While witnessing to people and open-air preaching and handing out tracts, many people ignore us or mock us. Some people tell us that they already know about God. These people said that they already went to church and that they were "fine." We have asked such people if they obey God. Their reply was usually, "I try" or "sometimes." We also often asked them if they still continued to sin (1 John 3:6, 9) and their reply was quite similar: "I try not to, but of course everyone sins." These people who said that they were "fine" did not really have much evidence for being "fine" in God's sight. In fact, the best reason that they had for the hope the was supposedly in them was their church attendance. They obeyed God sometimes and resisted sin sometimes...but is this what a Christian life is like? Do Christians obey their LORD sometimes? Do they still do the devil's work sometimes? No, this is not the fruit that identifies a Christian. Since we encountered many people who seemed to have a false hope that they would be saved, the Lord led me to write to you about "trying" to please God vs. actually pleasing Him.
"Someone asked him [Jesus], 'Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?' He said to them, 'Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to...you will stand outside knocking and pleading, "Sir, open the door for us."...But he will reply, "I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!"'" (see Luke 13:23-27).
Jesus said that many people will try to enter the Kingdom of Heaven but will not make it. They will "try." They will not be able to enter, however, because they were "evildoers."
Some will say, "But I just can't help but sin." The Word of God says to you: "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your own blood" (Heb. 12:4). How hard do you really struggle against sin? Don't tell God that you can't have pure thoughts, but then you watch all kinds of impure television programs. Don't tell God that you can't help but lust, but then you listen to all kinds of music that promotes lust. Don't tell God that you just can't help but sin when he tells you that "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him" (2 Peter 1:3). It is God's power that gives us the ability to please him, but you need to struggle and strive with his power working in you (Col. 1:29). This is why in Luke 13:23-27 that Jesus told his listeners to "Make every effort." This is not a game. Don't just "try", make every effort. Be diligent. Find others who are diligent. Labor together out of love for your King. Exhort one another DAILY so that you aren't hardened by sin (Heb. 3:13). Take this seriously!
Some of you might say that God is all-forgiving so he will forgive you when you keep on sinning against him. Look at your own attitude toward sin! Some of you think that because you call Jesus "Lord" and have acknowledged him as "the Savior" that this will allow you to keep on sinning, but still be forgiven. But Jesus said, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46). You might feel "safe" because you supposedly know the truth. However, the Bible says that if you persist in going your own way, God will never be willing to forgive you even if you feel safe now (Deut. 29:19-20). Jesus came to destroy sin, the works of the devil, so don't fool yourself.
I don't want any of you to find yourself standing before God saying, "Well, Lord, I tried to obey you." He may very well say to you, "If you really tried, then why didn't you obey me; I gave you everything you needed; you could have done all things through Christ, but since you continued to do evil...Away from me, you evildoer!" Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father" (Matt. 7:21). Only those who do the will of God (not those who try to do the will of God) will enter the kingdom of heaven. "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised" (Heb. 10:36). So my question to you today is: Do you obey God or do you merely try to obey God?
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God" (Philippians 1:9-11).
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