Luke 13:23-24 And some one said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
Whatever happened to sin? While some people ask this question as though sin had somehow gone away, almost everyone else knows that sin is still there – sometimes we try to sweep it under the carpet, sometimes we just don’t look in that direction – but its still there.
How do you know what sin looks like? Here are some of sins telltale signs, have you ever heard yourself saying:
I won’t - I cant – I just don’t have time – I’ve done my share –
its not my problem – its somebody else’s turn
If you find yourself saying these sort of things, and what you are trying to avoid, what you are offering excuses as to why you can’t do it, are the sort of things that you know you should be doing, the sort of things you know God is calling you to do, the sort of things that you know should be at the center of your life, the kind of things of lasting value – then you have just seen what sin looks like – the very simple sin of idolatry, for when "I" and what "I" wants is the center of my life, and there is something other than God that I fear love and trust above all else – that is idolatry, a sin against the 1st commandment. There is a funny thing about the 1st commandment, in many ways it serves as a summary, for if we can get that right, then the rest of life falls into place – for when we love God with all our heart, only then are we able to love our neighbor.
That’s why the 10 commandments are important, we use them daily to examine ourselves, and daily they show us our sin. Why do we want to see the sin? The wages of sin is death, we want to see the sin, so we can repent of the sin and receive forgiveness. We want forgiveness because sin separates us from God, and we have come to know that God loves us, and has given his son to save us, that we might be forgiven, have peace with God and eternal life.
We daily examine ourselves because we daily remember our baptism, for at our baptism God made us a new creation, and washed away our sin – and so daily we are called on by God to drown the old selfish sinful nature, and rise to the new life that is ours in Jesus Christ. And that’s what brings us to the paradox – on the one hand, by the grace of God we are saints – on the other hand, by our deeds we are sinners – sinners and saints, both at the same time, should we continue to live both lives – NO! For if we continue in sin we will loose the new life that is ours in Christ, but not that only, for if we continue in sin, we drag Christ’s name in the dirt. The world sees the sinner/saint paradox and calls that a hypocrite, and we know our God of hypocrites. If we don’t examine ourselves, repent of our sins, then how can we drown the old nature and daily rise to the new life that is ours in Christ? And if we don’t continue in the new life in Christ, how can we have any hope of peace with God or eternal life?
You see, the secret of salvation, is not what we do, but what God has done. God would give us salvation, but if sin is filling our lives, we just don’t have room for the gift of God – that’s why we repent, that’s why God comes first – because the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. We want this life, and so, by the grace of God, we empty ourselves of sin, that we might have room for God and his most precious gifts.
Salvation is a free gift, but its not without its struggle – and the struggle is to daily drown the old sinful nature and to rise to the new life that is ours in Christ. Its not easy to keep God at the center of our lives. Its not easy to place the things of God first in our lives. But the grace of God is sufficient that we might overcome all temptations that come our way, and the mercy of God is sufficient that when we sin, we can find forgiveness healing and restoration.
We hear the question of our text: "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And we know the answer is: Yes. We know that God wants all men to be saved, and we know that Jesus had paid the price that all might be forgiven and have eternal life. So, why won’t all be saved?
Some will insist on saving themselves, by their works, by living a good life – but since no one is perfect, no one can be saved by their works.
Some will want to be saved, but will be distracted by the other things [not God] which come first in their lives – they always meant to get a round to it, but they ran out of time.
Some will find themselves entangled in sin, and drawn away from the way of life, they didn’t daily remember their baptism, they didn’t daily drown the old sinful nature, they didn’t daily arise to their new life in Christ. God had it all prepared, but the couldn’t find room for it in their lives.
And some will be saved, not by what they have done, but what Christ has done. Not because they were sorry and repented, but because they received God grace of forgiveness. Salvation is a free gift of God in Christ, God is the power, God gives the gift, God opens our eyes, God makes us a new creation, God creates in us a clean heart, and that is why we live to serve our God with joy, and hope and love.