Our identity


““Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:13-14, 21-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But he who does the will of my father. The example given here is not of a man avoiding good works but of a man walking in rebelliousness in good works. That’s a concept that is rarely examined. I’ve been called to preach, but I choose to run a business and raise a family instead. Business is praise worthy and family is good, but not when in its disobedience to what I’ve been called.

He’s called me to be a missionary, but I choose to be a pastor here at home instead. He’s called me to be a missionary in Africa, but I choose to be a missionary in the states instead.

None of these things are wrong. But if even the good works we do are in rebellion to what we’ve been called to do, then for us, they are and we are guilty of walking in lawlessness.

So how do we know where we’ve been called? Ask yourself, where is fruit being produced in my life?

““Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:13-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus describes false teachers here, not as pastors or shepherds of the flock, but as part of the flock themselves. On the outside we look at the works that are being produced and we say, “that guy is walking with the Lord, look at all the good he’s doing”. But fruit requires a constant attachment to the vine, to the root, to ripen. We see false teachers not by where they are in a moment but by where they are over time.

By the same token, we can examine ourselves as well and ask, “where is my life producing fruit?” But, we say, “how will I live doing this? Can God provide for me if I step out into this and serve him in this area?” That, is His job. Our job is merely to obey Him in the areas of our lives that are bearing fruit.

““Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:13-14, 24-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

So here we see a contrast. Both hear, but only one is obedient. The wise man builds his house on a rock. We know this to be Christ, but in the context of the previous verses there is more here that is being said. It’s not just a matter of calling him Lord. We see that in the previous passage. Jesus said MANY would say to him “Lord, Lord”. And it’s not just a matter of doing good works, Jesus said, they would say to him, “haven’t we done many mighty works IN YOUR NAME.” And yet he still told them, “depart from me you workers of iniquity.”

But the contrast rather that Jesus is building in this passage is one of hearing, and doing. It is one of building our identity on Christ, not on what we want to do.

How can we stand in this evil world? How can we resist the temptations of this world? By staying rooted in Christ. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:24-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But can we walk in fellowship with him while still being rebellious to what he’s called us to? According to John in 1 John 1:6, no we can’t. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

But my family isn’t in agreement with what I’ve been called to. Well, pray. That your eyes may be opened or theirs. But at the end of the day, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

‭‭Luke‬ ‭14:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What is the narrow path? Walking in fellowship and being led by the Spirit. Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are IN (in fellowship, rooted in) Christ Jesus, who walk not after flesh (we can still do good works in our flesh, 1 Cor 3:12-13), but after the Spirit.”

So how do we walk in fellowship? By walking in obedience and trusting Him with the outcome. “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:31-33‬ ‭ESV‬‬

How can I know I am walking in fellowship? By the fruit that is being produced in my life. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

‭‭John‬ ‭15:4-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

At the end of the day, how we see ourselves, how we identify, determines what our foundation is. Is our foundation Jesus, the rock? Then all the things of the world can be taken from us, we can be beaten and thrown in prison and we will still have our identity in Christ. Or, is our foundation; work, family, spouse, ministry (other than that which He’s called us to). Is our faith then laid on top of another foundation? Are we Christ followers first or husbands? Are we Christ followers first or business men? The thing that lies at the core of our identity is our foundation. These things are not bad, they are not sinful, they are gifts in fact. But when they become the core of our identity, our foundation, and then our faith is built on top of it, when our family falls, so does our faith. When our jobs are lost, so is our faith.

This is what Jesus was referring to when he said to build your house on the rock. Because if we don’t, when the winds come, when the trials of this life threaten us, when the things of this world tempt us, great will be the fall. So does that then mean that we have lost our salvation? No, we can’t lose what we never had. We attempted to offer God our blemished sacrifice, our second best. But He would not accept it. He is Lord of all, or not Lord at all.

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