The lad briskly walked down crooked lane. Ahead of him lay the King's Highway. He had heard that the entrance to the King's Highway was through the Wicket Gate but... that would involve backtracking a long ways to get there. Why should he do that? He had heard there was a much easier way to get onto the King's Highway. All you had to do was follow this little nice, green, crooked lane and voila! You would eventually come out upon the King's Highway. There would be no Wicket Gate, no cross, no Hill of Difficulty, no lions, no battle with Apollyon, no Valley of the Shadow of Death, no persecution or threat of death in Vanity Fair. You could by-pass all of that. All you had to do was go around all of that by following this pleasant little road.
He encountered some other Pilgrims upon the King's Highway. Humph! They were old-fashioned fellows with out-dated ideas. They kept talking about that Wicket Gate and insisted that he had to come that way. Hmm... they were ridiculous looking fellows. For example, there was that one who called himself Christian. Why on earth was he walking around with all of that hot and heavy armor on and that sword? Surely there was no need for all of that. Humph! The show-off! He was trying to make himself look more important than what he really was.
The very audacity of them suggesting that he, HE would not be welcome into the Celestial City! If the idea wasn't so ludicrous, he'd be angry that they even suggested it. Well, he had set them straight on this matter.
I know my Lord's will, and I have led a good life: I pay every man his own; I pray, fast, pay tithes, and give alms, and have left my country for whither I am going.The Wicket Gate! It did not matter how he got onto the road. The only thing that mattered was that he was on it, right?
In the conclusion of John Bunyan's classic allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress, he writes about the Christian and Hopeful's entrance into the Celestial City. They had entered in at the Wicket Gate, wept before the cross and had received a certificate from the King himself when they had encountered the cross. There at the cross they had also received the King's raiment as well as his seal upon their forehead. Therefore, they were welcomed into the Celestial City.
Ignorance on the other hand, was on the same road but... he had bypassed the cross. Bunyan writes:
...I turned my head to look back, and saw IGNORANCE come up to the river side; but he soon got over, and that without half the difficulty which the other two men met with. For it happened that there was then in that place one VAIN-HOPE, a ferryman, that with his boat helped him over: so he, as the other I saw, did ascend the hill to come up to the gate; only he came alone, neither did any man meet him with the least encouragement. When he was come up to the gate, he looked upon the writing that was above, and then began to knock, supposing that entrance should have been quickly administered to him; but he was asked by the men that looked over the top of the gate, "Whence came you? and what would you have?" He answered, "I have ate and drank in the presence of the King, and he has taught in our streets." Then they asked him for his certificate, that they might go in and show it to the King. So he fumbled... and found none. Then said they, "Have you none?" But the man answered never a word. So they told the King; but he would not come down to see him, but commanded the two Shining Ones that conducted CHRISTIAN and HOPEFUL to the City, to go out, and take IGNORANCE, and bind him hand and foot, and have him away. Then they took him up, and carried him through the air to the door that I saw in the side of the hill, and put him in there. Then I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gates of heaven, as well as from the city of Destruction.
Ignorance may have appeared to be headed to Celestial City. Indeed, he even managed to come before the gates but when he arrived, he was not admitted. Why? Because he chose to do things his way, rather than God's way.
John Bunyan's story stands as a warning to all of us. It is not only easy to deceive others, it is easy to deceive ourselves into believing we are real... when we are a fake. I want to be real, how about you?
May we all desire the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts daily and may we all listen to and do what He says.