I’ve been thinking about several things lately and this post is basically going to be a catch all. Over the last several weeks part of the Sermon on the Mount has been on my mind. It has been the investigative light I have been using on my past and present to examine how I am approaching my relationship with God.
Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Those are two verses most of us know, we typically relate them to salvation, but the implication is on our walk after we enter the gate as well. Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way. Narrow defined by Vine’s Expository Dictionary sheds more light on the path before us. “Used figuratively in Matt. 7:13, 14, of the gate which provides entrance to eternal life, “narrow” because it runs counter to natural inclinations, and “the way” is similarly characterized; so in Luke 13:24 (where the more intensive word strive is used). Hemmed in, like a mountain gorge; the way is rendered narrow by the divine conditions, which make it impossible for for any to enter who think the entrance depends upon self-merit, or who still incline toward sin, or desire to continue in evil.”
Did you catch that last part? Who still incline toward sin, or desire to continue in evil. I am going to say some hard things in this post, but they are necessary things. We need to hear truth. We need to hear the call of holiness from the Scriptures. We need to heed the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV “Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” Any type of holiness and obedience is commonly called religion in our day. We are constantly told Christianity is a relationship not a religion. That sounds cute but it is not true, because those people define religion as caring more about holding to rules than loving God, that is a false dichotomy. Jesus said if you love Me, you will obey Me. Peter repeated the words of the Old Testament and said, be ye holy, for I am holy.
Come out from among them and be separate is very clear. Some like to point to Paul quoting philosophers as proof we can use the things of the world. No, Paul was showing that even the philosophers acknowledged God on some level. He was not proving Scripture by philosophy, the rest of his letters absolutely prove his singular devotion to Jesus.
As I was looking at my memories today, several years ago I posted something “the Holy Spirit spoke to me” through a secular song. As I read the post it made me sick. All my life I have been told I was religious. Well hey, I love Jesus, I’ll just start hearing the Holy Spirit through music that does not have lyrics that glorify God. The Word of God is how we hear the voice of God. The Word of God is sufficient for wisdom and direction. Oh but I need a word from God; Lord send someone to prophesy over me, play a song on the radio so that I know you are there. Give me a sign so that I know You heard me. What in the world!? That is crazy, but it’s what we’ve bought into. We’ve got to attract the world, no, Jesus said if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me. We even have so called Christian worship songs that are anti-biblical. Brace yourself, Reckless Love from Bethel Music is not biblical. There is nothing reckless about God or His love, I don’t care how many goosebumps the song gives us, it is dishonorable to a holy God. The Church today has lost the fear of the Lord and the awe of God’s holiness. We have forgotten that the way is narrow. Some may think, that just means the way of salvation is only in Jesus and that’s how it’s narrow. If we keep reading, we find that is not the case.
Matthew 7:15-23 NKJV “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
False prophets and false professions. This isn’t just about being saved, it’s about how we walk with God. Make a study of 1 John, 1 and 2 Peter, and read the Sermon on the Mount. You will find that according to biblical standards we have become to lax in our definition of what it means to follow Jesus. When you think about Paul’s words of come out from among them and be separate, does the church seem separate to you? If we were, would our churches look the same as a concert, would we be defending leaders who continually have “moral failures”? It’s not a moral failure, it’s adultery, drunkeness, and theft. We have to start calling sin, sin and restoring men to God and not their man centered glory.
We are called out, we are called to be different, we are told to sanctify ourselves. I’ve been thinking, maybe we’ve been entertaining instead of exhorting to holiness. I’ve been thinking maybe our pastors have been performing instead of preaching. I’ve been thinking maybe we’ve been sinning because we don’t believe the way is narrow. Maybe we have believed the lie of Just believe in Jesus. No, Jesus must be your Lord, you must grow in holiness and sanctification. That is the fruit of the believer. If you don’t have that fruit, Jesus said you are a dead branch that will be cut off and thrown into the fire. I’ve been thinking; we need to examine our lives, our worship, and the preaching we’re hearing. We must take the holiness of God seriously. None of us want to hear those dreaded words, depart from Me. We won’t be able to list off all the things we did, they mean nothing if we practice lawlessness. They mean nothing if we bend the Scripture to the culture. They mean nothing if the sanctuary is more welcoming to the world than to God and they mean nothing if we live with secret sins and think God’s grace will cover them. Examine your heart and your life. Repent of secret sin, repent of taking church flippantly. Repent of singing any song with the label Christian and not examining the lyrics in light of Scripture. Present your body holy to God and a living sacrifice that pleases Him. Walk on the narrow path, reject the broad road and you will be received.