Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction…
The course of human action is in Scripture called a way. Of these there are two - the right and wrong, the good and the evil. There is no intermediate way. Here we have -
I. THE WAY OF DEATH.
1. It is broad.
(1) The "commandment" of God is "exceeding broad." It extends to all our works, words, and thoughts. No less broad is the way of transgression.
(2) It is even broader. There is but one way of keeping the commandments. The thing done must be right; so must be the manner of doing it; so also must be the circumstances. But there are many ways of breaking every commandment.
(3) The way widens as men walk in it. Restraints upon natural appetite are thrown off. The appetite becomes insatiable.
2. Its gate is wide.
(1) We need not seek it, for it is in our own minds. Self-indulgence opens it.
(2) We enter it by impenitence. Beware of the first temptation to sin. Let the young especially be cautioned.
(3) Return from the gate, that you may never walk in the way of persistent sinfulness.
3. Its company is large.
(1) The men of the world, who make no profession of religion, are in it. The atheist, the non-theist, the infidel, and the unconcerned.
(2) Nominal Christians are in it. Many who never enter a place of prayer. Many who enter to conform to custom. Men of pleasure. Men of "progress."
(3) How many! Of every age, rank, profession, employment. They go in it because it is "broad" Because the other way is "narrow."
(4) The good time is coming when the company will be great (see Psalm 37:9-11). Then will the words of the text be history.
4. Its end is destruction.
(1) The end of sin is the destruction of character. Vice intoxicates. It wrecks. Character is life.
(2) Sin is the gate of hell. Damnation is the closing of mercy's gate to the sinner (see Luke 13:22-28).
II. THE WAY OF LIFE.
1. It is strait.
(1) It is straitened by the golden rule (cf. Proverbs 14:12; Isaiah 35:8; Jeremiah 6:16).
(2) The way of holiness has its difficulties. Its restraints. Its sacrifices. It calls for circumspection and perseverance.
(3) It is the way of poverty of spirit, meekness, holy mourning, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, mercifulness, purity of heart.
2. Its gate is narrow.
(1) Repentance cuts off every sin.
(2) Faith cuts off all self-righteousness.
(3) To some the gate is narrower than to others. "How hardly shall they that have riches enter!" How easy is the entrance to the child! The strength of our aversion to good makes the gate narrow.
(4) "Strive to enter in" (see Luke 13:24). Earnestness is required.
3. The company is select.
(1) "Few there be that find it." Majorities are not always right.
(2) How few be those who find the way even of heathen honesty!
(3) How few are free from unkindness!
(4) How few have hearts clean in the sight of God!
(5) How few have the courage to be singular! But the way of holiness is singularity all over to an ungodly world.
4. Its end is life.
(1) Existence is not life.
(2) Salvation from sin and death.
(3) Union with Christ.
(4) Holiness and heaven.
III. WHICH WAY WILL YOU TAKE?
1. You have the option.
(1) None go the wrong way of necessity. God will be justified when he judges.
(2) None go the right way by compulsion.
(3) We are persuaded. Therefore the admonition:
2. Beware of false prophets.
(1) Those who produce false commissions (Revelation 2:2). Enthusiasts who pretend to revelations of which they give no proof.
(2) Those who preach a broad way to heaven. Who do not preach the narrow, strait, way.
(3) We may be false teachers to ourselves. Listening to prejudice. Listening to inclination.
(4) They are wolves in sheep's clothing. They come with professions of innocence, of usefulness, of love. The man of sin has horns like a lamb (cf. Isaiah 30:10; Romans 16:18; 2 Corinthians 11:13, 14; Revelation 13:11).
4. Test them by their fruits.
(1) The fruits of their faith may be tested by appealing to the Law and to the testimony (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1). It is more important to test principles than persons.
(2) The fruits of their doctrine may be tested in their lives. The works of a man are the tongue of his heart. He cannot be trusted to show the narrow way who is walking in the broad.
(3) Plain persons may judge a teacher by his fruit as they judge a tree. The bark and leaves may deceive. We judge character, not by its occasional, but by its habitual fruit.
4. Be warned of their doom.
(1) To be hewn down as useless.
(2) To be burned (Daniel 4:14; Ezekiel 31:12, 13; Matthew 3:10; John 15:6). - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
WEB: "Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it.