July 14, 2014 -The Narrow Way

The grace walk is like a narrow mountain road that is always climbing upward. On one side of the road is a cliff. It is too high to jump and too steep to climb down. On the other side is a roaring forest fire. There is a roaring lion looking for an opportunity to divert you off the path. Christ is setting the pace just ahead of you, urging you to not look either to the left or the right.

If you take your eyes off Jesus, you will be tempted to consider the first option. You will throw off the restraints and just sail off that cliff. It would be wise to consider the sudden stop at the end. Having no restraints may appear like freedom, but license only leads to destruction.

The other option is the roaring fire of legalism with flames of condemnation. Even the broad way has civil laws, or they would have social chaos – and people generally accept that. When someone goes five miles faster than the speed limit, he or she doesn’t think, Oh woe is me; I’m a terrible person. All the restraints are external, and the fear of paying the fine keeps them in check. Satan’s only role for pagans is to keep them blinded.

Christians have the law within them. The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin, which leads to repentance without regret. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:1). “Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18). Churches that are bound in legalism are just helping the devil bring accusations against believers. God intended local churches to be a place where people got rid of the guilt, not have it piled on.

The tempter will whisper, “Go ahead and do it. You know you want it. Everybody is doing it, and you will get away with it.” If we give in to the tempter, he will immediately change roles and become the accuser: “How can you call yourself a Christian and do that? You will never get away with it.”

The struggle in our minds is like walking through a narrow door and seeing Jesus ahead of us. Lining the narrow street are buildings with people popping their heads out of doors and windows to tempt us and accuse us. “You don’t believe this religious garbage, do you? Come on in with the rest of us and have a good time.” The most defeated Christians pay attention to those deceptive lies. They sit down in defeat and make no progress toward Christ.

The second-most defeated Christians appear to be fighting the good fight. They combat every fiery dart. “No, you’re not going to entice me. That’s not true. You can’t accuse me.” Yet they are allowing the devil to set the agenda. They end up standing in the street and making little progress toward Christ.

Victorious Christians put up the shield of faith, fix their eyes on Jesus and keep walking by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit. They don’t pay attention to deceiving spirits. At first the battle for their mind is intense, but as they continue walking by faith the narrow path gets broader and broader. The mental assault gets less and less intense as they draw closer to Christ.

Dr. Neil

For Spanish, see http://www.ficmm.org/blog