The men referenced in Matthew 7:21-24 had selected too wide a path to enter the Kingdom. The path is narrow to enter; too wide a path leads to destruction (v13). They seemed to think that their chosen path was narrow enough, but Jesus said, “I never knew you, depart from me you evil doers.” (v23)
What a terrifying thought. To make a choice so important as what it means to follow God, to expect to be approved by the Judge Jesus Christ, to expect an eternity in Heaven and then be rejected by God. To their horror, they had misconstrued the expectation, misjudged the target or worse, they willfully followed Him on their own terms, resulting in payment of an unimaginable, devastating price.
He termed their path as one of “lawlessness” (v23). According to the apostle John in 1 John 3:4, lawlessness is defined as sin or work of iniquity. It is the defection from God’s law, His standard and command on how we are to do things.
God’s law means He gets to choose the path-what it looks like, how narrow or wide we walk in it and what is the expectation for obedience.
At the least, it seems that despite the fact that God had seemingly used these men for His purposes, and had even performed miracles through them, they wanted to relate to God on their own terms, not His.
Those men misjudged His Word or willfully disobeyed and drew a path too wide, to their demise.
So, how narrow of a path is needed? We need not figure that out. The pressure is off because He decides for us. We only have to surrender our will to His will and His Word.
For sure, we cannot afford to not understand our requirements in the path. It only comes through knowing Him and being intimate with His Word. Jesus references the wise man in Matthew 7:24 as “everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them…” We must listen and be available to act on His Word.
It also seems that these men did not realize they were on the wide path, one that was not narrow enough. They didn’t know that they didn’t know.
And how do I know if I am on the right path? And if I’m on the right path, how do I know if I’m drifting to the edge? The writer of Hebrews says “For this reason, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard so that we do not drift away from it” (2:1).
Can I walk on the edge, sticking a toe across the line without getting burned?
Why tempt God?
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14).
How do I protect myself in not expanding my narrow path to a wider one? Spend time in developing the relationship by listening to Him. Be subject to biblical thinking brothers who will make observations of your path and your walk in it. Develop convictions ahead of the action of what you will and won’t do.
Most of all, don’t test God by defining your path. Walk the path according to His commands and ways.