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The Narrow Way

May 12, 2019 Preacher: Lyndon Shook Series: Standalone

Scripture: Matthew 7:13–14

13 “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. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13–14)

I love it and it is helpful when Jesus gives us illustrations to Him message. I gives us picture so we can better understand what He is teaching us. Simple illustrations for our benefit. In the sermon on the mount he has given many weighty and important truths about what it is like to be a follower of God. He touches on so many topics all meant to lead us to truth. But here at the end He gives us these pictures as He drives home the point that there are but two categories of people in the world.

These three illustrations contrast those who select the narrow rather than the wide gate and road (vv. 13–14), those who bear good rather than bad fruit (vv. 15–23), and those who build their homes on solid rock rather than shifting sand (vv. 24–27). In each case the first category refers to those who hear, obey, and are saved; the second, to those who only hear and so are destroyed. In each case eternal life and judgment are at stake.

Let me repeat that last statement?
In each case eternal life and judgment are at stake.

What Jesus tells us here is that the entrance into the Kingdom of God is restrictive. He says “Enter by the narrow gate.” The gate is metaphorical. The entrance into the Kingdom of God as a disciple of Jesus Christ restrictive and is narrow. The word narrow is important. Because the gate is narrow, few people can enter through it. The grammar of the words narrow gate indicates too, that it is one of a kind. There is one gate and that gate is narrow. For those in Jesus' day when they hear this they would most likely picture a er small door-like passage in a city wall whose location was only known by those who are citizens of the city. This small door would be the only way into the city at night or during times of danger when the larger gates would be closed and barred.

So we begin to see the picture Jesus is creating here. In verse 14 Jesus talks of the gate, the narrow gate as the one that leads to life. This is in contrast to the wide gate that leads to destruction. A wide gate, obviously would permit many people to enter in mass and so it indicates the popularity of its way and this we read leads to destruction, not to eternal life. So, those who reject the strict demands of the gospel will have plenty of company on their way to destruction, to forever remain outside of the kingdom of God. Jesus said that those who enter by the wide gate are many.

The road that leads to destruction is broad and the road that leads to life is tight and constrictive. The way of the narrow gate is hard. The narrow gate represents a passing through at one time, like a decision made as a one time decision of faith, the way or the road is what is traveled on after passing through the gate and it is again, described as hard.

What is the reality of all of this for you and for me? How is this different than how many have learned about salvation? This is what I want us to consider.

Somehow many have gotten the idea that Christianity is the broad way. Most people, a huge percentage of Americans say they are Christians. No matter what people’s lifestyles are like, no matter how they live, how they talk, what they believe most say they are Christians. That is changing some but it is still true for now. There is an assumption by many that since they are born in America or born in a home where the family goes to church or pray at meal times that they are Christians. Or even more frightening, many put more stock in a one-time prayer than on how they have lived live ever since.

It does not matter what you prayed one-time, if your heart is not changed. It does not matter what family you were born into if God has not changed your life. It does not matter if you go to church if you have not been born again in your spirit. You are not a Christian if you do not love Jesus and desire, long to follow Him. You can say all you want but don’t believe a lie about what true salvation is and don’t think you have it if you're not interested in really following Jesus by obedience.

If you are comfortable in this world and the values of this world, you are good with all that is defined as evil in the Bible then you really need to question if you are in Christ. Jesus says the way is hard. It is hard because the Christian life runs counter to the values of this world. It is uncomfortable, it is hard, it is awkward, you can’t be a cool person in this world and mix well if you are a true follower of Jesus. Expect it to be hard, you are not like everyone else if you belong to Jesus.

Christianity affects everything. It has too because it becomes one's identity it defines everything about a person. Is this true for you, does your Christianity, your faith affect all of what you do? Truly belonging to Jesus changes the way you date, it changes the way you approach school and work. Belonging to Jesus changes the way you relate to your spouse, your parents, your children. Belonging to Jesus changes the way you do business, run a business, work for a business. It changes they way you vote, what kind of entertainment you indulge in how you spend your money. You are a new person with new values, new loves, new desires. You stand in contrast to the world to many of your friends if you belong to Jesus. You don’t talk to others like you used to, you don’t use others you love others. You put on compassion and kindness if you belong to Jesus. All of this is described as hard, it is hard, because it is different than the world it is swimming upstream, against the tide, it is a narrow difficult way. Being a christian even means looking at life and death differently.

Tammy and I have been reading the Psalms lately and right now we are in Psalm 119, a very long and somewhat repetitive message is what we find in Psalm 119. But it is astounding, the Psalm is. It tells of one who dearly loves the laws of God. The laws in the Psalm are spoken of as rules, commands, as God’s ways, precepts, statutes, testimonies. It is just odd to read it and to see one who so dearly loves God’s rules.

For most, rules are something to put up with to tolerate and when convenient to follow. But not really to love.

Here are samples of this from Psalm 119:

35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. (Psalms 119:35)

40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life! (Psalms 119:40)

47 for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love. 48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes. (Psalms 119:47–48)

54 Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning. 55 remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law. 56 This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts. (Psalms 119:54–56)

62 At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules. (Psalms 119:62)

This is not normal, it is not in us to love God’s laws, His rules, His commands. Those who do have been changed by Him to love His rules. And to love His rules is to live in great contrast to this world that hates His rules. The world, those without Christ despise God’s laws all of His ways.

But what about you? Forget about the world, what about you? Do you want to follow God and His ways or do you find it too hard and not very attractive? Are you going after Him or are you trying to justify your own way? Are you satisfied in Christ alone or are you chasing after every pleasure every promise of peace, happiness and comfort that the world offers?

Are you on the broad way or the narrow way? Are you indistinguishable from most around you or do you delight in being a different kind of person because Christ rules in your heart?

Are not sure? Everyone around you knows. How do people view your life..are you different or are you not?

Do you love the word, love Christ are you consumed with Him or not?

I want you to see that this passage is not odd as compared with the rest of the Bible. God’s word is full of examples of what the road is like that we are to be on.

In Matthew 21:32

32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness (Matthew 21:32)

They way is spoken of as one of righteousness.

16 And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances (Matthew 22:16)

Here the “way” is the way of God.

And in the OT, we see how the godly walk:

22 in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.” (Judges 2:22)

16 Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ (Jeremiah 6:16)

In each of these OT examples we see confirmation that what is referred to as the “road” or the “way” is a way of saying one's moral or ethical lifestyle or more specifically how one lives in relation to God’s Word.

Listen to this from Proverbs 1:10-16, listen carefully and hear what the Lord is saying regarding how one lives life:

10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. 11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; 12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; 13 we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; 14 throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”— 15 my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths 16 for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. (Proverbs 1:10–16)

Sinners entice others to join them as they take part in ungodly things. Right, we’ve all experienced this. Come join us in how we party, in how we treat others how we cheat others, in how we run other people down and make fun of them. Join with us in this particular kind of entertainment that is ungodly. Haven’t we all had friends who tempt us to live outside of God’s revealed will? Why not, it won’t hurt anything, God will forgive you, no harm done. That is what happens. In this Proverb it is, “come with us” “ Throw in your lot with us", they say. But God urges, “Don’t go down that road with them, don’t set foot on their path." Like the wide road in the sermon on the Mount, this road leads to destruction. Proverbs 1:17-109 concludes with this:

17 For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird, 18 but these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives. 19 Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain; it takes away the life of its possessors. (Proverbs 1:17–19)

This is the irony. They are setting a dangerous trap for themselves. Proverbs 4 calls this the path of the wicked and the way of the evil ones. And Jesus says it is the wide road that leads to destruction.

Many think they can stay on the wide road and avoid destruction. They and maybe you reason, well I won’t stay on this path forever, one day I’ll hop off of it and take the narrow way that leads to life. I’ll just enjoy the things and pleasures of this world for a time and then I’ll end up on the safe path that leads to life. That is foolish thinking. It is foolish to think this. No one knows when his or her life will be taken from them. And why would any of us presume that we can hop off the wide road at some point in time. If you love it now then won’t you love it still tomorrow? If you find your pleasure in the world today why will that change tomorrow. If you despise God’s ways today won't you tomorrow as well?

Today must be the day of salvation. Don’t think and fool yourself that you can do it tomorrow. Trust God in Christ today and repent of your sins and throw yourself and your desires on Him. He is gracious to save, He says of all that come to Him he will reject none. Don’t be fooled, don’t delay. There are two paths, only two..which one are you on?

The way of life is the way of Christ. We are not saved by doing good works but saved by grace through faith. God changes the heart and gives desires to follow Him. God works and a new desire to walk in the way of righteousness is a fruit of salvation. It is a proof of salvation. God renews the heart and then enables us to live for Him according to His Word. If you have not the desire to really and honestly follow Jesus in your day to day walk then the solution is not to try harder, the solution is to cry out to God for His grace and for His Spirit to change you. This is being born again. All have sinned Yes. And this is why we need Jesus. Call upon HIm, give yourself to Him, repent and believe in His work for you and His sacrifice for you.

13 “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. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13–14)

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