Lucia's Blog: LIFE OR DEATH? IT IS YOUR CHOICE!
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, April 17, 2020

LIFE OR DEATH? IT IS YOUR CHOICE!

"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 



Jesus, in His marvelous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), wants His listeners to choose which path to walk in.  As Jesus ends His sermon, He uses many illustrations to help us choose the right path.  Two choices,  two pathways lie before us.  We must choose wisely. Let us look at the first illustration that Jesus presents.


I.  THE NARROW GATE:  (Matthew 7:13-14)
"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."


In Matthew 7:13-14,  Jesus appeals to His listeners throughout this sermon that we choose to become citizens of the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus describes the characteristics of His kingdom.  His first illustration is plain and simple but shocking.  There is a wide gate that many enter, but it leads to destruction and death.  Notice the contrasting pathways that are before us:  one is narrow, and the other is wide. One leads to life, and the other leads to destruction and death. Likewise, He contrasts two groups of people:  the many and the few. Although entering the narrow gate is hard, and few will find it, it is the only path that will lead us to eternal life.  To enter the narrow gate is a matter of life and death.  Jesus was stressing a decision, for there is only one right way that few find,  but there are many false ways that lead to destruction.  So we must understand the narrowness of this gate to life, for Jesus in His sermon stressed the character of those who are genuine citizens in His kingdom.

The narrow gate demands that we deny self, be poor in spirit, mourn over sins, love our enemies, not be angry with our brother, not lust in the heart, turn the other cheek, lay up treasures in heaven, not be anxious about this life, and treat others the way we would have them to treat us:  the golden rule.  The narrow gate that leads to life demands constant effort, striving to enter.  Jesus said about this narrow gate.
"The way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matthew 7:14).  

Jesus, our Lord, declares that the path to righteousness and eternal life is narrow and difficult. Indeed, this path is not easy, and few find it and remain on it until the end! On the other hand, Jesus describes the other path that leads to eternal destruction, which is the path of slavery to sin. The path that leads to destruction is simple and offers many tempting and pleasant things. There is nothing easy about the narrow gate!

The Way of Christ is narrow, hard, and impossible unless we die with Christ. The narrow way leads us to righteousness and holiness. Sadly, many choose the easiest and most popular pathway: the one that is not demanding, does not offend, accepts every form of sin, does not teach the Truth. Truth is narrow and objective. Truth must be our only guide and not man-made religions, traditions, and philosophies.  Following the crowd with their false doctrines will not lead us to eternal life.

God has always demanded that His people make the wise choice to follow Him to receive eternal lifeMoses declared to God's people that they had to choose life or death, the blessing, or the curse (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).  Joshua also commanded God's people to choose whom they would serve (Joshua 24:13-15). Elijah, on Mount Carmel, commanded the people to stop waffling between two choices (1 Kings 18:21).  Jeremiah declared,
“Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death'” (Jeremiah 21:8). 

Jesus is commanding us to choose two pathways set before us:  life or death.  One pathway is easy, and many find it, but it leads to destruction and death. The other pathway is hard, and few find it, but it leads to eternal life.

Can you see what Jesus is saying in Matthew 7:13-14?  We must understand what Jesus is saying about the narrow gate being hard to enter, and that few find it. The easy path, the wide gate is easy but leads to our spiritual destruction.  The wide gate leads to anger, lust, judging, not loving others, not forgiving others, and not trusting God.  But the narrow gate leads to the fruits of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23:  love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  The narrow gate leads us to the kingdom of heaven.  Sadly, many don't even try to enter the narrow gate because they are workers of lawlessness.  They want to live as they please without God in the picture and His kingdom of righteousness.  They are happy worshiping, however way they want.  They accept anything but God's Truth.

Indeed, the way to life is not easy, and few find it.  Let that sink deeply into our hearts!  Jesus said that few find the way to life.  God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). They are not intuitive or emotional.  God's ways don't follow our hearts or desires.  Those who follow God's ways listen to Jesus' teachings and do them.  The poor in spirit, the pure in heart, the meek and humble, and the ones who hunger and thirst after righteousness are those who are blessed in God’s kingdom of righteousness.   We can see why the crowds were astonished by Jesus' sermon and His teachings.
"And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes" (Matthew 7:28-29). 

What challenging words!

Those who choose the narrow gate build their house on the rock, hear the words of Jesus and do them.  So we must choose the narrow path to life and enter that narrow gate. We must choose to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Jesus says it is foolish to build our life on anything other than His will and authority.  It is foolish to hear His words and not do what He commands that we do!  It matters to Jesus how we live our lives,  how we worship, and how we obey what He teaches. It must matter to us what our Teacher says!  Since our souls are at stake, we must be wise and build our house on the rock!  

So why not walk the narrow way, the path of righteousness rather than the path of sin that leads to the destruction of your soul?
 Which path are you walking in? Remember that God's narrow path offers freedom, peace, the restoration of your soul, and eternal life. The choice is ours to make!


CONCLUSION:

Which path are we walking in?  God's path or the broad path of the world?  Maybe, we are not aware of which path we are walking. Perhaps, we don't know a better way, a much better path.  The choice is ours to make!

Sadly, many seasoned Christians don't realize the path they are walking in.  Many are not even aware that they are walking the path of this world, the wrong path, the path of sin!  The path of this world, the wide gate that leads to destruction, offers many tempting and pleasant things.  But it leads to the destruction of our souls.  It does not lead to wholeness in Christ.  It makes us slaves to sin (our culture, our desires, material riches, and many things such as these that make us stumble).  The wide gate claims us by our fleshly desires.  This is sad!  Should we live for ourselves and not for Christ?

So why not walk the path of God?  Why refuse to walk the path of righteousness and become slaves to sin?  God's path offers freedom, peace, and the restoration of our souls.  But, walking, God's path must be a daily commitment.   God's path, the narrow gate, demands effort, courage, determination, and commitment or devotion.  God's path compels us to pray daily to Him to help us walk His path and keep us on His path without straying.  We need His Grace to help us walk His path and each step we take.  Thus we must be alert, knowing that our enemy Satan wants to lead us astray and distract us at any cost from God's path of righteousness that enters the narrow gate.  Satan wants us to walk the path of sin, the wide gate, which is the most popular and familiar path traveled.  Don't you think that it is about time that we were wise with God's help and start waking the right path?  
"He restores my soul; He guides me in the path of righteousness for His name's sake"  (Psalm 23:3).

Oh, how I love this verse!   Please note,  
"He restores my soul, He guides me in the paths of righteousness."  

It doesn't say "maybe" He will guide me.  Our God is not capricious!  It says clearly, "He guides me."  He will guide me if I choose to abide in His Truth, being faithful and determined to do His will.  We can rest assured He will not let us down!

It is very difficult to start or restart walking the right path, the path of eternal life when we have been used to walking the wrong path, the unrighteous one.  It is hard to make life changes when they have been corrupted or sinful.  But, there is so much blessing when we walk the path of God, the path of righteousness! When we walk God's path of righteousness, we start acting differently.  We look different from the world. We start shining our light before others, and they notice it!  I promise they will notice it!  We must choose to look different from the world.  Their path doesn't lead to eternal life.  God's path does!

Maybe, the key to our problem is to start slowing down.  Spend more time with our God in studying Scripture, in prayer, more time with our families, and those whom we say we love.  Maybe, we need to be more motivated by spiritual, heavenly things than earthly things.  Maybe, we need to start using our time more wisely and redeem it for God's sake.  Maybe, we need to start thinking differently about the way we entertain ourselves.  A little less TV, internet, social media, hobbies, games, sports, etc.  In other words, we need to start dying to ourselves and live for Christ.  He gives life to us abundantly to bear good fruit for His glory.  It is about time we go back to the ancient pathways of God!

God has never promised that His path will be a bed of roses, an easy one, but neither is the path of this world! Let's not forget, there is a big difference between the path of this world and the path of God.  
"Thou wilt make known to me the path of life, in Thy presence is fullness of joy; in Thy right hand there are pleasures forever"  (Psalm 16:11).

The world's path can never offer fullness of joy, or pleasures forever.

Walking the Christian path, the righteous one, is not a matter of just being baptized, the forgiveness of our past sins, and a faith that does not act.  It is a matter of walking in newness of life, walking Christ's path.  We must allow Christ to guide all of our steps in every area of our lives.  He commands that we walk in His paths, the paths of righteousness (Proverbs 2:20).

The following are some proverbs to help us walk in the path of God, the path of righteousness (the narrow gate):
"In all your way acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight"  (Proverbs 3:6).
"I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths"  (Proverbs 4:11).
"Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men"  (Proverbs 4:14).
"But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day"  (Proverbs 4:18).
"Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established"  (Proverbs 4:26).
"In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway, there is no death"  (Proverbs 12:28).

    May our Lord lead our footsteps each day, leading and guiding our minds, hearts, and souls with wisdom so that we can walk His path of righteousness shining our light before a world of darkness and death.


    Luci

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