“Strive to enter in”

I’m am not one who thinks or believes that all we have to do is “except Jesus”, go to church etc. and then we are on our way to heaven. It doesn’t matter how we live, after all grace covers it all anyways. No real effort is required, Jesus does it all. Just be.

If this is the case, then we haven’t been taught the scriptures. They tell of lots of “living”, lots of “doing”, lots of “striving” etc. Have you ever noticed all the “if’s” in God’s word? It tells us of how we should obey and live. In Jesus’ teachings alone, there is enough for a lifetime to work on. He gave lots of conditions in order to enter The Kingdom of heaven. We must take heed in order to make heaven our home.

We all know that salvation is by grace, through faith in Christ. We can’t earn it. It is a free gift from God. It’s not by our works that we are saved. However, once saved (or born of The Spirit as I like to say) there is a heap of “doing” that God requires. In fact once we get put on track with God, the doing and the battle truly starts. It’s a fight all the way from then on.

Someone asked Jesus, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” What was his reply?
“Strive to enter in at the strait (narrow) gate:” (Lk.13:24)
The Greek word “strive” here is “agonizomal”. It is where we get our English word “agonize”. It means “to struggle” (literally, to compete for a prize. Figuratively it means, “to contend with an adversary” and generally it means, “to endeavor to accomplish something). It also means, “fight”, “labor”, “fervently”, “strive”.

This is talking about spiritual striving. It never ends while we are here on this earth. Although we struggle and battle with this world and it’s ways, our main battle is warring against unseen forces. And those unseen forces war against us by using temptation as it’s drawing force.

The writer of Hebrews said it well, “You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood,(a physical battle) but your struggle (striving) is against sin. (Heb.12:4, paraphrased)
Sin is the tool, so to speak that Satan is always desiring to use against us. If he can get us to continue down the road of sin, he knows that we will be powerless and ineffective in God’s Kingdom. Not only that, but in the end it will destroy us and that is what his main objective is. He wants our soul, bottom line.

Continuing on in verse 24 of Luke 13. Jesus said, “for many will seek to enter in (the Kingdom of Heaven) and will not be able to”. Once Christ has shut the door to the Kingdom, many will stand at the door knocking. They will say, “Lord, Lord” open the door. Christ will then say, “I don’t know you”. What! they will shout. “we ate and drank with you”. We were in your presence. We went to church. We know all about you and your teachings. We listened to you. We heard God’s word all the time. (verse 26, paraphrased)

Now in verse 27 it sums up with the main reason why they could not enter in. “Depart from me, all you who work iniquity”. You who claim to know me, but all the time you are practicing sinners. They went through all the motions, all the religious form, but they were still practicing sin. They were “working sin”. It was active in their lives. There was no turning from sin (repenting). They continued on all the time saying, “grace covers it all”. They trampled on the grace of God. They knew not the true meaning of “repentance”. They heard about it, but they did not practice it daily in their lives.

Christ sums it all up in verse 30. He says, “the last shall be first, the first shall be last.” Basically what he was saying here was, those who seem to be the ones we think will enter in will not. They might look like it on the outside. They might talk like it, but all the while sin is operating in their lives. As I have said on many occasions, “sin is tucked in the back pocket”. No one knows about it. But all the time God knows.

So are we “striving to enter in?” Are we striving against sin? Only by God’s grace and strength can we “enter in”. We don’t have what it takes in and of ourselves. Only through Him can we go the distance. We can only over come sin and temptation as we stay at the feet of the cross of Christ. Only when we stay humble will his grace operate in our lives.
May God bless and help us all.

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4 Responses to ““Strive to enter in””

  1. ProdigalKnot Says:

    Preach it brother!

    I run across far too many who think God is all about grace. Your previous article makes the point that what God does for us is to show us HIS righteousness. What we are to do if we have truly repented and are “striving against sin” is to show God’s righteousness in our very lives. While we may not be perfect, people can tell who the true believers are, by measuring our words and actions against what they know about God’s goodness. If we don’t look like God and act like Him, to paraphrase John “we are none of His”.

  2. rjperalta Says:

    ProdigalKnot,
    Right on! Couldn’t have said it better.
    God bless you.

  3. betwixt1 Says:

    This is one of the most important posts that you have ever written. When a person is truly in Christ, there is fruit that will accompany it. Our affections will be on things above and there will be a desire to please him. I must link to this when time permits.

  4. rjperalta Says:

    betwixt1,
    Very true!
    Thanks for stopping by and thank you.

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