Matthew 7:13-14 ESV
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
The Narrow Gate
The gate (entrance, doorway) into God’s eternal kingdom, and into his salvation, is narrow – restricted and limited, with set boundaries and conditions for entry. Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and he was resurrected from the dead, victorious over sin, we must leave our lives of sin behind us and follow our Lord in the way he would have us to go.
That way is hard, too, because it demands death to sin and living to righteousness, submission to the Lordship of Christ, and walking in obedience to his commands. It does not demand perfection, but it does demand faithfulness in walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).
But, all this is the working of God’s Spirit in our hearts and lives in moving us away from our lives of sin to follow our Lord in obedience. And, the Lord is the one who empowers and equips us to forsake our lives of sin in order to surrender our wills to his will for our lives. For, Jesus died on that cross to put sin to death in our lives, so that we can walk in his holiness (1 Pet. 2:24; Tit. 2:11-14; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Co. 6:20; Gal. 5:19-21).
The Wide Gate
Nonetheless, it appears that the vast majority of those who are teaching the gospel of our salvation these days are teaching the wide gate instead of the narrow gate. In fact, they are saying that the wide gate is the true gate, and that the narrow gate is works-based salvation, which is the wrong gate.
So, they have widened the gate by removing God’s boundaries and his restrictions, and by reducing The Way to heaven to something easier and much more appealing to human flesh. And, they have altered the gospel so that many may enter into heaven, and not just the small number that this passage speaks of. For, all they have to do is make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but that profession does not have to change their lifestyles.
But, it is the narrow way that leads to eternal life with God, and it is the wide (broad) way (entry) which leads to destruction (Gal. 6:7-8). The narrow way dies daily to sin and self and it lives for Jesus and his righteousness, all in his power and strength. But, the broad way follows after the flesh, and what the flesh desires, and it thinks it is entitled to heaven based off some surface level profession of faith. And, that is wrong.
Matthew 7:15-20 ESV
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
So, we need to beware of those who teach what is false, who outwardly profess faith in Jesus Christ while inwardly they are out to destroy us and our salvation. They masquerade themselves as servants of righteousness but what they promote is wickedness and immorality. For, they do not teach holiness, godliness and submission to Christ. But, they teach that God requires no obedience, no submission, and no turning away from our sinful lifestyles in order to follow in the way of righteousness.
Therefore, the grace which they teach is no grace at all, because it does not deliver anyone from slavery to sin, but it leaves its followers still in the throes of sin’s deceitfulness, still wandering in their sin, and still trapped in bondage to Satan and to sin. For, the “belief” that they teach is human faith, not the God-given faith required for our salvation. For, if it was God-given faith, then it would submit to Christ and follow him in obedience to his will.
So, if you are being told that you can say some words after someone else and then be congratulated that you are now part of God’s family and now heaven is guaranteed you, no matter how you live from this point forward, don’t listen to those lies, for they are of Satan. Jesus died that you might die to sin and live to righteousness. For, if we walk according to the Spirit, we will have eternal life with God, but if we walk (in lifestyle, in practice) according to our sinful desires, then we will die in our sins (Rom. 8:1-17).
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
Many people are following this broad road and wide gate as the true way to heaven, but one day God is going to say, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
And, this is because they believed a lie instead of the truth, and they thought that a mere profession of faith in Christ would gain them heaven as their eternal destiny. And, that is because they took a human’s word for it, and they did not search the scriptures in order to learn the truth.
For, it is only those who are doing the will of God who will enter into heaven. It is only those who are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and who are walking by the Spirit, who have eternal life with God. It is only those who sow to please the Spirit who from the Spirit will reap eternal life. For, if we make sin our practice, and we walk in addiction to sin, and we don’t submit to and practice Christ’s righteousness, then we are going to die in our sin (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8).
Matthew 7:24-27 ESV
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
If we could be perfect, Jesus would not have had to die on a cross for our sins. So, this is not about us being absolutely perfect. Also, there is not one thing any of us can do in our own flesh to be acceptable to God or to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We are not saved from our sins by works done in the flesh. We are only saved by the blood of Jesus shed on a cross for our sins and by our faith in him and in what he did for us.
But, that faith in him which is required for our salvation is surrender to him as Lord of our lives, and it is humbling ourselves in repentance, and it is turning away from our sinful lifestyles to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his ways.
So, we are not saved by works we do in ourselves, but our salvation is not free from good works done in the Spirit. For, we are Christ’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk (in lifestyle, in practice) in them (Eph. 2:10).
Also, scripture is real clear on what is required for our salvation, but it is not us doing it in our flesh to earn our salvation, but it is us, in the power of God’s Spirit, surrendering to Jesus as Lord by turning away from our lifestyles of sin to follow Jesus wherever he leads us and to do all that he has commanded us to do in his power, wisdom and strength at work within us.
So, if we are wise, we will follow our Lord in surrender to his will and in obedience to his ways, and our lives will be built on the Rock, Jesus Christ, and not on our flesh. And, then our faith will endure the test of time. But, if we are foolish, and we go through that wide gate, because it is easier, or because it means we can still hold on to our sins, then our faith will not endure the test of time, but it will come crashing down, and we will die in our sins and not have eternal life with God. So, be wise. Don’t be foolish!
Lyrics by Philip P. Bliss, 1876
Music by James McGranahan, 1877
I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His wondrous love to me;
On the cruel cross He suffered,
From the curse to set me free.
I will tell the wondrous story,
How my lost estate to save,
In His boundless love and mercy,
He the ransom freely gave.
I will praise my dear Redeemer,
His triumphant pow’r I’ll tell,
How the victory He giveth
Over sin, and death, and hell.
I will sing of my Redeemer,
And His heav’nly love to me;
He from death to life hath brought me,
Son of God with Him to be.
Sing, oh, sing of my Redeemer,
With His blood He purchased me;
On the cross He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.
*Copyright status is public domain
Sunday, June 9, 2019