Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
Everyone seeks the tree of life. But most people think it's on this earth. The pursuit of health, beauty, and eternal youth can become a compulsion. It is fueled by the entertainment industry and leads some of our more affluent citizens to pills, elixirs, needles, and scalpels.
On God's new earth is the tree of life. Only godly behavior will get us there. That includes following His commandments and meeting His Son, the Author of Revelation. 'To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God' (Mark 4:11).
Jesus recaps the ungodly behavior that can close the gates to Heaven--both in the Gospels and in Revelation. Although Christians like to call out the most 'despicable' sins, I believe such judgment places us in a Seat held only by God. Therefore, let's focus on the 'must nots' listed by The Closer in Revelation 22:
1) The term 'dog' is 'used to denote a person that is shameless, impudent, malignant, snarling, dissatisfied, and contentious' (Barnes Notes in the Bible).
2) 'Sorcerers' refers to the occult. The occult covers modern media. Shows about vampires, witches, wizards, and spirits are made to look beautiful. 'And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light' (2 Corinthians 11:14). Magic shows bewitch us--even our children. Contrary to popular opinion, they are not beautiful. They are dangerous. Hearing and seeing are receiving.
3) 'Immoral' and promiscuous lifestyles rule our world. The media sanctioning physical lust outside of marriage is brain-hammering, soul-shattering desensitization. For every positive word or example, our children are hit with 1000 tempting images encouraging the opposite. The result is nothing less than the kidnapping of innocence.
4) Jesus expands 'murderers' to include those who hate. 'But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment' (Matthew 5:22). Forgiveness and repentance are two keys to joy and eternal life.
5) An 'idolater' is 'one who worships idols' (American Heritage Dictionary). An 'idol' is 'a false god.' 'Worship' is 'ardent devotion.' So basically, an idolater can be any of us who devote our lives to money, fame, jobs, power, or people--by preferring them to God. Our preference is revealed by where we focus our attention.
6) 'Loving a lie' is to love Satan, 'For he is a liar and the father of it' (John 8:44). Practicing a lie is repetitive and harmful unrepentance.
'The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth' (Matthew 13:41-42).
The good news? 'Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!' (Matthew 13:43).
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Revelation series.