“There is a way that appears correct to a man, but its finish is the way to death” (Prov. 14:12).
This verse can apply to a lot of scenarios, but it applies most importantly to the way of salvation. We can feel we’re living a superior Christian life—all whilst barreling toward death.
I discovered this by way of tough knowledge.
Thanks to my dear Baptist mother, I grew up going to church on a regular basis. By the age of 13, I knew that hell is a terrible reality, and I didn’t want to go there when I died. I also knew that Jesus died for my sins and that by accepting him I’d go to heaven. Just after speaking with the pastor, I produced a profession of faith a single Sunday morning and was baptized that evening. I was now confident I would go to heaven when I died.
But absolutely nothing could have been additional from the truth. Really I had passed by way of the wide gate onto the effortless road that leads to destruction, which Jesus warns about in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:13). It was certainly “the way that appears correct to a man, but its finish is the way to death.”
At some point I came to see that I was motivated by worry. Accepting Jesus had been a matter of intellectual assent, not repentance and faith. Regrettably it took 10 years to find out that—years filled with a great deal sin and suffering.
Extremely Incorrect Way
The way that appears correct to a man can take several types, a lot of of them respectable. For me, it took the kind of fighting for God and nation. At 1st blush, that sounds admirable—like noble military service. But I was in the midst of the civil-rights era of the 1960s, and in my case “fighting for God and country” meant embracing far-correct extremism, with its hatred of blacks, Jews, communists, socialists, and liberals. I adopted the views of the Christian Identity movement, a virulently racist, anti-Semitic cult. (This and other racist, anti-Semitic groups are alive and properly these days, and gaining adherents in these troubled occasions.) One particular old saint wisely observed that “the Devil is a master fisherman. He baits his hook according to the appetite of the fish.” He had employed the correct bait to catch me.
The road I was traveling led to growing hatred for the “enemies” of America and the white race. They had to be stopped at all costs—the finish justified the signifies. One particular evening an accomplice and I attempted to bomb the dwelling of a Jewish businessman in Meridian, Mississippi, but the residence was staked out by a police SWAT group. My accomplice was killed, and I was shot 4 occasions at close variety with shotgun fire. When I got to the hospital, the medical doctors stated it would be a miracle if I lived 45 minutes.
But God had mercy on me and miraculously spared my life. If ever there was a time to repent of my sins and turn to Christ, it was then. But I was dead in trespasses and didn’t feel what I was performing was incorrect. Just after all, I was fighting for God and nation.
I was sentenced to 30 years in the Mississippi State Penitentiary, stated to be a single of the worst prisons in America at the time. I went there with a single factor in thoughts: to escape and return to my activities. It took six months to perform out a program and recruit two other inmates, but we pulled off a productive escape. Two days later, nonetheless, the FBI identified us in a wooded region, and a single of the inmates was killed in the ensuing gunfire. Had he not relieved me from standing watch 30 minutes earlier than planned, I would have been the a single killed.
I was taken back to prison—this time to a solitary cell in the maximum-safety unit. It was the lowest point in my life, because any hope of escape was gone. Rationally speaking, this would’ve been a different propitious time to repent and turn to Christ. But I nevertheless saw myself as a patriot fighting for God and nation. When an individual is blind and dead in sin, rational considerations alone can not bring them to life.
It requires one thing far more. Anything supernatural.
To hold from going crazy, I occupied my time with reading. Best priority was catching up on all the racist and anti-Semitic books I hadn’t devoured ahead of. I then study a book on neo-fascist political theory and cultural evaluation, which exposed me to a a great deal far more sophisticated intellectual strategy to the challenges of race and culture. Many Western philosophers have been referred to, and they have been intriguing to me. I had in no way observed something like this ahead of, and it awakened in me an interest in philosophy. I study Hegel’s Philosophy of History and then Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West, each of which have been difficult for an individual with no philosophy background. Plato and Aristotle have been described, and about that time I saw a mail-in advertisement for the performs of Plato, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius. I had been interested in Western Civilization in higher college and in my 1st semester at college, so this seemed like a superior location to start off a appropriate study.
I had no concept that such a study would take me away from my racist, anti-Semitic, far-correct ideology. In retrospect, I see it as the Holy Spirit’s pre-evangelistic ambush. It liberated my thoughts and gave me a want to seek truth, wherever that may possibly take me and also to examine my life, as Socrates urged. Since philosophy didn’t possess the truth I was looking for, I was drawn (I now comprehend, by the Spirit) to study the Gospels, exactly where I was encountered by Truth Himself (John 14.six).
Unbeknownst to me, a group of females had study about me in the newspaper—and had been praying weekly for two years that God would save and use me for his glory. The leader of this prayer group was the wife of the FBI agent who orchestrated my capture in Meridian. Not extended right after I began reading the Gospels, my eyes started to be opened—“a divine and supernatural light imparted to the soul,” as Jonathan Edwards stated. My a lot of sins started flooding to mind—and with them conviction, repentance, and tears of confession. One particular evening, I knelt on the floor of my cell and prayed a easy prayer to Jesus, asking for forgiveness and providing my life to him if he wanted it. It felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted from my shoulders. Anything changed inside of me, and I haven’t been the very same because. I had left the road of effortless religion that was major me to destruction and stepped onto the narrow path that leads to eternal life (Matt. 7:14).
I awoke the subsequent day to discover that I was now spiritually alive, and God was actual to me! I had an quick appetite to study the Bible, pray, and reside for God. The far more I study the Bible, the far more I grew. God gave me like for men and women I after hated and has helped me to alter in a lot of other strategies. Miraculously, I was released from prison in 1976, right after serving eight years. And from 1978 to the present, I have been active in ministry.
As I appear back more than the 50-plus years because that evening in 1968 when I was provided 45 minutes to reside, all I can do is marvel at the goodness and like of God, who sent his Son to rescue me from the way of sin and death. He has been a gracious Father to me more than the years as I have sought, nonetheless imperfectly, to stroll the narrow road to eternal life. He has been type and patient, convicting me of sin exactly where necessary, forgiving me as I repent, strengthening me for fresh obedience, showering me with blessings, and steadily fulfilling his purposes by way of my life. It hasn’t normally been effortless, of course, for Jesus stated it wouldn’t be. But God has been faithful and carried me by way of the trials and tribulations of life—some really painful—using them for my superior.
Sadly, a lot of do not know this grace. They nevertheless stroll in darkness, even in the church. The road they’re on appears correct, but it leads to death. As C. S. Lewis observed, “If you have not selected the kingdom of God, it will in the finish make no distinction what you have selected rather.” We’re named to bring such men and women the light of Christ. The very same grace that is been so abundant in my life is offered, these days, to everyone who actually desires it. Basically embrace the gospel and turn to Christ in repentant faith.