There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. ESV
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. NIV
Something my wife and I talk about from time to time is how challenging life would have been 200 years ago. Technology is incredible and has made our lives more convenient in so many ways. Right now, as I type, the temperature is 24 degrees in Ames, Iowa. I am thankful that I didn’t have to go outside this morning to use the restroom. I am thankful for refrigerators that make it easy to find food. I’m thankful for fancy ways to make coffee in the morning. I’m thankful for cars that allow people to get from one place to another. And I’m thankful for phones that enable people to communicate with each other over long distances easily. There are many ways that technology has made our days just a bit easier to navigate.
Many things have changed over the past 200 years, but many things have also stayed the same. One thing that hasn’t changed is this. People are still prone to follow their own desires rather than following God. This isn’t a new development. Humanity’s rebellion against God has gone on since the Garden. Some things never change. That is why King Solomon wrote, ”There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” In other words, there are things we turn to for satisfaction in life that ultimately let us down. They don’t lead to joy, happiness, or satisfaction like we thought. Instead, they lead to death and brokenness.
It’s become a bit of a joke between my wife Rachel and me that I am terrible at navigation. Apple Maps is high on the list of technology for which I’m most thankful. That’s because I am really bad at finding my way around town. It’s common for me to think that I know the directions to a place, only to find out that I need to drive in the opposite direction. Apple Maps is a game changer.
Now it’s one thing to take a wrong turn on the way home or to take the wrong exit during a road trip. But King Solomon tells us that it’s possible to take a “spiritual” wrong turn as well, and the consequences are far more devastating. He shows us that when we do this in our walk with God, it’s a serious thing — it leads to death. And the sobering reality about these verses is that often, the path that we think seems right is the path that will lead to our destruction. We’ve all experienced this in one way or another. We all know what it’s like to do what we think will make us happy. We all know what it’s like to choose our own way rather than God’s way. And we all know what it’s like when those things leave us disappointed, empty, and longing for more. Jesus said, as he was teaching the Sermon on the Mount, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” There is a path that leads to life, and there is a path that leads to death. There is a way that seems like the right path, but it will lead to your destruction. And there is a path less traveled that leads to life and flourishing.
Ever since our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned in the Garden, humanity has struggled with directions (spiritually speaking). We take the wrong turn and choose the wrong path far too often. The repeated theme that we’ve seen up to this point in The Story of Redemption is that people are experts at going astray. We think we know the path leading to life and are wrong every time. We choose the easy path — the wide road — only to find that it leads to death and destruction. That’s because the path that seems right to man will always lead to death. And the path of obedience to God will always lead to life.
Except… for the one time that it didn’t.
There was one moment in history when the path of obedience to God was actually the path that leads to death. And praise God that Jesus willingly walked that path with courage. There is good news coming for those of us who go astray. There is hope for wandering people. We aren’t there yet but hold on just a bit longer. Soon we explore God’s kind remedy for humanity’s corruption.
Written By: Nick Harsh
Nick Harsh (MDiv, Clarks Summit University) is a ministry leader with The Salt Company, a ministry of Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. While publishing regularly at nickharsh.com, his writing has also been featured at The Gospel Coalition, For the Church, and Relevant Magazine. Website: nickharsh.com