“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
THE BASIC PRINCIPLE IN PROVERBS 14:12 IS APPLICABLE TO LIFE IN GENERAL, BUT IT HAS A VERY SPECIFIC IMPORTANCE IN REGARD TO OUR ETERNAL SALVATION. Our own opinions and feelings can be dangerously wrong, despite our self-confidence about what “seems right” to us. Sincerity about our salvation is no guarantee we’re on the right track. So of all the questions in the world, this is the one where we need the most help in getting the right answers.
There is a way that seems right to a man. Our brains, given to us by God, are marvelous instruments for figuring things out. But if we were trying to figure out the way to be saved from our sins, there is no chance we would be able to do so. If God did not reveal His mind to us, we wouldn’t know the first thing about any plan that He might have for our reconciliation (1 Corinthians 2:11). What we could do, of course, is exercise our rational powers to envision how we think God would or could (or even should) set up His plan, and then suppose that because such a plan “seems right” to us subjectively, it must be true objectively, even if it conflicts with what the Scriptures teach. And not content with that, we might even go further and suppose that our subjective feelings about our salvation were, in fact, God speaking to us in our hearts. No amount of objective evidence from any source would be enough to dislodge from our minds our idea of what “seems right” to us.
Its end is the way to death. The problem, as Solomon observed, is that what seems to a human being to be the right path is often “the way to death.” History is replete with examples of people who acted with great inner feelings of reasonableness but their feelings turned out to be disastrously wrong. In fact, as George Moore observed, “The wrong way always seems the more reasonable.”
But God has not left us to figure out the path that leads to Him. He has revealed that path in the Scriptures, objectively and for all time to come. As Paul reminded his friend Timothy, the Scriptures are able to make us “wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). Whatever may seem right to us, we would do well to listen humbly to what God has said and accept His plan gratefully.
“Where God has put a period, do not change it to a question mark” (T. J. Bach).