This morning I was reading and reflecting on some of the Proverbs, asking God to speak to me through his Word. Several Proverbs popped out, but 14:12 stopped me. It is underlined in my Bible, so maybe that added some emphasis for me also. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” (ESV).
Another passage that came to mind in reading this is Jeremiah 17:9. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (ESV).
Put these two together: There is a path, a way, that seems right in a man’s heart (which deceives you more than anything else in the world or outside the world; it is sick and twisted; you cannot plumb its depths of corruption and trickery), and this path, this way, leads to death. Its destination is YOURS and MY destruction.
The nasty part about all of this is that it is not another person’s heart leading you astray and to ruin, it is YOUR heart, it is MY heart. This led me to consider a couple of other passages about what my heart likes to latch itself onto.
Isaiah 44:9-20: Isaiah says that my heart wants to worship something. It wants to worship anything other than God. It deceives me into taking the work of my hands or life, and worshiping it. I create something using the creativity that is part of my nature because it is part of God’s nature in me from theImago Dei. I then use what I have created and treat it as if it is my god and can deliver me and bring me comfort, when it is like a card house, ready to fall at any time. I work to create my own city, my own empire, and like a beach before a hurricane, when the storm comes, my god, my empire, my city, is destroyed. My idol cannot save me from the Creator. BUT, my heart deceives me to make me believe it is true. I was made to worship.
Jeremiah 2:11-13: John Piper uses this text in a sermon I listened to a few times. God’s complaint against his people through the mouth of Jeremiah is that his people have committed two evils. 1) They have forsaken Him, the fountain of living water. 2) They have dug their own wells that are broken, that hold no water at all. Piper describes it like this: the people have turned away from a steady, bubbling, river of fresh, clean, pure water and with their back to it, dig into the dry, cracked, sand, and lift it to their lips and say, “Oh satisfy me! Satisfy me!” Our hearts trick us into thinking that the dry, cracked dirt is the quenching water that satisfies thirst. My heart makes me try to find satisfaction and joy in this world as an ends to itself.
The problem with our hearts is that since the fall of Adam and Eve, it has wanted us to be god. So… according to Paul in Romans 1, we use the very things God has given us to reflect his glory to try and reflect our own. Trees, sunsets, beaches, stars, moons, planets, beautiful poetry and stories, fine wines and beers and coffees, birds, lovers, oceans, ideas, etc etc etc become our tools. We pursue our joy in pleasure in them for the sake of joy and pleasure. BUT, life is not generated by these things. These things point to the Life Generator. We are poor gods trying to be satisfied with something that was never created to satisfy. Oh satisfy me! Satisfy me!!!! Like a frustrated child trying to put the triangle piece into the circle opening, our efforts are vain, leading even to death as we pursue life in these temporary satellites, thinking they are the true emitters and not merely the things that relay the truth.
Oh deceitful hearts that lead us to death! Friends, this is where an early death is crucial. The place where Jesus died, the cross, is the death of our deceitful heart. In the cross alone is an early death for this deceitful worm found. Romans 7:24-25a, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” In his death, our death is accomplished. In his resurrection, our life is promised.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is death. God grant me faith to trust my death to the cross and hope in the life given through your resurrected Son.