“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction—and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life—and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
The second half of Matthew 7 forms the applicatory part of that most important discourse of our Lord’s, known as “the Sermon on the Mount.” One leading design of the Sermon was to show the spiritual nature and wide extent of that obedience which characterizes the true subjects of Christ’s kingdom, and which obedience is absolutely necessary for the enjoyment of that ultimate state of blessedness which Divine grace has provided for them. As the Prophet of God, Christ made known that the righteousness which obtains in His kingdom greatly exceeds the “righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees.”
Now the Jews imagined that all of them were the subjects of the Messiah’s kingdom; that by virtue of their descent from Abraham, they were the rightful heirs of it; that the “righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees” (that system of religious and moral duty taught by them) met all the requirements of God’s law. But this was a delusion, and the Lord Jesus here exposed that fleshly descent from Abraham could not give title unto a spiritual kingdom. That which was merely natural—was no qualification for the supernatural realm. Only they were accounted the true children of Abraham—who had his faith (Romans 4:16), who did his works (John 8:39), and who were united to Christ (Galatians 3:29).
In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord delineated the inward state of those who belonged to His spiritual kingdom (Matthew 5:4-11); described the outward conduct by which they might be identified (Matthew 5:13-16); expounded the personal righteousness which God’s justice demanded (Matthew 5:17-28); and defined that utter repudiation of sin which he required from His people (Matthew 5:29-30). So high are the demands of the thrice holy One, so uncompromising are the requirements of His ineffable character, that none can dwell with Him eternally—who do not in this world—loathe, resist, and turn from all that is repulsive to His pure eye. Nothing short of the complete denying of self, the abandoning of the dearest idol, the forsaking of the most cherished sinful course— figuratively represented under the cutting off of a right hand and the plucking out of a right eye—is what He claims from every one who would have communion with Himself.
Such plain and pointed declarations of Christ must have seemed “hard sayings” to the multitudes who listened to Him; such piercing and flesh-withering demands would probably cause many of his Jewish hearers to think within themselves, “Who then can be saved? This is indeed a strait gate and a narrow way.”
Anticipating their secret objections, the Lord plainly declared that the GATE unto salvation is “strait” and the WAY which leads unto life is “narrow.” Yet, He went on to point out, that it is your wisdom, your interest, your duty to enter that “Gate” and walk that “Way.” He acknowledged and faithfully warned them that there was a “Wide gate” soliciting their entrance, and a “Broad road” inviting them to walk therein; but that gate leads to perdition, that road ends in Hell. The “Strait Gate” is the only gate to “life,” the “Narrow Way” is the only one which conducts to Heaven.
Few indeed find it, few have the least inclination for it; but that very fact ought only to provide an additional incentive to my giving all diligence to enter therein.
In the verses which are now to be before us, Christ defined and described the Way of salvation, though we sorrowfully admit that ‘modern evangelists’ rarely expound it. What we shall now endeavor to set forth is very different from what most have been taught—but you reject it at your eternal peril. We repeat, that in that passage we are about to consider, He who was Truth incarnate made known the only way of escaping Perdition and securing Heaven, namely, by entering the “Strait Gate” and treading the “Narrow Way.”