Contrary to popular opinion, you will never find freedom living for yourself. Since many people believe a self-centered life of unrestrained desires is the only way to freedom, they then postulate that Jesus’ teaching about the narrow way indicates a life of oppression. This idea could not be further from the truth. The narrow road is a wide place.
When Jesus said, “the gate is narrow,” he meant that he is the only way to the Father. There is only one road that leads to God. When he said, “the road is narrow,” he meant it is difficult. It is difficult because it is contrary to the ways of the world. It is not the narrow road that is oppressive; if the Christian feels any oppression, it will come from those walking the broad road that leads to destruction. That is the road of bondage, but the narrow way is the way of liberty.
Consider Psalm 119: 45. The psalmist says, “I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.” If you want to walk in a wide place, a place of liberty, Jesus and his word is the only way. Consider the following ways freedom in Christ expresses itself.
Freedom from Guilt
We have all fallen short of the Glory of God. Think about that for a moment. Jesus, as our Creator, created us for glory. He did not create us to live in slavish fear of him. He created us to find our glory in him, but, instead, we have all turned to our own way (Isaiah 53:6); a broad road of desolation and slavery to our sinful desires and judgment for our sin. However, when we turn to Christ, we find that the Father has laid on him our sinfulness. He was injured and afflicted by God. He was crushed for our iniquities. On the cross, we saw the chastisement that brought us peace. It is by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:4-5). Bless is the person against whom the lord does not count his sin (Romans 4:8). In Jesus, we are free from the guilt and punishment of sin.
Freedom from Shame
Not only are we free from the wages of sin, but in Christ, we are counted righteous. We no longer need to hang our heads in shame. We can approach the throne of Grace with confidence. Not because of what we have done but because of what Jesus has done on our behalf. To think that we must live a life of sin and shame because of our past sins and even our current struggles is to believe that Jesus did not do enough on the cross. It is a lie of the enemy and an affront to the gospel to believe we must contribute a life of regret to be right with God. Who the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36).
Freedom from Fear
We also have no reason to fear what the world can do to us. The wages of sin is death, and we used to be subject to lifelong slavery through the fear of it. Now, we have been set free because Jesus himself took on flesh and blood and conquered death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Even though these mortal bodies will die, they will be raised imperishable. What then do we have to fear? Our shame is gone, and even death has lost its sting. If we have no fear of death, what else do we have to fear in this life?
Freedom in Self-Control
The world seems to believe that freedom is being able to do whatever they want. Though many of our desires may seem natural, the problem is that due to the fall, many inclinations are destructive not only to ourselves but also to others. Freedom is found not in being able to do what we want; it is found in the ability to do what is right and leads to human flourishing. Sin is slavery, but, in Jesus, one of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Many people think they are free, but they have confused an inability to control their destructive desires as liberty. This unrestraint is not freedom; it is slavery to sin. One of the greatest aspects of the liberty found in self-control is that no one can take it from you. Even if the throng walking on the broad road that leads to destruction locks us up in prison, we are still free, and, as we continue to preach the gospel, the word of God remains unbound.
Freedom in Government
Licentiousness always leads to tyranny. The problem with moral unrestraint is that it is driven by lust, and lust is never satisfied. Unless corrected, this dissatisfaction pushes culture further and further down the path of debauchery and further away from nature and nature’s God. Before long, the only way these newly invented so-called ‘rights,’ which are far removed from the true, the good, and the beautiful, can be maintained is with a government that is powerful enough to crush those who still recognize the moral law written on their hearts (Romans 2:15). As indicated by many of the United States’ founding fathers, only a virtuous people are fit to govern themselves. We will have a republic only as long as we can keep it.
The narrow road is indeed a vast space, and the more we seek the precepts found in the word of God, the more we will experience this liberty in our lives and as a nation.