What is the narrow way?

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By BibleAsk Team


The concept of the “narrow way” is a central teaching in the Christian faith, emphasizing the challenging and disciplined path that leads to eternal life. This concept, primarily drawn from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, calls believers to live a life of righteousness, obedience, and commitment to God’s will. The Bible provides several references that elucidate the meaning and implications of the narrow way.

The Narrow Way in the Sermon on the Mount

The narrow way is explicitly mentioned in Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV):

Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV): “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

In this passage, Jesus contrasts two paths: the broad way that leads to destruction and the narrow way that leads to life. The broad way is easy and popular, while the narrow way is difficult and less traveled. This teaching emphasizes that following Jesus and adhering to His teachings requires effort, dedication, and often goes against the prevailing trends of society.

Characteristics of the Narrow Way

  1. Righteous Living: The narrow way is walking in “God’s will” that is shown in His Word. The “Moral Law” is an expression of the God’s will. Psalms 40:8 (NKJV): “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” The word of God is our guide for salvation (Isaiah. 40:8) and it leads to eternal life (Mark 3:35; Matthew 7:21,22). The narrow way involves living a life of righteousness, which is highlighted throughout the Sermon on the Mount. For instance, Jesus calls His followers to a higher standard of conduct in the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:3-10 (NKJV): “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” These verses describe the attitudes and behaviors that characterize those who walk the narrow way. They are marked by humility, mercy, purity, and a deep desire for righteousness.
  2. Obedience to God’s Commandments: Walking the narrow way requires strict adherence to God’s commandments and teachings. Matthew 5:19-20 (NKJV): “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Here, Jesus emphasizes the importance of obeying even the least of the commandments and calls for a righteousness that surpasses that of the religious leaders of His time.
  3. Self-Denial and Sacrifice: The narrow way involves self-denial and the willingness to take up one’s cross. Matthew 16:24 (NKJV): “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’” Following Jesus requires a readiness to sacrifice personal desires and endure hardships for the sake of the Gospel.
  4. Faith and Trust in God: Walking the narrow way necessitates a deep faith and trust in God. Matthew 6:33 (NKJV): “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Prioritizing God’s kingdom and righteousness above all else is a hallmark of those who walk the narrow way.

Challenges of the Narrow Way

  1. Persecution and Opposition: Jesus warned His followers that they would face persecution and opposition for their faith. John 15:18-20 (NKJV): “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” Followers of the narrow way must be prepared to face hostility and rejection from the world.
  2. Temptations and Distractions: The broad way is appealing because it offers immediate gratification and avoids the difficulties associated with the narrow way. 1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV): “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Believers are warned to avoid the temptations and distractions of the world that can lead them away from the narrow path.
  3. False Teachers: Jesus also warned about false teachers who would lead people astray. Matthew 7:15-20 (NKJV): “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” Discerning truth from falsehood is crucial for those who seek to walk the narrow way.

Rewards of the Narrow Way

  1. Eternal Life: The ultimate reward for those who walk the narrow way is eternal life. John 14:6 (NKJV): “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Jesus Himself is the way to eternal life, and those who follow Him will be granted access to the Father.
  2. Heavenly Treasures: Jesus taught that those who walk the narrow way and live righteously will store up treasures in heaven. Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV): “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The focus on heavenly rather than earthly rewards is a defining feature of the narrow way.
  3. Divine Fellowship: Walking the narrow way leads to a closer relationship with God and fellowship with other believers. 1 John 1:7 (NKJV): “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” This verse highlights the communal and cleansing benefits of walking in the way of light and truth.
  4. Divine Help on the Battle with Sin: God promises that He will help all those who choose to walk in His path. Therefore, the believer may declare, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV). All that needed to be done could be done by Christ-given strength. When the divine commands are faithfully followed, the Lord makes Himself responsible for the success of the work undertaken by the Christian.

Practical Steps to Walk the Narrow Way

  1. Study and Obey God’s Word: A commitment to studying and obeying the Bible is essential for staying on the narrow path. Psalm 119:105 (NKJV): “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” The Word of God provides guidance and direction for those who seek to follow the narrow way.
  2. Prayer and Dependence on God: Regular prayer and dependence on God are vital for maintaining one’s walk on the narrow path. Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV): “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”Prayer fosters a deep connection with God and provides the peace and strength needed to navigate the challenges of the narrow way.
  3. Community and Accountability: Being part of a community of believers provides support and accountability. Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV): “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Fellowship with other believers encourages perseverance and mutual growth in faith.
  4. Living Out the Beatitudes: Embracing the attitudes and behaviors described in the Beatitudes aligns one’s life with the values of the narrow way. Matthew 5:3-12 (NKJV): “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” The Beatitudes offer a blueprint for the character and conduct expected of those on the narrow path.

Conclusion

The narrow way, as described in the New King James Version of the Bible, is a path that requires dedication, righteousness, obedience, self-denial, and a deep faith in God. It contrasts sharply with the broad way, which is easy and popular but leads to destruction. Jesus’ teachings, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount, provide a clear outline of what it means to walk the narrow way, highlighting both the challenges and the rewards.

Walking the narrow way involves living according to the high standards of God’s commandments, seeking righteousness, and being prepared to face opposition and persecution. However, the rewards of this path are eternal, including eternal life, heavenly treasures, and a close relationship with God.

Believers are encouraged to study and obey God’s Word, maintain a strong prayer life, seek support and accountability within a community of faith, and live out the values described in the Beatitudes. By doing so, they can navigate the difficult yet rewarding path of the narrow way, ultimately leading to eternal life and fellowship with God.

In conclusion, the narrow way is a call to a life of intentional discipleship, marked by a commitment to God’s will and a focus on eternal, rather than earthly, rewards. While it is challenging and often counter-cultural, it is the path that leads to true life and fulfillment in Christ.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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