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.” (Matt. 7:13-14)
How are we to understand these verses? I believe we can summarize these verses in the following statement: Godliness is neither natural to us or inherent within us. On the other hand, ungodliness is quite natural to us. We are far better at sinning and rebelling against God than we are at righteously living for God. Why do I mention this? Because our ignorance of God and His ways is our biggest handicap in our lives.
Some would say sin is our biggest handicap; however, this is not the case. Sin is a rebellious condition that finds its sole remedy in the Lord. Humanity has ZERO ability within itself to remove or purge sin. Only God has the ability to remove our sin from us, and He does so when we repent (turn/return) to Him. Consequently, if we never repent towards God we will never find forgiveness and restoration through God. This is why I argue that our ignorance of God and His work is our greatest handicap—our life is hindered and damned through our lack of knowledge of the Lord. However, many disagree with this concept.
Most people think we are inherently good, but that we possess a few weaknesses that must be overcome. So… we work hard and strive towards a self-determined morality deemed ideal. Jesus, on the other hand, looks at this approach and says “wide and easy” is the way to destruction, but “narrow and hard” is the way to life! How hard? Impossibly hard! In fact, only Jesus was able to perfectly follow the path of righteousness without sinning. That is why Jesus calls Himself the “gate” to life and salvation (John 10:9). It is through Jesus’ righteousness alone that we find life in its fullest (John 10:10). Inversely, it is through our way of life that we find death, destruction, and damnation (Prov. 14:12).
Our greatest challenge is responding to the Lord by drawing near to the Lord. We draw near to the Lord through His word and through prayer. This is why Jesus is identified as the Word (John 1:1) and why He tells us to abide in Him through His word (John 15:5-11). But herein lies the rub… the vast majority of Christians do not abide in the word of God to the point that it shapes their worldview (understanding of life). Sure, they may read the Bible, but they do not allow it to construct the framework for which they live. The Barna Group recently demonstrated this.
In their annual “State of the Bible” research poll, the Barna Group discovered that only 5% of Americans engage the Bible in a manner that is considered Bible-Centered. Meaning, there are approximately 17 million Americans that allow the Bible to influence and shape their choices. Interestingly, 38% of Americans are friendly towards the Bible and read the Bible anywhere from sporadically to frequently; however, these individuals chose not to identify themselves as Biblically Centered. Meaning, they do not fully submit to or agree with the authority and instruction of the Bible! Jesus would identify these individuals as walking on the wide and comfortable path!
Because godliness is not inherent within or natural to us, we must actively seek to know and submit to God and His instruction. Only the Bible is the authoritative, inspired, and powerful word of God—no preacher, friend, spiritual-book, or song can assume the place of God’s word in our life. Sadly, 66% of Americans identify as Christian, but only 5% of Americans actually submit to the word of God!
What does this mean for us? Well… I think we need to ask ourselves a few questions:
Sure, we have a sin problem, but our sin problem is the direct result of our rejection of God’s word and authority (see Genesis ch. 3). Let us not be found ignorant of God’s word and rebellious towards it!
I love you and look forward to worshiping with you this week!