August 13, 2014
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
There are times when one translation really gets it right. I believe this is the case with the King James Version which translates Proverbs 14:12 this way: “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Why am I going with this translation of the Hebrew? Because of three words: way, end, and ways. You see, words make a difference! And God is very specific in the way He uses words. Let’s see how these three words play out in understanding Proverbs 14:12. By the way, apparently God thought this truth was so important, that He wrote it twice in Proverbs – and exactly word for word. You can find it also in Proverbs 16:25.
The first of the three words above is in the phrase, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man….” The way that a person chooses is singular because that person thinks that the way he or she has chosen is the right way! Otherwise he or she would not chose to go along that way. The way that is chosen by the individual in this verse is, first of all, not the correct and true way according to God. This is evident because it ends in death.
The way chosen may be another religion – other than the true religion revealed by God through Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, true religion looked forward to the coming Messiah. In the New Testament, God is revealed in His fulness by the incarnation of the Son (see Colossians 2:9). Jesus boldly proclaimed in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.” If indeed He is the truth, then by the very nature of truth, any dissenting claim of the way to the Father must be false. In other words, as touching any specific area of life there can only be one truth! It might be expressed in different ways, but if does not agree with what is really true then, logically, it must be false! If Jesus is “…the way, the truth and the life…[the only way] to the Father…,” then there is no other way! All other religions that claim a different way of access to God are false!
The way chosen may be humanism – which is really just another religion! – man elevated to the position of God! The individual then makes all decisions concerning life – those affecting that individual or humanity in general. So many people follow this way, simply by governing their lives by the principle exactly opposite of what Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42: “…not My will, but Yours, be done.” Humanism says in one way or another, “My will be done!”
The way chosen may be atheism – the denial that God exists; or agnosticism – that one does not (or cannot) know there is a God. But this way by necessity elevates that one to the position of God, since decisions have to be made concerning living this life, and it is the atheist or the agnostic who then makes them.
There are many ways that seem right to people, but they are all called “…the ways of death.” That is the third word mentioned above – the plural ways, but let’s consider it second. Multiple ways, all leading to death!
And that brings us to the third of the three mentioned, which is the second listed in the opening paragraph – end. There is only one end for all the ways of man! And that is death!
I picture it this way: Death may be represented as a vast open pit, ferociously burning, but never consuming, where souls of the damned weep and wail forever in torment. This is the description of hell in Matthew 13:50; Mark 9:48; Revelation 14:10, 11 and 21:8. Death is more than physical death. It is eternal spiritual death, which is separation from God forever! And – as I picture it – this pit is surrounded by many paths and roads – ways – leading to it. Some roads are wide and well-traveled, “…for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many that go in by it.” (Matthew 7:13). Some paths are less traveled and relatively few choose that way to follow. But they all lead to the one end – into the burning pit!
The alternative to all these ways of unregenerate humankind – the end of which are the ways of death – is the single way of Jesus Christ! He describes this way in Matthew 7:14 (NIV): “…small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” How small is the gate? It is one person wide! And that person is the Lord Jesus Christ!
If you find this too restrictive, and if you would call Christians who proclaim it “…too narrow minded in their thinking…,” your argument is not with those Christians, it is with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! He is the One who said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)!
Do not follow your own way that leads in the end to eternal death! Turn in faith to the One who is “…the way the truth and the life…”! You may not be in the majority, but you sure will enjoy eternity a lot more!