The most extensive collection of the Lord’s teachings is found in the section of Matthew’s gospel that we call the Sermon on the Mount. It is recorded in chapters 5-7, and lays the foundation for how disciples of Christ are to live their lives in service to their Lord. Much of what the Lord said on that occasion showed that those who followed Him were expected to live up to a higher standard than that of the world and of the religions of that day. This is a principle that remains true today.
One of the ways in which the Lord illustrated the higher standard to which His disciples are called is found in Mt. 7:13, 14. Here the Lord said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
The importance of this statement is seen in the context in which the Lord made it. In Mt. 5:21-48 the Lord spoke of six teachings common at that time, and in each case commanded His disciples to live to a higher, more spiritual standard of conduct. In Mt. 6 He commanded His disciples to give, pray, and fast in a way that brought honor to God rather than to themselves, contrary to what the hypocrites did. He also commanded them to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first, so that all their physical needs would be supplied by Him.
In Mt. 7 the Lord’s command to enter through the narrow gate appears in the context of proper judgment, treating others as one would like to be treated, and also distinguishing good spiritual food from bad spiritual food. His disciples are commanded to enter through the narrow gate, because there are false prophets out there who lead people to destruction by their false teaching. This command and warning is all the more important because only those who do the Father’s will are going to enter heaven (Mt. 7:21).
The significance of this statement has never been more evident than it is today. The pressure in society and in much of the religious world is to become inclusive. We are being bullied into silence on biblical truth by progressives whose goal is that every kind of conduct, except righteousness, must be allowed and condoned in society. This pressure has led some churches to surrender biblical teaching on subjects like abortion and homosexuality so they will remain in favor with the world.
The Lord, however, could not be clearer than He was in the Sermon on the Mount. He said that there are many in the way that leads to destruction. He said that the narrow way is one that few find. The narrow way is found by few not because it is so difficult to discover, but rather because it requires those who walk in it to live by a higher standard than the world’s. The narrow way requires us to recognize the difference between bad fruit and good fruit, and to choose the good fruit. It requires us to obey God’s will, instead of requiring Him to sanctify our ungodly lifestyles.
The narrow way also requires us to reject any teaching that has originated with men. In Mt. 15:8, 9 the Lord condemned the Pharisees and scribes because they set aside God’s law by their human traditions. In Mt. 7:22, 23 the Lord said that many religious people will be rejected by Him at judgment for this very reason. He said, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”
There is no doubt that these are sincere and devoutly religious people, but in the end all their good works will stand for nothing because they did not obey God’s will and did not walk in the narrow way. For this reason we must be careful to always remain in the narrow way that leads to eternal life.