The Narrow Road?
“But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”
-Jesus (Matthew 7:14 (NLT))
A gateway is flanked by two barriers and a road is bordered on both sides. So, what did Jesus mean by, “the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it”?
Perhaps the two barriers or boarders of the road are legalism and self-destructive behavior? Sure there is the obvious boarder of self-destructive behavior, we know that we reap what we sow and fully understand what Paul is talking about in Galatians 5:19–21
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But, perhaps equally as dangerous is religious legalism? Jesus speaks against legalism in Matthew 23:25-26
What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.
Jesus gives us an interesting clue to the narrow road in his last sentence of this passage, “First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.” How do we wash the inside of the cup and the dish? Well, we don’t and we can’t. Our “cleaning” happens by abiding in the Spirit and it is God who transforms us to be the women and men He has created us to be as His ambassadors. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1 that when Christ frees us from the law and legalism we shouldn’t get tied backup in it. (So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.)
It is by God’s grace that we are transformed and it is by abiding in his love our lives produce the fruit of the Spirit. It is not us, but God that produces the kind of fruit in our lives that brings glory to Him: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23) It is not by our efforts we are made right with God, it is because God made a way for us to know Him and to be transformed by a relationship with Him.