It is a scary reality that many people who think they are in the faith will find out that they were not truly in the faith. It would seem that Jesus would have spoken this Scripture today to people who sit in church pews and attend church regularly. It is easy for those living on the streets to see they are not a part of God’s kingdom. It is also easy for criminals to see that they are on the outside looking in. However, Jesus spoke of a group of people that adamantly declared that they were His followers. As a result, we must look at three points of examination.
- The gate and the way (Matt. 7:13-14)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks of the way that His followers will travel a road that few walk on. He calls this way or this path a narrow one. For any of you who have ever hiked before, you will know that when a path is frequently traveled, it is a well-worn path. However, there are times when you will be hiking and you will come to paths that are not worn much at all. They are narrower than the rest. This narrow path is the one Jesus spoke of.
The wide path can fit many people, but the narrow path only a few or maybe one. On this path, you may not encounter another. It may be lonely at times. It is the broad path that gains a lot of activity and attention. It is the narrow path that is disregarded and seen by the masses as a poor way to travel.
Jesus tells His followers to walk this narrow path. He also tells His followers to enter through the narrow gate. In two different ways, Jesus describes the journey that the Christian will be on. He uses a narrow path and a narrow gate to highlight this road and way that is less traveled.
Examine yourself. Are you walking on a path that is not traveled by the masses? Are you uniquely Christian in your conduct and your passions? Do you find yourself with a foot in the world and a foot in Christ, or is your worship undivided?
- A tree and its fruit (Matt. 7:15-19)
If any of you have had the opportunity to walk through an apple orchard before, you will notice that each tree, if it is healthy, will be bearing apples. It would be foolishness to walk through an apple orchard looking for cherries or plums.
If any of you have ever planted a garden, you know that when you plant a seed, it will grow into a fruit that is becoming of the seed. A tomato plant will bear tomatoes, a zucchini plant will bear zucchinis, and a watermelon vine will produce watermelons.
This is the law of the harvest. If you plant properly, then you will sow accordingly. Jesus relates this truth from nature to the spiritual life of a person. He makes it clear that if someone is in the faith, then it will show. If someone has truly been brought from death to life, then the life of Christ will be evident in his outward practices.
Jesus here makes it impossible for someone to believe they can live an unrepentant sinful lifestyle and be a born-again believer. He likens the Christian to a good tree. He says that this good tree cannot produce fruit that is not good. In a similar fashion, he likens an unbeliever to a bad tree and says that this bad tree will not produce good fruit.
Examine yourself. What does your fruit look like? Is your fruit good or bad? What is the direction of the life that you’re living? Are you moving toward God or away from God? When you do sin, do you get convicted? Do you believe you need to change your sinful habits? What steps are you making to do so?
- True disciples (Matt. 7:21-23)
This portion of Scripture is what was referenced toward the beginning of this article. A time came in the life of Jesus when he needed to speak directly to a problem that he encountered. This problem was false conversions. There were many people who believed they were true followers of God when they were not. Jesus said on that great day when they stand before Jesus, they are going to plead that they knew Jesus. But Jesus will speak a different word. Jesus will declare that He never knew these people.
These people will point to their works, and even the work that they thought they were doing for the kingdom of God. However, Jesus will tell them that He never knew them.
At the end of this portion of Scripture, Jesus tells us the mark of their lives that separated them from Jesus. Scripture says, “…depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:23). These individuals who thought that they knew Jesus and thought they were doing great things for God’s kingdom actually lived a sinful lifestyle that was full of iniquity.
Examine yourself. How are you living before the Lord on a day-to-day basis? Do you seek His face and love your Savior? Do you believe that what you do is more important than who you are, or do you believe that who you are is more important than what you do?
Application points have been scattered throughout this article. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. Jesus’ calling is a high calling, and people are told to count the cost before becoming His disciples. Are you in faith? Seek the Lord on this matter, and pray that God would search your heart.
Father, I thank You for Your Word to me. I see that Your Word tells me to examine myself, and I pray that You would help me to do this. Search my heart, Father, and show me if there is anything in me that needs to change. Help me to let go of anything that may be hindered me from laying hold of You. You are worthy of my devotion, my worship, and my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.