Enter through the narrow gate. This phase is from one of Jesus’ well-known discourses. But what does it mean? This article will examine this wisdom from the Lord.
What is the Narrow Gate?
A gate is a means of entrance or exit to a dwelling or city. Jesus used the gate symbolically in His discourse known as the Sermon on the Mount. Let’s look at this passage in Matt 7:13-14:
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. NIV
In this passage, Jesus used the gate to describe the entrances to two paths of life. There is the narrow gate that leads to a narrow road and to life—eternal life, and there is the wide gate that leads to a broad road that leads to destruction—eternal damnation, and He made the point that only a few enter the narrow gate and follow the road to life.
In verse 13, Jesus encouraged his listeners to “enter through the narrow gate.”
What is the Wide Gate?
The wide gate is the gate that leads to destruction. The gate and the road are wide in order to accompany the large number of individuals that travel through it and upon it. The wide gate and road and the narrow gate and road are complete opposites because they represent different paths of life for those who saunter upon them—more on this to follow.
Broad Gate vs. Narrow Gate
The narrow gate is narrow for a good reason: only a few are willing to walk through it, and only a few perpetually walk the narrow way once they arrive on it. Walking the narrow path of life requires total sacrifice. Jesus makes this clear in Matt 10:37-38.
37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; Anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
38 and Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. NIV
Jesus draws a line in the sand with this passage.
In verse 37, we see that our relationship with Jesus must take precedence over all of our other relationships. Relationships can interfere with our relationships with our Lord. This fact holds especially true for the worldly ones who do not follow Christ.
Sometimes we have to let go of other relationships as well, such as friends, coworkers, etc. It is dangerous to be in close relationships with unbelievers. Scripture says in 2 Cor. 6:14-16, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (15) What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?” NIV
This wisdom includes all unbelievers.
Passing through the narrow gate and walking the narrow road requires transformation. Rom 12:2 reads, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” NIV
We cannot be transformed by doing the same things, living the same as we have always before. The only way to know and live in the will of God is to be transformed from the, as the Scripture reads, “pattern of this world.”
This transformation is not an easy exercise. To distance ourselves from our families as well as our friends and associates whom we may have known for quite some time can be complex and disturbing. However, we must not allow that to interfere with our relationship with Christ.
In verse 38 of Matthew 10, we see the narrow way involves suffering. Jesus says to be worthy of Him; one must “take up his cross and follow me.” The cross represents much suffering, heartache, and pain. The narrow way—the walk with Christ is not an easy one to travel. In order to remain on it, one must take up the cross—daily (Luke 9:23). It is a constant effort to stay on the course.
The main reason it takes such an effort is that Satan makes walking the narrow way unattractive. Deception is his game; he shows all the alluring aspects but never the consequences. He never presents the complete picture. Only enough to cause us to doubt God and choose to serve him instead.
The broad gate is the gate that leads to the broad way. This gate is one that is very easy to walk through and opens to a road that is very easy to travel but is not in the will of God. It is a road that represents a worldly lifestyle, a sinful, carnal lifestyle. When one walks this road, they are walking as an enemy of God. James 4:4 reads, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
This reality is because Satan is the ruler of the world until Jesus returns (John 12:31). Satan is referred to as “… the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:”
[Eph 2:2] and is in control of the world unless we choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Doing so can save us from the destruction that this path can lead us to suffer ultimately.
To walk the broad road, the carnal road, one must have a carnal mind, and the Scripture reflects how God views a carnal mind. Rom 8:6-8 reads,
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
There is no way God is pleased with a carnal individual because they cannot submit to God’s Law. They are “in the flesh,” meaning that their fleshly—sinful ways are leading them.
The broad way is a much easier way because it requires no sacrifice. The worldly influences are so strong that all we have to do is go with the flow of the current on the broad road. It is the path of least resistance
The broad way is a much easier way because it is most often the most pleasurable way. There is plenty of pleasure when traveling on the broad path. The sex, drugs, revelry, the clubs, and all of the pleasurable material rewards await the traveler of the broad road. The further the travel, the greater the chance of obtaining these rewards. The force pulls one along the way.
One pungent identifying feature of the broad road is that it goes against God’s laws and the teachings of Scripture. The broad road is, in a word—Sin.
This road is so easy to walk on. In fact, all of us walk through this narrow gate when we are born. We are born with a sinful nature. The writer of Ps 51:5, David, reads, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” NIV
We are all born in sin, which is why Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”[John 3:3]
We must be born again and receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior in order to see the kingdom of God. For more information on born again, please see the article, “What Does it Mean to be a Born Again Christian,” on this website
The next most pungent feature of all concerning the broad way is that it requires us to reject Christ. There is no middle path. We are on either the broad way or the narrow way. Jesus said in Matt 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” We cannot serve both God and the world.
The Scriptures describe how the sinful nature manifests itself in Gal 5:19-21
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. NIV
Again, we see that those who walk the broad way, those who are led by their sinful nature, “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The Scriptures also describe how the Spirit manifests itself in Gal 5:22-25
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. NIV
If we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior and belong to Christ, we are to live by the Spirit, and as the Scripture reads, “keep in step with the spirit.”
Walking the narrow road is to walk in the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and to walk the broad road is to walk in the flesh—the world—the sinful nature. These two paths are in direct conflict with each other. Gal 5:17 reads: “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other so that you do not do what you want.” NIV
Many may attempt to walk both paths, known as “on the fence.” However, we can only walk in one way: the broad way or the narrow way, the flesh or the Spirit.
Again— “no man can serve two masters.”
Eccl 12:13-14 reads:
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
The fact of the matter is that the only way to walk through the narrow gate and walk the narrow way is to revere God, obey His Laws and the teaching of the Scriptures in the Holy Bible. It requires us to submit to the Laws of Christ.
Every work we perform will be judged—the good and the evil.
It behooves us to consider our ways, choose the right path that leads to life, and stay off the broad way that will lead us to eternal destruction.
In 1 Kings 13:1-27, there is an example of one who chose the broad way and experienced the consequence. I pray that we receive wisdom from this passage.
Any questions, comments, concerns, or experiences of walking either path can be left below.