In Matt 7:21-27, our Lord mentioned 2 group of people who are deceived – those who made mere verbal profession (Matt 7:21-23) and those who have mere intellectual knowledge (Matt 7:24-27). John Stott said that mere verbal profession and intellectual knowledge are “a camouflage for disobedience”.
We should note that our Lord was not speaking to anti-God people, or heretics, or atheists but to religious people who were obsessed with religious activity. They were damned because they were self-deluded and on the wrong path.
They are excluded from heaven by self deception. They have no intention to obey God’s commands.
John MacArthur gave these indicators for one to examine himself as well as spot one self-deceived person:
“How can a person know if he is deceiving himself? How can we spot a self-deceived person? Let me give you a list of things to look for. However, just because a person fits the description of one item on the list doesn’t necessarily mean he is deceived. However, the things mentioned here are good indicators to go by.
Is the person seeking feelings, blessings, experiences, healings and miracles? This person is probably more interested in the byproducts of the faith than the faith itself. He seeks what he can get, not what he can glorify God for. He is more interested in pampering himself than in exalting Christ.
Is the person more committed to a denomination, church, or organization than he is to the Word of God? That person’s Christianity may be purely social. He’s the kind who says, “I’ve been a Lutheran all my life”, or “I’m a Presbyterian,” or “I belong to that church.” He’s more committed to the organization than the Word of God.
Is the person involved in theology merely out of academic interest? You’ll find this kind of person in colleges and seminaries. He studies theology, and writes books about it. Theology for him is an intellectual activity. His life is void of the righteousness of Christ.
Does the person seem stuck over one particular point of theology? This is the person who bangs the proverbial drum for his favorite topic. Sometimes the area he emphasizes isn’t that profound. He thinks he is close to God and has great divine insight that no one else has. All of his activity is devoted to seeking attention to feed his ego. Watch out for a person that has a lack of balance in his theology.
Is the person over-indulgent in the name of grace? A person who lacks penitence and a contrite heart is self-deceived.”