THE NARROW WAY
Bridges freak me out a little. I can remember driving over the Golden Gate Bridge and feeling a little uneasy ... ok, a lot uneasy. I don't like heights, and looking over the side made me look forward to getting on dry land. If you veered off the Golden Gate Bridge, the results would be devastating.
The Christian life is a lot like a narrow bridge—Jesus called it the “narrow way” that leads to life. As you and I stay on the bridge, walking in the light with the Lord, all is well and life is filled with joy, peace, purity and fulfillment. But, there are dangers on either side of this narrow bridge. If you turn to the right or to the left, you are in serious trouble.
LEGALISM ON ONE SIDE
On one side of this bridge called the narrow way of the Christian life is a fast flowing stream of crystal clear water—white-capping rapids, actually. In those rapids are sharp rocks. There is no way to traverse that stream without serious injury. If you fall in there, you will get beat up and cut up.
The danger of this stream represents legalism. Legalism is gritting your teeth and trying with all your might to live the Christian life and please God in the power of the flesh. It is an exercise in futility that leaves you broken and bleeding with guilt and frustration as you fail and fail and fail.
Jesus died and rose again for us ... so we could walk in freedom. He wants us to trust Him and let Him live the Christian life through us. The little poem says it best, “I can't. He never said I could. He will. He always said he would.”
How do you know if you have fallen into the stream of legalism? Check your “joy” meter. For those in the stream of legalism, the Christian life becomes drudgery, a list of rules that you must keep or else. Those who operate in legalism will experience continual defeat and nagging guilt. You cannot defeat the flesh by living in the flesh of self-effort. Furthermore, legalists often become like self-righteous Pharisees—arrogant, prideful, and antagonistic to the narrow way of the Lord.
LICENTIOUSNESS ON THE OTHER SIDE
On the other side of the bridge is a very different stream. It is a stream of rancid water filled with raw sewage. If you fall in there, you will get extremely sick.
The danger on this side represents licentiousness, a complete departure from legalism. A licentious person sees God's grace as a license to sin. Sexual immorality, partying like a rock star, hedonism and pleasure-seeking all encompass the licentious person. Like the prodigal son, those who fall into this kind of living always end up at the pig sty, consumed with shame over a life lived in open rebellion to the will and ways of God.
The devil doesn't care which side you fall into, he just wants you to veer off the bridge. The devil knows that if you stay on the bridge with the Lord, you will experience the wonderful blessings of heaven. Since the devil is a thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy, he will try with all his might to get you to turn to the right or the left. For some, he will tempt with rules and regulations, appealing to a person's pride—look at how godly I am! For others, he will tempt with the passing pleasures of sin that appeal to the flesh.
But the good news is this: "Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
I don't know where you are today, but God does. He knows, and He cares. If you have derailed and have fallen into legalism or licentiousness, you can get back on track with Jesus ... and you can do it today. Cry out to Him. Confess your sin to Him. Repent and get right!
Regardless of what you have done, His hand is stretched out to you today. He says, “Take My hand and let's walk together again.”
What is your answer to Him?
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries
P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Direct questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Jeff Schreve believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a wonderful plan just for you. From His Heart provides real truth, love and hope on over 700 radio stations each day, in 149 countries each week on TV, and is always available online. Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All donations go to furthering the broadcast outreach. As a listener/viewer supported ministry, we thank you for joining with us to help speak the truth in love to a lost and hurting world. Go to www.fromhisheart.org for more information.
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