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
If something is narrow it is restricted. It has limits, borders, and boundaries. It has conditions and stipulations. It is not wide open to everyone regardless of any rules or limits or constraints. And this is an accurate picture of the true gospel of our salvation, the way that is narrow (conditional, with boundaries). And it is not easy as some people like to portray it. It is a hard road to follow, but it is the only way to salvation from sin and to eternal life.
For Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For, if we choose to hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for the sake of Jesus we surrender our lives to Christ, and we forsake our lives of sin, and we follow Jesus in obedience, then we have eternal life in heaven with God (see Luke 9:23-26).
And the apostle Paul taught the same thing as Jesus did. He taught that we must die with Christ 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. For, he said that our old self was crucified with Christ in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin but to God and to his righteousness (Romans 6&8; Ephesians 4:17-24).
Therefore, he said that we are to no longer let sin reign in our mortal bodies to where we obey its passions, for sin is to no longer have dominion over us. For we are all slaves of the one we obey, and if it be sin, it will end in death, but if it be obedience, it will lead to righteousness and to sanctification, and its end is eternal life with God. For the wages (payment) for living in sin is death, but the gift of God (deliverance from slavery to sin) is life eternal.
If sin is what we practice because our minds are set on the flesh and not on God, it means death for us, not life eternal. For if our minds are set on the flesh, they are hostile to God. They do not submit to God’s law. They can’t. So, if we are still walking according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit, then we cannot please God, and we will die in our sins. But if by the Spirit we are putting sin to death, then we will have eternal life with God.
And then John taught the same thing. He said that if we say (claim) to have fellowship with God/Christ Jesus while we continue to walk (in conduct, in practice) in darkness (sin, wickedness, evil) that we lie and we do not practice the truth. And then he said the way in which we know that we know the Lord is if we keep (obey) his commandments (New Covenant), for if we claim to know God but we do not obey him, again we are liars (1 Jn 1-3).
And then he went on to teach us that no one who abides in Christ makes a practice (habit) of sinning against the Lord, for if sin is what we practice, and if righteousness and obedience to our Lord are not what we practice, then we don’t know God, we are not God’s children, we are not born of God, but we are of the devil. For it is those who make righteousness their practice who are righteous in the sight of God, not those who just give lip service.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:26-27; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-10; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
The Wide Gate
We have many false teachers within the gatherings of what is called “church” here in America, and I am certain elsewhere throughout the world, who are teaching the wide gate as though it is the true path to heaven, while they are teaching against the narrow gate, claiming that it is the lie, and that it is teaching works salvation which is to be rejected. So, they are turning truth into lies and lies into truth and are deceiving many people.
The gospel that most of them appear to be teaching is a false gospel which tickles itching ears with feel good messages intended to appease human flesh rather than putting flesh to death. So they largely make no requirements at all for surrender of our lives to Christ, for dying with Christ to sin, and for living to God and to his righteousness in obedience to our Lord’s commands (New Covenant).
Their idea of salvation from sin is merely Christ forgiving our sins so that when we die we can go to heaven. But that is only part of the story, and that is not guaranteed unless we follow the stipulations the Lord Jesus has put in place for our salvation from sin and for eternal life with him. For we must die with Christ to sin daily and we must follow him in obedience as a matter of life practice if we want to be saved and go to heaven.
But this is not about sinless perfection. What this all comes down to is what we practice. What do we live by consistently? Are we followers of Christ whose lives are surrendered to him to do his will, and who are not living in sin but who are walking in obedience to the Lord, in practice? Or is sin what we practice? Do we habitually and deliberately choose sin over God and then cover it up with lies and perhaps fake repentance, but not in truth?
The wide gate tells people that they can continue living in sin, making sin their practice, but that since they “prayed the prayer” or they made some verbal confession of Christ as Savior that heaven is now guaranteed them when they die regardless of how they live on this earth. The wide gate gives them permission to keep on sinning for it teaches them that God has forgiven all their sins and so they will never be judged for their sins.
But the Scriptures teach that we are all going to have to give an account to God for what we did in these bodies. We are all going to reap what we have sown in this life. So, if we sow (in practice) to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But if by the Spirit we sow to please the Spirit, then from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. For if we walk in sin, we will not inherit eternal life with God no matter what our lips profess.
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.’”
So, please take this to heart. You cannot make a one-time decision in your life to “receive Christ” that assures you heaven as your eternal destiny regardless of how you live your life on this earth. That teaching that says you can is of the devil, not of God. The narrow road has restrictions, and we need to know what those are (see verses noted above), and then we need to submit to them and to Christ as Lord and do what our Lord says to do.
By Henry Barraclough, 1915
My Lord has garments so wondrous fine,
And myrrh their texture fills;
Its fragrance reached to this heart of mine
With joy my being thrills.
His life had also its sorrows sore,
For aloes had a part;
And when I think of the cross He bore,
My eyes with teardrops start.
His garments, too, were in cassia dipped,
With healing in a touch;
In paths of sin had my feet e’er slipped—
He’s saved me from its clutch.
In garments glorious He will come,
To open wide the door;
And I shall enter my heav’nly home,
To dwell forevermore.
Out of the ivory palaces,
Into a world of woe,
Only His great eternal love
Made my Savior go.
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