When you become a Christian, praise God, you’re born again, but you haven’t arrived. You have started. That is not the concluding point. When you become a Christian, the next phase is that God wants you to be sanctified. And that’s a process which goes right through your life. God wants to change us by the Word and by the the Holy Spirit into the people He wants us to be. And that will continue until we get to glory, in which case, then, we will be glorified and have new bodies, and be with the Lord forever.
But, in the meantime, God wants us to ask, to seek, to knock on the door, and to let Jesus come into our lives and change us into the people He wants us to be.
Now, as a result, as I said, there should be a change in our behaviour. And that change is summed up in verse 12 of the passage in Matthew 7 we just read. Where he says,
12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.Matthew 7.12
This is sometimes known as the ‘Golden Rule’, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Jesus says that sums up the Law and the Prophets. Interestingly, Jesus is taking a teaching which is already prevalent amongst Jewish people from man called הִלֵּל [hillēl] Helel, a Jewish teacher who put it the other way around. He said,
So he said, ‘don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.
Jesus put it the other way around and said, ‘do unto others what you’d like them to do to you‘. So, ask yourself the question: how do you want people to treat you? Do you want them to hate you, to cheat you, to lie to you. to rob you, to oppress you? If you’re married, do you want your partner to be unfaithful to you, to treat you with contempt?
Of course not. So, on that level, you should treat others the way you’d like them to treat you. You want people to treat you kindly, with love and honesty, with compassion, to treat you fairly, to tell you the truth. And you want that to be the way in which people treat you. So, you should treat people that way yourself as you deal with them.
When you look through the whole teaching of the New Testament, especially, as expressed in many of the letters of Paul, that’s really how we should live as believers in Jesus.
In Ephesians chapter 4.22 uh Paul says about the new man, about the new life in Jesus. He says,
22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbour,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.Ephesians 4.22-32
What would the world be like if everybody lived like that? It would be a bit better, wouldn’t it?
We wouldn’t have all these troubles and violence and hatred going on.
But, unfortunately, in the present world, that’s not how it is and it won’t be like that until Jesus returns. It won’t be because of the influence of sin and of the devil which is active. The devil who is actively working in the world today to get people to do his will, not God’s will.
But it should be like that in the church, because we’re born again of the Holy Spirit. Is it always like that in the church? Well, sometimes not, but that’s how it should be. And it is not as it should be because, sometimes, the devil is able to influence what goes on inside Christianity as well.
We need to have the right Spirit working within the body of Christ but we should aspire to live that way. That is how we should be aspiring to live, and that’s how Jesus says to us we should live.
Unfortunately, most people don’t, and most people are walking on the broad road that leads to destruction. Which leads us on to the next thing.
Jesus says in verse 13,
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.Matthew 7.13-14
The majority of people in the world, unfortunately, are on the broad road that leads to destruction, not on the narrow road that leads to life. It’s much easier to walk down the broad road that leads to destruction because you’ve got a whole load of people who are going to be going with you, pushing you down that road, and you don’t have to go against the flow.
It’s much more difficult to go down the narrow road which leads to life because you’re going against the flow. Whatever society you’re in, you’ll find it will have influences which are pushing people against going down the narrow road and which will be moving against you.
But it’s the right way to go. Imagine that you’re walking through a forest trying to find your desired destination and you come to a fork in the road. There are two roads before you and you don’t have a map. So you need to decide which road you are going to go down on.
When you get to the fork in the road, you find that there is a dead man lying there who has his finger pointing down one of the two roads ahead and there’s a living man who’s standing there, who’s actually the the forest ranger, who knows all about it. He’s pointing you to go down the other road.
Which one are you going to choose? Which one are you going to follow? The dead man or the living man?
If you’re sensible, you will follow the living man.
Unfortunately, around the world today, multitudes of people are following the advice of dead men, pointing them to go down the road to destruction, the broad road. And a few people are following the advice, the lead of the living man who is the Lord Jesus, who’s telling you to go down the narrow road, the narrow road that leads to life.
The broad road is easier. You’re following the crowd, you’re going with the flow. The narrow road is harder. You’re going against the flow. It can be lonely sometimes. You have to leave your former friends behind.
You have to enter the narrow gate to get onto the narrow road. The narrow gate means the gate where you humble yourself before God, where you recognize that you’re a sinner and that you need a Saviour, where you repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You can enter then into the narrow, through the narrow gate, onto the road which leads to life. But, in doing that, you’re following One who Himself
… is despised and rejected by men,Isaiah 53.3
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
He gave His life as a ransom for many at the cross. But, unlike the false prophets who lead you on the broad road that leads to destruction, this Man is alive because He’s risen from the dead and He’s eternally alive, and He’s able to help you on your pilgrimage along along the hard way that leads to eternal life.
Jesus is not just a man, He is God, Emmanuel, ‘God With Us’, the Lord Jesus Christ. And today, there are multitudes of people who are following the crowd on the road to hell and ignoring the one who can lead them to eternal life.
It is very sad and that’s why God wants us to bear witness to people that they may change the road they’re on, because no matter how far you’ve gone down the broad road, you can always get off it you can always come back to the point of entering through the narrow gate onto the narrow road to life you can do that even now if you haven’t done it.
You can accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and get off the broad road onto the narrow road that leads to life.