Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death (Jer 21:8). Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Your journey in this life is a walk on one of two possible ways or paths – the broad way or the narrow way. These paths are completely contrary to one another and go in totally opposite directions. The narrow way must be entered through a gate, which is Jesus Christ. You are led on this way by the Holy Spirit toward eternal life which is found only in God. This narrow path is traveled by few and leads to restoration and reconciliation with God (Ps 23:3, 69:4, Rm 5:1, Eph 2:14-16, Col 1:20). The broad way is led by the devil unto eternal destruction or death (second death, Rev 20:14, 21:8). This path leads away from the Lord to complete separation from God and the life that is only in Him.
These two ways could be thought of as a road whereby one walks one way or the other. Each step one takes in their intended and chosen direction is one step further away from the other direction. What is particularly noteworthy is that you freely “choose” your way or direction. This choice is not mental, but is rather manifested through actions.
In the Garden of Eden, the devil appealed to man to seek the desires of his flesh over the commandment of God (Gen 2:17, 3:1-5). Satan told man that he could transgress the will of God and “ye shall not surely die” (Gen 3:4). The devil lied (Jn 8:44)! Lies are told for the intent to deceive! The absolute eternal truth is that obedience to the will of God results in life and disobedience to the will of God results in death (Gen 2:17, the soul that sinneth, it shall die – Ez 18:4, 20). God is the source of all life (Gen 2:7, Is 42:5, Job 33:4, Ps 100:3, Jn 5:26). The Lord gives life and sustains life (Job 12:10, Ps 104:29). To remove or separate yourself from God is to choose death over life (Pv 8:36, 11:19, 12:28, Is 59:2). The devil promised life, but leads in the way of death – he deceives (opposite of the way of life, Heb 2:14, Rev 12:9, 20:10).
Satan led man to trust in a lie (Jer 28:15, 29:31)! The devil taught rebellion against God (Jer 28:16, 29:32)! Satan savourest (to hold valuable) not the things that be of God (Mk 8:33). The devil leads on the broad way. The devil teaches man to seek his desires and thereby transgress the will of God – to place self over God – to be as a god (Gen 3:5).
Man is weak through the flesh and this is where the devil tempts (Mt 26:41). The devil leads man through the lusts and desires of the flesh. The broad way appeals to the flesh (pleasant to the eyes, to be desired, Gen 3:6), yet all that glitters is not gold. That which seems to please or be desirable is ultimately unfulfilling and leaves a bitter taste that cannot be satisfied. True contentment, fulfillment and satisfaction will only be found in the Lord your Creator.
The Lord gives those who walk in His narrow way the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God leads man in the truth (which is God’s Word)! The Spirit teaches man to obey God! In order to obey God, there must be a lessening of self – your will must submit/yield to God’s will.
So, the path Satan leads on is contrary to the path the Lord leads on. These are opposite positions just as a lie is opposite of the truth. Thus these ways or paths go in opposite directions. You cannot walk one way and yet still be found in the other way – they are at complete odds. Therefore, you choose your path and walk in its principles. Distinct fruits will result in your life based upon the principles you follow. There are distinct fruits of the Spirit and opposite and distinct fruits of the flesh (to be discussed). Jesus said: Matthew 7:20, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” What our lives produce (the fruit) will reveal which path we are traveling. Even so, there is much blindness, confusion, and deception involved on the broad way.
There will be two resurrections! John 5:29, “And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” Each path has a master and you follow that master where he will go. Jesus leads those who have done good unto God the Father and eternal life in His kingdom. The devil leads those who have done evil unto the second death and eternal damnation – for this is where he goes. Revelation 20:10, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” AND Matthew 25:41, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Man disobeyed God’s commandment and incurred the Lord’s penalty of “thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17).” Man is naturally traveling a broad path that leads to death and destruction. Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity (Ps 39:5, 53:2-3). The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Gen 8:21). The broad way is easy for the flesh and the narrow way is difficult (impossible) for the flesh. In other words, if you desire the things of this world (1 Jn 2:15-17), it is not possible for you to walk the narrow way.
The Lord tellsus: Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” All men, by their corrupted nature, have transgressed the will of God. Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” – – Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Verily, verily (of a truth, count on it, fact) to obey God is to live and to disobey God is to die. This is an eternal fact proven throughout God’s Word and this truth you can be assured of.
God in His manifold mercy has offered man a second chance. Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Man could be restored through sincere and genuine repentance (entering through Jesus, the strait gate/door) and a walk of faith along the narrow way. For this to happen, man must die to his old nature and be “born again” unto God (Jn 3:3). The corrupted nature cannot be reformed – it must die (be totally forsaken). Man must be re-created with God’s nature as before the fall of man in Eden. But what does this mean? It means that God writes His commandments into your heart and mind (Heb 8:10, 10:16) such that you desire to live in His will from the very heart. Your desire is no longer for the lusts and desires of the flesh – seeking your own will (to be as a god, Gen 3:5).
True faith must be offered freely from the heart – not begrudgingly under compulsion of law. In doing so, you will truly know God and the Lord says: Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (also Heb 10:17).” This is not God looking the other way concerning future sin/iniquity (Rm 6:18) – you are no longer to be led of the flesh, but rather by God’s Spirit (Rm 8:1, 5-8, 14). In other words (see illustration), you no longer walk in the way of wickedness, but rather in the way of righteousness.
You freely choose the path that you walk. Romans 6:13, “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” AND Romans 6:16, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” In other words, you are either a servant to the devil (on the broad way) or to Jesus Christ (on the narrow way). To be “alive from the dead” is to be “born again.”
Those who are “born again” unto God are not under the law because they are a law unto themselves (Rm 2:14). Those who are pure in heart seek to do what is right irregardless if there is a law telling them to. They do righteousness by nature. For through the law they are dead to the law, that they might live unto God (Gal 2:19). 1 Timothy 1:9, “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers.” The law is not of faith (Gal 3:12). The law compels (forces) servitude to God. Faith is offered to God freely from the heart. In both cases the Lord’s commandments must be obeyed, however, only obedience through free-will love is acceptable to God.
The just shall live by faith (Hab 2:4, Rm 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38, 11:6). You live for God in everything that you do. Faith is a coming to God – trust and dependence upon God for all things – a devotion to God (Mt 12:21). God responds positively to those who approach Him in such a way. Consider this fact in those who approached Jesus as detailed in the four gospels (Mt, Mk, Lk, and Jn). Man was/is being offered the opportunity by God to change directions and return unto to God.
Repentance is a change of direction – to go opposite of the way in which you are heading. This could only be done through Jesus Christ, God’s Son (Jn 3:16). John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” There is no by-passing or excluding the strait gate!
Notice from the illustration above, that Jesus is “The Way” to God. Jesus is the truth of God and gives us life. 1 John 5:11-12, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” So it can be stated: 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” Proverbs 12:28, “In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.” If you are following the flesh (your will/way), then you are following the devil on the broad way to death.
The lead-in verses tell us that we must enter through the strait gate. Jesus is this strait gate or door. John 10:7, “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.” Verily means of a truth and certainty. He calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice (Jn 10:3-4). Those who are Christ’s follow Him, by His Spirit, along the narrow way.
So to repent would be to recognize that you are going the wrong direction, forsake the direction you are heading in, turn around and then walk in the opposite direction. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; “Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts (Zech 1:3).” AND “Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts (Mal 3:6).” Psalms 80:19, “Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.”
Consider strongly that this takes an action on your part. Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Once again, consider from the diagram above that to change directions and walk the other way requires that you forsake everything that is to be found in the direction that you are abandoning. This is a dying to the way in which you were walking and an embracing of the new direction that you are now headed. To obtain one, you must forsake the other. To gain one, you lose the other. To go one way you lose or forsake everything from the opposite way. Matthew 10:39, “He that findeth his life (your way, what you desire) shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
You forsake the evil, turn, and embrace God’s Word or truth. Psalms 119:101, “I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.” You cannot follow the way of evil and still abide in God’s way (truth, Word) – its an impossibility.
Let us more fully consider what has just been said. Repentance begins with being poor in spirit and seeking God. One sincerely seeks to know if the way in which they are walking in life is the correct way. Perhaps this frame of mind is arrived at through difficulties or afflictions in one’s life. One can only consider that they may be wrong through humbleness of mind – he considereth his way. Lamentations 3:40, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.”
Conversely, Psalms 10:4, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” AND Proverbs 18:2, “A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself (realize/obtain its way).” The proud/foolish/wicked walk contrary to the dictates of wisdom. They do not fear God or depart from evil (i.e. the way of the wicked, Job 28:28, Pv 16:6).
Just where are you heading in this life? Proverbs 4:26, “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.” Haggai 1:7, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways (also Hag 1:5).” Proverbs 4:19, “The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.” God tells us that our ways are not His ways (Is 55:8). The Lord says: “Amend your ways and your doings (Jer 7:3).”
Ponder the path of life (Pv 5:6). Whoso findeth Me findeth life (Pv 8:35). Remove thy foot from evil (Pv 4:27); cease to do evil (Is 1:16). I lead in the way of righteousness (Pv 8:20). Psalms 128:1, “Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.” Learn to do well (Is 1:17). Psalms 25:4, “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” Hosea 14:9, “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.”
God ponders the ways of man (Pv 5:21). One day the God will render/recompense to every man according to His ways: Jeremiah 17:10, “I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Consider from the diagram above that one way produces life and the other way produces death. You are either following God’s ways or you are not – its just that simple; one or the other.
God Appeals to Rebellious Man
The Lord God is the giver and sustainer of life (Is 42:5). Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” AND Isaiah 46:12-13, “Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted (stubborn minded), that are far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.” You must be saved from the corruption of the devil’s lie (not be found therein). God is going to forever destroy such wickedness from all His creation.
Jesus said: Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (also Zach 9:9).” We must be lowly of heart, which is to be lacking (empty, void) of self. This is how you approach unto God. Jesus desires that you come to Him because: Matthew 18:11, “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” To be lost is to be going the wrong direction and wandering from “The Way.” Christ wants to turn you around, but will not force your will (see illustration). If you come to Him, the Lord rejoices (Mt 18:12:13).
It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that any should perish (Mt 18:14, 2 Pt 3:9). Unfortunately many will not heed this call. Jesus said of them: John 5:40, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Your life (next breath, next heartbeat, Zech 12:1) comes from God, it would be foolish to think that you have life within self – apart from God. “Come to me” means walk the narrow way that leads to God. “Will not come to me” means to walk away from God on a broad way. Those that perish do so of their own will (the seeking of such).
God states: “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die (Ez 33:11).” AND Ezekiel 18:23, “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” This is God’s call for repentance!
The wicked are those who walk contrary to God’s will (in the way of wickedness). Those who walk in their way (seeking self) despise God’s way (Pv 14:2). Consider Christ’s message: Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Consider the diagram above: if you are headed in the way of the wicked, then you must turn 180 degress around and go opposite along the way that leads to life – to the kingdom of heaven. Ezekiel 18:27-28, “Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die (also Ez 33:16, 19).”
Conversely: Ezekiel 18:24, 26, “But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die (also Ez 33:12-13, 18).” From the diagram above: if you turn from the way of the Lord to the way of wickedness, then your new destination is death.
God’s consistent message to man is: “Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin (Ez 18:30).” Zechariah 1:3-4, “Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD.”
Consider God’s reply after Solomon had dedicated the temple: 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Notice the process: humbleness, seeking God, forsaking evil and then God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness cannot be granted until wickedness is forsaken.
The prophets spoke repentance; John the Baptist spoke repentance (Mt 3:8, 11, Mk 1:4, Lk 3:3); Jesus spoke repentance (Mt 4:17, Mk 2:17, Lk 5:32, 13:3, 5); the disciples spoke repentance (Mk 6:12); Peter spoke repentance (Acts 2:38, 3:19); and Paul spoke repentance (Acts 17:30, 26:20). Before Jesus ascended unto the Father (having been raised from the dead), He gave commandment concerning His will: Luke 24:47, “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” All of Christ’s true followers will be speaking of repentance. Therefore: Ezekiel 18:32, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”
Just how does one approach or come unto Jesus? The answer is found in the first four “blessed” statements from Christ’s Sermon on the Mountain. Matthew 5:3-6, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
Poor in Spirit
To be poor in spirit would be to recognize your inabilities and limitations and your great need for God. Realizing that you are nothing, have nothing and can do nothing. This is an emptying the heart of self such that Christ may fill it. This is the opposite of pride. This is a setting aside of self, a self-loathing, a self rejection in all respects, a casting away all hope in yourself, all self dependence, all trust in our own wisdom (knowledge) or righteousness, or your efforts of being good, and everything else which is your own.
Only at this point can you acknowledge that Christ is the only possible hope for your helpless condition. Once you begin to look beyond “self” then you can begin to seek God. When you can genuinely come to this place, God can teach and lead you and thus you can become a member of the kingdom of heaven. Therefore it can be confidently stated: Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Being poor in spirit is a humble frame of mind that one must have to approach God and truly receive of Him. When John the Baptist sent messangers to make sure Jesus was the Christ, one of the things Jesus said to tell John was: “the poor have the gospel preached to them (Mt 11:5).” The “poor” are not so much those lacking in goods as they are those who are humble and meek in heart. However, the poor are often humble and the rich are often proud. The things of God are hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes (Mt 11:25).
Many come to the Lord as the result of some tradgedy or bad circumstance in their life. The Lord says: “in their affliction they will seek me early (Hos 5:15).” – and this is oh so true! God works through the situations and circumstances in our lives to bring us to the correct “humble” frame of mind. It is only when our focus is off of self and onto God that such change (repentance) can take place.
The Lord humbles you such that you recognize your own evil ways, and that your doings are not good, and that you lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations (Ez 36:31). This is so that you will repent and turn to God. Many wonder why God allows bad things to happen to them. Often, this is God’s mercy toward you. The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance (Rm 2:4, also 2 Pt 3:9). Most live their lives concerned about the temporal – the here and now. God’s concerns are eternal. God brings you to the place to seek His mercy so that you will not perish in the condemnation. Mercy rejoiceth against judgment (Js 2:13). Seeking God and acknowledgment of faults must precede mercy.
Therefore: Hosea 10:12-13, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies (the devil’s great lie): because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.” You are headed in the way of wickedness (see diagram), a self-serving way, as led of the devil in the tenets of his lie (you’ve bought into the lie) – after the lusts of the flesh. This way separates you from God and you must turn around. Joel 2:13, “And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness …” For the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them (Hos 14:9). Multitudes are in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14) – turn ye, turn before you perish.
You reach out to the Lord with all of your heart. Psalms 105:4, “Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.” AND James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” Jesus said: Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” In other words, seek the Lord fully and completely. Jesus also said: Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” To strive is to put forth great effort, to realize your purpose.
The Lord further tells us: Proverbs 8:17, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” AND Proverbs 8:35, “For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.” Acts 17:27, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us.”
The Lord reveals that if you search for Him with all of your heart, then you shall find Him (Jer 29:13). Therefore: Isaiah 55:6, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” Lamentations 3:25, “The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” The Lord is offering you mercy from His condemnation. The Lord is offering eternal life rather than separation and death. The Lord is offering to bring you back to the tree of life as before the fall and corruption of man (Rev 2:7, 22:14). If you believe that the first man, Adam, chose wrong, then here is your opportunity to choose that which is right. You have before you the same choice; choose whom ye will serve.
You must realize the worth/value. Matthew 13:44, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” Once you realize the value of the kingdom of heaven, there is nothing you will value more. You will seek first/foremost the kingdom of God, and His righteousness (Mt 6:33). If you are not actively doing this, then you have not realized the value.
It all comes down to this: Those who love the Lord will seek Him. Those who do not love the Lord will seek the thing they love.
God’s Word (Truth)
The Lord is best understood (although not exclusively) through His written Word. The verse above (Js 4:8) said to purify your heart. The Lord sanctifies and cleanses with the washing of water by the word (Eph 5:26). 2 Timothy 3:15-17, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” If the heart is pure, then the actions must surely follow.
The Lord further says: Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” God’s Word has its intended affect on those who read it and sincerely take it to heart. The Lord will bring you to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Seeking God is hungering and thirsting after such righteousness and Jesus said that such would be filled (Mt 5:6).
Being poor in spirit and having some basic knowledge of right and wrong leads one to mourning. To mourn is to realize the sinfulness in your life and to have deep regret and godly sorrow for past thoughts and deeds (Ps 32:5, 2 Cor 7:10). To mourn is to see the shame of thy nakedness (sinfulness) – you perceive your transgressions of God’s will. You must realize your wickedness and your own inability to correct the condition as evidenced by agony and contrition concerning how you have transgressed God’s will and been displeasing. You realize that your life’s actions are in rebellion to God and that you actually oppose Him just through your day to day disregard and seeking of self. In other words, you understand that you are walking a path contrary to the one that leads to God. You acknowledge how you have brought shame and dishonor upon God. Deep heartfelt sorrow for past sins is not sufficient and must be accompanied with a desire to forsake all sin in your life – actions speak louder than words – actions are true indicators of the heart.
Mourning is contrition of heart which is remorse for having done wrong and sorrow for having offended God. Contrition is a turning from self-centerness toward God-centeredness – a change of perspectives which is a new direction. Self-centeredness mourns when self does not get it’s way (what “I” desire). God-centeredness mourns when self does get its way – a lessening or disregard of God. God-centeredness also mourns for having offended another (your neighbor). Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh (Lk 6:21). Self-centeredness laughs when its desires are realized. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep (Lk 6:25). The quest for self is walked on the broad way. The desire for God is found on the narrow way.
Those who mourn stand before God fully accountable for their past actions. Psalms 32:5, “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” AND Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” To cover your sins or shift blame to others is to not acknowledge your sins to God and this is not true mourning and certainly not repentance.
The Lord tells us plainly: Psalms 86:5, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” AND Psalms 103:8, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy (also Ps 86:15, 145:8).” AND Psalms 103:11, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.” Therefore: 1 John 1:9-10, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
There must be a cleansing and purifying through the acknowledging of the truth and your failure to walk in that truth – a plea for mercy under the sentence or condemnation of “thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17).” God requires this humbling of self (poor in spirit, mourning) as you enter into repentance! The proud cannot genuinely come to this position or place. Only through humbleness can this position of heart be genuinely achieved. We must desire to be as Christ, our example and Lord: 1 John 3:3, “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
God told Israel: Jeremiah 3:13, “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD (also Jer 14:20).” AND Jeremiah 4:1-2, “If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory.” Mercy cannot possibly be granted without acknowledgement. You cannot truly return unto the Lord unless you put away and forsake the evil.
The Lord then says: Jeremiah 4:4, “Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” This means that you must desire the Lord from your heart and not from compulsion (begrudgingly, because you are being made to). You forsake your wickedness and return to God from the heart.
Most men love death (Pv 8:36)! They refuse to humble themselves, they have refused to receive correction, and they have refused to return (Jer 5:3). Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God (Jer 5:24). Many travel the broad way. They have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement (Is 28:15). They are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God (Jer 5:4). Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein (Jer 6:16).
The meek are the opposite of the proud. The proud exalt self and the meek deny self. The proud inflict injuries (violent) and the meek patiently endure them (longsuffering, forbearance). The proud place self first (Me and mine) and the meek put others first (God foremost and then one’s neighbors, including enemies). The proud exert (forceful) and the meek yield (submissive). The proud are violent (dog eat dog, survival of the fittest) and the meek are gentle (kindhearted). The proud want and will take and the meek are content and will give. The proud have difficulty admitting fault and the meek are quick to repent (contrite, lowliness) or examine their ways. The proud walk in an opposite nature than the meek.
Jesus said: Matthew 5:39, “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Matthew 5:41, “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” Furthermore: Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Mt 5:44). This is to have God’s nature and be His child (Mt 5:45). Now, the proud of heart would say that such a person is weak and gutless (spineless, cowardly) – and that no one is going to run over them. They would say: “do unto others before they do unto you (turning the truth into a lie).” The proud are violent! Is it harder to patiently suffer the evil or to return the evil? These are two contrary natures – one of a sheep and the other of a wolf. The wolf would have no qualms about destroying the sheep and this is the nature of hatred (sacrifice of others for the benefit of self – the opposite of love) which is found on the broad way – the way of wickedness.
A follower of Christ is told to put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another, forgiving one another with love unfeigned, lowliness, endeavouring to keep the unity, with all patience and joyfulness (Col 1:11, 3:12-13, 2 Cor 6:6, Eph 4:2-3) This is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). This is the essence of being meek – to place others ahead. Jesus did this perfectly and we are to “follow.”
Only the meek and humble will genuinely seek God. The prideful are self seeking and cannot realize their need for God (Ps 10:3). Psalms 10:4, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.”
The Way of Righteousness
Jesus said: Matthew 21:32, “For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.” The Lord was talking to religious men who were very proud. John the Baptist came and prepared the way of Christ by making hearts humble (through repentance) that they could receive Christ’s message (Jn 1:31, Mt 11:10). The Lord said: “I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me (Mal 3:1). To receive the Lord’s message the people first had to become contrite of heart and broken over their transgressions against the will of God. Those baptized of John confessed their sins and brought forth fruits meet for repentance (Mt 3:6-8). The meaning of water baptism was understood to be a break with the old life and a joyful acceptance of the new life. The Lord teaches the meek and guides them in judgment (Ps 25:9).
John’s message was received by the common man (Mt 12:23, 21:9-10, Lk 4:14): Luke 7:29, “And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.” The religious men (Pharisees and Sadduccess) were proud and did not receive John’s baptism or God’s message (Mt 21:25). Luke 7:30, “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.” These religious men considered that they were walking/leading in the right path and were quite offended at the suggestion that they were not. This is pride! Those who walk in pride cannot be taught and are difficult to reach with the truth. God sends men to show them the right way, but they reject them and mistreat them (Mt 23:34). The proud are determined and stedfast in their will and do not change directions – thus they cannot escape the damnation of hell (Mt 23:33) – they are cast into everlasting punishment which is everlasting fire (Mt 25:41, 46).
Christ revealed in Matthew chapter six that these very religious men always sought self in the religious things they did. When they gave alms to the poor, they would sound a trumpet before them to receive notice, attention and praise of men (Mt 6:2). They prayed to be seen of men (Mt 6:5) – hoping that they shall be heard for their much speaking (Mt 6:7). When they fasted, they put on sad countenance: for they disfigured their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast (Mt 6:16). Jesus further revealed: Matthew 23:5-7, “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi (also Mk 12:38-40).” Today the terms might be “doctor” or “reverend.” Respect must not be demanded or sought, but rather freely given without solicitation. They exalted self to be noticed and to gain attention, honor and praise. Matthew 23:28, “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” These ideals are found in “the way of wickedness.”
The Lord’s kingdom can only be entered with a broken, humble, contrite heart. Notice in Mt 21:32 (above) that the publicans and the harlots believed Him. These publicans and harlots were despised of the religious men and were looked down upon as sinners (e.g. Lk 7:37-39, 19:1-10). The harlots and publicans “received” what Christ said. The religious men did not and only sought fault and devised wicked plans against Jesus (Mt 12:10, 14, 26:4, Mk 3:2, 6, 11:18, 14:1, Lk 11:54, 19:47, 22:2, Jn 5:18, 7:1, 8:6). The harlots and publicans were willing to “change.” The religious men were not willing to even consider that they were wrong and felt threatened in their way. The religion of man often blinds the eyes to the truth – religious pride (Lk 1:51-52). Religious men were envious of Christ (as Cain was envious of Abel, Heb 11:4) – they hated Him without a cause (Jn 15:25, Mt 27:18, Mk 15:10).
Jesus gave us a great example: Luke 18:10-14, “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” The Pharisee walked on the broad way in the nature of “I” which is self-centered. There are multitudes of religious Pharisees today!
The Lord said: Matthew 21:28-30, “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.” The first son initially disregarded the Father’s will (walked contrary on the broad way), but changed directions (repented) to do the Father’s will (walked the narrow way). The second son claimed to do the Father’s will, but never did. Many claim to love God, but are clearly walking on the broad way contrary to God’s will as evidence through their actions and fruits. Jesus said of the religious men: “do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not (Mt 23:3).” Be careful that you are not walking on the wrong path having a misguided and lost sense of direction. There is an old wise saying: “Deeds, not words.”
If you are living for the lusts and desires of the flesh yet claim to be walking on the narrow way then you have lost your sense of direction. You are walking in the principles of the devil’s lie and are most likely blinded (deceived). You are being misguided (by Satan and/or man) in the wrong way. Repent, repent!!! Perhaps you are being led about by the whims of the flesh? Many take a form of godliness with them along the broad way. Just remember one thing, a “god” of your own making (tailored to your liking) is just that. Those who genuinely seek to “know” God conform to His will and acknowledge His truth; being willing to pay the cost – whatever it may be. All others conform God to their will and simply make an idol whom they call the one true god. The world has been full of idols presumed to be “God” since the fall of man. God has been appealing to man to turn from these idols since the fall of man. Don’t assume that you are wiser than all who have lived before you. No one ever perceives their idol as wickedness. Seek Jesus Christ for eyesalve that you may see clearly (Rev 3:18).
The Desire for Righteousness
Jesus said: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God (Mt 4:4, Lk 4:4). This is what the truly repentant hunger and thirst after (Mt 5:6). God’s Word does not return void when it reaches a humble heart (Is 55:11). To live by every Word of God is to turn to His path and fully embrace His will. To “live by” is to obey! John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” Jesus tells us matter-of-factly: John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” What this is saying is: Deuteronomy 13:4, “Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” This must spring forth from your heart in love for God. Therefore: 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
When you hunger and thirst to obey/walk in/do God’s commandments, then ye shall have eternal life. God fills the hungry with good things (Lk 1:53). Obedience to the will of your God and Creator is your life! God gives life and God sustains life – apart from God there is no life, only death. The devil leads in the paths of death through unrighteousness. The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10). To separate yourself from God is to separate yourself from the only source of life. Disobedience separates (Is 59:2)! To hate God is to love death (Pv 8:36). To love the darkness is to hate God (Jn 3:19-21). Therefore: to love the darkness is to love death – the darkness separates you from God who is life.
Now the law brought a man unto the manna and “compelled” him to eat (duty bound, obligated, required, to necessitate or constrain). The law brought a man unto the waters and “compelled” him to drink. Romans 10:5, “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” AND Galatians 3:12, “And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.” Now faith brings a man unto the bread that came down from heaven (Jesus, Jn 6:35, 48, 51), but a man only eats based upon the desire that springs forth from the heart. Now faith brings a man unto the living waters (Holy Spirit, Jn 4:10, 7:38-39), but the desire to drink must proceed forth from the heart. In both cases God’s will must be obeyed, but the approaches are vastly different. The Lord said He must be approached in faith which has to come/proceed forth from willingness of heart (Heb 11:6). Galatians 3:11, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” God is not pleased with those who feel “compelled” or “obligated” to serve Him (perhaps they just do not want to go to hell so they have a form of religiosity).
Therefore, we can conclude that God desires to be obeyed through the willingness of heart. Man must love, trust, be devoted to and surrendered to God by that which emanates from his heart. John 6:35, “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” You must freely come to Jesus. You must freely hunger and thirst to live in God’s will. John 6:33, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
Man sought the desires of his flesh in the garden of Eden over the commandment or will of God. The first man, Adam, failed and brought sin and death into the world. Luke 4:1-3, “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.” The devil was tempting the second man, Jesus, to also seek the desires of His flesh (1 Cor 15:47). Jesus was hungry! The flesh wanted to be filled! Christ was at the very same decision point as Adam had been.
What did Jesus do? Luke 4:4, “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Jesus was more concerned about the will of God than the desires of the flesh. We all must decide! Do you follow the will of the flesh or the will of God? One must be denied to accomplish the other. Who will be denied? Who will be chosen? Who will be followed? Who will be submitted to? One shall receive honor and the other dishonor and disgrace. Who do you choose to honor?
The flesh always hungers after this, that, or the other thing – it’s desires and lusts. The flesh will never be satisfied! The flesh is on a fast track to destruction! You must decide your eternal priorities. You will die to the flesh or to God – one will prevail in your life – there will not be two masters (Mt 6:24, Lk 16:13).
We can now understand just what repentance is. Repentance is humbleness of heart, seeking God, rejection of your way, acknowledging and mourning over your wrongs, realizing the truth, forsaking wickedness, and desiring to fully obey God and walk in His truth. This is to completely change direction (course) and walk opposite of where you were heading. This is to no longer be led of your carnal flesh in its lusts and desires, but rather to be teachable and led of God’s Spirit. To be teachable is to learn how to do something – to accept what is being said – to acknowledge the truth and walk therein. This is essentially to reject the temptation of the forbidden tree and rather choose to obey God’s commandments. This is a reversal of what took place in the Garden of Eden.
Repentance is to choose the more difficult path (given man’s current condition). This is to swim against the strong current of this world. Repentance is only the very beginning of a lifetime walk of faith…
Walking in Faith
Once one has entered in through the strait gate (Jesus), there is a path before him to walk. Recall from above that Jesus “went before” and the sheep “follow” Him (Jn 10:4). Jesus said: “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mt 18:3).” To be converted is to repent and be “born again,” as a new creature/man in Christ Jesus (Jn 3:3, 2 Cor 5:17, Eph 4:24, Col 3:10). To become as a child is to be teachable and be led of another. To become as a child is also to be humble (Mt 18:4). All things must become new (2 Cor 5:17) – new leader, new path, new man, new nature!
Jesus baptizes with the Holy Ghost (Mt 3:11, Mk 1:8, Lk 3:16, Jn 1:33). The Holy Ghost is the “power (Lk 1:35, 4:14, 24:49, Jn 1:12, Acts 1:8)” of God that Jesus walked in (as a man, Lk 4:1, Acts 10:38) when He forged the narrow way to God (Jn 16:28). John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God…” Jesus gives His followers the “power” or Holy Spirit so that they can walk as He walked (Col 2:6, 1 Pt 2:21, 1 Jn 2:6). Man is “weak” through the flesh and must have such power from God (Mt 26:41, Rm 8:9). The Spirit teaches and leads on the narrow way. Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” We can now conclude from these scriptures that Jesus gives those who receive Him power or the Holy Ghost to become the sons of God. One becomes a son of God by being led of the power or Holy Ghost. Psalms 23:3, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Consider the path of righteousness in the illustration above. Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor 7:1). To “perfect” something is to practice until you are an expert – to become proficient (skillful, expert). Therefore: The Holy Spirit is “the power that worketh in us (Eph 3:20).”
The Holy Ghost is our Comforter along this narrow way to teach us the will of God. John 14:26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” AND John 15:26, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” Those who are not teachable as children will not progress very far on the narrow way – perhaps look back (Lk 9:62). The lessons begin at once and one progresses through faith (submission, obedience, devotion, trust, loving heart). 1 Peter 1:9, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” At the end of your walk of faith is God who is eternal life (see illustration). The ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them (Hos 14:9).
Disobedience to the teaching/leading of the Holy Spirit equates to turning away from God and walking the other way. Those who look back (at the alternative to obeying God) are not fit for the kingdom of God (Lk 9:62) – so they walk away from it. The Lord says: Hebrews 10:38, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” Be cautious: Ephesians 4:30, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption (also 1 Thess 5:9).”
The Holy Spirit leads us to walk as Jesus walked. In doing so, we become conformed to His image. 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Christ is the express image of the Father, the brightness of his glory (Heb 1:3, also 2 Cor 4:4, Col 1:15). After all, Jesus said: “he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father (Jn 14:9).” Man was created in the image of God, but was corrupted (Gen 1:26-27, 5:1). The “born again” man again bears the image of God. 1 Corinthians 15:49, “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” The image of the earthy is found on the broad way; the image of the heavenly is found on the narrow way (see illustration).
Jesus was manifest in the flesh and justified in the Spirit (1 Tim 3:16). Those who follow Jesus must also be justified in the Spirit. This is done as you follow the Spirit and thus work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Php 2:12). You learn obedience, often through suffering – just as Jesus (Heb 5:8). You continue in Christ’s gospel and in so doing save yourself (1 Tim 4:16) – patient continuance in well doing (as per the Lord, Rm 2:7).
The way in which one walks the narrow way can be found in the remaining “Blessed” statements from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mountain. Matthew 5:7-13, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”
The merciful are those who sacrifice self for the undeserved benefit of others. God sacrificed His only begotten Son for our undeserved benefit (Jn 3:16). Jesus freely laid His life down for His enemies. Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God has forgiven us much and we must do the same for others (consider the parable that Jesus told in Matthew 18:23-35). Matthew 6:14-15, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Luke 6:36, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” Therefore it can be said: James 2:13, “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” As Christ forgave you, so also do ye (Col 3:13).
We have been commanded to love our neighbors. Mark 12:31, “And the second (commandment) is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Our neighbors include our enemies! Matthew 5:43-45, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” It is somewhat easy to be merciful to those who love you, but much more difficult to be merciful to those who hate you (Mt 5:46-48). Being merciful is walking as Jesus walked.
Pure in Heart
When the thoughts and intents of the heart are pure, the motives are righteous. The desire is for godliness and holiness. All of this emanates (springs forth) from a sincere heart of love toward God. Laws compel one to walk orderly. Faith desires to walk orderly. The pure in heart do what is right even when no one is looking. The pure in heart are honest and upright (not deviating from what is right). These are genuine in their desire to live for and serve God (no ulterior motives).
The pure in heart will constantly examine their own heart to see if they be walking in the true faith (2 Cor 13:5). The pure in heart will determine the truth, repent, and “change” if they be found to be walking in error on any matter. They will say (and sincerely mean it): Psalms 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The Holy Spirit dwells within the sincere believer and guides them on the narrow way. This is for one’s eternal benefit. The pure in heart will obey the direction of the Holy Spirit even if it cost them much (great sacrifice). The insincere (hypocrite, feigned, froward) play religion until any type of real (substantial) sacrifice is required. Once a denial of self is required they are quickly exposed. They will justify, reason, emotionalize, develop doctrine, twist, loop for loopholes, rely on bad examples, etc. in order to continue in “their way.” The pure in heart is willing to give all and the hypocrite is not.
Lets put this into terms and example that everyone can understand. If the king builds an idol and demands that everyone bow down and worship it under penalty of death, the pure of heart will say NO! The pure of heart will literally sacrifice all to obey God and walk in His truth. The hypocrite will justify and make excuse such that he will bow down to the idol in order to save his own life (avoid sacrifice). Perhaps the hypocrite will say that God has told us that we must obey and be subject to the higher authorities in the land because the powers that be are ordained of God. The hypocrite will justify his position as being right and godly and will condemn the truly righteous as being ignorant and out of God’s will.
Of course this example concerns the story of Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold that is detailed in Daniel chapter three. The truth is that God did raise up Nebuchadnezzar and gave him his authority (Ez 5:12, Jer 27:6-8, 28:14, Dan chap 4). However, Nebuchadnezzar did many wicked things for which God greatly humbled him. This was one such case. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were absolutely correct in their stand against this wickedness. God preserved them and magnified Himself before Nebuchadnezzar and his authorities in leadership. Daniel 3:28, “Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.” – there is no other God that can deliver after this sort (Dan 3:29).
A peacemaker is one who reconciles parties who are at variance or enmity. Jesus came and taught always pointing the way to God. Christ guided our feet in the way of peace (Lk 1:79). Christ did this by calling men unto repentance – to turn around; change directions and “follow” Him. Jesus was leading the way to God by perfect example. Jesus always said, “follow Me.” John 12:26, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
In order to reconcile God and man, Jesus had to do several things. First, Jesus had to live the life that Adam failed to live, that being a life of perfect obedience to the commandments of God. Christ had to live the will of the Father. Second, Jesus had to atone for man’s transgressions against God by offering up His perfect life in exchange for man’s sins and condemnation (Is 53:3-6, 10, Rm 15:3, 2 Cor 5:21, Gal 3:13-14, 1 Pt 2:24). Christ suffered man’s condemnation of “thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:17)” to assuage the Father’s righteous anger and allow Him to be propitious (gracious, merciful, ready to forgive sin) to man. Isaiah 53:11, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”
Christ died for all sinners and made it possible for us to be saved (Rm 5:8, Mk 10:45). However, man still has to freely choose to accept what Christ did and follow Him. God’s will or commandments must still be obeyed (adhered to). This is where “repentance” and a “walk of faith” come in. To be forgiven of your transgressions against God is essential (praise Jesus) for reconciliation between God and man to occur. This places you at the start of the narrow way. Now God must realize in you what He desired from the beginning – your surrender, obedience, devotion, trust and love toward Him. You must be “restored.” God’s purposes must be worked (wrought – effected, produced, formed) in you. Psalms 23:3, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” We are restored as we walk in righteousness (doing God’s will) through faith.
Jesus provided for God’s purposes to be realized in you by walking a perfect example for you to follow and by giving you the Holy Spirit to guide, teach and empower you as you follow. Recall: as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God (Jn 1:12). The power is the Holy Spirit which is the Comforter (Acts 1:8, Jn 14:26). Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Where are they led? In Christ’s example along the narrow way. We follow Jesus so that where He is there we shall be (Jn 12:26).
Therefore: Peace, which is reconciliation between God and man could not occur without 1) forgiveness of man’s transgressions against God, known as remission of sins (Mt 26:28, Lk 24:47, Acts 2:38, 10:43, Rm 3:25); 2) the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38, 10:45, Heb 6:4); 3) Man’s free-will repentance (Acts 3:19, 17:30, 26:20); and 4) man’s walk of faith as led by the Spirit (Gal 3:14, 5:5). This is a walk of obedience. Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
The Lord calls each of His followers to walk in peace. John 17:18, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” Therefore, we must point others to God: Matthew 5:14-16, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Jesus said that we are to carry the message onward: Luke 24:47, “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” – Ephesians 6:15, “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” We take Christ’s message wherever we go.
Persecution in the life of the believer is unavoidable. Jesus was persecuted and so will be those who follow Him. 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Jesus said His followers would be “hated (Mt 10:22).” Luke 21:17, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.” AND John 15:18, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” This is a mark of following Christ. John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”
Do not fret! Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” AND Luke 6:22-23, “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.”
To be hated or rejected by the world means that you are not walking the broad path of the world – You are walking contrary to the world. John 15:19, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Conversely, if you are loved and accepted by the world, you have great cause for concern. Always remember: 2 Timothy 2:11-12, “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.”
The walk that one takes through this life has eternal implications. God actually gives you the free-will to obey Him or not. Psalms 33:13-15, “The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.” When God considereth your life, will he find one that loves Him and wants to be with Him eternally? Remember, God determines this through your actions (works/deeds) – this is how he judges.
God separates the disobedient eternally from His presence. The Lord says: “I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me (Ez 20:38).” He will cut off the righteous from the wicked (Ez 21:3-4). John the Baptist said of Christ: Matthew 3:12, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (also Lk 3:17).” Jesus said: Matthew 25:32, “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” Jesus also told of the separation of the wheat from the tares: Matthew 13:40-43, “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”
Do not think you can fool God (Heb 4:12). Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” In other words (looking at the diagram), A man will arrive at the destination for the way in which he traveled. The Lord always says: “according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee” (Ez 24:14, also Job 34:11, Eccl 3:17, 11:9, 12:14, 2 Kg 8:39, Ps 62:12, Pv 24:12, 29, Is 59:18, Jer 17:10, 25:14, 32:19, Ez 7:3-4, 8-9, 27, Oba 1:15, Zech 1:6, Mt 12:36-37, 16:27, Jn 5:29, Rm 2:6, 16, 14:12, 1 Cor 3:13, 4:5, 2 Cor 5:10, Col 3:24-25, 2 Tim 4:1, 1 Pt 1:17, 4:5, Jude 1:15, Rev 2:23, 20:12-13, 22:12). Do not think that you can just reverse course at your discretion. You will quickly find that God’s way cannot be walked apart from a sincere and genuine heart. The narrow way is purposefully designed to destroy the lusts of the flesh. Those who seek their desires will not be able to deny them.
You must repent! Zechariah 1:4, “Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD.” Lamentations 3:40, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.” James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” If you do not die to the lusts of the flesh, you will not be able to follow where Christ leads. Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Our attitude must constantly be: Psalms 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Obviously, when one takes cross in hand to follow, there must be a diminishing of self, an obedience to walk in the way directed – yieldedness.
Mark 1:14-15, “…Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
Luke 15:10, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
The author periodically writes other articles, tracts and books as the Lord puts them on his heart. These are offered free of charge and may be obtained by writing: David D. Neal, 209 Cedar Pond Dr., Madison, Al. 35757