who love Him1.
Are you encouraged by this, or worried by the knowledge that you can’t pull any wool over God’s eyes when it comes to whether you love Him or love the things He does for you?
In light of the fact that God knows you so much better than you know it yourself, ask Him to reveal your motives to you. Consider asking Him, “What people, places, or things do I substitute for you, Lord? What are the things I need to forsake in order to embrace you as my soul’s ultimate satisfaction? What activities do I engage in that are really just imposters for your presence? What do I need to forsake in order to be completely yours?”
If you are willing to forsake all others and cleave only unto Him, you’ll come to truly know God. Not just godly people, places, or things, but God as a person.
(1) John Bevere, A Heart Ablaze (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1999), 106-107.