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 (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 controlled by 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 broad road, and to the destination of destruction (Genesis 8:21). Pride is the lock on the human heart.
Take the destruction test. Is your soul dying inside? Are you hiding from God in darkness? Are you in a hurry, becoming deaf to God? Have you become dense to God’s wisdom? Do you have a divided inner being, attempting to control your own life apart from God? Are you characterized and known by deception? Are you detached from God and others? Are you imprisoned in the dungeon of withholding forgiveness? If you answered, “Yes,” to any of the preceding questions, you might be traveling through the wide gate down a broad road toward destruction.