MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE
And this is the testimony of John,
when the Jews
sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask
him, "Who are you?" He confessed, he did not
but confessed, "I am not the Christ." And
asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?"
"No." They said to him then, "Who are you?
have an answer for those who sent us. What do
say about yourself?" He said, "I am the voice
one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the
way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."
Something was about to happen which
had never happened in
Israel before. The long awaited Kingdom of
God was coming.
A prophet named John had announced that the Messiah was
about to be revealed and that those who had any hope of
being included in this new thing which God was about to
do had better make themselves ready.
How do you make yourself ready to see
the Messiah and to
enter his kingdom?
- You repent.
- You clear the sin and
confusion out of your life.
remove from your heart and from your daily
behavior those things which block the path of
the Holy God.
They said to him then, "Who are you?
have an answer for those who sent us. What do
you say about yourself?" He said, "I am the
voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make
straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet
It was from among the people who
obeyed John's call,
who made straight the way of the Lord in their own hearts,
that Jesus chose his disciples ... men and women who cleared
a path so that the living word from his lips could penetrate
to their hearts.
- They repented.
- They got rid of the things that
the way of God's Spirit.
And because they cleared the way
eyes could recognize Jesus for
- their hearts could grasp
They took hold of the kingdom, and
the kingdom took hold
of them. They became the means by which
and resurrection have changed the course of this earth
and are still changing it. No king was ever used to
bring such momentous change to this planet as these
made straight the way of the Lord.
came in and set fire to their lives and they set fire
to the earth.
wave of redemptive change that sweeps
nation or a city by the Spirit
of the Lord begins with
handful of people who answer
crying in the
wilderness, "Make straight
the way of the Lord."
God alone knows what things are about
to erupt in this
this nation, or on the earth at this
whatever is going on in the dimension of his kingdom
wilt be done by men and women who have been preparing
the way for him in their own lives.
If we want to be included in the
authentic work of God's
kingdom at this hour, the one thing we need to do is
make straight the way of the Lord.
God doesn't need geniuses or
God doesn't need millionaires,
or movie stars,
or professional athletes,
God needs, and this he will have, are people who will
give him a straight path into their hearts and into their
Jesus' day there were people like Mary Magdeline or
Levi the tax collector whose lives were weighed down with
gross sins. When they came to Jesus, they
knew what had
to go. They knew clearly what changes they
had to make to
clear the path, and they received grace from God, and power
to make those changes. And the Spirit of God
them and moved through them to set fire to the earth.
there were also religious people ... people like we are
who were living decent lives, who weren't involved in
gross sin. Yet there was
no way God's life could get into
them because their hearts too were hopelessly cluttered
and polluted. In God's sight their hearts
abominable than the gross sinner's. When
heard the message, "Make straight the way of the Lord,"
they didn't know what that meant.
"I haven't committed adultery.
I haven't stolen.
I haven't cheated in business.
- I live a decent life.
Why are you telling me to make straight the way
of the Lord? How can I possibly be more
than I am? I
I read scripture.
I worship with brothers and sisters.
I give to the needy.
How can you say to me, 'Make straight the way of
Yet, there it was ... the call of the living God addressed
to them too, to clear a path.
And that same call comes to us ... to us who likewise feel
that we've already opened the door to God as
wide as it
will open. We're doing everything we know.
"Lord, how can you possibly be telling us to
clear a path?"
"I will do a redemptive work in your life.
I will use you to draw many into my kingdom.
My word will burn in your heart and on your
tongue if you will get rid of the clutter,
clear a path, make straight a way for me
There are three things that clutter the lives of
most professing "religious" Christians ...
three things that
block the path of the Spirit of God into our
1. The dead letter.
2. The lying spirit.
3. The loose ends.
1. We need to make straight the way of the Lord by getting
rid of the dead letter .
Now when the Pharisees gathered together to him,
with some of the scribes, who had come from Jeru-
salem, they saw that some of his disciples ate
with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. (For
Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless
they wash their hands, observing the tradition of
the elders; and when they come from the market
place, they do not eat unless they purify them
selves; and there are many other traditions which
they observe, the washing of cups and pots and
vessels of bronze.) And the Pharisees and the
scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live
according to the tradition of the elders, but eat
with hands defiled?" And he said to them,
did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is
'This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me; in vain
do they worship me, teaching as doctrines
the precepts of men.'
You leave the commandment of God and
hold fast the tradition of men." Mark 7;1-8
- The commandment of God is the living Spirit.
- The tradition of men is the dead letter ... empty rules.
When it's a word from God ... when it's living Spirit ... it
always deals with the inside of our life ... the heart.
When it's the tradition of men which turns the word of God
into a dead letter ... dead words ... it deals with the outside
dead letter is some religious rule that you can
measure people by.
- The way we dress.
- The way we talk.
- The way we worship.
- The people we hang out with.
make the rules about these things and call them
"Christian principles"...always aimed at the outside.
And he called the people to him again, and said
to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand:
there is nothing outside a man which by going into
him can defile him; but the things which come out
of a man are what defile him." And when he
entered the house, and left the people, his dis-
ciples asked him about the parable. And he
to them, "Then are you also without
Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from
outside cannot defile him, since it enters, not
his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?"
Thus he declared all foods clean. And he
"What comes out of a man is what defiles a man.
For from within, out of the heart of man, come
evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery,
coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy,
Blander, pride, foolishness. All these evil
come from within, and they defile a man."
It's what's within that matters, so the word of God speaks
to the heart. Jesus deals with the heart
... the dead
letter deals with the outside.
- Anything we add to Jesus,
- Anything we use as a guide apart from Jesus,
always turns out to be the dead
letter of the law. It
may seem good, it may seem religious, it may seem
spiritual, but it's blocking the way of the Lord.
move it whatever it is ... anything other than Jesus
himself...and make straight the way of the Lord.
get the rules and regulations and let Jesus take over
your life and guide you in his holiness and his love.
2. We need to make straight the
way of the Lord
getting rid of the lying spirit.
The lying spirit?
What Christian would ever tolerate a
Beloved, do not believe every
spirit, but test
the spirits to see whether they are of God; for
many false prophets have gone out into the world.
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit
which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the
flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not
confess Jesus is not of God. This is the
of the antichrist, of which you heard that it was
coming, and now it is in the world already.
1 John 4:1-3
And where is the spirit of the
antichrist most at work?
Out there in the evil world? No!
the church ...in
the Body of Christ. And the spirit of the
comes to us in sheep's clothing...it's respectable,
Through words that we may hear from
some human mouth
or thoughts that race through our minds the lying spirit
misleads us in three ways:
1. The lying spirit
offers us a distorted Jesus...
usually a Jesus without a cross.
A short cut to the
goodies without any pain. A Jesus
who never commands
you to carry a cross.
2. The lying spirit
fills our minds with all kinds of
weird thoughts about our brother or our
the accuser of the brethren that seeks to divide us
each other. When you're
walking around with attitudes,
what spirit is behind you?
3. The living spirit fills
our minds with strange ideas
about ourselves ....
we're the only one with integrity,
"Make straight the way of the
Lord," means that we ask
ourselves whether the thoughts which occupy our minds,
words we listen to are really
coming from the crucified
Lamb and leading
us to love our brother.
And if we find ourselves walking with
a Jesus who has no
cross, suspicious and critical of our brothers, and a
warped view of our own importance, we're dealing with the
spirit of the antichrist. We need to renounce
send it away. "Make straight the way of the
that he can come in and rule.
We need to make straight the way of
the Lord by getting
rid of the loose ends
we know are called for, but we
haven't made them...
attitudes that were rebuked
one hundred times by the
Spirit of God ... yet we still
So if you are offering your gift
at the altar,
and there remember that your brother has some
thing against you, leave your gift there before
the altar and go; first be reconciled to your
brother and then come and offer your gift.
The need to be reconciled with your
brother is a loose end
which flies around in the breeze and blocks the path of
God. You don't let that loose end dangle ... you take care
of it before you offer your gift to God.
"Make friends quickly with your
accuser while you
are going with him to court...."
Get it right quickly. Don't let that loose end
you'll soon be handed over to the judge...by the judge to
guard and you'll be in prison.
In many of our lives there are loose
ends dangling and we
know what they are. If we don't, God will surely show us.
When we know, we need to act.
Because those unforgiving attitudes,
those unreconciled conflicts, those unchanged habits are blocking
the way of the Lord into our lives.
Just as surely as John the Baptist
prepared the way of the coming of the kingdom of Israel by crying,
"Make straight the way of the
the Spirit of God is pressing down on the Body of
Christ at this hour speaking the same words.
If we have any hope of being included
in the authentic
work of God's kingdom on the earth at this hour we need
to answer the call to "make straight the way of the
Some of us may know of sin that must
be repented of and
turned from, but all of us have obstacles which clutch
our hearts and the time has come to remove them.
We need to clear away the dead
the lying spirit,
the loose ends,
that the Lord Jesus may move in us with freedom and
power and grace.