There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
We may well be startled, and we may well be solemnized, as we witness -
I. THE MARVELLOUS RANGE OF HUMAN COMPLACENCY. It is simply wonderful how men will allow themselves to be deceived respecting themselves. That which they ought to know best and most thoroughly, they seem to be least acquainted with - their own standing, their own spirit, their own character. They believe themselves to be all right when, in fact, they are all wrong. They suppose themselves to be travelling in one way when they are moving in the very opposite direction. This strange and sad fact in our experience applies to:
1. Our direct relation to God. We may be imagining ourselves reconciled to him, in favour with him, enjoying his Divine friendship, engaged on his side, promoting his kingdom, while, all the time, we are far from him, are condemned by him, are doing the work of his enemies, are injuring his cause and his kingdom. Witness the hypocrites of our Lord's time, and the formalists and ceremonialists of all times; witness also the persecutors of every age; witness those of every land and age who have failed to understand that it is he, and only he, who "doeth righteousness that is righteous" in the sight of God.
2. Our relation to our fellow men. How often men have thought themselves just when they have been miserably unjust, kind when they have been heartlessly cruel, faithful when they have been guiltily disloyal!
3. What we owe to ourselves. Only too often men think that conduct pure which is impure, consistent with sobriety which is a distinct step toward insobriety, agreeable which is objectionable, safe which is seductive and full of peril.
II. THE DISASTROUS END OF A SERIOUS MISTAKE. The way seems right to a man, and he goes comfortably and even cheerily along it, but the end of it is - death.
1. In some cases this end is premature physical decline and dissolution.
2. In all cases it is spiritual decay and the threatened death of the soul, the departure and ultimate loss of all that makes human life honourable, all that makes a human spirit fair in the sight of God.
3. The death which is eternal.
III. OUR CLEAR WISDOM IN VIEW OF THIS POSSIBILITY. It is:
1. To ask ourselves how we stand in God's sight. Man may be accepting us on our own showing, but God does not do that. "The Lord weigheth the spirits" (ver. 2). He "looketh upon the heart;" he considers the aim that is before us and the spirit that is within us; what is the goal we are really seeking; what is the motive by which we are really animated; what is the deep desire and the honest and earnest endeavour of our heart.
2. To be or to become right with him. If we find ourselves wrong in his view, to humble our hearts before him; to seek his Divine forgiveness for all our wandering; to ask his guidance and inspiration to set forth upon a new course and to maintain it to the end. He alone can "show us the path of life." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.