There are two modes of representation which run through the Bible, apparently at variance with each other. According to the one, the plan of salvation is represented as simple. Believe and be saved, touch and be healed, look and be made whole.
According to the other, salvation is represented to be very difficult. We must strive to enter in at the straight gate. We must work out our salvation. We must run as in a race where the prize is our life. We must fight the good fight. Many who seek shall not enter in. Even the righteous are scarcely saved.
Both these modes of representation are of course correct. They refer to different things. The former relates to the meritorious and efficient cause of salvation. We have not to work out a righteousness of our own, nor are we to attempt the work of regeneration or sanctification in our own strength. The whole work of meriting salvation has been done for us. We have nothing to do but to accept the righteousness which is offered to us, to trust in what Christ has done.
So, too, with regard to sanctification. It is the work of God. We are renewed by the Spirit after His image. It is not a natural process carried on by natural laws, but by the power of God, attending the use of the appropriate and appointed means. In one sense we are the passive recipients of salvation. On the other hand, however, the difficulty of bringing our hearts to a simple, constant and entire reliance on Christ, and the difficulty of avoiding the grieving and resisting the Holy Ghost, is unspeakably great. So that it is hard to be saved.
The Bible says expressly that no drunkard, or unclean person, or covetous man, no one who loves the creature more than the Creator, no one that is carnally-minded, no one who is not converted and made as a little child, can enter the kingdom of God. To these and other forms of destructive evil we are impelled,
These are formidable enemies, not to be overcome without effort.