“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)
The section of the Sermon on the Mount from which our Scripture verses for this devotional deals with discerning true disciples. There is a real danger in thinking one is a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, when one is not. It is possible to have “seeming” faith but not saving faith. One may profess faith in the Lord Jesus in ways that may impress others and even deceive themselves. But in his wrapping up of the sermon, Jesus brings us to the question “Am I true disciple of Christ? Am a citizen of the kingdom of heaven?” One may make claims of being in Christ, but we are warned by Jesus that God makes his own judgment and is less interested in our claims than in the evidence of our hearts and of our lives.
The passage before us begs the question: which way am I going? Jesus lays before us that there are but two choices. Two gates. Two ways. Two results. And they are mutually exclusive. Only one leads to God and heaven. The other to hell and destruction. To state such today is to get you hooted out of the public forum. To be labelled a narrow-minded and backward bigot. We live in a pluralistic society, so what is wrong with you? One’s opinion is as good as another’s; to claim to have found the truth and to regard others to be in error is both arrogant and unphilosophical, it is a view now outdated and discredited and a view that is destructive and harmful to social harmony and a life of good will. Today we are expected to believe that there are many ways and that they all lead to God. To assert what Jesus says is a one-way ticket to nowheresville, culturally. To rigorously assert that there is one way, and only one, to God is to put yourself in the camp of religious fanatical terrorists. You need to get with the program, to be enlightened, reeducated, or removed. So says the world.
Have you settled your heart on eternal life? Have you found it in Christ? Then you know not to be influenced by the ease of the wide gate and the broad way. You know not to be influenced by numbers or appearances. If you have been given new life, then you know not to join those who follow the ways of this world, who are following the desires and thoughts of the flesh – Eph. 2:2-3.
You will also not be deceived as to the nature of the Christian life. It has a small entrance, since the kingdom of God belongs to those who are poor in spirit. The pathway is narrow, with dangers and temptations along the pilgrim’s path. At times there may seem to be very few companions. Sometimes the Christian life can even seem unappealing.
Jesus tell us: Do not be deceived. Things are not always what they seem they are. These things may be true, but they are not the whole truth – for the Christian life is filled with blessings. This kingdom of heaven is ours, we receive the comfort of God, we inherit the earth, we are filled with righteousness, we receive mercy, we see God, we belong to God’s family! Mark 10:29-30.
Everything depends on whether you experience it from the outside or the inside. On the inside, we see that the road that at first appeared so narrow is the only one that leads to life. – Matthew 7:14.
Is this choice settled in your heart? “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15)