Image by Thomas Allsop
Image by Thomas Allsop

All-In on the Straight & Narrow

We read in Matthew 7:13-14 and in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress about the narrow path. What does this narrow path look like? What does being a Christian look like? These questions are likely those which we all have as Christians. The world is looking to us to see what Christianity looks like, and are we being good ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20)? Can someone talk to us and look at our lives and know that we are set apart or do we blend right in with unbelievers? These are the tough questions we need to ask ourselves. After all, we will be known by our fruits (Matthew 7:16).

When determining what our walks should look like, we first need to remember the point of our lives. We are here to glorify God. Everything we do should be to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:17). Our egos may not like that too much, but it's true. Our lives are not about us. Thus, we should be seeking to live in a way that glorifies Him.

The subsequent question becomes: How can we know how to glorify God? Well, the answer is not by comparing ourselves to other Christians. Thankfully God provides His Word, the Bible, which reveals who He is, His principles, and the Gospel. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." Scripture (2 Corinthians 13:5) even tells us to use it to examine and test ourselves to see if we truly are in the faith and are saved. Paul Washer points out that it is the testimony of Scripture that tells us if we are saved, not emotions/feelings. Emotions and feelings is actually how Mormons determine that they are saved. More specifically, it is God who tells us we are saved, not man.

We are not left to wonder, for God is very specific in His instruction and guidance to us. We need to go to Scripture, find out how we can glorify God, and obey. What does Scripture say about how to glorify God? John 15:8 says: "My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples." The fruits of our salvation will come out of being in Christ, who is the true vine and source of life and fruitfulness, and out of our obedience in keeping His commandments (John 15:5,10). We obey out of love and gratitude of salvation.

James 1:22 tells us that we are not just to be hearers of the Word but also doers of the Word. This does not mean picking parts you want to follow or following your own interpretation of God's Holy Word but living out God's principles in context. Further, James 2:26 tells us that faith without works is dead. No, we do not need works to be saved (Ephesians 2:8-9), for our greatest works are like rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). Instead, they are those fruits and evidence that we have been saved. Matthew 7:21 tells us that not everyone who publicly professes faith in Christ will be saved, but it is those who bear fruit by doing the will of the Father. Jesus will tell those who practice lawlessness to depart from Him (Matthew 7:21-23).

Despite what many churches teach, the Christian walk is not just saying a prayer as some form of magic words for salvation (which is no where in the Bible) and then continuing living the same way as you were. Logically, how can we even continue to be the same and to continue living in the same sin? After all, the only way to be saved is to be reconciled to God through faith in His Son (Romans 5:10). It is by Christ's blood paying for our ransom of sin against God, satisfying God's wrath, that save us (Romans 5:9, 6:23). He took our place and paid a price we never could have. (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus is the narrow gate to the narrow way (John 14:6), and we go through that gate when we repent and believe (Mark 1:15, 1 John 1:9). Then, as we travel the narrow path during our earthly pilgrimage, we will live a life of continued repentance and belief.

According to Paul Washer, repenting means turning away from sin, hating the things that God hates, loving what God loves, growing in holiness, and desiring to not be like the world but to be like Jesus. As Washer mentions in his book Narrow Path, Narrow Way, there is no such thing as a "carnal Christian." When we are saved, we are given a new nature. We are a new creation with a new heart that is now adopted into the Kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 1:12-13).

How we live our lives shows what we believe about Jesus. Is Jesus the center of our lives or is he an accessory? Do we love ourselves or Christ more? As Paul Washer wrote, we cannot encounter Jesus and remain the same. Washer suggests that how we know we have truly encountered Christ is that the obedience and fruit will last. If not, and we return back to our old ways of the world, then it was just emotions and not a movement by God. On the other hand, saving faith is also not just mere intellectual assent, but truly knowing Christ. Even Satan acknowledges Jesus is Lord, so we need more than that (James 2:19). Further, the question to ask ourselves is does Jesus know you?

Paul Washer emphasized that every word, thought, and deed should be subject to Christ. Are you all in or are you lukewarm (video on the topic by MacArthur)? Are you standing with one foot in the world and the other following Christ? We are called to lay down our lives, pick up our crosses, and to follow Him (Matthew 16:24-25, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23-24,14:27). This is not a shallow faith. We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24, Romans 6:16). Either you are on the wide path of destruction or the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14). The Church should not be hard to distinguish from the world (John 5:19, 15:19).

Being saved does not mean that we no longer sin, which is why we need to be continually repenting (1 John 1:8-10). Thankfully, for those who are genuinely saved and walking the narrow path, God fulfills His promise to finish every good work (Philippians 1:6). God is in charge of our salvation (Link to good article on this by MacArthur). This means that if we veer off the righteous path, He will come for us. This may come with discipline, but He will not let those who are His stray. God will not let us live and stay in the sin He saved us from or to be like world. He will purify us, through the sharpening from other Christians (Proverbs 27:17) and/or through sanctification and trials (James 1:2-4). When we veer off the path, we are going to want others to humbly and gently help us back onto that path. Despite what the world may teach, this truth is loving.

The Christian walk means that self-awareness is necessary. This is a really great sermon by John MacArthur on this topic. Why do we need self-awareness? We need to honestly check in with ourselves. There is a level of accountability in the Christian walk. Thus, I leave you with this. First, read Scripture, know what God call us to do, and then, do it with a good attitude and for the glory of God. Second, check yourself against Scripture to see if you are walking out and showing evidence of your faith and salvation. Lastly, find a mentor or a friend who is trusted, humble, and spiritually mature who will walk with you and will lovingly keep you accountable with walking in obedience.

By: Bible and Hot Cocoa (IG & TikTok: @bibleandhotcocoa)

Jules is the founder of Bible and Hot Cocoa. She is a law student with a passion for standing up for truth. In any free time, she loves to read, study theology, write, and draw or paint. Jules's favorite book of the Bible would have to be a tie among John, Psalms, Philippians, Ephesians, and Romans (as of now), and her favorite figure besides Jesus is either John, David, or Paul.

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