The Narrow Road
A few years ago, we were taking a back road to the Oregon Coast. There was a detour about halfway there due to some road construction. Off we went on the narrowest road you could imagine. It looked like someone’s driveway. To make matters worse, on one side was a ravine down to a river and on the other side was a deep drainage ditch. I wondered what would happen if someone came from the other direction. I couldn’t back up or turn around and there certainly wasn’t room to pass. Some think of Christianity like that. We’re on a narrow road and on the one side is the danger of permissiveness. The idea that God will forgive me anyway so I can do whatever I want. And on the other side, there’s the danger of perfection. The idea that if I can’t do everything just perfect, God will reject me. Both are dangerous.
These dangers are pointed out in Scripture. Paul rhetorically asks, “shall we continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be” (Rom. 6:1). But Paul also acknowledged that “the good I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” There’s the struggle between permissiveness and perfection.
The apostle John addresses the same extremes. “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 2:1). In the previous chapter John addresses the fact that there remains sin in our lives. But, on the other hand he writes, “No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him” (1 Jn. 3:6). Is John confused? No, he explains in vs. 8, “the one who practices sin is of the devil.” John has been talking about ongoing, unrepentant sin, that continues unchecked. Paul refers to this as “living” in sin (Col. 3:7).
Hebrews speaks of the same dilemma. God will no longer remember our sins (10:17), but if we go on sinning willfully…. there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (10:26).
If you’re driving down a narrow road with hazards on every side, you better stay focused. The same for Christians. We must have our “minds set” on the spirit (Rom. 8). We must “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Heb. 12). We must “Press onward toward the goal” (Phil. 3). We must “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Eph. 6). We can’t do it on our own. We need a savior. In our illustration, it is literally, “Jesus take the wheel.”