The word “Lord” means “master”…one who has the right to command. The entire Godhead has the right to command but has given all authority into the hands of Jesus. Thus we read “all authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). “God hath made him both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). God set Jesus at his right hand and “put all things in subjection under his feet” (Eph. 1:22). Men may recognize Jesus has the right of rule and acknowledge Him to be Lord, and yet not really recognize him as Lord; for it is one thing to say Jesus is Lord, but quite another to practice that confession!
Peter commands, “Sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord” (1 Pet. 3:15). This means that I recognize that Christ has the right to command me and expect I should obey him. But, sanctifying Jesus as Lord requires not only saying, but doing as well. Jesus asked, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46).
One initially becomes a servant of Jesus when he is born into the kingdom and becomes the seed of Abraham. This is not a process man formulates himself, but a process given and revealed by the Master. One must be born of water and spirit to enter into the kingdom (Jn. 3:5). To be born of the water means one is baptized (Gal. 3:27). Just as faith is commanded, so baptism is as well (Jn. 8:24; Heb. 11:6; Acts 16:30f, Acts 2:38; 22:16). Those who refuse to be baptized (or deny its purpose) reject the Lordship of Jesus.
To recognize Jesus as Lord means that the world with all its lusts is put away and one is transformed into a new creature (Rom. 12:1f). When one is baptized into Christ, he becomes a new creature, but he must demonstrate he is a new creature by the newness of life (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 6:3-4). The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:911). One may call Jesus Lord, but if he continues in fornication, adultery, lasciviousness, uncleanness, hatred, malice, jealousies, drunkenness, parties or divisions, Jesus is not his Lord. Such a one is self-deceived. He knows what is right, yet does not practice what is right.
To recognize Jesus as Lord means we give Him the worship that is due Him. This means we are present when worship is offered to Him. Those who forsake the assembly of the disciples, do not recognize Jesus as Lord. To recognize Jesus as Lord means also that when we assemble to worship Him, we worship Him. We rid our hearts of distractions which
prevent us from praising His name as His name should be praised.
Those who think Jesus is their Lord but who ignore His commands are deceiving themselves (Jas. 1:22). Those who only call Jesus Lord but do not in fact demonstrate such, will not enter heaven (Matt. 7:21).
We are assured that “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). We are warned that someday every “tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:11). Still, if we wait until that “someday” to confess He is Lord, it will be too late to be saved. Now is the time to “sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord.” Have we done this? Both we and God know the answer to this question.