Matthew 7:13-14 – Dealing with the Wicked

Matthew 7:13-14: 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: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

At the time of this writing, the US Supreme Court has heard arguments regarding a constitutional basis for sodomy.  The city of Baltimore is in flames, protestors shouting “no justice…no peace” despite the fact the damage done was an injustice.  Defense attorneys for the Boston Marathon Bomber claimed he was a ‘good kid’ as his family claimed far more are killed in the Middle East – never mind most of whom in Boston and the Middle East were innocent.  The Colorado theater shooter James Holmes defense argued he was also a ‘good kid’ while prosecutors depicted a frighteningly smart killer who meticulously planned and carried out the mass murder to make himself feel good and be remembered, while knowing that it was immoral and illegal.  How do we deal with the wicked?  For the Biblical answer, we examine:

  • Historical Context: As an apostle, Matthew wrote this book in the early period of the church, probably in A.D. 55-65. Matthew’s intended audience was his fellow Jews, many of whom—especially the Pharisees and Sadducees—stubbornly refused to accept Jesus as their Messiah.  They wanted a Messiah on their own terms, one who would fulfill their own desires and do what they wanted Him to do. How often do we seek God on our own terms? And when we do, we distort the true nature of God which, in turn, distorts the concepts of truth, justice, right and wrong.  This is clearly what unsaved advocates of the counter-Biblical lifestyle have done.
  • Grammatical Usage: V. 13: “destruction” or “Apoleia” in context meaning pershing in both the temporal and everlasting sense; v. 14: “life” or “zoe” meaning life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed.
  • Literal Application: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to a perishing lifestyle and everlasting misery, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to a meaningful life – active and vigorously devoted to God…and blessed because of it, and those who find it are few.
  • Contextual Interpretation: The relative number of the saved and the lost is plain from this. They shall be as the few to the many. This recurring contrast between the numbers of the saved and the lost with reference to each succeeding generation should not be discouraging. Although salvation is obtainable and available for all who truly desire it, the plain fact is that the majority in all generations will despise it. The relative number of redeemed souls in any generation is not the scale by which God’s success may be measured. God will keep on saving men until the “fullness” of his purpose is achieved (Romans 11:25).

The term “narrow” is meaningful. Truth can be no other way than narrow, as attested in any field of knowledge. A radio band width may be moved almost imperceptibly to tune out a dance orchestra in New York City and tune in a political rally in Southern California. Changing a chemical formula by the narrowest degree possible can profoundly alter a compound.  Why should it seem strange, then, that entering everlasting life should be any other way than by the “narrow gate”? The narrowness consists of the directions, disciplines, and requirements throughout the whole area of Christian living which are designed for our good. Such things as self-denial, forgiveness of others, monogamy, meekness, renunciation of the pursuit of wealth as the chief end of life, and countless other basic scriptural convictions are opposed to the natural man whose baser instincts propel him constantly in the direction of the wide gate and the broad way. Only those with a quickened spirit, who have set their minds upon the things in heaven, shall enter and negotiate the straitened way that leads to life; and “Whosoever will may come!”

  • Scriptural Comparison: Wise and righteous people seek the road less traveled, and they find life and rest for their souls. But the foolish and the evil seek the popular road… and they end up finding discord and destruction.  And that’s part of the message from Proverbs 24:
  • “the wicked are brought down by calamity.” (v. 16)
  • They will “fall”; they will “stumble” (v. 17)
  • “the evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.” (v. 20)
  • And both our God and the King will bring “sudden destruction upon them” (v. 22)

If true, why do people choose the lifestyle of the wicked?  Isaiah 5 has at least four answers:

  1. “Woe to those… who say, ‘Let God hurry, let him hasten his work so we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come, so we may know it.’” – Is. 5:18-19.  The wicked mock God. But what they don’t understand is: God isn’t ALWAYS in a hurry to punish people per 2 Peter 3:9.
  • They get used to calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).  What do bars call the time encouraging people to get drunk? It’s called the “_____ hour” (happy).  Homosexuality is called the “____ lifestyle” (gay). It’s intended to portray sodomy as being fun and enjoyable.  And the killing of innocent babies who are still in the womb is called “______ rights” (women’s). And the child that is aborted is called a __________ (fetus as opposed to human).
  • They become convinced of how smart they are: “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” Isaiah 5:21, yet there end is destruction.
  • They create evil heroes.  “Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks…” Isaiah 5:22.  The wicked try very hard to mock the righteous as being “out of touch” and “holier than thou”, while in the meantime they embrace drunken, immoral heroes. 

What is wisdom (the ability to know what is right and wrong) in dealing with the wicked?

  1. Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
  2. Proverbs 24:19 warns us: “Do not fret or be envious of the wicked”
  3. Proverbs 24:17-18: warns us “Do not gloat and thereby displease God.”
  4. Job 31:29-30: warns us not to sin by cursing the life of another
  5. Matthew 5:44: love your enemies by praying for them
  6. Luke 9:54-56: align with God’s spirit to seek & save
  7. 2 Peter 1:5-6: maintain faith demonstrating Godliness (notice the progression)
  8. Romans 12:14-21: bless persecutors, leaving pay back to God
  • Conclusion: Our reaction to evil doers is based on our quickened spirit (differentiating from those dead in sin) and our submission, alignment, with the Holy Spirit’s work and ministry.  Of the eight points above, where am I am strong?  Weak?  Now you know how to pray.  Blessings.