Jesus warns us that the way to deception and destruction is simple and most people will find the ease of accessibility and the lack of difficulty to be very attractive.
Few subjects in the Bible carry the frightening warnings that accompany the phenomenon of trusting in a counterfeit faith. To think that there are those who will experience the supernatural to the extent that they lay hands on the sick who are healed, or they cast demons from the bodies of the possessed, and yet they discover to their horror that they are not of the elect. Jesus did not argue their claims to have participated in these miracles, yet when it was too late to correct the deception, they heard, “Depart from me. I never knew you”.
This story, related in Matthew 7, should send shivers coursing through every one of us. It describes religiously active people, who received what was discovered to be a highly convincing substitute for true salvation. And this is far from the only warning we are given. Earlier in this same chapter, Matthew recounts Jesus’ words as he shared this clear description: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.
Are we hearing that? Jesus is warning us that the way to deception and destruction is simple and most people will find the ease of accessibility and the lack of difficulty to be very attractive. To contort ourselves through a narrow gate or to make our way down a narrow road will take much more effort. Not that we in any way can earn our salvation…. just that the conversion experience, when considered soberly, will require the death of our old selves, the willingness to sacrifice all, to daily kindle a fire for God in our hearts, and to walk obediently in the steps of our Master.
I’ve always struggled with those who take more time to consider a car purchase than the all-encompassing prospect of surrendering your whole life, your entire being and your complete future to an unseen God. In my own life, I wrestled with this decision for months. Considering the massive redirection of my life that such a decision would represent, I spent sleepless nights and convicting days struggling with the claims of Christ and the ramifications of surrendering to Him. This is no small decision, and yet there is an easier and less costly alternative.
If I were Satan, I would recognize that it is beyond my considerable powers to destroy the work of the cross or to subjugate the Gospel. I could though offer an alternative; a counterfeit that would fool even the most determined would-be disciple. It would be a deeply spiritual, emotional feel-good experience. It would satisfy their need to belong, would give them a sense of purpose, yet would provide replacement activities to distract them from the Great Commission. It would be time consuming, but require little real change. It would provide a feeling of sacrifice, yet would never ask too much. It would be a beautiful fake. And most would never know it until it’s too late.
Those who have committed to Cultural Christianity have a form of godliness, but they lack the promised power of the authentic Christian walk. Around their likewise deceived friends, they can religiously perform, but behind closed doors or with those closest to them, the symptoms of a Christ-follower are sorely lacking. Paul provided a list of these symptoms in Galatians chapter five when he shared that the fruit displayed by a true Believer is that their lives are saturated with love, marked with joy, and there is evidence of a life of peace. They strive to demonstrate patience with people and situations, and they consistently show kindness and goodness. They are not only gentle in their way of living, but they control themselves well.
My hope is that just one of you reading this will take the time to look deeply into your life and ask yourself the tough questions. Have you struggled for years to live a life that demands supernatural power, yet you’ve never had that power? Do you see others overcoming sin, but you are frustrated and bound? Do you lack a testimony of change and surrender? Are you the one leading your daily life, while all you do for God is regularly attend a religious gathering? I beg of you…. Seek the authentic, life-transforming and life-altering power of Jesus Christ to change your life! He is there! Do not settle for a fake and empty religious life. He is waiting patiently for your call.