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.”
This is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus provided the way for us to be saved from our sin and to have eternal life with God when he gave his earthly life up for us on that cross. He who knew no sin then became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. But righteousness, in God’s sight, has to do with what we do. For it is those who practice righteousness who are righteous in God’s sight (2 Co 5:21; 1 Jn 3:4-10).
When Jesus Christ died on that cross, he put our sins to death with him that we might be crucified with Christ in death to sin and be raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin, but so we would live as slaves to God and to his righteousness (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
Jesus, when he walked this earth, said that if we would come after him, to be his disciples (believers in him), we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For, if we hold on to our old lives (of living in sin and for self), we will lose them for eternity, but if for Jesus’ sake we die with him to sin and to our old lives (lose our lives), then we will live with him for eternity (Lu 9:23-26; cf. Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 2:3-6).
This, that I have described here, is the narrow gate. It is the way that is hard that few find, but it is the only way that leads to life with God. For it requires we deny ourselves, and that we die with Christ to sin, not just once, but daily, and that we walk (in conduct, in practice) in obedience to our Lord’s commands, in surrender of our lives to him to do his will. For, if we don’t, we will not inherit eternal life with God.
For, if we choose the wide gate and the way that is easy, it leads to destruction, and many are those who are entering through this wide gate. For they are refusing to bow the knee to God/Jesus, and they are refusing to submit to his Lordship. They are refusing to walk in obedience to his commands, and they are refusing to forsake their sins, to leave them behind them. They may verbally confess him as Lord and Savior, but they are still walking in the flesh, doing what their sinful hearts desire.
[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:28-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:3-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23]
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.”
Now, it is false teachers, who are false shepherds of the people, who are leading people away from the truth of the gospel to follow after lies. And so they are turning the wide gate, which many enter, that leads to destruction, into the true way to salvation from sin and to eternal life with God. And they are turning the narrow gate and the hard way that leads to life, that few travel, into a lie, and they are calling it “works-based salvation.”
And so the masses are rejecting the truth and they are now embracing the lie, i.e. they are rejecting the narrow gate that leads to life, and they are embracing the wide gate that leads to destruction, because they are believing that the wide gate leads to life and that the narrow gate leads to destruction. For that is how Satan works, and it is how deception works, for they turn darkness for light and light for darkness so people believe the lie.
Now, we are to be people of discernment. We are taught in the Scriptures that we are to test everything, and that we are to test the spirits to see if they are of God. But far too many people are easily believing the lies, because they sound good, and so they are rejecting the truth, because it is hard truth, for it requires we die to sin and live to God. And they are not testing what they hear to see if it is truth. And many are deceived.
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.’”
But here is the bottom line in all of this. It is not those of us who merely confess Jesus as Lord with our mouths and who claim we believe in Jesus’ bodily resurrection who are saved (see Rom 10:9-10). That is easily being misinterpreted and it is being taught out of context. And we can’t build our doctrine of salvation around just a few select verses. We have to examine the whole of what the Scriptures teach about what constitutes true salvation from sin and what results or ends in eternal life with God.
For Jesus said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven. So, who will? The one who is doing the will of the Father who is in heaven. For, Jesus said if anyone keeps (obeys) his word, he will never see death. And he said that if we love him, that we will obey him, and we will keep his commandments (New Covenant), and we will be loved by God the Father, and Jesus will love us, and they will make their home with us. But if we do not obey him, then none of this applies to us.
And then John said that we know that we have come to know God/Jesus if we keep (obey) his commandments. So, if we say, “I know him,” but we do not obey his commandments, then we are liars. We don’t know him. He also said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in conduct, in practice) in darkness (sin, wickedness) that we are liars who don’t live by the truth, so we aren’t truly in fellowship with God. And Paul said if we obey sin, it ends in death, but if we obey the Lord, it ends in life eternal.
[Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:10; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Rom 6:16; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:1-2; Jas 1:21-25; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13]
So, we need to be people of discernment, and we need to test everything that we hear, and we need to test the spirits to see if they are of God. And we test what is being said against the Scriptures (in context). But we need to be students of the Scriptures who are practicing what they teach us we must do so that we will be those who are discerning of the lies and who are knowledgeable regarding what is truth. And then we need to speak the truth, in love, and we need to refute these lies which are leading people astray.
An Original Work / June 24, 2012
Based off John 10:1-18 NIV
My sheep hear me. They know me.
They listen to my voice and obey.
I call them and lead them.
They know my voice, so they follow me.
They will never follow strangers.
They will run away from them.
The voice of a stranger they know not;
They do not follow him.
So, I tell you the truth that
I am the gate, so you enter in.
Whoever does enter
Will find forgiveness and will be saved.
Nonetheless whoever enters
Not by the gate; other way,
He is the thief and a robber.
Listen not, the sheep to him.
Oh, I am the Good Shepherd,
Who laid his own life down for the sheep.
I know them. They know me.
They will live with me eternally.
The thief only comes to steal and
Kill and to destroy the church.
I have come to give you life that
You may have it to the full…
They know my voice, so they follow me.