We approach life with God through one of two gates, traveling one of two roads, leading to one of two destinations. One is religious, traveling from the outside in. The other is relational, traveling from the inside out.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus described the two gates, the two roads, and the two destinations: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
The first gate is wide (Matthew 7:13). Jesus referenced the Pharisee’s outside in righteousness, using an analogy of wide city gates typical of the day. They had taken God’s covenant community through a wide gate of rules, adding 1,500 of them to the 613 Old Testament laws. Paul said that they had created a righteousness of their own, not one that came from God (Romans 10:1-3).
The road is broad. Two thousand years ago, the main road traveling in and out of city walls spanned about 24 feet wide, an image familiar to Jesus’ audience. The broad road most likely referred to the sinful nature. When we trust in our own man-made righteousness, we end up trusting in our own sinful nature for success. We fluctuate between legalism and license, based on our personal preferences, leaving us disconnected from intimacy with God. Paul said that those who are controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (Romans 8:5-8).
The destination is destruction. The wide gate and broad road lead to death. Jesus said that the Pharisees’ outside in righteousness actually closed the gates to the kingdom of heaven to others and even themselves (Matthew 23:13-14). The result is no life abundant and no life eternal.
Many are entering through it. The many are the proud in heart, both the legalistic and the licentious (Matthew 7:1-5, 6). Our natural state, by birth and by choice, travels through the wide gate, down the wide road, and to the destination of destruction (Genesis 8:21). Pride is the lock on the human heart.
Are you one of the many traveling through the wide gate of outside in righteousness, down the broad road led by the sinful nature, arriving at the destination of destruction? Confess that to God today. He will lead you through a new gate, down a different road that leads to life.