WORKERS OF INIQUITY
Luke 13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: 26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. 27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
There are two separate and conflicting testimonies listed here. There is first, “Then shall ye begin to say,” and then there is “But he shall say.” And we notice that the Lord’s testimony begins with the word, “But.” Therefore we see that he interrupts their claims as they “begin to say” with this contradicting word!
And we also see that their argument is an anticipation of reward based upon an assumption of “seeking!” But his proclamation is a command of requirement as seen by the word “Strive.” For these that did not personally “strive” in the days of their religious practice, have no basis of expectation in seeking any eternal reward! For as far as the mere practice of traditional, organized religion is concerned, this true way is so narrow there are not many that even find it! Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
That Greek word, here translated as “Strive,” is the word for, “agonize.” It is the same word translated “conflict” in Philippines 1:30; and the word “fight” in 1 Timothy 6:12; and the word “contention” in 1 Thessalonians 2:2. The matter of salvation is not concerning a person just making a mental decision. It is rather of a woman birthing a baby! John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
For the pain and labor of the natural birth reveals somewhat of that which takes place in the spiritual birth. John 16:20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. 21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
Revelation 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
This old church song deals with “mourners struggling hard with sin.” But that seems to be a thing of the past, as not even those dedicated to religious practice seem to have any degree of repentance for sin in our day.
Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.
Brethren, see poor sinners round you slumbering on the brink of woe;
Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go?
See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down;
Brethren, pray and holy manna will be showered all around.
Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.
Therefore we see that those who are merely seeking to enter in without the slightest degree of soulful striving, are certain to be refused! Yet their arguments are completely satisfying to themselves as being merit enough for entrance. And that enough to have them utterly surprised for the response they receive. For one must “fight the good fight of faith,” in order to “lay hold on to eternal life!” And those who do are those who strive to “labor fervently” for other striving believers! Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
Dear Reader, one who has not come to realize the horrible character of their sin has not come to realize the glorious character of their Savior! For the realization of His imputed righteousness is directly related to the realization of the imputation of our own personal sin to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. This was the reason that the priest was required to put his hand on the very head of the innocent sacrifice. It was in order for him to identify with it. Leviticus 1:3 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD. 4 And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
Natural Jerusalem, physical Israel met destruction as they hid as it were their faces from him. Therefore only true, spiritual Israel; i.e. true believers of Gentiles and Jews, shall ever see him again when they have a proper agonizing over the sin of his rejection! Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
And for those in our text to treat their sin so casually reveals that they have no proper respect for Him. For if you have not great sin you need not a great Savior!
Proper striving includes not only a radical breach with sin to begin ones christian walk, but also a continued attitude of godly repentance throughout ones life. 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
For there is a vast difference in a worldly and a godly sorrow! 2 Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
For Judas had a regret of what he had done, but he never repented of his sin against the Savior! Instead he murdered himself to seek to eliminate himself from the public scandal in which he was caught ‘red-handed’ with no possible way to avoid his scandal. Peter not only regretted what he had done, but he also showed forth a deep, heart-felt repentance, and was therefore recovered for the further usage of feeding the Lord’s sheep! And the one thing that Peter had, not afforded Judas were the prayers of the Savior! Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
And it is said that Peter also had the gaze of the Lord, bringing him to a truly godly sorrow, which Judas never had. Luke 22:60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
Like Judas, these seeking entrance into the Lord’s eternal kingdom are of no use, as was Peter, to feed His sheep. For recovered, forgiven sinners are beneficial to minister to God’s lost sheep. Like Ezekiel, God’s true servants not only have to hear his words in their ears, but receive them into a heart of acknowledged and confessed sinfulness. He has to “sit where they sat.” Ezekiel 3:10 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. 11 And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. 14 So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me. 15 Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. 16 ¶ And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
Matthew 12:30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
Peter was then enabled not only to feed the Lord’s sheep, but could be entrusted with the gentleness of soul to nourish the lambs as well. John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
For offense to one of these little ones carries a severe penalty from the Lord! Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
The reason that the Apostle Paul was so severely tried throughout his ministry was so that he could be all things to all men! Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. 1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
Yet such striving was totally unknown to these Workers of Iniquity! They were so filled with pride that they were totally unusable in the Lord’s kingdom, except to bring forth that offense which must come. Matthew 18:7 Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
They publicly rejected the very suggestion of any personal sinfulness! John 8:33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. Therefore they are but unprofitable servants, made to be taken and destroyed. Matthew 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And well should all be who refuse to submit themselves under the exalted Son of God, who has emptied himself, making himself of “no reputation.”
None so high and brought so low as doth our glorious Savior show.
Then how can we think this flesh to trust, made but of the ground’s sandy dust?
For when final glory doth Him call, he shall become “God all in all!”
Our only hope is “to be like him, and see him as he is!”
Pastor Gene Breed
June 17, 2022