Aiming To Honor The Grace Of God

After Jesus' unprecedented message from the "Sermon on the Mount" in Matthew Chapters 5&6, He discusses two different responses to those who profess to be loyal to Him and His Word. We see this distinction from which He calls - the narrow way and the broad way.

Jesus said: "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. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." Matthew 7:13-27 | NKJV

The distinction Jesus makes here is painfully clear. One had a true relationship with God, the other was deceived into believing he had a relationship with God, but didn't. Jesus tragically replies, "I never knew you".

Real freedom and liberty is not liberty apart from Jesus' leadership and authority. Freedom in the kingdom of God is not a free-for-all. There is divine order and government in the kingdom of God. True liberty is liberation from sin, defilement and things that darken our hearts. There are a lot of people in the body of Christ who claim grace, yet desire "liberties" from Jesus' commands and restraints. They want His forgiveness, but they refuse to obey the call to responsibility and holiness. That's not a biblical Christianity! Jesus is making clear that there is a false road and true road - the broad way that leads to destruction or the narrow way that leads to life. He is not contrasting the Church and the world here in this message. He is speaking to those who profess loyalty, faithfulness and authenticity in their faith, but their self-deception has them headed for eternal destruction. It's remarkable the number of people who have grown up in church and have been effectively Christianized, professing to know God, but have never genuinely met Christ. It is terrifying to think that many souls could hear these words, "Depart from Me, I never knew you."

The narrow way must be the highest priority of your life - to know and love the heart of God. It is about true friendship and intimacy with the Lord. God knows those who have made Him the sole passion of their hearts, and those who just profess His name, but inwardly are not joined in relationship. The heart that walks the narrow way is fearfully aware of sin's defilement and it guards itself, so that it might be presented unto the Lord as a clean and honorable vessel. Such hearts are those which "fear The Lord and depart from evil." (Proverbs 3:7) The narrow road is the only road in New Testament Christianity. The travelers along the narrow way look for the grace that delivers them from sin and empowers them. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age..." (Titus 2:12) Those who travel the narrow road are those who work out their salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12&13) The narrow and loyal followers of The Master are those with sincerity, who consecrate their hearts and yield their lives unto The Lord's work within them, so that they may be holy and sanctified. Holiness is not old fashion, friend. The narrow way follower is not bound by restriction, but bound by love.

The broad road is a road of tolerance, compromise and has very few restrictions. It is a road of permissiveness in the grace of God. It's wide open for many opinions, ideologies and lifestyles. On the broad road, you can keep your carry-on luggage of immorality, a little drunkenness, some slander and gossip with a hint of defamation...a little porn and lust here and there with little regard for the warnings of The Holy Spirit or repentance. The travelers along the broad road are always looking for a grace that covers their indulgences and pleasures, because they believe God is aware of weakness, yet his grace pardons them. The preachers of the broad road use the Bible all the time for their indulgences, yet they bear no fruits of true repentance in denying the flesh and keeping to spiritual disciplines. Moses brought us the law; but Jesus came to bring grace and truth. (John 1:17) There's the beautiful truth and the ugly truth - remember, it's a two-edged sword. Make no mistake, grace is beautiful, but if you abuse its beauty with lawlessness, you're in danger of hell fire. Without truth, there is a distorted message, promoting a certain confidence, which allows people to continue in compromise. Jesus said their destruction will be more terrifying than they can ever imagine when they stand face to face with Him. This must not be your story!

Today we have modern grace teachers who tell us that we don't need to repent of sins, as we are under His grace. Do not be deceived, friend. Grace comes as a beautiful and marvelous gift from the heart of our Father, to those who repent of their sins and long to live in pure union with God's heart. (1 John 1:9) Grace will transform you. Grace is not an invitation to fall into sin. It's an invitation to fall in Love.
If you are going to live the true grace lifestyle, the abundant life that Christ gives, you must be sure that you deny fleshly lust. To be a disciple and authentic follower of Jesus, this is paramount. Jesus said: "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able." Strive means to make every effort of commitment. Let me be clear, we do not strive to earn God's love or forgiveness. We don't pray and fast to motivate God to love us...of course not! Christianity is not a behavioral modification, self-improvement or sin management program. It's the indwelling of the Spirit of God that transforms a life from the inside out. His ministry is unparalleled! Grace is about covenant relationship. We strive to give meaningful effort to the relationship, just as a husband does in his marriage to his wife.

As a husband, I aim and strive to strengthen the commitment and devotion my wife and I have to one another, and our children. When someone makes no effort to invest in a relationship, love could be brought into question. Our striving is an expression of honor and devotion, making every effort to position our heart in alignment with Him - that His grace can empower us over sin. We must strive with zealous determination to deny sin at all times and give no place for the devil (Ephesians 4:27).

It is by no means a contradiction to strive courageously to enter the narrow gate, which Jesus said comes with difficulty and challenge, and to wear His yoke, which is easy and light. Jesus was warning His hearers of the yoke of the Pharisees, which was a burdensome and oppressive yoke of self-righteousness and legalistic law keeping. Many bible scholars have said that the Pharisees had added over 600 regulations, regarding what qualified as 'working' on the Sabbath. That is a heavy burden! The Lord's yoke is light and easy to carry, because it is the yoke of repentance and faith, followed by a singular commitment to honor Him. Frankly, the narrow road is hard on our flesh – to overcome and deny sin - as we take up our cross and die daily. The yoke of Jesus speaks of taking on lowliness of heart (true meekness). Jesus is inviting us into a lifestyle of dying to the things we must die to, so that we might experience His yoke of liberation.
This is the narrow way. It's not a popular message, but it's the only biblical message of true grace. Grace leads to real life and a vibrant heart. For those who fear the Lord and depart from evil, the promise remains true – it will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones. (Proverbs 3:7&8) Striving to fully honor Jesus will lead to the abundant life, eternal reward and true encounters with The Lord. This is the fruit of true love.

Philippians 3:12 | NKJV "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, But I am pressing on, striving to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."

As sons and daughters of God, it should be our daily aim and our lifelong pursuit to strive to honor the grace of our Father. Paul urged the church to "aim for perfection". (2 Corinthians 13:11) Dear friend, in our pursuit, let us remember these urgent and passionate words from Paul: "We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain." (2 Corinthians 6:1)

*Excerpt taken from my new book: "Unstoppable & Unquenchable Fire" available on (Also available on Kindle)

Biblical Insights from Brian Gibbs
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