“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"
Many people say they "know God," but the verse above implies that God will say He never knew them. This is a scary verse for a new Christian. For any Christian, really, who might be struggling with their faith. So over my next three posts, I'd like to look at them in context.
This verse is part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 7. The entire chapter is about how we should live our lives. Not judging others, approaching God with our concerns (ask, seek and knock), how we should walk with God, who we should not listen to, and how to build our faith on a firm foundation are all in this chapter. But today, we are going to concentrate on the verses above. We will start with the narrow gate.
What Does it Mean to Enter by the Narrow Gate?
Being a disciple of Christ is not easy. We are called to live our lives in a way that would honour God and bring glory to His name. Our values are not based on the world's values. They can't be because this world is ruled by the prince of darkness (Ephesians 2:2; John 12:31; 2 Corinthians 4:4). That is not to say God is not in charge. He is sovereign over all. But Satan was created to influence the world until God ends him (Revelation 20:10).
In fact, Jewish people don't believe in the devil as Christians do. They believe Satan (they call him haSatan or the Adversary) works for God. His job is to make choosing good over evil enough of a challenge so that it can be a meaningful choice. In other words, Satan is an angel whose mission is to add difficulty, challenges, and growth experiences to life. He was created for this purpose (according to the Jews), so they see him more as a tormenting angel whose sole purpose is to test God's people to see if they will stray from Him. This is why Satan cannot harm anyone without God's permission. He must appear before God (see Job 1:6-12) to account for what he has been doing on earth. So when Jesus speaks of the path that leads to destruction, the path full of temptations and sin, he knows that the Adversary is on that path. It is the path that leads to the destruction of your relationship with God and where you will spend eternity.
But to take the narrow path means shunning the world and its beliefs/ideologies that are opposed to Biblical values. It means when the Adversary does step in our way, we are able to stand firm and not be pushed off that narrow path to get sidetracked or tempted by what the world has to offer.
As Christians, our beliefs should be centred on God's Word, and it is by His Word that we should live. Often this means we stand out like a sore thumb. We are everything contrary to the world. We will face ridicule, be shamed, and be called intolerant and bigots because we believe Jesus is the only way to be saved.
But understand this: God's Word is God's voice. His personality, values, joys, sorrows, promises, and plans for us are all contained in The Bible - His Holy Word. His Word is a guidebook for those who know Him. So you cannot attack those who don't believe as you do. Your values are your values. You cannot force God on society because He doesn't do that Himself.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven and that God's Word is to be honoured above all that the world offers or says. This is the narrow gate. It is difficult, but it leads to life.